The SkinGun device for treating severe burns is making headway in a number of ongoing trials.

Burn injuries are a real serious health issues across the U.S. In 2016 alone, there were an estimated 486,000 hospitalizations due to these injuries, according to the American Burn Association. In order to better treat these severe injuries, doctors are always looking for new treatments to help reduce the risk of infection and regrow tissue more efficiently.

One of the more recent advancements comes from a team out of Pittsburgh, which designed a special device to treat the worst burns. The so-called SkinGun works by applying stem cells to the burn, at which point the normal wound healing process is sped up. Early trials held at Pittsburgh’s UPMC Mercy Hospital Burn and Trauma Units have had some promising success, with faster healing times and less overall scar tissue.

Now, the SkinGun is making its way into other hospitals for early clinical trials.

Gaining momentum

One such hospital making use of the SkinGun is Shriners Hospitals for Children in Galveston, Texas. As Houston’s KPRC2 reported, doctors have been using the SkinGun to treat an assortment of burns for some time.

David Herndon is Shriners chief of staff and director of research. Speaking with KPCR2, he explained that there are several benefits to the SkinGun, especially given the children who Shriners treats exclusively. Among those benefits are a much more streamlined treatment; the traditional approach involves daily washings, which can be painful, and the application of topical ointments.

The SkinGun, only requires a small patch of skin – about the size of a postage stamp – and that means a less painful or demanding skin grafting process for the patients. Plus, as explained earlier, treatments via the SkinGun often last a fraction of traditional healing times, and that means less physical pain and emotional duress among patients.

Herndon explained that while he’s hopeful the SkinGun will continue to help people during these early clinical trials, he added that this isn’t the end-all approach. Instead, the SkinGun is only part of the approach to treating severe burns, and to counter the large-scale problem doctors need as many tools as possible.

However, other hospitals using the SkinGun outside Shriners and UPMC are seeing a number of cases proving the SkinGun’s merit. Developers behind the device pointed KPRC2 toward a state trooper from Pennsylvania. After experiencing a large burn across his entire side, he was treated with the SkinGun and released in just 72 hours.

If the device continues to demonstrate such results, it may be up for approval by the Food and Drug Administration in no time. SkinGun was designed in part by RenovaCare out of New York, who has worked with both groups out of Pittsburgh and Galveston.

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