A simple cut or wound with someone with diabetes can become a very serious situation if left untreated.
A team researchers at Northwestern University have recently developed a new, “regenerative bandage” that may help heal wounds faster and safer — without using drugs.
The secret behind the bandage is a protein called laminin — which is found in most of the body’s tissues and skin. Laminin encourages cells to them to differentiate and stick to one another. Researchers identified a part of laminin that is critical for the wound-healing process.
“This particular sequence caught our eye because it activates cellular receptors to get cells to adhere, migrate and proliferate,”said lead researcher, Guillermo Ameer, in an article in Northwestern Now. “Then we cut up the sequence to find the minimum size that we needed for it to work.”
By using a small piece of laminin instead of the entire protein, it can be easily made in the lab — making it more reproducible while keeping costs low.
As an added benefit, the bandage’s antioxidant nature counters inflammation.
In addition, the bandage is thermally responsive: It is a liquid when applied to the wound bed, then rapidly solidifies into a gel when exposed to body temperature. This phase change allows it to conform to the exact shape of the wound — a property that helped it out-perform other bandages on the market.
“Wounds have irregular shapes and depths. Our liquid can fill any shape and then stay in place,” Ameer said. “Other bandages are mostly based on collagen films or sponges that can move around and shift away from the wound site.”
The other cumbersome part about bandages is that they have to be changed often. Not only is it a process, but the process can also damage the healing site. Ameer’s bandage, however, can be rinsed off with saline, so the regenerating tissue remains undisturbed.
Because the bandage does not contain any drugs, it will likely get to the market faster. So far, no adverse side effects in animal models, and next, larger pre-clinical tests are planned.