One of the most fundamental tools in biomedical research is a collection of cell lines that can be grown in the laboratory. Dr. Harold Brem’s laboratory developed the first reliable panel of cell lines derived from patient wound tissues. Primary cells derived from wounds are an essential tool for discovering cellular mechanisms of wound pathology and repair, and for testing new therapeutic agents. Once our laboratory succeeded in isolating sterile cell lines from wound tissue—a considerable accomplishment, considering that most wounds are infected—we subsequently used these cell lines to demonstrate that:
Primary cell lines grown in culture can be used to test the effects of new therapies in the laboratory before they are tested in the clinic on diabetic foot ulcers and other chronic wounds. For example, we demonstrated that human VEGF activates specialized skin cells in the laboratory, prior to testing it in animals and in people.
Cell lines derived from chronic venous ulcers show abnormalities when grown in culture that reflect the abnormalities observed in the wound tissue itself.
Chronic venous ulcers contain two intrinsically different types of tissue: healing-impaired tissue derived from the necrotic edge of the open wound, and healing-competent tissue derived from the adjacent tissue surrounding the necrotic edge. Cells derived from these two regions of the wound have different structural and functional characteristics that reflect their behavior in the clinic.
In order to help other institutions advance the study of chronic wounds, a cell bank of rare fibroblast cell lines derived from chronic ulcers has been made available by Dr. Brem’s lab to the research community. At present, six cultures derived from our patient cell lines can be obtained from the Aging Cell Repository at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden, New Jersey. In the future, we propose to develop additional cell lines that will allow us to test new treatments on cells derived from different types of wounds.