A med-tech startup has developed a fast and easy way to treat certain burn wounds with stem cells. This technology is developed by German researcher Dr. Jörg Gerlach. He is the world’s first ever person who use a patient’s stem cells to directly heal the skin. The technique is meant to reduce the healing time and minimize complications, with aesthetically and functionally satisfying outcomes. There are no scars, no residual pain and it’s like there wasn’t any burn to start with. It’s not less than a miracle.
Many burn victims in Germany and the U.S. were successfully treated with the spray following the procedure, and in 2014 Gerlach sold the technology to RenovaCare.
The medical technology startup has now transformed the proof-of-concept device from a complicated prototype into a user-friendly product called a SkinGun, which it hopes doctors will be able to use outside of an experimental setting. RenovaCare CEO Thomas Bold believes, the SkinGun can compete with, or even replace, today’s standard of care. “The sprayer allows us to have a generous distribution of cells on the wound,” explained Roger Esteban-Vives, director of cell sciences at RenovaCare.
RenovaCare’s SkinGun sprays a liquid suspension of a patient’s stem cells onto a burn or wound in order to re-grow the skin without scars. Stem-cell methods helped cut this risk by quickening healing and providing a source of new skin from a very small area. Cell Mist method gets a greater yield from its harvest than mesh grafting, a more common way to treat burns. At a maximum, grafting can treat six times the size of its harvest area. Cell Mist can cover 100 times its harvest area.
When dispensing cells over a wound, it’s important that they make the transition without any damage. Damaged cells reduce the effectiveness of the treatment.
97% of the stem cells in RenovaCare’s SkinGun remain viable after being sprayed on a wound, according to the company.
High cell viability also contributes to faster healing. When a wound heals naturally, cells migrate to it to build up the skin. That process can take weeks.
Stem cells have tremendous promise to help us understand and treat a range of diseases, injuries and other health-related conditions.
There is still a lot to learn about stem cells, however, and their current applications as treatments are sometimes exaggerated by the media and other parties who do not fully understand the science and current limitations
Beyond regulatory matters, there are also limitations to the technology that make it unsuitable for competing with treatments of third-degree burns, which involve damage to muscle and other tissue below the skin.
Research is already underway at RenovaCare to enable treatment of third-degree burns, which Thomas Bold describes as “definitely within the range of possibility.”
When burn victims need a skin graft they typically have to grow skin on other parts of their bodies. This is a process that can take weeks. A new technique uses stem cells derived from the umbilical cord to generate new skin much more quickly. The umbilical cord consists of a gelatinous tissue that contains uncommitted mesenchymal stem cells (MSC)
Research is underway to develop various sources for stem cells, and to apply stem-cell treatments for neurodegenertive diseases and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions.
Tens of thousands of grafts are performed each year for burn victims, cosmetic surgery patients, and for people with large wounds having difficulty healing. Traditionally, this involves taking a large patch of skin (typically from the thigh) and removing the dermis and epidermis to transplant elsewhere on the body. Burns victims are making incredible recoveries thanks to a revolutionary ‘gun’ that sprays stem cells on to their wounds, enabling them to rapidly grow new skin. Patients who have benefited say their new skin is virtually indistinguishable from that on the rest of the body.
Thomas Bold, chief executive of RenovaCare, the company behind SkinGun, said: ‘The procedure is gentler – and the skin that regrows looks, feels and functions like the original skin.’
First, a small patch of healthy skin the size of a postage stamp is removed. The stem cells are then separated out. After that put into a solution that is sprayed on to the wound. The process takes just 90 minutes.
If you are planning to have stem cell treatments don’t forget to remember these points
- Currently, very few stem cell treatments are proven safe and effective
- There is something to lose when you try an unproven treatment
- Different types of stem cells serve different purposes in the body
- The same stem cell treatment is unlikely to work for different diseases or conditions
- The science behind a disease should match the science behind the treatment
- Cells from your own body are not automatically safe when used in treatments
- Patient testimonials and other marketing provided clinics may be misleading
- An experimental treatment offered for sale is not the same as a clinical trial
- The process by which science becomes medicine is designed to minimize harm and maximize effectiveness
Stem cell researchers are making great advances in understanding normal development. They are trying to figure out what goes wrong in disease and developing and testing potential treatments to help patients. They still have much to learn. However, about how stem cells work in the body and their capacity for healing. Safe and effective treatments for most diseases, conditions and injuries are in the future.