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Skin on Fire

Scott LaFee on

If you've noticed an increased recurrence of skin conditions such as eczema and itchiness, one reason might be poor air quality, especially in places such as California, where wildfires have been frequent and massive in recent years.

Researchers studied the Camp Fire of 2018, noting that there was a 50% increase in pediatric visits to dermatology clinics in the region compared to weeks without a wildfire. Adult visits for eczema, a condition that leaves skin red and itchy, were up 15%.

The Mouse That Scarred (Not)

Wound healing is a complex process, with a lot of cellular and molecular players. It does not give up its secrets easily. But researchers think they've uncovered a big one: In mouse studies, they identified a protein within fibroblasts, a type of skin cell that is involved in scar formation.

When they reprogrammed fibroblasts to make scars without using this protein, the resulting cells regrew tissues with hair follicles and sweat glands and the mechanical strength of skin. In other words, healthy, unmaimed skin with no visible scar.

The next step is to try the approach with larger animals whose skin more closely resembles humans, such as pigs.

 

Body of Knowledge

Right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people.

Get Me That. Stat!

With more children stuck at home during the pandemic (sometimes with minimal parental supervision) and firearms sales surging (for a variety of reasons), reports of gun injuries to children have grown dramatically.

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