Summary: There is a growing interest in the development and evaluation of therapeutic agents that improve the cosmetic appearance of scars. Existing nonhuman animal models to study scarring, while valuable, have well-acknowledged limitations, as it is accepted that the biology of human scarring differs significantly from scarring in other species. Moreover, human clinical trials of scarring require large numbers of subjects to achieve statistical power and are plagued by inherent intersubject variability because of the complex nature of wound healing in human beings. As a better alternative, we have developed the Northwestern Abdominoplasty Scar Model—a novel human clinical model that permits analysis of up to 20 cutaneous scars in a single subject and allows for not only visual scar comparison, but also histologic and molecular analyses of factors involved in scarring and wound healing. We have utilized this model in 5 early phase clinical trials designed to test the safety and efficacy of a variety of scar therapeutics without any complications to date. The model not only is applicable to scar therapeutics, but also can be utilized for other applications, such as the testing of implantable biomaterials, injectable products, therapies such as lasers, or even for in vivo study of wound healing processes in humans.
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