Kiwi company growing human skin for burn victims

Long Lunch 21/06/2018
Photo credit: iStock.

A Kiwi biotechnology company says clinical trials might be ready to start in just a few years after scientists found a way to grow bigger-than-A5 sheets of replacement human skin.

Upside Biotechnologies has announced it is preparing for a $10-15 million capital raising this year, which it hopes will take the product into clinical trials on burn patients 12-15 months after that.

Chief executive Dr Robert Feldman told Carly Flynn on The Long Lunch that the Upside product is a significant improvement on what is available or in development elsewhere.

“We will take one piece of skin from the burns patient, after their burn, and that piece of skin will go to our central laboratory where will use some scientific magic.

“And after 16 days, depending on how much skin we receive, we can grow multiple large sheets of patients own skin and therefore cover the whole burn in one go,” Dr Feldman told RadioLIVE.

The new skin is around 0.1mm thick and contains two layers. Dr Feldman says doctors would fasten the new skin on top of a patient’s wound.

“It should then heal. It needs to recognise itself and attach itself,” he said.

An adult victim with severe burns might need upwards of 40 skin sheets.

According to the National Burns Centre at Middlemore Hospital, there are 20-30 major burns casualties a year in New Zealand, most of them adults.

Listen to the full interview with Dr Richard Feldman above.

The Long Lunch with Carly Flynn in for Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.