Ensuring adequate, safe and effective wound care is a challenging task, placing a considerable burden on both the patient and the healthcare system. A recent study published in the journal Materials investigated the potential of combining the advantages of powder-based scaffolds and collagen-based biomaterials into a new type of powder that can accelerate wound healing.
Research: Pilot trials to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of new powders for rapid wound healing. Image source: Impact Photography/Shutterstock.com
Traditional wound healing involves processes of inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling, but if patients suffer from diseases such as cancer or diabetes, or if they are obese or old, these processes may be hindered or otherwise adversely affected.
It is estimated that more than 8 million patients worldwide require medical assistance in wound management. This has brought a huge financial and resource burden to the healthcare system. In North America alone, complex wound care costs about US$10 billion, and it is estimated that 2%–3% of European healthcare expenditures are spent on wound management.
Comparison of powder and gel scaffold and rehydration time in the wound bed. (A) After applying the powder scaffold to an open wound, a representative image of powder rehydration as a function of time is depicted. The photos are taken during the application-0 seconds, 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and 90 seconds. (B) A description of the original gel scaffold is provided for comparison. Image source: Verly, M et al., European Journal of Burns
In order to promote, accelerate and improve the efficiency of wound healing, many advances have been made. Tissue-engineered skin substitutes often cause adverse reactions in patients. Although stents or autografts may be effective, they are usually composed of solid materials that cannot effectively adhere to all wound types.
Powder stents represent a more suitable choice for wound care and wound healing. Many studies have emphasized their effectiveness in providing a protective environment and promoting even irregular wound healing.
Collagen-based biomaterials provide another innovative way to improve soft tissue repair. Collagen provides a biodegradable, non-toxic way to promote healing, thus helping to minimize the risk of infection.
Researchers in the "Materials" magazine have previously developed a nutritious and flowable cross-linked collagen-glycosaminoglycan-based scaffold containing polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)-borate, which can be exposed to 35° Cure at a temperature of 37°C.
This strong and flexible gel scaffold contains vitamins, minerals and amino acids needed to promote cell growth, helping to improve wound healing.
The disadvantage of this gel stent method is that polymerization may take up to 20 minutes and requires sterile liquid for reconstitution-these factors may limit its applicability to surface wounds, or in environments that require rapid or rapid application In the field.
Analysis of collagen deposition in wound tissue. Histological analysis performed by Masson's Trichrome is shown. (A, B) Show the entire wound under NT (a), gel (b) and powder (c) conditions at 2x magnification (A) and 10x magnification (B) within the wound. The black dashed rectangle divides the wound area shown at higher magnification on the right. The black triangle represents the edge of the wound, which is located between these marks. The scale bars of (A,B) represent 500 µM and 100 µM, respectively. (C) shows the percentage of collagen deposition on the wound bed in all treatment groups. The results are expressed as mean ± standard deviation, n = 4 for all treatment groups. (D) The wound with 40 times magnification under NT (a), gel (b) and powder (c) conditions. The scale bar represents 50 µM. Image source: Verly, M et al., European Journal of Burns
To this end, the researchers investigated whether the powder version of this gel scaffold is a viable option, trying to determine its suitability and practicality in treating what they call "full-thickness wounds."
After conducting a preliminary pilot study, the researchers found that their new powdered gel scaffold helped to improve epithelialization in the mouse model while ensuring that it did not disrupt the critical healing process.
Compared with the gel holder, this powder is also easier to apply, and because it does not need to be re-formulated before applying, it is simpler to use and may be used in a wider range of environments.
A small spoon can be used to spread the powder and distribute it throughout the wound, and since the moisture present in the wound environment is sufficient to initiate the powder rehydration process, this provides an additional advantage as a means of absorbing wound exudate.
The powder is evaluated by measuring the rate of wound healing and looking for characteristics that indicate the progress of healing; for example, the deposition of collagen means that the tissue is growing and repairing itself. This was done using wounds on six mice.
Once the wounds are treated with the powder, these wounds are bandaged and monitored. The powder treatment was applied twice-at the time of injury, and again, because there was evidence that the tissue on the wound bed had begun to develop. The study continued until the wound closed.
Most notably, powder therapy shows similar wound healing potential to its gel scaffold, but offers many advantages in terms of faster preparation and easier application.
The results showed that the wound healing rate was significantly increased, but no increase in collagen deposition was observed. Therefore, this indicates that powder application can accelerate wound healing, but due to the limited sample size, further research is needed to further evaluate this in more detail.
Although in the initial stages of development and the sample size is limited, it is clear that this powder has the potential to support and accelerate wound healing. When used to treat burns, this powder may have particularly beneficial properties, and the researchers plan to explore this further.
Verly, Myriam, Emily Mason, Sara Sheikh-Oleslami, Reza Jalili, Breshell Russ, Ruhangiz T. Kilani and Aziz Ghahary. 2021. "Pilot trials to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of new powders for rapid wound healing" European Journal of Burns 2, Issue 2. 4: 238-248. https://www.mdpi.com/2673-1991/2/4/18
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Adrian Brian Thompson is a freelance writer, educator and creative in Todmorden, England. His diversified academic and industry background covers many fields from frontline youth and support work to marketing, website development, copywriting, event production and project management. Adrian has a master's degree in music industry studies and is currently pursuing a doctorate in music (including politics and social sciences) at the University of Liverpool.
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