Polymer gel prevents skin grafts from shrinking
A gel that could prevent the painful and disfiguring contractions of skin grafts used to treat burns has been developed by British scientists.
When skin is irreparably damaged by burns, skin taken from other areas of the patient’s body – or created by tissue engineering – is grafted onto the burned area. Although grafts often heal successfully, the skin shrinks significantly in nearly a third of patients. The process is painful and disabling, and particularly common in children.
Karima Bertal and colleagues at the University of Sheffield have now developed an enzyme-inhibiting drug which can halve this contraction, and loaded it into a biocompatible polymer gel to smear onto the graft. Bertal presented the group’s preliminary results at the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Biomaterials conference in Manchester, UK, earlier this month.
Sheila MacNeil, the scientist who leads the research, told Chemistry World that currently the only accepted treatment for graft contraction is to have the patient wear pressure garments – extremely tight clothing that pushes down on the dermis to prevent it forming bumps of contracted tissue.
Her research team found that an enzyme called lysyl oxidase is involved in causing the graft contraction, as it ties together collagen fibres in the deep dermal layer of the skin. Then they identified a compound that inhibits the enzyme, called 3-aminopropionitrile, and combined it with a biocompatible polymer gel invented by chemist Steve Armes, also at Sheffield.
Tests of the drug on human skin samples were successful: ‘The control grafts contract to about 60 per cent of their original size, but [when the drug is applied] they only contract down to 80 per cent,’ Bertal told Chemistry World.
The gel also works as they hoped: ‘Our polymer gel is well tolerated by the skin and releases the drug in a controlled manner over about 48 hours,’ she said.
The team has now started testing the drug-gel combination itself on human skin samples, and early results looks promising, said MacNeil. ‘If they’re successful, we would like to move into the clinic,’ she said.
Brian Emsley | alfa
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
New technique promises tunable laser devices
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...