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New treatment may be ahead for severe burns

A California biotechnology firm is involved in the development of a new treatment that could significantly alter the treatment and prognosis of people who have been badly burned. Engineered skin substitute, also known as ESS, uses both collagen-producing cells and a patient’s own skin to regrow the layers. Skin grafts using a patient’s own skin have been in use for years, but they do not promote the type of large-scale healing that ESS may provide. Previous treatments have only ever been able to regrow a single skin layer, but with ESS, it is possible to regrow both the dermis and the epidermis.

Researchers from Rutgers University and the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research in Texas are also involved in the study. The USAISR Burn Unit treats both civilians and military personnel, and it will conduct a Phase 2 study of ESS involving a dozen people who have burns over 50 percent of their bodies. Around 500 to 2,000 people annually sustain burns this severe, and many of them die from infection or organ failure.

If ESS is successful, it could also be important in soft tissue repair following a burn. Research into other techniques and products is also underway including a system in which an individual’s stem cells are used to produce new tissue.

Injuries from a burn may be life-changing. Recovery may be painful, expensive and lengthy, and people may be permanently disfigured or disabled. If the injuries were caused by the negligence of another party, such as a manufacturer of a defective electric blanket that caused a fire, a personal injury attorney can assist the victim in seeking compensation for the losses that have been incurred.

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