Science. What is it all about? Techmology. What is that all about? Is it good? Or is it whack?
Burn victims fear not! Scientists have developed a novel approach to ensure you’re not turning heads for the rest of your life. The so-called “skin cell spray gun” uses an individual’s own skin cells isolated from stem cells and dresses the exposed, burned layers with a fresh batch of skin. Drastically reducing recovery time, the gun eliminates the previous need for skin grafts as the only measure for treating burns. Skin grafts demand that skin be taken directly from the individual as well, but instead an entire section from a healthy portion of the body. Such grafts take a substantial amount of time to heal, and in this time there is a high possibility of infection. Moreover, grafts are often found to be ineffective because of their fragility and possibility for blisters to form underneath the superficial layer.
Skin spraying allows for the recovery time to be cut from weeks to mere days in a method that does not damage the skin cells.
“The sprayed wound is then covered with a newly-developed dressing with tubes enmeshed within it and extending from each end. One set of tubes functions as an artery, while the second set functions as a vein. The tubes are connected to an ‘artificial vascular system’ and provide electrolytes, antibiotics, amino acids and glucose to the wound. The dressing keeps the wound clean and sterile, and provides nutrition for the skin stem cells to encourage them to regenerate new skin.”
While this can only be used for second degree burns at the moment, there is substantial hope that even third degree burn victims can be alleviated with minimal scarring.
This is an exciting glimpse into the possibilities of stem cells. Time and again, I think of pain, disability and reduced longevity related to diseases. A close friend of mine with juvenile diabetes winces in pain when he pricks his fingers to check blood sugars and self-administers insulin. Should his pancreas receive stem cells and should they transform themselves into insulin producing beta cells, he would wince no more. At the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network, where I volunteer, I have come to know a young woman with a compromised heart function in need of cardiac transplant. She carries a beeper that would notify her should a donor heart become available. She could die before this happens because donors are scarce. A therapy with stem cells would replace her weak heart muscle with thriving new myocytes and no transplantation would be necessary.
Things seem to only be looking up for the future in terms of medical advancements. I say:
Eat your fatty foods, drink all that beer, indulge, make poor health decisions! Don’t worry, the scientists of today are doing some kick ass stuff to bail you out tomorrow