Every year, around 486,000 people are medically treated for burns in the United States. Severe cases can result in grafting and long-term monitoring. But a new company is hoping a technological breakthrough may provide a less painful alternative.
New York biotech firm RenovaCare has obtained a patent for the SkinGun, a space-age-looking tool that contains harvested stem cells from a patient’s own skin and then sprays the solution over the affected burn area. The hope is that the healthy stem cells will begin to heal the damaged skin with only minimal intervention and mild scarring.
First, a physician obtains cells from a one-inch patch of undamaged skin. Next, the stem cells extracted from the sample are suspended in a water vial, which is then loaded into the SkinGun. RenovaCare reports that patients can be treated in as little as 90 minutes after arriving for care, with new skin developing within days. The company estimates that 97.3 percent of the harvested cells remain viable after being ejected.
Nearly 50 patients at the University of Pittsburgh have been treated with the device. RenovaCare is hoping to pursue large clinical trials to obtain clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to market the SkinGun commercially.