The effects of scarring run deep. They have a traumatic psychological as well as physical impact. When the impressive Professor Paul Martin and The Scar Free Foundation came in to talk about ridding the world of scars, we were bowled over by their work but also by their approach.

Science and creativity

v3 client The Scar Free Foundation aims to rid the world of scars by 2050. Professor Paul Martin, his lab at the University of Bristol, and researchers around the world are working together to eradicate scarring for the next generation. As Paul explained how his team investigated the problem, we began to see how truly creative the process was. And it all started with a few unexpected clues. 

Hemani54 6Fin

Looking for clues

Clue 1. Unborn embryos don’t scar

For around 30 years, scientists have known that even after major surgery, unborn embryos don’t scar, even up to 6 months into pregnancy.

Question
Could recreating the conditions and repair processes of embryos, in children or adults, eliminate scarring?

Clue 2. Infection breeds scars

We all know that keeping a wound clean is essential to preventing infection, but it also helps the wound to heal more quickly. 

Question
Could controlling our bodies’ immune response help prevent scarring? 

Clue 3. Zebrafish don’t scar

Not only do Zebrafish have transparent embryos, making them incredibly useful for scientific study, they have also become famous for healing without scarring.

Question
Could tagging immune cells in live Zebrafish to make the cells glow, then studying them with a fluorescent microscope, be the key to understanding how scarring works?

Clue 4. Your gene pool promotes scarring

Certain scars are seen 15 times more frequently in people of African descent than in people of European descent, suggesting genetics may play a big role in scarring.

Question
If we could compare very similar wound scars in a large percentage of the population, could we use genetic approaches to understand how nature plays a part, and rule out environmental difference? Could studying BCG scars and C-sections be the answer? 

Microscope

Creative thinking under the microscope

We were captivated not just by the science of scarring itself, but Paul and his team’s creative approach to solving a scientific and very human problem.

We might not always be injecting fluorescent dye into Zebrafish, but we’re always forming ideas. An idea, Robert Frost said, is a "a feat of association”. So the more references we have (be they cultural, literary, historic, technical etc.), the more connections we can make and the more ideas will come. Which is why we should immerse ourselves in art, in nature, in science and beyond and look for clues to our problems, because they are everywhere.

Sf Cr V5

Sign up to our newsletter. Culture, trends, forecasting, insights: Get a progressive point of view on the way we live.

Sign up