ISLAMABAD: Here’s a great news for patients with burnt skin or skin disabilities. researchers in Pakistan have claimed to produce high quality artificial skin that too at a low cast.

Skin is the most important part of human body which does more than look good. It protects the body from infection, dehydration, and a generally hostile world.  The victims of acid attacks, and skin diseases face serious problems beyond the obvious issues of pain and aesthetics. For years, doctors, around the globe, have tried use synthetic skin for grafts and repairs, but the process has always been expensive and time-consuming.

In countries like Pakistan where 400 cases of acid attacks are reported every year, situation is even more alarming as majority victims can not afford expensive skin care and costly skin repair including plastic surgery.
Now, a team from Pakistan’s University of Health Sciences has claimed to create a way to produce artificial skin, complete with blood vessels, which can be used for grafts, plastic surgery, or even cosmetics testing.

Headed by Mr. Javed Akram, a veteran Pakistani doctor as well as vice Chancellor of country’s University of Health Sciences, a team of Pakistani doctors and scientists have produced cloned biological skin at a local laboratory in Lahore, Pakistan. 

The team comprised of local doctors, biologists and microbiologists associated with University of Health Sciences. Compared with artificial skin produced in USA, Germany and several European countries, locally produced skin has higher standards and durability, Pakistani scientists claimed.

Currently, Pakistan imports artificial skin from USA and Italy which cost the byers $900 per square inch which only a handful of patients can afford in Pakistan, a majority Muslim conservative country with little over 200 million people where 60.03  % population live on $2 a day.
Locally produced human skin will cost the patients $10 dollars per square inch including doctor’s fee and required medicine to install it.

According to Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 400 cases of acid attacks are reported every year in Pakistan. Huge cost of plastic surgery and imported artificial skin force majority of poor victims to continue to live with burnt marks on their bodies and some even lose their lives.
However, a wave of excitement and joy has been felt among hundreds of thousands burn patients in Pakistan following claim made by local doctors and scientists that they are ready to prepare biological or artificial skin on a large scale.

“It is indeed a good news. Now, I can undergo treatment [of my burnt skin],” Maryam Yasmeen, a victim of acid attack   told this correspondent. Maryam had to face 30 percent burn injuries following an acid attack two years ago. Huge cost involved in plastic surgery prompted her to continue living with burned skin.

Professor doctor Javed Akram, Vice Chancellor of University of Health Sciences confirmed to Islamabad telegraph that his team of doctors and scientists have successfully produced human skin. “We have produced human skin. However, it takes time to produce it at large scale as we lack facility and equipment to produce it at Industrial scale,” he told Islamabad telegraph over telephone from Lahore.

University of Health Sciences has formally requested Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan for registration of artificial human skin and the process is expected to be completed soon. In a bid to produce it on Industrial scale, University of Health Sciences has signed an agreement with a consortium of Pharmaceutical companies to produce artificial skin at low cost.

“We have signed an agreement with the representative body of the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Association (PPMA). A consortium of 20 large companies will manufacture the artificial skin and other medicines. We have made sure it will be available at low cost. Also, companies will export it globally,” he said.

According to Dr. Rauf Ahmed, Pakistan’s renowned microbiologist who played vital role in producing skin, quality of locally produced skin was better as compared to manufactured in the US and Europe.
“Apart from original human and animal skin, some chemicals and chemicals substances are used during the preparation [of human skin]. They less expensive in Pakistan as compared to US and EU. That’s why we managed to keep the cost too low,” Rauf said.

“It took local doctors to eight days to prepare a single draft of artificial biological skin,” Dr Rauf Ahmed told The Media Line. Dr. Yasmin Rashid, provincial health Minister termed production of cloned biological skin by local doctors as ‘landmark achievement’.

“It’s landmark achievement. Pakistan spent millions of dollars on import of human skin annually. Now it will be available in Pakistan as low cost,” the provincial health Minister told this newspaper. When contacted by this correspondent Mr. Haseeb Khan, a representative of the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, Haseeb Khan confirmed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed with the the University of Health Sciences to produce human skin locally.

Big companies operating under umbrella of Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association have formed a joint consortium to produce the skin, he said. “We have placed order to import advanced machinery from Canada and Spain. We have agreed to produce artificial human skin, the pupil of the human eye, and cells of kidneys according to international standards in Pakistan,” Haseeb Khan said.

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