Spray-On Skin: Stem Cell Gun Safely Heals Burns in Days

Serious burns to the skin are notoriously hard to heal. Lab-grown or transplanted skin takes a long time to grow and is very fragile even after being successfully put in place on the affected area. In the time between treatment and healing, many burn victims develop life-threatening infections. This incredible new “gun” could radically change the way burn victims are treated, increasing success rates and dramatically reducing healing times. (CAUTION: the video below contains some graphic images of burns.)

The gun sprays the burn victim’s own stem cells onto their charred skin, encouraging new skin to grow in the damaged area. Instead of taking weeks or even months to heal, the injuries take a mere matter of days to get back to normal. Incredibly, the procedure leaves very little scarring and the color and texture of the skin can get back to normal in just a few months.

Spraying stem cells onto burned flesh is nothing new; the method has been used around the world for at least 20 years. But what is new about this approach, created by Dr. Jorg Gerlach of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, is the electronically-controlled pneumatic device used to spray the cells. The sprayer does not damage the cells and the treatment only takes about 90 minutes.

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See more in Medical Marvels or under Science. February, 2011.