The treatment, developed by Avita Medical, is called ReCell Spray-On Skin. It uses a person's healthy skin cells to create a spray that goes over a damaged area. The spray-on skin provides a faster healing time and better cosmetic results than previously used skin grafts.
Here's how it works:
A surgeon removes a sliver of healthy keratinocytes and melanocytes skin cells near the area to be treated. The cells are placed in a processing unit and quickly reproduce in a special suspension solution. Unlike the weeks it takes to grow actual pieces of skin in the lab for skin grafts, it takes about a half hour to produce 80 times as many cells as in the original sample.
The cells are then sprayed on the damaged area where they continue to grow and multiply. And there is no risk of the body rejecting them because the new cells have been grown from the patient's own cells.
The new treatment, which is already approved for sale in Canada, Europe and Australia, could save money and time when healing burns.
Surgeon Jeremy Rawlins who treated little Merrick's chest in Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, U.K. told Sky News:
"There is an upfront cost associated with using this innovative technology. However, when we've treated a patient in this way the patient is healed - end of story. Whereas with other treatments the patient may require much further and on-going treatments in the form of skin grafts and scar revisions. So whilst there is that upfront cost we've actually saved an awful lot of money in the long run."
Photo via Avita Medical