Skin Cell Regeneration from a Bioreactor

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Here's a clip from National Geographic Explorer, showing Dr. Jörg Gerlach's experimental "skin gun," a tool used in regenerating burned skin using the patient's own skin cells from other parts of the body. This technique, though experimental, can heal in a matter of days, rather than the weeks (and the associated scarring caused in that time) typically necessary for other techniques like skin grafts.

Gerlach: "We isolate cells from the healthy part of the skin -- the patient's own cells -- which can be taken in a water solution, and that solution is prepared for cell spraying."

The whole approach is part of Gerlach's work on bioreactors; his approach involves not just the applicator gun, but also a system for growing cells and a special wound dressing that helps with healing. In the video below, we see one example of a man who had second-degree burns over much of his face, right arm, and right shoulder which was treated with the experimental technique -- and to my eye there's virtually no scarring. Let's hope this works for others!

Warning: there are a few images of second-degree skin burns in this video, though they are not shown with the intent to gross you out. If you're not cool with seeing a bit of post-burn flesh, don't watch. Just in case, I put the video (with its poster frame of a second-degree-burned hand) after the jump:

(Via Kottke.org, via @delfuego.)

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October 11, 2011 - 11:49am
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