Burn victims may no longer be forced to undergo painful skin grafts, thanks to a revolutionary piece of technology that uses adult stem cells.
Instead of taking skin from one part of the body and transplanting it onto the burned area, a stem-cell spraying device simply covers the affected area with the victim’s own stem cells.
By taking adult stem cells from a healthy section of skin, placing them in a solution, and spraying the solution onto the wound, the patient’s own skin grows back and heals naturally.
The procedure has been in development for some time, and is not yet commercially available, but its capability was publicised in the press earlier this month.
The technology was featured in the Journal of the International Society for Burn Injuries, and showed incredible ‘before and after’ images of the horrific injuries, and the victims’ almost full recoveries.
Patients who have benefitted from early treatments say their new skin is virtually indistinguishable from the rest of their body.
Commenting on the journal’s research, Thomas Bold, CEO of RenovaCare – a company developing this technology – said, “the skin that regrows looks, feels and functions like the original skin”.
By using adult stem cells, the healing process of the victims was also vastly accelerated.
While a skin graft treatment can take weeks or even months, and leave scarring, these patients were able to grow healthy skin in as little as four days.
In one case, a man who had suffered electrical burns to over a third of his body after touching a live wire had 24 million adult stem cells harvested and then sprayed back onto his body.
The process itself lasted only 90 minutes, and within four days, he had regrown a thin layer of skin over his arms and chest, where the burns were least severe.
After 20 days, all of the areas treated by the stem cell grafting process were described as “completely healed”.
RenovaCare is applying for a licence to use the technology in routine practice in Europe.
In January, it was revealed that a new technique allowed adult stem cells to be used in the treatment of heart problems.
The technique involves implanting synthetic cardiac stem cells which repair heart muscle. It has been praised as both an ethical and less risky alternative to other treatments.