Two Florida doctors are working hard to change the way that burn victims are treated. The University of Miami team is currently conducting stem cell clinical trials to develop new techniques to use donor stem cells to restore tissue and reduce long-term scarring from burns. If successful, the treatment could change the way burn victims are treated, as they may no longer need to undergo reconstructive skin graft surgery.
“This is exciting stuff when you think of how helpful it could be. There has been little major advancement in burn treatment in the last 20 years,’’ said Dr. Evangelos Badiavas, principal investigator at the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute at UM’s Miller School of Medicine. “Severe burns can ruin a life, so there is a desperate need.’’
The doctors are especially excited at the possibility of being able to treat veterans who have suffered serious burn-related injuries. In fact, an overwhelming five to 20 percent of combat injuries are caused by improvised explosive devices. Additionally, roughly 450,000 civilian patients are treated for burns each year, according to the American Burn Association.
“The benefit of this therapy would be to have an ‘off the shelf’ technology available for the treatment of deployment-related burn injuries which would not require skin grafting,” said Dr. Wendy Dean, medical adviser for the Tissue Injury and Regenerative Medicine Program Management Office at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity. “One of the most urgent requests from both burn patients and their care providers is to eliminate the need for skin grafts.’’
Patients preparing to participate in trials
The burn victims participating in the trial are coming from The University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Burn Center. Most of the patients have suffered deep, second-degree burns, damaging the outer layer of skin and the layer underneath. The wound is typically covered in a thin, protective dressing for the trial and mesenchymal stem cells — adult cells harvested from the donor’s bone marrow — are injected directly onto the wound to regenerate the outer and inner skin layers.
Treatment will be administered every other week. The central focus of the trial is exactly how many different treatments will be needed to completely heal with a new layer of skin. The doctors hope to have the answer to this question by the end of the two-year study period.
Maine burn injury lawyers
Last year, the Maine personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf & Downing were able to recover $850,000 — with a structured cash settlement paying over $4 million over his lifetime — to a young boy who received severe burns from paintball equipment. The victim was playing a game of paintball with his friends at the time of the accident. While this was certainly a challenging case to take on, the Maine burn injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf & Downing don’t back down easily.
If you or a loved one has sustained a serious burn injury, it’s important to know your rights. Call 1-800-INJURED today to schedule a free consultation with the experienced Maine accident lawyers at Hardy, Wolf & Downing.