A well conducted study has suggested that spraying living skin cells directly onto  venous leg ulcers results in faster healing(The Lancet August 2012)

The spray contains two types of living, growth-arrested skin cells, keratinocytes and fibroblasts which are thought to interact with the patient’s own cells to promote wound healing and tissue regeneration..

In the double blind randomised trial, which took place in 28 American centers, 228 patients were assigned  to receive either the cells along with standard ulcer treatment or a control solution with out the cells and standard ulcer treatment. The rate of healing (average change in wound area) was assessed after 12 weeks.

Each patient had one  to three venous leg ulcers, measuring between 2 and 12 square cm in area, that had persisted for between 4 and 104 weeks.

The authors concluded that there was a “significantly greater mean reduction in wound area associated with active treatment”,

Significance of study:

This study has received considerable attention in the popular press. However the study is relatively small, does not consider full ulcer healing, only reduction in ulcer size. There appears to be a mixture of early and late (chronic) leg ulcers recruited..

Although promising, further studies are needed and hopefully this is not a new false dawn for ulcer management.


Daryll Baker is a Consultant Vascular Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital London and Clinical Lead for North Central Region Vascular Services.

He read Medicine at Oxford University and trained in Vascular Surgery in Nottingham, London and Edinburgh. He obtained his research PhD from the University of Wales.


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