Plastic Surgeon Fiona Wood, Inventor Of Cellspray

932 words - 4 pages

Plastic surgeon Dr Fiona Wood and medical scientist Ms Marie Stoner have created a revolutionary treatment for burns victims called CellSpray®. It involves culturing the cells from a small piece of the patient's skin, and then spraying the resulting suspension onto the wound. The live skin cells quickly multiply to cover the damaged area, and the potential for scarring and infection are greatly reduced. In addition, because the covering is generated from the patient's own cells, there is almost no chance of rejection.In 2002, CellSpray® was put to an extreme test, when Fiona led the team at Royal Perth Hospital which treated 28 victims of the Bali bombings. After Marie adapted the technology to provide the quantities of cultures demanded by the crisis, the survival and rapid recovery of almost all the severely burned patients demonstrated how effective CellSpray® had become.Fiona, director of the West Australian Burns Unit at the Royal Perth Hospital, had long committed herself to accelerating the healing of burns victims. Using standard skin culture techniques, grafts generally take two to three weeks to prepare. But about 75 percent of the scarring from burns remains permanent if the skin is not grafted within 10 days. So, severe scarring has always been commonplace in burns victims.In 1993, Fiona approached Marie Stoner with an idea to set up a skin culture research laboratory. Marie already had experience in skin tissue engineering and in commercialising medical technology. In the new laboratory, she developed a technique to reduce the time for producing live skin cultures from more than two weeks to just five days. In 1995, the pair adapted this technology into CellSpray®. They also started a round-the-clock service to ensure cultures were always available to clinics.In 1998, Fiona and Marie set up the McComb Foundation, a burns treatment research centre. Then they formed a company, Clinical Cell Culture, to commercialise their work and fund further research. Marie organised a system of product licensing and royalties, and the company, which now employs 30 staff, was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2002.CellSpray® recently was approved for use in the European Union. It also has application for treating lack of skin pigmentation and skin cancers. Clinical Cell Culture has developed a related product ReCell, a kit that can be used by a doctor in a clinic to harvest skin cells and use them on small burns or wounds.Despite its proven use, CellSpray® is only just beginning formal testing in Australia. But while surgeons debate the technology, burns victims in Perth continue to recover faster and suffer less than ever before. In acknowledgement of her achievements with the Bali victims, Fiona Wood was named Australian of the Year for 2005.Western Australia's only female plastic surgeon is a mother of six, Head of Royal Perth Hospital's Burns Unit and...

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