The patented system delivers a solution of stem cells to quickly and efficiently heal the most intense burns.

In recent months, there have been a number of exciting breakthroughs in treating moderate to severe burns, injuries which affect millions of people each year.

In spring 2016, a team from Switzerland unveiled new bandages to treat the most severe burns, with man-made molecules delivering drugs directly into the wound site. More recently, researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center developed a technique to fight burn infection by blinding the bacterium with special chemicals.

Today, another breakthrough arrives courtesy of a research team from the University of Pittsburgh, and it’s a novel approach to healing burns quickly and effectively.

A targeted approach

As part of a recent case study published in the journal Burns, the Pittsburgh collective unveiled a two-part system to improve wound healing in patients with severe burns. The first arm of the approach is called the CellMist System – it collects stem cells from a 1-inch square of skin. At that point, the stem cells are suspended in a patented water-based solution, and they’re ready to be applied to burns of almost any size.

In order to deliver the stem cells, the Pittsburgh team invented the SkinGun, which sprays the stem cells via a mist. Per the researchers, the gun is safe because it doesn’t damage the cells; in fact, as much as 97 percent of the cells are viable upon delivery to the wound site. Most of the trials for the CellMist and SkinGun have been with laboratory animals, though more recently they’ve also moved into working with a group of 47 patients at the UPMC Mercy Hospital Burn and Trauma Units.

Thus far, those human trials have been rather promising, with patients’ wounds not only healing faster but having to contend with fewer painful or bothersome scars. Still, the Pittsburgh team admitted it may still be some time before the SkinGun approach will be certified for commercial use by the Food and Drug Administration.

Speaking with CNN affiliate KFSM, Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital, believes the use of stem cells could prove more impactful than current skin grafts.

“Infection is often a problem, and grafting rates are often poor,” he said. “A good percentage of grafts won’t take.”
{Made new paragraph} Stem cells don’t experience such host rejection, and Glatter added that there is also less discoloration to boot. “If you burn your shoulder and you used a stem cell technique, it would look the same as the skin on your shoulder. It would not appear different.”

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