Nearly two-million Americans are believed to be living with chronic open wounds. These sometimes last weeks, months, or even years, and can happen when veins don’t properly bring blood back to the heart.
Now, there might be a new solution to the problem. Scientists and doctors are using live human cells to spray away the problem.
"It was just a fingernail scratch. Wasn’t nothing major," said Jessica Riley, whose scratch turned out to be a chronic venous leg ulcer. "It was almost instantaneously bigger than I could have ever imagined."
Riley lived with the open wound for almost two years.
"It was very painful," she said.
"You could imagine having to take care of this thing 24/7, and if it’s not healing, you'd be pretty depressed," said Dr. William Marston, of the UNC Wound Healing/Limb Preservation Center.
Marston is testing a new, unique spray on patients.
"It's living human cells," explained Marston.
The cells release growth factors into the wound that spur tissue regeneration.
In phase-two clinical trials, wounds treated with the spray had a 52 percent greater chance of healing compared to wounds treated with compression bandages.
Riley was in the study. While she doesn’t know if she got the real spray or a placebo, her ulcer healed in just seven weeks.
"I was like, 'Wow!'" she exclaimed.
Today, Riley's wound is still discolored, but completely closed.
The doctor said there have been no significant side effects with the cellular spray.