After suffering a severe wound, human skin fails to regenerate and physiologically heals by scar formation. Worldwide, millions of people suffer from severe skin defects or diseases requiring surgical interventions to restore skin function.
Existing therapies frequently leave these patients with permanent, painful, disfiguring, and debilitating scars. Scars may impair movement and growth, and often require several follow-up surgeries, intense homecare, and psychosocial rehabilitation. Severe skin defects significantly affect quality of life in the long term and place an economic burden on the healthcare system. Human skin is composed of the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. The components of the dermis control and regulate scarring. Today’s standard of care consists in harvesting a thin layer of the patient’s healthy skin, which contains the epidermis but only remnants of the dermis. Since there is a lack of sufficient dermis significant dermis is missing, these grafts often develop into scars. Furthermore, in severe cases, in which most of the skin has been destroyed (e.g., severe burns), the shortage of healthy skin that can be harvested to cover the wounds presents a real clinical challenge.
In 2001 a team of University Children’s Hospital Zurich, led by Prof. M. Meuli, M.D., and Prof. E. Reichmann, M.D., pursued the vision of bio-engineering personalized dermo-epidermal skin grafts, using a small sample of patients’ own skin. One of the products they developed, denovoSkin, which is now in further development by CUTISS AG, is the result of more than fifteen years of research.
The project, led by Daniela Marino and Fabienne Hartmann-Fritsch, evolved from a promising research project of the University of Zurich and University Children's Hospital Zurich into the successful startup CUTISS AG, which has gained international recognition.