Scientists in California have developed a new kind of liquid skin graft.
Though dressings and other bandages are one way to approach wound care, there are other solutions available, many of which become applicable as technology improves. The skin graft is an especially popular innovation, as it can better prevent infection and will often heal quicker and more effectively.
Over the last several months alone, there have been a number of developments in skin graft related technologies. These include a new technique for applying the grafts and a new graft made out skin-like compounds.
Yet, as eMedicine explained, skin grafts aren’t always a perfect solution, and rejection can occur with certain methods. Others, meanwhile, may not always fit properly or leave patients with scars or improperly pigmented skin.
Breaking down a solution
It’s perhaps those very downfalls of skin grafts that inspired a team from the U.K.’s National Health Service. As The Daily Mail reported, these NHS researchers are close to launching a groundbreaking new device: it liquefies skin and allows it be placed over wounds to aid healing.
The device, called ReGenerCell, works quite simply. A sample of the patient’s skin is taken; any place on the body will work but the upper leg or thigh is most common. From there, the device liquefies the sample of skin and creates a Regenerative Epithelial Suspension.
This RES features a series of compounds that are meant to mimic natural skin and bolster wound healing times. The RES works by turning on certain proteins and other signaling compounds in the wound, which helps the new graft to be fully absorbed by the body.
This liquid skin concoction takes about 30 minutes to create, at which time it is sprayed directly in the wound. It’s meant primarily to help patients with venous leg ulcers and pressure sores. In a six-week clinical trial with the device, NHS scientists found that large ulcers shrunk by as much as 40 percent. Not only that, but the graft has the same pigment and natural flexibility as actual skin.
Dr. Paul Hayes, who helped run the ReGenerCell trial, noted that the device worked on many patients who had no luck with other approaches.
“No one treatment will heal every chronic ulcer, but if you can help half, or even a third of them, then that is going to have a big impact,” Hayes told the Daily Mail. “We had two patients trapped in their house waiting for the district nurse to come and dress their wounds. We used ReGenerCell, the wound improved and healed, and now those patients have gone off on holiday.”
No word yet on when ReGenerCell might be available outside the U.K. However, if it were to be utilized, it would have a huge impact in the U.S. According to Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, venous ulcers alone affect between 500,000 and 2 million Americans annually. That’s a financial burden of $14.9 billion, per a 2014 report in the Journal of Medical Economics.
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