Wired has an interesting article by Kristen Philipkoski about a group of surgeons at Stanford looking into ways to use stem cells for facial reconstruction.
A teaser from the article:
One lead Gurtner and his colleagues are pursuing involves fetal wound healing. Scientists have known for decades that a fetus can heal without scarring, but they still don’t know the mechanism behind the process. It’s possible, Gurtner said, that the key lies in low oxygen levels within the womb.
Until scientists figure out regeneration, transplantation will likely be an increasingly common option for patients who have suffered severe facial injuries.
“The next generation of reconstructive surgery will be transplantation, there’s no question in my mind about that,” said Dr. Scott Levin, chief of the plastic and reconstructive surgery division at Duke University Medical School. Levin published an abstract on a new method for total face harvesting from a cadaver in Plastic Surgery 2006, the supplement to the annual meeting of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons held in San Francisco in September.
Levin believes the solution to the rejection problem will be finding a way to build immuno-tolerance in patients instead of putting them on drugs for the rest of their lives.
“That’ll be a permanent solution to immune rejection if we can do this on a cellular basis rather than a pharmacological one,” Levin said.