Prof. Ernst Reichmann


Autologous human skin substitutes, endothelial cells, fetal stem cells, fetal skin, keratinocyte stem cells

What we investigate

The Tissue Biology Research Unit (TBRU) employs strategies of basic research to develop novel, clinically applicable skin equivalents. These bio-engineered skin grafts are used to treat severe skin defects such as burns, chronic wounds and fetal spina bifida aperta. The TBRU has initiated the GMP-production of denovoSkin™ and gave rise to the University Zurich Start-Up Cutiss.

Our research in more detail

Abbildung Reichmann
Abbildung Reichmann
Bioengineered capillaries (red) in a collagen scaffold (turquoise) of our bio-engineered human skin substitutes.

Up to 70% of patients develop hypertrophic scars after severe skin injuries. Approaches to optimize the healing of these wounds often fail. The need for novel treatments is paramount, and future efforts to improve outcomes should include new types of bio-engineered skin grafts. Our main goal is to develop skin substitutes that can be clinically applied in one single surgical intervention to cover skin defects of any origin.
The TBRU has developed skin grafts containing keratinocytes and fibroblasts that were successfully applied in a Phase I study, and are presently used in an international Phase II clinical study. We further aim to use pre-vascularized (and pigmented) skin substitutes that display functional capillaries to foster rapid and efficient graft take. We also envision to use fetal derived amniotic fluid stem cells to bio-engineer autologous fetal skin to close skin defects in spina bifida aperta in utero.
The translational development of the grafts is based on findings gained by innovative cell and molecular biology methods such as modified Raman spectroscopy and single cell transcriptomics. Using such new technologies, we seek for new insights into the biology of human skin and skin-derived skin equivalents.

Selected publications

SKINTEGRITY.CH Principal Investigators are underlined:

  • Mazzone L, Moehrlen U, Ochsenbein-Kölble N, Pontiggia L, Biedermann T, Reichmann E, and Meuli M (2020). Bioengineering and in utero transplantation of fetal skin in the sheep model: A crucial step towards clinical application in human fetal spina bifida repair. J Tissue Eng Regen Med, 14: 58-65.
  • Meuli M, Hartmann-Fritsch F, Hüging M, Marino D, Saglini M, Hynes S, Neuhaus K, Manuel E, Middelkoop E, Reichmann E*, and Schiestl C (2019). A Cultured Autologous Dermo-epidermal Skin Substitute for Full-Thickness Skin Defects: A Phase I, Open, Prospective Clinical Trial in Children. Plast Reconstr Surg, 144: 188-198.*corresponding author
  • Biedermann T, Böttcher-Haberzeth S, Klar AS, Widmer DS, Pontiggia L, Weber AD, Weber DM, Schiestl C, Meuli M, and  Reichmann E (2015). The influence of stromal cells on the pigmentation of tissue-engineered dermo-epidermal skin grafts. Tissue Eng Part A, 21: 960-90.
  • Klar AS, Güven S, Biedermann T, Luginbühl J, Böttcher-Haberzeth S, Meuli-Simmen C, Meuli M, Martin I, Scherberich A, and  Reichmann E (2014). Tissue-engineered dermo-epidermal skin grafts prevascularized with adipose-derived cells. Biomaterials, 35: 5065-5078.
  • Marino D, Luginbühl J, Scola S, Meuli M, and Reichmann E (2014). Bioengineering dermo-epidermal skin grafts with blood and lymphatic capillaries. Sci Transl Med, 6: 221ra14.