A new system developed by New York-based biotech firm RenovaCare is offering a glimmer of hope to burn victims nationwide. The system harvests a burn victim’s stem cells, and sprays it onto the wounds and burns for speedy healing.
The cutting-edge procedure will tap into a $45 million wound and burn market.
The American Burn Association states that roughly 450,000 patients receive hospital and emergency room treatment for burns each year, not accounting for burn injuries treated in private medical offices, hospital clinics, or community health centers.
The system consists of two elements: the CellMist solution and the SkinGun. The solution is a liquid suspensions of the patient’s skin stem cells, and the SkinGun is a sprayer that gently transfers the fragile cells without tearing them apart through a positive-pressure air stream.
Within just an hour and 30 minutes, treatment can commence and a sample of the victim’s skin is used and processed in order to isolate the stem cells from existing tissue. The end product is then placed in the SkinGun, and sprayed onto the burn and wound sites for quick healing.
Despite photos indicating fast and efficient recovery, the company and experts in the field say it may take years to push the patented product to market.
“Our work in Pittsburgh on the pre-product procedure really shows only good results, with now 47 patient treatments at UPMC Mercy Hospital Burn and Trauma Units,” says Dr. Jörg Gerlach, lead author of the system’s case report and a professor in the department of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. He says that he and his colleagues are entering the phase of planning clinical studies with RenovaCare.
Thomas Bold, an engineer and president and CEO of RenovaCare tells CNN that the procedure is completely “natural.”
“We don’t modify the cells,” said Bold. “We don’t do anything with the cells. We just isolate them from the surrounding tissue, put them in a syringe within a water-based solution, and we spray them.
Positive results show the SkinGun can apply more than 20,000 evenly distributed droplets, compared to only 91 droplets by conventional needle and syringe methods.
During traditional skin graft methods, a layer of skin from another area of the body is shaved off by a power dermatome to graft onto a burned site. Skin generally does not look appealing after skin grafting due to the varying skin colors.
“If you burn your shoulder and you used a stem cell technique, it would look the same as the skin on your shoulder. It would not appear different,” says Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
Aside from running the risk of infections and other missteps, it can take months to restore feeling in the affected area following skin grafting procedure. Depending on the location of the skin graft, physiotherapy may also be needed to prevent scar tissue from limiting movement.
The system has been awarded a U.S. patent and is awaiting FDA approval.