Currently when treating a burn victim, it can take weeks to generate an autologous skin graft when one is necessary to treat the affected areas. However, a team of researchers at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine have developed a new treatment which can reduce this time to just a few days. The researchers harvest healthy skin from the patient and use a 'skin gun' to spray the patient's own skin stem cells onto the wound. Following application of the autologous cells, the researchers used an artificial vascular system to further speed up the healing process by nourishing the stem cells.
From the McGowan Institute:
The expected protocol when a patient arrives at a hospital missing a sizable portion of skin would be as follows: Surgeons take a sample from a healthy piece of skin and isolate skin cells, including skin stem cells, using a method Gerlach and his colleagues developed.
Then the skin gun comes into play. A surgeon loads the stem cells into a sterile syringe, loads the syringe into the nozzle like a cartridge, and sprays the cells through the nozzle directly onto the wound.
Lastly, the other essential part of the Gerlach process is an innovative wound dressing. Enmeshed in what looks like a traditional dressing are tubes that are part of another bioreactor. Tubes extend from each end of the dressing—one does the work of an artery, the other a vein. When connected to an “artificial vascular system” the bioreactor bandage distributes glucose, sugar, amino acids, antibiotics, and electrolytes to the treated area. It cleans the wound, provides nutrition, and better supports the precious stem cells in the wound until they start to grow and regenerate new skin for the patient.
Press release: Burn Therapy: A Regenerative Medicine Approach
(hat tip: Kotaku)