Naked Scientist: Your skin has a memory

Skin cells can remember previous injuries - and heal much quicker - if the same patch tissue is injured again, a new study has shown.

Working with mice, Rockefeller University researchers found that, after an earlier injury, stem cells within the damaged patch of skin retain a memory of the earlier insult.

The work may help to inspire new treatments for skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and even skin cancer.

Naked Scientist Chris Smith explains how your skin has memory.

If you injure the same patch of skin up to maybe six months later, it heals up two and a half times faster than the previously uninjured bit of skin injured for the first time.

Chris Smith, The Naked Scientist

Looking at the stem cells in the skin, what this group found is that the stem cells reconfigure themselves genetically so that they have a genetic memory of the previous injury. They have very tightly wound up genetic information in a form called chromatone.

Chris Smith, The Naked Scientist

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