For patients with severe burns the recovery process is not an easy one. Skin grafts are created by cutting pieces of the patient's healthy skin and placing them on the burns. This means that the burned patient has to recover both from the burns and from the wounds created for the skin grafts. In as little as five years this process could be completely different.
Dr. Marc Jeschke is the head of one of Canada's largest burn treatment centers and he calls the current burn treatment barbaric. Working with researchers at the University of Toronto, Jeschke created a printer that can create human skin that mimics the skin of the patient. The process starts with just a few healthy cells from the patient which are then multiplied. The cells are grown in different containers to become exactly the type of cells the doctor's need. The printer takes the cells and puts them where they need to go. The cells are put on a three dimensional matrix that is then ready to be put on the patient.
If this continues to be successful it will be revolutionary for burn patients. It could reduce the time in the hospital from months down to weeks and be much less painful for the patient. However, there is still a long way to go. The process is still two years away from human trials and they currently do not have the funding they need to continue the work for the long haul. There are also technological hurdles to overcome as they need a way to get the cells to multiply and grow at a faster rate than they normally do.
Main image credit: www.cbsnews.com