Bonfire Night Burns & Artificial Skin
With around 1,000 people visiting A&E for treatment of a firework-related injury in the four weeks around Bonfire Night, medical research trust RAFT has even more reason than most to champion its latest next generation artificial skin called Smart Matrix® which was originally invented to help burns victims.
Someone in the UK is accidentally burned or scalded every two minutes and at least 12 patients a day are admitted to hospital for several days as a result of a burn injury. Many of these patients will require skin grafting and plastic surgery following the injury.
Skin grafting is the process where a layer of skin or cells is taken from a ‘donor’ site and placed over the burn wound to help it heal. There are many different types of skin graft and, though this technique has been in use for at least 200 years, there is still a huge amount of work needed to improve both the grafting technique and materials used.
This is where medical research charity RAFT comes in. From designing a synthetic skin substitute to trying to understand why wounds sometimes don’t heal, RAFT explores ways to improve burn therapy and skin repair.
Its most recent treatment for burns is a potentially revolutionary next generation artificial skin called Smart Matrix® which is composed of a porous matrix made of human fibrin that harnesses the body’s own healing processes.
The sponge-like scaffold technology encourages the growth of skin cells and blood vessels and helps the body close a wound and regenerate. Unlike existing scaffolds, its aim is to help the wound heal without the application of an overlying skin graft.
Smart Matrix® offers the prospect of healing certain wounds with a single visit to the hospital theatre. Meaning less trauma, less pain, less time and less cost which could be a life-changing breakthrough in the medical field for patients and surgeons.
Leonor Stjepic, RAFT Chief Executive said: “The precise combination of constituent elements, their chemical processing and the design of the physical structure, took years to perfect. Unlike existing scaffolds, its aim is to help the wound heal without the application of a painful and costly overlying skin graft and has already been tested and shown to be safe in humans.”
Approximately 1,000 people require treatment for firework-related injuries, with five per cent being classed as ‘serious accidents’. About half of firework injuries happen at family or private parties and about a quarter in the street or other public place.
How to treat a burn injury
Get cold liquid on the burn immediately. If you’re at home, run the injury under a cold tap straight away. If you’re out at an event, pour a soft drink or a beer over it instead.
The key thing is to act quickly. The longer you leave the injury untreated, the greater the damage will be. Speedy action with cold water reduces pain, swelling and the risk of scarring.
Burnt fingers can also quickly swell, so remove all jewellery to prevent restricted blood flow and loosely cover the burn with cling film or a clean plastic bag. This helps prevent infection by keeping the area clean.
Always seek medical advice if you are unsure about the severity of a burn. All children should get hospital treatment immediately.
What to do if your clothes catches fire
If the worst happens and your clothes catch fire remember: stop, drop and roll. Don’t run around, you’ll make the flames worse. Lie down and roll around. This makes it harder for the flames to spread.
If you are with someone whose clothes have caught fire, get them to stop, drop and roll, then smother the flame with heavy material like a coat or blanket. London Fire Brigade’s fire safety page has further safety information.
RAFT Patron, celebrity chef and former burns victim Peter Gordon said: “What RAFT is doing is wonderful and I have nothing but admiration for the team. I was in hospital three times as a child for extended periods and to lose that time was tough. It’s incredible to know there will be quicker healing times and a lot less scarring for future patients thanks to the amazing research happening at the moment. If I suffered the same injuries now, I’m reassured I’d be treated in a very different way because of the advances being made.”
Ferrial Syed who was badly burned as a toddler and became one of RAFT’s youngest patients to benefit from the charity’s lifesaving research said: “I often wonder how less traumatic my recovery would have been if RAFT’s Smart Matrix® had been available at the time of my accident. I look forward to the benefits it will give to patients in the future suffering similar traumas to their skin, major burns, military injuries, leg ulcers and so forth.”
For further press information or to interview a RAFT spokesperson, please contact:
Jane Eggleton/Melissa Hobson
T: +44 (0)20 3440 8925
E: [email protected]
Restoration of Appearance and Function Trust (RAFT) is an internationally recognized medical research charity working in the field of tissue and bone regeneration. The charity is a world-leader in creating pioneering new treatments for patients affected by wounds, burns, disease, or post-operative or birth abnormalities. RAFT’s vision is to bring forward the day when every patient who survives severe tissue trauma fully regains quality of life as well.
For nearly three decades RAFT has been undertaking ground-breaking medical research to help patients regain their health, independence and self-esteem as quickly as possible after a trauma. This research has changed the face of healthcare the world over. RAFT’s work has saved lives, improved treatments and recovery times, influenced healthcare policies globally, and changed laws. Today more than 100 of RAFT’s projects are in regular use in hospitals and clinics around the world.
RAFT receives no Government funding and relies on donations and grants from individuals, grant-making trusts and companies. The team is working to raise £5 million over the next two years to allow the organisation to reach even more patients, even more quickly, continuing to develop inter-disciplinary, pioneering new techniques and treatments. RAFT prides itself on being forward thinking not only in its scientific work but also in fostering impact investment.
For more information visit: https://raft.ac.uk/