Science Is a Step Closer to Understanding How Skin Repairs Itself

The researchers sped up the skin healing rate using compounds found in broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbages.
Loukia Papadopoulos

If you think about it the way skin repairs itself is close to a miracle. One day you have a large gaping wound and slowly over time this wound heals itself and closes up. 

How does skin achieve such an amazing task? This has puzzled researchers everywhere for years.

Now, a group of scientists from the University of Manchester have come one step closer to understanding this intricate process and the results of this research can have some far-reaching implications. The researchers found that specific parts of the DNA could lead to better division of human skin cells and thus better healing. 

This process was activated and sped up by sulforaphane , a compound found in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbages.

"We know that the skin sometimes cannot efficiently repair itself but the endogenous mechanism we discovered uses the body’s own processes to induce division of cells in the skin,” Dr Svitlana Kurinna who led the study said in a statement.

“Our skin can be easily damaged, which impacts the quality of life and in some cases, is life-threatening.

“However, we hope that this study provides some crucial insight into the process and lays the foundation for an exciting future investigating similar mechanisms in other organs.”

The study also explored “basal” keratinocytes, the most inner growing skin layer, and suprabasal, the layers closer to the surface of the skin. They found that the over-promotion of cell division in basal layers could create skin cancer but the activation of the suprabasal layers thwarted cancer.

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Using both these layers together may ensure that cell division is protected and improved without generating cancer cells.

“Our ultimate goal is to improve regeneration of functional skin – and maybe other organs with a similar endogenous mechanism," Kurinna said. The study was published in Nucleic Acid Research.