The Skin Gun: Healing Burn Victims with Stem Cells (Video)
Dr. Jörg Gerlach's Skin Gun: Healing Burn Victims Within Days
Dr. Jörg Gerlach at teh McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine (University of Pittsburgh) has developed a "skin gun", which sprays stem cells harvested from a burn victim which are redeployed to speed up the healing process. The effect is dramatic: serious burns are healed in days instead of months.
The skin gun looks sort of like an airbrush, or maybe something that the medical droid in Empire Strikes Back would use. The patient's skin stem cells are held in a water solution. The turnaround time from biopsy to cell prep to spray-on: an hour and a half.
Many victims of severe burns die not from the burns themselves, but from infections that take hold during the healing process. Reducing the healing time in turn reduces the risk and rate of infection.
The video of the skin gun in action contains some graphic footage of burn injuries, but is fascinating to watch. It's part of National Geographic's "How to Build a Beating Heart".
We've heard about the spray-on skin gun back in 2008 but we didn't think it'd become this real, this useful, this fast. Though it is still technically in an experimental stage, the skin gun has already successfully treated over a dozen burn victims