Stem Cell Treatment May Hold the Key
In an exciting development in the field of stem cell research, scientists have developed an innovative device that uses the patient’s own stem cells to treat burns and heal the skin without scarring. This is the first time stem cells have been used to directly heal and mend burned skin. The technique has far-reaching implications for victims of severe burns who typically face months of pain and end up with permanent disfigurement. The device is being used in experimental trials, but early results are promising.
Spray-On Skin: Treating Burns without Scarring
Traditionally, burns are treated by transplanting healthy skin into the damaged area through a procedure called skin grafting. This technique is painful and is associated with restricted movement because the transplanted skin can cover only a limited area of burned skin.
The stem cell procedure developed by German researcher Dr. Jorg Gerlach hopes to change all this. The new technique involves removal of a small (postage stamp sized) piece of healthy skin from the patient. A liquid suspension containing stem cells is created from this piece of the patient’s skin. The suspension is then sprayed onto the burned skin in the form of a fine mist.
The procedure was first tested on a Pennsylvania State trooper with third-degree burns. Doctors were amazed at the results. When bandages were removed just three days later, his wounds were healing beautifully and the risk of infection and scarring was low.
Stem Cell Treatment for Burns: Why It Works
Researchers believe the method works because the “spray-on skin” spreads thousands of regenerative foci across the burned area. Without the stem cell treatment, burns heal from the edge towards the inside, a process that is both painful and lengthy. The new stem cell treatment not only reduces healing time, but also minimizes complications and produces more aesthetically pleasing results. The results of the study have been published in Burns, a scientific journal.
SkinGun: A User-Friendly Device Awaiting FDA Approval
After success in dozens of burn victims in the United States and Germany, the technology has been developed by RenovaCare into a user-friendly device called the SkinGun. The developer hopes physicians will soon be able to use the device in the clinical setting after studies are completed and FDA approval is obtained. It is quite possible that in the future the SkinGun will become the standard of care for burn victims.
There are limitations to the technology, however, and it is not suitable for treating damage to subcutaneous tissue (muscle and tissue under the skin). Nonetheless, stem cell researchers agree that the SkinGun has vast potential.