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Photo provided by doctor Roberto Sanchez showing the physician posing in a lab in Mexico City, Mexico. EPA-EFE/Personal photo archive

Mexican researchers develop stem cell therapy to treat burns

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Mexican researchers from the Luis Guillermo Ibarra National Institute of Rehabilitation developed a new stem cell therapy to treat second-degree burns.

The new therapy uses radiosterilized pigskin, stem cells and silver nanoparticles, doctor Roberto Sanchez, who heads the research team, told EFE.

"We started with fibroblast and keratinocyte therapies that already exist and included stem cells, which have the capacity to self-renew. We are specializing in mesenchymal stem cells that we obtain from the adipose tissue of burn patients," he said.

Although the use of pigskin is a fairly common treatment for burns, as it allows retaining liquids, the innovation that doctor Sanchez and his team have implemented is the use of silver nanoparticles.

"Since one of the complications that burn patients suffer is infection, and considering the fact that the indiscriminate use of antibiotics has created antibiotic-resistant bacteria, we decided to include silver nanoparticles," he said.

"The use of the nanoparticles, which measure less than 100 nanometers, stabilize the skin's proteins and kill the bacteria. We use these nanoparticles to coat the pigskin, where the stem cells are," the physician said.

Another advantage of the treatment developed by Sanchez is that "it avoids immunological rejection and the transmission of infections," due to the use of the patients' own stem cells.

The stem cell therapy will help patients with deep second-degree burns on more than 50 percent of their bodies, Sanchez said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 180,000 deaths are caused by burns each year throughout the world, and non-fatal burn injuries are a leading cause of morbidity.

In Mexico, according to the Secretary of Health, around 200,000 people are treated for their burns each year, and 600 die.

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