The Italian Almanac


Italian News - May 31

Italian researchers are creating what they say is the world's first skin bank for firefighters, steelworkers and others at high risk of being burned in accidents. The bank will store sheets of skin cultivated from the hair follicles of high-risk workers so they can be produced at short notice in the case of an emergency.

"It will really make a difference for people who are more vulnerable to burn incidents," said Edoardo Raposio, one of the researchers at the plastic surgery unit of the University of Genoa in northern Italy. Burns victims currently have to wait about 20 days while skin grafts are developed from healthy tissue.

"Those 20 days are the most critical for many patients," Raposio said. "With the bank, the skin will be waiting for them - we can store it for up to 20 years." The sheets of skin will be kept at minus 180 degrees Celsius in liquid nitrogen in a chamber that is under construction.

The bank is expected to open by the end of July. The plastic surgery unit has already started taking hair follicle samples from Genoa's firefighters, emergency and natural disaster workers and employees of the local Amga energy utility.