A new treatment for patients with serious burns using meshed split skin autograph and cultured, self-donated epidermal cells provided better wound healing and less scarring than the SSGs alone, according to a study from the Netherlands.
The standard treatment for large, deep burns is to use SSGs, but this often results in serious scarring. In an attempt to improve healing and reduce scarring, the research team conducted a multicenter, 40-patient clinical trial to compare SSGs alone with a combination of SSGs and self-donated cultured proliferating epidermal cells. They found using SSGs with ECs provided better outcomes for patients
Their study will be published in a future issue of Cell Transplantation and is available online as an unedited early e-publication.
Experimental treatment outcomes
“The rate of epithelialization in the experimental treatment was statistically significantly better when compared to the standard treatment,” study co-author Esther Middelkoop, PhD, of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, said in a news release. “We also established improved pigmentation for the wounds treated with cultured ECs.”
The trial’s primary outcome was wound closure after five to seven days. Secondary outcomes were safety and scar quality, which were measured at three and 12 months.
To enhance standard treatment, researchers used self-donated, cultured proliferating epidermal cells that were harvested from a small donor site, and seeded in a collagen carrier that could, in theory, enhance the wound healing rate and improve scar quality.
“The carrier solved the problem of dealing with fragile sheets of cells during transport and operation,” the researchers wrote. “The carrier was grafted EC side down, resulting in direct contact of the ECs with the wound. Additionally, the carrier functioned as a wound dressing.”
The researchers concluded ECs applied to a carrier system could reduce wound healing time and improve both short-term and long-term functional and cosmetic scar quality.
Other burn victim burdens
“Scar quality impacts patients’ lives in many ways due to cosmetic and functional concerns,” Middelkoop said in the release. “Additionally, there is a high economic burden on patients due to extended hospital stays and the cost of rehabilitation and reconstructive therapies. Because of this, additional research in burn wound treatment and the improvement of scar quality will always be of the highest priority.”
“Using autologous undifferentiated cells, researchers were able to reduce culture time and rejection of allogeneic (other donor) cells was avoided,” Shinn-Zong Lin, MD, PhD, vice superintendent for the Center of Neuropsychiatry and neurosurgery professor at China Medical University Hospital, said in the release. Lin also is co-editor-in-chief for Cell Transplantation.
“This study offers a promising, improved therapeutic method for treating severe burns,” Lin said in the release.