Can we eliminate donor sites using dermal replacement matrices?

Miss Olivia McGifford1,2,3, Mr Jason Brown4, Mr  Peter Gillies4, Ms Rebecca Dawson4, Mr Damien  Harkin3, Ms Mia Woodruff5, Ms Leila Cuttle1,2,3

1Centre for Children’s Burns & Trauma Research, Centre for Children’s Health Research, South Brisbane, Australia, 2Tissue Repair and Translational Physiology Program, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Kelvin Grove, Australia, 3School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, 4Professor Stuart Pegg Adult Burns Centre, Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital, Herston, Australia, 5School of Chemistry, Physics, Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Medical Physics, Science and Engineering Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia


In Australia, approximately 2,000 children per year are hospitalized due to burn injuries. In Queensland alone, more than 500 adult patients are treated for burns each year at the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital. Split-thickness skin grafts (STSG) are the main surgical treatment for deep partial or full thickness burn wounds, however this involves transplanting normal skin from a donor site elsewhere on the patient. Cultured epithelial autografts (CEA), which are grown from patient cells, can be used to cover the donor site, however they are fragile, have low shear resistance and can have a poor take rate. We propose that there may be a way to reduce, if not eliminate, the need for a donor site by using CEA combined with dermal replacement matrices (DRM). In this study, we will optimize the properties of the DRM to support the growth of CEA, patient cells, or a combination of CEA and patient seeded cells. Different cell seeding techniques will be trialled for optimal cell attachment and growth. The localization and migration of the seeded cells will be visualised using different antibodies (Keratin 6 or 14 for keratinocytes and Vimentin for fibroblasts) on both the DRM and on de-epidermised human skin as a control. This project aims to develop a graft substitute that mimics and is as effective as a traditional STSG. This will provide the surgeon with an extensive supply of replacement skin to autograft and save the patient from painful donor sites.


Studied Biomedical Science, majoring in anatomy and minoring in human physiology and cell and molecular bioinfomatics, graduated with distinction. Graduated with first class honours last year.

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