Poorly healing wounds and severe scarring are more than just a cosmetic problem; they can significantly impair a person's mobility and health. Empa researchers have now developed a foam that is supposed to prevent excessive scarring and help wounds to heal quickly. An essential ingredient: the yellow ginger tumeric.
A scar on the elbow that is strained with every movement, or a foot, on which a wound simply does not want to close – poorly healing injuries are a common cause of health restrictions. And although millions of people are affected in their everyday lives, the complex process of wound healing is not yet fully understood, let alone controllable.
Empa researchers have, therefore, developed a foam that is supposed to be placed in skin wounds to support and optimize the natural healing process. With the "Scaravoid" project, Markus Rottmar and his team in Empa's Biointerfaces lab have taken a step in a new direction.
"Traditional treatments target individual factors of wound healing, such as oxygen supply or moisture regulation, and only produce an inadequate tissue response," explains Rottmar. Within "Scaravoid", which is sponsored by the Gebert Rüf Foundation, the healing process is to be understood and supported more comprehensively.
It is clear so far that a perfectly orchestrated interaction of numerous individual factors in the body is necessary in order to close a skin injury and transform it into healthy tissue. Cells must be attracted so that a well-dosed inflammation cleanses the wound. In order for the cleaned defect to close, new tissue grows, which is then transformed into functional skin. As astonishing as the body's self-healing powers are, a malfunction can disturb the balance and lead to excessive scarring or inadequate wound closure. In older people or diabetics, for instance, the risk that the complex cascade may be impaired is increased.
With "Scaravoid", the Empa team is now intervening at several stages in the process thanks to a biological polymer scaffold that is already approved for certain medical uses. In a high-pressure reactor, the polymer is expanded using supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2), whereby the pore size can be finely tuned by varying pressure and temperature. Once placed in a wound, the polymer scaffold is to begin its work: With its open-pored architecture, it offers immigrant cells a suitable structure to settle in. Since the foam is biodegradable, the cells disintegrate the polymer structure and produce a new scaffold according to their needs to form a new, functional tissue.
In order to prevent undesired scarring, the polymer scaffold is equipped with a bioactive substance that is supposed to inhibit scarring. The researchers use a substance that is known way better from the kitchen than from the hospital: curcumin. The powder of the turmeric root, also known as yellow ginger, is an E100 additive that dyes foods such as mustard or margarine and contributes to the taste of curry powder. Curcumin, on the other hand, is an interesting pharmacological component because of its anti-inflammatory characteristics. The Empa researchers added curcumin to cell cultures and found that the production of biomarkers typically found in scars is significantly reduced.
In the foam, curcumin is bound inside the scaffold and is gradually released. It controls the behavior and function of the cells that migrate into the scaffold and thus supports the natural balance of wound healing. What is currently being analyzed in lab tests in the form of small polymer discs will be used in clinical trials in the form of larger polymer membranes. The membranes can be cut to size by the physician and placed into the wound. The membranes are intended to optimize wound healing, particularly in the event of serious injuries, such as those following traffic accidents or severe burns.
Dr. Markus Rottmar
Phone +41 58 765 71 18
Andrea Six | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt
Detect cell changes faster
27.02.2020 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Werkstoff- und Strahltechnik IWS
Preserved and fresh – Neutrons show details of the freeze drying process
27.02.2020 | Technische Universität München
Researchers at the University of Bayreuth have discovered an unusual material: When cooled down to two degrees Celsius, its crystal structure and electronic properties change abruptly and significantly. In this new state, the distances between iron atoms can be tailored with the help of light beams. This opens up intriguing possibilities for application in the field of information technology. The scientists have presented their discovery in the journal "Angewandte Chemie - International Edition". The new findings are the result of close cooperation with partnering facilities in Augsburg, Dresden, Hamburg, and Moscow.
The material is an unusual form of iron oxide with the formula Fe₅O₆. The researchers produced it at a pressure of 15 gigapascals in a high-pressure laboratory...
Study by Mainz physicists indicates that the next generation of neutrino experiments may well find the answer to one of the most pressing issues in neutrino physics
Among the most exciting challenges in modern physics is the identification of the neutrino mass ordering. Physicists from the Cluster of Excellence PRISMA+ at...
Fraunhofer researchers are investigating the potential of microimplants to stimulate nerve cells and treat chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, or Parkinson’s disease. Find out what makes this form of treatment so appealing and which challenges the researchers still have to master.
A study by the Robert Koch Institute has found that one in four women will suffer from weak bladders at some point in their lives. Treatments of this condition...
The operational speed of semiconductors in various electronic and optoelectronic devices is limited to several gigahertz (a billion oscillations per second). This constrains the upper limit of the operational speed of computing. Now researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg, Germany, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay have explained how these processes can be sped up through the use of light waves and defected solid materials.
Light waves perform several hundred trillion oscillations per second. Hence, it is natural to envision employing light oscillations to drive the electronic...
Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.
Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...
12.02.2020 | Event News
16.01.2020 | Event News
15.01.2020 | Event News
27.02.2020 | Physics and Astronomy
27.02.2020 | Health and Medicine
27.02.2020 | Earth Sciences