Researchers have developed a regenerative bandage that they claim can quickly heal all types of open wounds on the skin without using medications. The investigators are particularly interested in using the bandage to treat patients with diabetic ulcers. During head-to-head tests in an animal model, their bandage healed diabetic wounds 33% faster than one of the most popular bandages currently on the market (Proc Natl Acad Sci U.S.A. Jun. 11, 2018).
The bandage features laminin, a protein found in most of the body’s tissues (including the skin) that sends signals to cells, encouraging them to differentiate, migrate, and adhere to one another. A segment of laminin called A5G81 is critical for the wound healing process.
“This particular sequence caught our eye because it activates cellular receptors to get cells to adhere, migrate, and proliferate,” said co-corresponding author Dr. Guillermo Ameer in a press release. Dr. Ameer is the Daniel Hale Williams Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering, professor of surgery in the Feinberg School of Medicine, and director of the new Center for Advanced Regenerative Engineering (CARE) at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. “Then we cut up the sequence to find the minimum size that we needed for it to work.”
Dr. Ameer and his colleagues incorporated A5G81 into an antioxidant hydrogel bandage they had previously developed. The bandage counters inflammation because of its antioxidant nature. The hydrogel is thermally responsive—it is a liquid when applied to the wound bed, then rapidly solidifies into a gel when exposed to body temperature. This allows the bandage to conform to the shape of the wound.
Researchers incorporated a small segments of
the protein laminin into their bandage.
Photo by Gad Armony, Wikipedia Commons.
“Wounds have irregular shapes and depths. Our liquid can fill any shape and then stay in place,” said Dr. Ameer. “Other bandages are mostly based on collagen films or sponges that can move around and shift away from the wound site.”
Furthermore, the regenerative bandage can be rinsed off with cool saline. This means that the regenerating tissue remains undisturbed, unlike in other bandages where patients must change bandages often, disturbing the healing tissue and re-injuring the site.
The lack of medications also increases the bandage’s safety. So far, researchers have not observed any adverse side effects in animal models. Dr. Ameer intends to continue to investigate the bandage in a larger pre-clinical model.