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The BBC's Chris Hogg
"It could yet be a step forward in the treatment of disfiguring and life threatening injuries"
 real 28k

Friday, 29 June, 2001, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
New hope for burns victims
The new treatment involves spraying cells onto the patients' skin
Scientists in Australia have developed a treatment for burns which they say will mean patients getting faster treatment and suffering less scarring.

The treatment, which involves patients' own skin cells being sprayed on to their wounds, is already available in Australia and the company who make it hope to persuade UK doctors to adopt it.

Doctors say CellSpray enables them to grow new skin cells up to three times faster than normal treatments, enabling them to start work sooner on repairing the skin of burns victims.

One person to have benefited from the system is Samantha Eyre, from Perth, Western Australia.

We have found the treatment to be very successful and it has made a big difference to her skin

Janice Eyre

Severe burns

Nearly three years ago she was badly injured following a family barbecue, suffering extensive burns to her forearm and chin.

But following her treatment Samantha, now aged 11, can hold her head up high in the playground and not fear taunts of her fellow students.

Samantha Eyre
Samantha Eyre pictured before the accident

"It has made my skin a lot smoother and a much nicer colour," she said.

Mum Janice agreed: "We have found the treatment to be very successful and it has made a big difference to her skin. She is more accepted among her friends."

Dr Fiona Wood, one of the burns specialists who developed the system, said CellSpray, for company C3, was designed for the treatment of large burns and extensive scars.

The cultured skin cells are then suspended in liquid and placed in a syringe with an aerosol type attachment on the end. The surgeon then uses this to spray a thin film of liquid over the wound.

This removes the need for skin grafting.

She said: "The real issue is ease of growth and speed of growth."

Speedier treatment

So far they have treated in excess of 700 patients with injuries ranging from scalds to extensive burns.

But the system has produced scepticism from some UK doctors who are keen to see more evidence before accepting the spray.

Dr Fiona Woods
Burns doctor Fiona Woods wants to see the system used in the UK

Mr Andrew Roberts, director of the burns unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, said the spray showed great promise.

He added that it could end up saving the NHS considerable amounts of cash as patients would be treated and released more quickly than by using conventional grafts.

"If we can save two weeks in the hospital then that is a major saving."

But he said he would need to see more evidence before committing himself to using it on his patients.

"It will not act as a normal skin. Whether it is an acceptable replacement is the question."

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See also:

14 Mar 01 | Health
'My child was burned'
05 Jan 01 | Health
Child burns victims failed
14 Mar 01 | Health
Campaign to cut household scalds
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