Every year in the United States 486,000 people are medically treated for burn injuries. The costs for skin grafts are costly, time consuming, require long term monitoring by your doctor and grafts are at increased risk for infection. Renovacare hopes to change all of this.
Renovacare a New York biotech firm has turned science fiction into fact. After decades of regenerative research the SkinGun has been developed. In fact they just received their first patent. This device uses a patient’s own healthy stem cells on burns for an amazingly fast recovery.
Traditional burn recovery procedures
The traditional method for dealing with severe burns is excision, in which the burned skin is removed and then grafting new skin to the affected area. This is an extremely painful procedure as the burn patient now has to deal with two areas, the burned area and the new wound that was created in removing healthy skin from somewhere else on their body. Infection is also a common problem with skin graft.
Burn victims also have to deal with the emotional and physical effects of dealing with scarring, as well of the potential cost of plastic surgery to minimize scars. The SkinGun also has minimal scarring as compared to traditional skin grafts.
This video is very graphic
How stem cells are recovered
A doctor will remove one square inch patch of healthy undamaged skin. The cells are then extracted and suspended in a water based solution. The vial with stem cells is then loaded into the gun and sprayed onto the affected area. The new skin will then grow on a cellular level.
According to Renovacare a patient can be treated in as little as 90 minutes after arriving for treatment. After the area is sprayed new skin begins developing in days. According to the company 97.3% of the harvested cells remain viable after application, which means a higher success rate of healing. The average healing time for second degree burns is three to four weeks, with a SkinGun treatment, the time is reduced to days. Because the time is accelerated, the risk of infection is significantly reduced.
Still in the experimental stage
The company will need to pursue large clinical trials to obtain clearance from the FDA to market the device commercially.
Hartmann B., et al. Sprayed cultured epithelial autografts for deep dermal burns of the face and neck. Ann Plast Surg. 2007 Jan;58(1):70-3. (link retrieved Feb 4, 2015)
Gerlach, J. C. et al. Method for autologous single skin cell isolation for regenerative cell spray transplantation with non-cultured cells. Int J Artif Organs 2011; 34(3): 271 – 279 (link retrieved Feb 4, 2015)
Gerlach, J. C. et al. Autologous skin cell spray-transplantation for a deep dermal burn patient in an ambulant treatment room setting. Burns 37, e19-e23 (2011) (link retrieved Feb 4, 2015)