Sydney Burns Foundation researchers are growing synthetic skin
The Sunday Telegraph
July 08, 2012 12:00AM
BURNS victims will be able to grow back their own skin within five years following groundbreaking advancements in skin reproduction.
Researchers from the Sydney Burns Foundation are growing a human-based substance "recombinant elastin" which associate professor Peter Haertsch believes will provide victims a better quality of life.
"We can save more patients now, but their quality of life hasn't improved and this technology will change all that.
It is a living skin equivalent," said Concord Hospital's Prof Haertsch.
"It will be a pliable, durable sheet like a thin piece of sponge full of holes and you put that on the excised burn and then the body will repopulate the sponge with cells that produce collagen and elastin, so the skin will regenerate, not scar."
Large animal trials are scheduled before human trials of the product can begin within five years. The Sydney Burns Foundation, of which Prof Haertsch is the chair, needs to raise $1.5 million to continue the research.
Prof Haertsch, who received an Order of Australia for his work on the Bali bombing victims ten years ago, said he felt he was letting current patients down
with the existing treatment of skin grafting which does not stretch, sweat or oil itself like normal skin.
These Girls are just two of the thousands needing help from the Sydney Burns Foundation every year. Please assist financially if you can
Turia Pitt, the 25-year-old runner who suffered burns to 64 per cent of her body when trapped in a bushfire during an ultra-marathon in the Kimberley last year, acknowledges the difficulties of skin grafting but is very grateful to have survived and is planning to run in the upcoming City to Surf.
"Your skin is really stiff and it's really hard to move," she said.