Medicine: Making Skin from Sharks

Early tests offer new hope for burn victims

Each year, thousands of Americans die from fires. In too many of the cases, death occurs because so much skin is burned away that vital body functions are disrupted. Essential fluids ooze out, and natural defenses are too weakened to fight off bacterial infection. To prevent these complications, doctors try to cover burn sites with skin grafts from undamaged portions of the patient's body, but often there is too little skin left and they have to resort to using skin from pigs or cadavers. Being foreign tissue, these grafts are usually rejected in three...

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