How do you handle a simple flesh wound? Band-aid? Neosporin? Have you ever considered just spraying new skin cells onto the wound? You might be able to do just that pretty soon. U.S. and Canadian scientists have developed a new technique to heal leg ulcers, involving spraying a new layer of skin onto the infected flesh.
This “spray-on skin” is exactly what it sounds like: a layer of donated skin cells and blood-clotting proteins to be applied directly onto a leg ulcer, reports Newser. Roughly 228 patients with leg wounds deemed resistant to treatment were given the “spray-on skin” by researchers, and the results were surprisingly good – 70% of the “spray-on skin”-treated ulcers healed after three months, compared with only 46% healed by alternate treatments.
According to the BBC, the spray was developed by Healthpoint Biotherapeutics in the US, which also funded the research. Despite a steep cost for the spray, experts said that the faster healing in their patients from the “spray-on skin” could actually save money long-term.
One of the scientists involved, Dr. Herbert Slade, said this of the pioneering treatment:
“The treatment we tested in this study has the potential to vastly improve recovery times and overall recovery from leg ulcers, without the need for a skin graft. This means not only that the patient doesn’t acquire a new wound where the graft is taken from, but also that the spray-on solution can be available as soon as required – skin grafts take a certain amount of time to prepare, which exposes the patient to further discomfort and risk of infection.”
Lecturer in leg ulcer theory at the University of Hertfordshire, Irene Anderson, said:
“A dressing or other application may have a positive effect on the wound for a period of time but ultimately if the underlying condition is not managed the leg will break down again. We do know that leg ulcers are becoming increasingly complex and when using the range of treatments available there needs to be clear evidence that there will be a beneficial effect to ensure cost effectiveness and to make sure that patients are not given false expectations of a cure.”
So it might be a little while before “spray-on skin” becomes an over-the-counter staple, but still! Science fiction-y, no?