The developers of a “spray on skin” product claim new trial findings show the innovative technique can significantly improve the treatment of burns victims by reducing the need for skin grafts.
The ground-breaking system involves spraying a patient’s own skill cells onto wounds to encourage new skin to grow.
Using a lunchbox-sized, battery-powered device, healthy skin from a patient can be turned into the spray-on version within half an hour, with just a few square centimetres needed to create enough to cover an adult torso.
While the technique has been in use in the UK for the past decade, it has yet to be recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for routine use by the NHS.
But, according to its creators, a US trial involving patients with severe burns has bolstered evidence that the ReCell Spray On Skin system, can reduce pain, speed healing and mean shorter hospital stays.
Thirty people took part in the trial conducted at seven specialist burns centres to assess the effectiveness of ReCell when used alongside skin grafts to treat mixed depth burns, including partial and full thickness burns.
Patients were aged five or older and had endured five to 50% total body surface area burns.
Each participant saw one area of their burns treated with a standard meshed skin graft, while another area was treated with a skin graft and spray. Their progress was followed for a year after treatment.
One advantage of using spray-on skin with grafts is that the grafted skin can be spread out more thinly across the burn, meaning less skin needs to be taken from elsewhere on a recipient’s body.
New trial data bolsters case for ‘spray on skin’ for burns
During the randomised controlled trial, carried out between 2015 to 2017, it was found that burns treated with ReCell and a graft required 32% less skin removing.
Meanwhile, the treatment achieved comparable results to standard care when it came to healing and the appearance of scarring.
The company behind the system – Avita Medical – said the results suggested the technique could help reduce the number of painful skin graft operations for burns victims.
They also claimed the system could help reduce delays in treating large numbers of patients injured in a “mass casualty event”.
NICE is due to review its guidance on the treatment starting next year. The body’s current guidance on the spray on skin system noted that it “shows potential to improve healing in acute burns”.
“However, there is insufficient evidence on its use in clinical practice, particularly in relation to which patients might benefit most from its use, to support the case for its routine adoption in the NHS,” the guidance adds.