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Skin Deep is a blog for dermatologists and skin care professionals with focus on theoretical, cosmetic and aesthetic dermatology. This blog is associated with ‘Dermatologists Sans Borders’ one of the largest curated groups of skin care professionals on facebook. If you are looking for non-technical information, please visit

The stem cell Line

Stem cells
Stem cells (Photo credit: BWJones)

What are the challenges in stem cell therapy? No, I am not talking about the Apple stem cell cream your beauty therapist gave you that is supposed to wipe away the wrinkles on your face like a magic wand and you actually believed, for the umpteenth time, that maybe you are going to become young again. Here I am talking about your own ‘real’ stem cells!

You need to identify a source, isolate and selectively amplify the correct type, ensure differentiation into the correct terminal cell type and find a way to actually put them in the correct place. Not something as simple as eating an apple. So if you want to treat a non-healing ulcer with keratinocyte stem cells, how do you get them without making another breach in the epidermis?

Dr Nair and Dr Krishnan from  Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum, India found that 4% of peripheral blood mononuclear cell in the blood are keratinocyte progenitor cells (KPCs) with the specific KPC marker p63 that can be harvested easily.[1]  They have designed a biomimetic niche that can amplify it up to 70%. Within 12 days of culture, the cells coexpressed p63, CK5, and CK14 ensuring a keratinocyte lineage. Differentiation progressed during subculture and expressed involucrin and filaggrin indicating terminal keratinocyte differentiation. Since desmosomal connections are absent these cells can be easily transferred to a fibrin/fibroblast sheet ideal for transplantation as a skin substitute.

The two other stem cells of dermatological importance are melanocyte and hair progenitors. The former is difficult to amplify while the latter is difficult to find. Hope with the breathtaking developments in stem cell research, we would find a way soon!


1. Nair, RP. "Identification of p63+ keratinocyte progenitor cells in circulation and ..." 2013. <>

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About Me

As a Dermatologist and Informatician my research mainly involves application of bioinformatics techniques and tools in dermatological conditions. However my research interests are varied and I have publications in areas ranging from artificial intelligence, sequence analysis, systems biology, ontology development, microarray analysis, immunology, computational biology and clinical dermatology. I am also interested in eHealth, Health Informatics and Health Policy.


Bell Raj Eapen
Hamilton, ON