“Skin has always been my passion,” says Lee Ann Laurent-Applegate, professor of biology and director of the regenerative therapy unit at the University Hospital of Lausanne in Switzerland. At first, her team was primarily interested in how skin cells hold up to stress and deal with the things they protect us from, such as chemicals and toxins in the air. This curiosity led to their discovery in September 2005 of a new method for healing and repairing skin and tissue, including muscle, bone, tendon and cartilage, using cells grown in their lab.
“In two weeks, you can grow several hundred square inches of cells,” says Laurent-Applegate. “They will then be transferred onto a spongy matrix made of collagen and grafted onto the lesions. The resulting ‘bandage’ promotes healing of the wounded area.” Since 2007, Laurent-Applegate has established clinical-grade cell banks—meaning that the cells grown in these banks are of high enough quality that they can be used for treatments—from a single donation of human fetal tissue. These repositories allow a single square centimeter of skin to produce several hundred million treatments under standardized and secure procedures. When applied to the skin lesions, these cells stimulate rapid healing of the wound.
As a result of this therapy’s diverse applications, the regenerative therapy unit works closely with several departments at the hospital, as well as the biomechanical orthopedics laboratory led by Dominique Pioletti, a professor at EPFL, where they work together to engineer of tendon, cartilage, and bone tissue.
“By bringing together the skills of biologists, surgeons, doctors, and engineers, we can take on projects combining cell therapy with artificial materials—called biomaterials—to induce the regeneration of tissues,” Laurent-Applegate says. “We are all driven by the same goal: to develop the safest and most effective cellular repair technique for patients suffering not only from severe burns but also from degenerative diseases, bone lesions, or osteoarthritis.”
swissnex San Francisco invites health practitioners, engineers, and the public to catch a glimpse of this fascinating scientific achievement at the exhibition titled Skin, Cells, and Skin Grafts. A series of remarkable photographs, some of which feature the skin cells of Sir Roger Moore (also known as “Agent 007”), coupled with a video and an informative panel will highlight the multidisciplinary involvement in the treatment of damaged skin. Furthermore, this exposition features a documentary narrated by Agent 007 himself.
Murielle Michetti, Lee Ann Laurent-Applegate, and professor Wassim Raffoul of the University Hospital of Lausanne designed the exhibition and would like to thank Lady Kristina Moore and Sir Roger Moore (who is the “Godfather” of their laboratory in Lausanne, as well as this exhibition) for their support.
6:30 pm doors open
7:00 pm introduction by swissnex San Francisco
7:10 pm documentary narrated by Sir Roger Moore, aka “007”
7:20 pm presentation by Prof Wassim Raffoul, “Skin Reconstruction in Modern Medicine”
7:50 pm presentation by Lee Ann Laurent-Applegate, “Cell Therapy Advances in Modern Regenerative Medicine”
8:20 pm audience Q&A
8:45 pm reception, networking
10:00 pm doors close
Lee Ann Laurent-Applegate
Lee Ann Laurent-Applegate earned her doctorate at the University of New Mexico. She moved to Switzerland for an International Fellowship for Cancer Research Award in 1989 and is currently the director of cellular therapies in the department of musculoskeletal medicine. She holds joint appointments at EPFL and the University of Zurich. Laurent-Applegate has developed cellular therapies for different clinical applications since 1993 using progenitor cells from musculoskeletal tissues and particularly for the treatment of burn patients, with a special interest in the safety and stability of cellular therapies.
Wassim Raffoul is a board-certified physician in both plastic and reconstructive surgery and in surgery of the hand and peripheral nerves. Raffoul is the head of the plastic and reconstructive surgery department and the head of all activities in this sector for the National Burn Center in Lausanne. His principal areas of research center on wound healing and reconstruction of the skin with new cellular therapies and regeneration of peripheral nerves. He is a founding member of Flavie, the national association for burn victims in Switzerland, and co-director of the Swiss Military Major Burn Disaster Management Plan. His expertise in reconstruction of all tissues is central to traumatology management and the exploration of innovative tissue engineering therapeutics.
Murielle Michetti’s interests cover both photography and biological medicine. From 1983 to 2000, Michetti worked as a biological laboratory assistant in Lausanne, Tokyo, and Boston before graduating in 2005 from the School of Applied Arts for Photography in Vevey, Switzerland. Throughout her apprenticeship, she has been the student of prominent photographers such as Arno Raphael Minkkinen, Arnaud Claass, Joan Fontcuberta, and Dolores Marat. Since 2004, she has exhibited her work at various festivals, museums, and galleries across Europe.
Michetti has won several awards, including a special photography award from La Montre Hermès in 2005 and the 2008 Voies Off 2nd Prize in Arles, France. Her work has also appeared in various publications, notably Space Cowboys in 2009, a monograph devoted to the toys created by François Burland, Vevey ville d’images in 2008, and in Faces: the New Photographic Portrait by William A. Ewing in 2008. In April 2012, she joined Lee-Ann Laurent Applegate’s research team at the University of Lausanne.
Photo: Myleen Hollero