Skin gun treats burn victims in days, not months
After attending a summer bonfire turned wrong, Pennsylvania state police officer Matt Uram was left with second degree burns across his face and arms.
"My arm looked like a piece of charred meat… it literally looked like a hot dog left on a grill too long," said Uram.
Facing weeks or months of restorative skin grafting procedures, doctors decided to pull out the big guns. Well, the skin gun that is.
Doctor Jörg Gerlach of the University of Pittsburgh's McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and creator of the new medical technology said, "We call it the skin cell gun, a device for the deposition of skin cells onto the wound."
In the National Geographic video, doctors explain that when skin is burned, it’s not so much the fire itself that does the most damage.
Rather, it’s the infections which can plague the bodyafter the skin is burned away.
Yes, doctors can regenerate skin, but they are forced to use extremely fragile skin grafts, a process that takes typically takes months.
So medical technicians have to work fast and by definition, the skin grafting process is extremely slow.
But with Dr. Gerlach’s new computer controlled gun technology, doctors can quickly spray a patient’s own skin stem cells from healthy portions of the body directly onto the wounds.
"[The gun] looked like something you’d see in Star Wars," said Uram.
Within four days of skin cell gun treatment, Uram got an all clear check-up at his doctor’s office - something that would have taken months and months with traditional treatment.
Although the gun is still considered experimental, the technology is simply too promising to ignore.