RenovaCare’s SkinGun uses a patient’s own stem cells to heal their wounds faster and more efficiently than a traditional skin graft.
Pennsylvania state police officer Matthew Uram suffered severe second-degree burns to his face, right arm and leg after a friend’s bonfire got out of control. Uram was facing months of painful skin grafts, the standard treatment in wound care for burns.
But instead, he was one of the first patients to be treated with RenovaCare’s stem-cell-spraying SkinGun.
The device uses a sample of stem cells collected from a patient’s healthy skin, which are isolated and placed into a water-based solution in a syringe, which is then attached to the SkinGun.
The SkinGun guides the cells through the syringe and into an airstream, creating a gentle mist that’s sprayed over the patient’s wounds. Treatment takes just 90 minutes.
RenovaCare president & CEO Thomas Bold said the technology represents a shift in how researchers think about wound care. When the body heals itself, it attempts to seal a wound from the edges. But the SkinGun’s mist of cells creates “thousands and thousands of little regenerative islands all over the wound,” Bold explained.
Patients can spend months healing when they’re treated with skin grafts, Bold said, but Uram was treated on a Friday and walked out of the hospital just four days later.
Apart from the obvious physical benefits of the technology, rapid burn healing could hold promise for a patient’s mental health too, Bold pointed out. Severe burns and the resulting scars can leave burn victims suffering from trauma and depression. Researchers at the University of Adelaide’s Center for Traumatic Stress Studies found that 42% of childhood burn victims suffered from some form of mental illness. The 30-year follow-up study also showed that 30% were depressed at some point in their lives and that 11% had attempted suicide.
“That is a big problem, and it is very important to come up with something with new ideas, with new strategies,” Bold said. He believes that his technology “could really be an answer for the future.”