Wound healing is a complex process that is not fully understood. Involved in natural wound healing are many cell types, growth factors, and other proteins, among other influential factors. All tissues undergo some degree of tissue repair/regeneration. The process varies for different tissues, but generally follows a consistent development.
Skin repair is similar to wound repair in other tissues, especially epithelialized tissues. One important difference, however is that skin is exposed to air and the external environment. Evolution has likely caused wound repair in the skin to adapt and emphasize survival of the organism via the prevention of infection over functionality of replaced tissue. Scar tissue effectively seals an open wound, but provides poor functionality compared to the original tissue. Cosmetic related concerns provide a desire for improved cutaneos wound healing with less scarring, but perhaps at the expense of prolonged healing time.
After wounding of the skin, a blood clot forms, which may or may not be able to completely close the gap of the wound, depending on its size. An inflammatory response induces vasodilatation and brings increased numbers of blood cells to the area. Neutrophils invade the area and ingest bacteria and tissue debris to help clear the area for repair. Fibroblasts migrate into the clot and produce collagen and other extracellular matrix components. The clot is eventually broken down and replaced by granulation tissue, which consists of fibroblast, collagen, and capillaries. Scar is formed when a large amount of this granulation tissue persists after the healing of the wound. In large wounds, a large amount of granulation tissue forms and wound contraction occurs as a result of the contraction of fibroblasts in the granulation tissue. Wound contraction can lead to large and disfiguring/debilitating scars. 
Using tissue engineering strategies, it may be possible to reduce scar tissue formation and instead promote tissue regeneration over replacement in epidermal and dermal wounds. In conjunction with topical antibiotics to prevent infection, down regulation of fibroblast activity and granulation tissue formation could lead to reduced scar formation. A topical salve that would reduce scar tissue formation and promote regeneration in dermal applications is would have great clinical and surgical applications, as well as use as a self-treatment option for superficial wounds.
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|Website by Nick Gunn | June 11 2007 | Created for BME 240 @ UCI|