Photo via ParaBuenosAires

Dr. Julia Etulain, a 33 year old Argentine biological and hematologic scientist from Lanús, Argentina, was one of 15 women recognized as an 2017 “International Rising Talent” by L’Oréal-UNESCO in Paris this year for her research in low-cost tissue regeneration techniques. She is the first Argentine to be recognized by L’Oréal-UNESCO for the “Women in Science” award, which is intended to give financial and social support to women who “have the power to change the world.”

“There are various methods to regenerate tissues, like 3D impressions and therapies with stem cells, but they are expensive and in Argentina they do not exist,” notes Dr. Etulain. Her solutions is cheaper and efficient. Using 40 milliliters of blood, she can extract 20 milliliters of plasma-rich platelets (PRP). Simply out, platelets are a part of the clotting process in wound healing, and the plasma helps with growth factors necessary for regrowth. The process only costs about AR $100 to $200, and is sufficient enough to heal a wound.

Similar blood healing techniques have been in Argentina for over 15 years, but few medical centers use it. There’s limited publications on the technique, and they are generally targeted towards cosmetic healing. The processes are similar, but nuanced, which likely explains the low application rate in Argentina.

Dr. Etulain explains her research, after her first recognition in 2015. 

Dr. Etulain reflects, “This project was my idea. I presented it to my director, demonstrated to her the objectives and we started with the experiments in 2015. During nine months it was a total disaster. We almost abandoned it, until they gave me the national L’Oréal-UNESCO award.” The first award gave her the funding necessary to advance her research, which allowed her to win the international award.

Her goal of the project? “I want to do something more scientific, official, that can be done throughout the country… the idea is to do it in public hospitals” And she’s already had success in Buenos Aires. Last year, Etulain helped implement initial treatment with Hospital Aleman. In all, seven patients were treated with her clinical protocol for PRP treatment with great success.

Given Etulian’s young age and amazing breakthrough, her success seems even more unreal. When asked about her plans for the future, she says she has “ambitious” professional plans, and she would also like to have a child. Using her recognition and success, she hope to reshape the “established image of big, serious scientists” to include women as equals.