A Better Outlook for Burn Patients
The American Burn Association estimates that 1.1 million people suffer burns annually in the U.S., with approximately 45,000 patients requiring hospitalization. The limited number of specialized burn centers and related medical infrastructure in the U.S. creates a public health need for readily available therapies in these and other care sites. Patients with severe burns commonly go through painful skin transplants called autografts and are often treated with cadaver skin as a temporary wound covering prior to the autograft procedure.
“There is an urgent need for new treatment options for burns,” says Lynn Allen-Hoffmann, Ph.D., a professor of pathology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “Severe burns and other major skin trauma are life-threatening injuries that require immediate surgical intervention.”
Human Skin Substitutes Hold Promise
After the 2000 laboratory discovery of NIKS® cells—a human keratinocyte cell line that produces living tissue nearly identical to native human skin—Allen-Hoffman founded Stratatech to commercialize her discovery. The company’s flagship product, StrataGraft®, is a full-thickness human skin substitute with the potential to reduce patient pain, discomfort and infection risk; eliminate the need for (or reduce the size of) painful skin transplant (autograft) treatments; improve patient safety to reducing the infection risk associated with the use of cadaver skin; and accelerate healing timeframes for patients, thus reducing hospital stay length and lowering costs for patients and the health care system alike.
The company employs 38 people in Madison, and is working to complete the trials necessary to bring its products to market. Meanwhile, Stratatech has already received a federal grant to support the first human clinical trial of its ExpressGraft® skin substitute—which is genetically enhanced to produce elevated levels of natural, human wound-healing factors that fight infection, improve blood flow and increase the rate of healing—for use in treating non-healing diabetic foot ulcers. It has also received a federal contract for a clinical trial with pediatric burn patients, and more than $30 million in federal research grants.
(October 2013)View more entrepreneurial success stories