Burns, especially those of the 2nd and 3rd degree kind, can be life threatening if they are not treated immediately. But even still, current available burn treatments require months and months of recuperation which still opens up the possibility of burn patients getting infections during that time. Current methods such as skin grafts may take a long time to treat serious burns, too long sometimes that it can put a burn victim’s life at risk. A faster and more convenient method may be needed to lessen deaths and complications due to serious burns. This is where the skin gun comes in.
Although the name may conjure a device of a more violent kind, the skin gun is actually something that might just revolutionize burn treatment. Putting it simply, the skin gun is used to directly spray stem cells into an affected burn area in order to develop and grow into new skin. Although it has not yet been approved or recommended for burn treatment, it has already been used dozens of times in its testing stages to treat severe burns. So far, it has proven to be effective.
The skin gun was developed by Dr. Jorg Gerlach at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. It works by spraying stem cells harvested from the burn victim and into burn wounds in order to speed up the healing process. The skin gun is used similar to an airbrush that sprays a fine mist of a solution composed of stem cells and water into a burnt area of the skin.
Many of the burn victims usually die not as a direct result of the burns themselves but due to the infections that the victims may acquire during the healing process. The skin protects the body’s internal system from getting infections. Severe skin burns can open up areas where infections may develop and cause life threatening complications. That is why a faster recuperation period for burn victims is crucial to their survival.
With the use of the skin gun, the time it takes to let severe burns heal can be drastically shortened. According to Dr. Gerlach, the time it takes to get a biopsy, create a cell preparation and then spraying it on an affected area takes only around one and a half hours. Using this treatment process, serious burns can heal in a matter of days instead of months as what current burn treatments offer. A video of the skin gun can be seen on National Geographic that shows how it may help change burn treatments for the better in the future.
Image Source: National Geographic