Biologist Luisa Ann DiPietro: Reducing Scarring and Speeding Healing
Luisa DiPietro Optimizes Healing
Dentist and biologist DiPietro works to change the way we view healing.
Is a regenerative series of events
Involves >12 cell types and >100 molecules
Can go awry
Do all types of tissue heal equally well?
Photo: Bill Wiegand
Different types of tissue heal better than others.
Skin tissue is more likely to scar than are mucous membranes
Slippery tissues inside the nose, ears, mouth, and other body cavities heal faster than skin tissue
Diseased tissue in arteries may not completely heal
Wounds in people with some diseases may heal more slowly than those of healthy people
Stages of Healing
Inflammation in Cells
Neutrophils are the first cells to respond to injury
Macrophages clean up debris
Mast cells induce swelling, warmth, and redness
All 3 types of cells summon more immune system cells
Photo: Copyright Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.
New vessels grow and cover wound
New vessels bring oxygen and nutrients to wound
Proteins grab the edges of wound and close it, forming a protective mesh
Excess new vessels die off
Too Much of a Good Thing?
Excess inflammation can damage healthy, neighboring tissues
Excess inflammation can be life-threatening
Excess angiogenesis can worsen scarring
In what types of human cells does this NOT occur?
How does this happen?
When is inflammation potentially dangerous?
DiPietro's Gnawing Problem
As a dentist, DiPietro knew that severe scarring is rare in tissue with mucous membranes, such as mouth tissue
As a biological researcher, DiPietro wants to know why the same is not true of other types of tissue, like skin
Knowledge By Comparison
Approach #1: Compare how lab-grown, human skin and mouth cells respond to injury
Approach #2: Compare healing process of injured skin and tongues in mice
In vitro experiment
In vivo animal experiment
DiPietro's Approaches to Better Understand Healing
Many Unanswered Questions
What causes scarring?
Why does your mouth scar so much less severely than your skin?
Can we learn from these differences?
Can you think of a new way to prevent scarring?