Rethinking Healthcare

Heal wounds with spray-on skin

Heal wounds with spray-on skin

Posting in Technology

Doctors spray donated skin cells onto troublesome sores.

If you're weak of stomach, this may not be the article for you. We're going to talk about leg ulcers - sores that happen when high blood pressure in your leg veins causes your skin to break down into an open wound.

Doctors typically treat leg ulcers with compression bandages. But those only heal about 70% of ulcers, after six months of treatment, says BBC News. They can also graft skin from another part of your body over the sore, but that procedure causes another wound in the area of the removed skin and the grafts take a while to prepare.

A group of American doctors figured there had to be a better treatment option for leg ulcer sufferers. They developed a spray of engineered tissue. The spray coats wounds with a combination of newborn skin cells and fibroblasts, connective tissue cells that coordinate healing.

They reported in the journal The Lancet this week that leg ulcers began rapidly decreasing in size following application of the spray. Patients showed the most healing when they received the spray every 14 days, and 70% of their wounds healed after three months.

The researchers say further study is needed to determine the practicality of the treatment, but at this point they argue that the initial high cost of the spray is outweighed by the money saved through faster healing.

[via BBC News]

Photos: Andrew Magill/Flickr and

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Audrey Quinn

Contributing Writer

Audrey Quinn is a Brooklyn-based multimedia journalist focused on health, tech and the economy. Her radio stories can be heard on Marketplace, Studio 360, PRI's The World, NPR's Latino USA, Deutsche Welle Radio and The Believer Magazine podcast. In addition to her work with CBS Interactive she produces multimedia science stories for online publications and is a teaching assistant at the Transom Story Workshop. Her investigative work has been awarded by the Fund for Investigative Journalism and The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure