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Burn victims whose injuries require skin grafts face a long recovery even when the procedure is successful. Removing skin from one part of the body and transplanting it to injured area leaves the patient with two sites that need to heal. Grafted skin can restrict joint movement, as it is unable to grow with the patient. The procedure also leaves scarring and patients typically need physical therapy afterward.

Medical technology startup RenovaCare is trying to overcome the drawbacks of skin grafts by harnessing the body’s own regenerative abilities. The RenovaCare procedure requires a tiny skin sample, about the size of a postage stamp, which is used to isolate the patient’s stem cells. Those cells are suspended in solution and gently sprayed on the wound. Within days, those cells will form new skin that looks and functions as the patient’s original skin, CEO Thomas Bold explained.

“It’s new [technology], but it’s old,” he said. “We’re using nothing more than the body’s own ability to regenerate.”

RenovaCare has a small headquarters in New York and a lab in Pittsburgh. Bold is based in Berlin, Germany, where he previously worked as CEO of StemCell Systems, a company that was researching how bioreactors could be used to grow skin cells. Bold said StemCell Systems could not get the cells to migrate from the bioreactor to the wound. The company decided to try using the wound as the bioreactor for these cells. The challenge was applying the cells to the wound. Bold found the technology he needed in the United States.

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