New Material Developed to Promote Wound Healing


Scientists have created a new molecule that could change the way wounds are helped to heal.

The Imperial College London scientists have developed a molecule that enables human-made materials to interact with the body's natural wound repair system.

Collagen for wound healing

The development came when scientists looked at how they could recreate the natural healing process that the body goes through when a wound or injury occurs.

Materials such as collagen are often used to help wounds to heal, for example collagen implants for bone injuries, and collagen sponges to treat burns.

The way that collagen interacts with body tissue in through ‘scaffold implants’, where cells move through the collagen, pulling the scaffold with them. This leads to healing proteins being developed, with helps the tissue regenerate.

Mimics healing process

The scientists at Imperial College London created ‘TrAP’ molecules that effectively recreate this process. The technique developed mimics the cell movement found in natural healing processes.

During laboratory testing of the technique, cells were found to pull on the TrAPs as they crawled through the collagen scaffolds. This activated healing proteins, which instructed the healing cells to grow and multiply.

The TrAP molecules can adapt to different types of cells. This means that the technique can be used in different types of wounds, including bone fractures, scar tissue injuries and nerve damage.

It is also hoped that the new innovation could help with patients whose wounds won’t heal with current techniques, such as diabetic foot ulcers, which can lead to lower leg amputation.

New generation

This is the first time that scientists have managed to activate healing proteins in the body using human-made materials. It is thought that this ‘new generation’ of wound healing materials could revolutionise the way wounds and injuries are treated in the future.

The findings were published in the journal Advanced Materials.

Dynamic healing

The lead for this research, Dr Ben Almquist, explained that: “The TrAP technology provides a flexible method to create materials that actively communicate with the wound and provide key instructions when and where they are needed.

“This sort of intelligent, dynamic healing is useful during every phase of the healing process, has the potential to increase the body's chance to recover, and has far-reaching uses on many different types of wounds.”


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