Diabetes, vascular diseases, or burns can cause wounds that the body can’t easily heal. Scientists at UCLA have developed an injectable gel that may someday soon make injured areas of skin stronger.
Chronic skin wounds can be slow to heal, leaving the body open to infection. Scientists have developed a new biomaterial that can promote healing. The new material builds on UCLA’s previous development of wound healing hydrogels—materials with the consistency of gravy that can be injected into a wound site.
“What’s really cool is because it’s a bunch of small beads they’re spaces in between where cells can grow into,” said Dr. Philip Scumpia, assistant professor of dermatology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
The materials become firmer and create a scaffold for tissue to grow onto. The UCLA team’s new gel uses an amino acid that promotes an immune response in the body, so the body won’t reject it. The scientists tested the new hydrogel on mice.
“The skin looked normal in the mice that healed with the hydrogel. Whereas you could tell in the mice that healed with the scar, you can tell where the scar was,” explained Scumpia.
Researchers say the newly regenerated skin was stronger, and hair follicles—not scar tissue—grew over the area treated with the new hydrogel. Materials that may someday soon help human skin heal—and look good as new!
The UCLA scientists have formed a company, Tempo Therapeutics, to test and develop the wound-healing gel for use in humans. Doctor Scumpia says they’ve applied to the FDA for human use, and for clinical trials in patients with hard to heal wounds.