LifeCell Corp. will modify its AlloDerm dermal tissue graftproduct to include an epidermal cell layer under a NationalScience Foundation Phase I small business innovative research(SBIR) grant.

The Woodlands, Texas, company announced Wednesday thatthe grant will fund a six-month study to optimize conditions forco-culturing human keratinocytes, the primary epidermal celltype present in human skin, on the surface of AlloDerm.AlloDerm consists of dermal tissue that has been processedfrom cadaveric skin; a patient's own epidermal cells must begrafted with AlloDerm.

"Using proprietary co-culturing technology, LifeCell's scientistshave demonstrated in the laboratory that epidermal cells willgrow on AlloDerm and produce a composite skin with celllayers that are microscopically indistinguishable from those ofnormal full-thickness skin," the company said. If foundeffective, this composite full-thickness skin graft wouldeliminate the need for self-donated skin grafting.

AlloDerm, which has been commercially available sinceDecember, was tested in more than 60 burn patients to assesswhether the graft would take and not be rejected. LifeCell(NASDAQ:LIFC) is continuing follow-up of these patients. LastAugust, the company reported that the skin-replacement tissuedemonstrated 93 percent take in 18 patients with deep third-degree burns (see BioWorld, Aug. 27). -- Brenda Sandburg

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