The Royal Children’s Hospital’s Stuart Pegg Paediatric Burns Centre is one of the largest burns centres in Australasia, treating children from across Queensland, northern New South Wales, the Northern Territory and the regional Pacific.
The lifelong consequences of burn injury make it one of the most devastating injuries a child can sustain. Scar tissue does not stretch like normal skin and children will sometimes require surgery to accommodate growth. This often means many visits to hospital for surgery and/or therapy to maintain physical function and for scar management. If a child is burnt as an infant, they could face more than 50 operations by adulthood.
The Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) treats more than 700 new burns patients each year – a number that is continually rising due to recognition that it is a centre for excellence in the treatment of burns.
The Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research with funding from the Children's Health Foundation, is working tirelessly to unlock the secret to scarless healing, and to identify and educate the general public about burns hazards and the most effective first aid treatments.
The group has identified a special protein which they believe will help skin heal without unsightly, thick scars requiring painful ongoing surgery and treatment. Although well known for over 30 years, the protein Fetuin was not recognised for its specific role in wound healing until the Group discovered high concentrations of Fetuin in foetal skin which healed burn wounds without scars.
The team has now obtained an international patent for Fetuin, and is working towards finding ways to best deliver Fetuin to minimise scarring and allow a less painful and stressful healing process for children with serious burns.
As a PhD student, Dr Leila Cuttle recently completed several years of research into the best first aid treatment for burns. The study’s finding that cold running water is the best first aid treatment for burns is now being adopted around the world.