The regenerative potential of epithelial stem cells in tissue repair
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© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Acute and chronic wounds encompass devastating injuries with significant physical, emotional and economic costs at both the individual and societal level. The pathogenesis of chronic wounds is as varied as the potential causes; however, contributing factors include repetitive ischaemia/reperfusion injury coupled with bacterial infection, inflammation and matrix degradation at the wound site. Similarly, the acute physical damage of burns may leave patients vulnerable to dehydration and infection, and in certain cases this may be followed by a body-wide systemic response with debilitating consequences. Epithelial stem cells provide a promising avenue for the treatment of burns and chronic wounds. This is exemplified by recent achievements such as the restoration of corneal epithelium using limbal stem cells, and the treatment of epidermolysis bullosa via a gene therapy approach. Nevertheless, many technical and regulatory challenges remain to be addressed. This article is part of a Directed Issue entitled: Regenerative Medicine: the challenge of translation.
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