3D skin is the holy grail in burns treatment
IT IS considered the holy grail in burns treatment - living, fully functioning skin grown in a lab that will transform the lives of burns victims.
Known as 3D skin, it is made of synthetic material and implanted with a person's stem cells to take on the natural properties of skin.
The discovery has been led by a team of scientists at the newly established Sydney Burns Foundation, a collaboration between Sydney University and Concord Hospital.
The new skin grows up to 1.5cm thick, deeper than grafts doctors can currently use on burns victims and it is hoped it will stretch and breathe better than grafted skin.
"Until now all we have been able to do is replace the outer layer or epidermis - about 1mm," Concord Hospital burns surgeon Associate Professor Peter Haertsch said.
"What we have not been able to do is replace the dermis which is responsible for other functions such as temperature control, perspiration, senses and touch, pleasure and pain as well as durability."
It is still 10 years before the 3D skin could be used on humans but never before has there been such a development in burns research.
At the moment a problem for surgeons is the lack of skin available for grafting, especially on a person who has 80 per cent burns to their body.
They must wait weeks or months for the skin to regrow, leaving a patient susceptible to infections and at risk of dying.