It might sound like something straight out of a horror movie, but yarn made from human skin that can be knitted into human bodies is now a reality.
And the oddly named “human textile”, made using skin cells, could change surgery as we know it.
It was created by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Bordeaux.
Their lead researchers said: “These human textiles offer a unique level of biocompatibility and represent a new generation of completely biological tissue-engineered products”.
It is hoped that the pioneering product could replace the existing – and potentially riskier – ways skin grafts and similar products are created.
The synthetic products currently used can trigger the immune system and complicate the healing process, sometimes causing problems for patients, but human textiles could cut that risk considerably.
Scientists created the yarn by cutting sheets of human skin cells into thin strips and weaving them into a yarn-like material which itself can be made into many different shapes.
“With the yarn, any textile approach is feasible: knitting, braiding, weaving and even crocheting,” said Nicholas L’Heureux, the project’s lead researcher.
His team’s discoveries have already returned positive results.
The yarn has been used to stitch up wounds on rats which healed in just two weeks.
It has also been used to seal a sheep’s leaky artery, which, when combined with the team’s previous success in producing similar biomaterial sheets and turning them into blood vessels, means it could also be a game-changer in the world of heart surgery.
Those behind the yarn hope it will improve wound healing and the process of repairing parts of damaged hearts.