Polymer gel prevents skin grafts from shrinking

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.

Media Contact

Brian Emsley alfa

All news from this category: Health and Medicine

This subject area encompasses research and studies in the field of human medicine.

Among the wide-ranging list of topics covered here are anesthesiology, anatomy, surgery, human genetics, hygiene and environmental medicine, internal medicine, neurology, pharmacology, physiology, urology and dental medicine.

Back to the Homepage

Comments (0)

Write comment

Latest posts

Newly published data provides clearer picture of volcano collapse

URI Professor Stéphan Grilli is keeping a close eye on volcanoes closer to the US. An article recently published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications, written by University of Rhode…

World first concept for rechargeable cement-based batteries

Imagine an entire twenty storey concrete building which can store energy like a giant battery. Thanks to unique research from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, such a vision could someday…

In milliseconds from polluted to clear water

New discoveries in the field of nanoscience … Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces developed a membrane that is composed of a bundle of nanometer-sized tubes….

Partners & Sponsors