Source: Northwestern University
Summary: A research team has developed a new device, called a regenerative bandage, that quickly heals the painful, hard-to-treat sores in diabetic patients without using drugs.
A simple scrape or sore might not cause alarm for most people. But for diabetic patients, an untreated scratch can turn into an open wound that could potentially lead to a limb amputation or even death. The difference between a sore in a physically healthy person versus a diabetic patient? Diabetes can cause nerve damage that leads to numbness in the extremities. People with diabetes, therefore, might experience something as simple as a blister or small scratch that goes unnoticed and untreated because they cannot feel it to know it’s there. Researchers from the Northwestern University has developed a new device, called a regenerative bandage, that quickly heals the painful, hard-to-treat sores in diabetic patients without using drugs. During head-to-head tests, this regenerative bandage healed diabetic wounds 33% faster than one of the most popular bandages currently on the market. The study findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The secret behind this regenerative bandage is laminin, a protein found in most of the body’s tissues including the skin. Laminin sends signals to cells, encouraging them to differentiate, migrate and adhere to one another. The ream team identified a segment of laminin 12 amino acids in length called A5G81 that is critical for the wound-healing process. This particular sequence activates cellular receptors to get cells to adhere, migrate and proliferate. By using such a small fragment of laminin rather than the entire protein, it can be easily synthesized in the laboratory making it more reproducible while keeping manufacturing costs low. They incorporated A5G81 into an antioxidant hydrogel bandage that it previously developed in the laboratory. As the bandage leverages the body’s own healing power without releasing drugs or biologics, it faces fewer regulatory hurdles. This means patients could see it on the market much sooner.
Lead author, Guillermo Ameer, “The novelty is that we identified a segment of a protein in skin that is important to wound healing, made the segment and incorporated it into an antioxidant molecule that self-aggregates at body temperature to create a scaffold that facilitates the body’s ability to regenerate tissue at the wound site.”
More Information: Yunxiao Zhu et al, “Potent laminin-inspired antioxidant regenerative dressing accelerates wound healing in diabetes,” PNAS (2018). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1804262115