Scientists from Osaka University and King's College London have identified an incredible new chemical that prompts the body's stem cells to flock en masse to the site of a skin wound, allowing it to heal at an accelerated rate, reports the BBC.
The finding could lead to new breakthroughs in the field of regenerative medicine, essentially revolutionizing how medical professionals treat wounds.
The chemical, simply called HMGB1, works as a catalyst that awakens stem cells idling in the body's bone marrow, summoning them directly to the targeted wound. Researchers liken the process to that of a "megaphone going off in the system."
"It could have a very big impact on treating people with rare genetic illnesses and more common problems such as burns and ulcers," said professor John McGrath, one of the study's authors. "It could potentially revolutionize the management of wound healing."
The discovery has also shed light on the role that bone marrow plays in healing the skin. Though medical scientists have long been aware of the connection between bone marrow and healing, the mechanisms underlying that connection were a mystery.
More research is needed before scientists will completely understand the underlying mechanism, but McGrath envisions treatments in which a drug similar to HMGB1 could be injected near a wound, thus enabling the superhealing process. At the very least, the research proves that the body's latent healing abilities are far more remarkable than ever imagined.