Patients suffering from diabetes often have nerve damage as well as poor circulation. This means that their wounds heal very slowly. Sometimes, these wounds become so bad that they become chronic and eventually lead to amputations. A new drug-free bandage can prevent this from happening.
Professor Guillermo Ameer is leading a team from Illinois’ Northwestern University that is working on the drug-free bandage. They started with a protein known as laminin. This is found in the skin and most of the body’s other tissues. It is responsible for communication with cells and prompting them to heal.
The scientists were able to specify a pinpoint the part of the protein that plays the part of wound-healing. That part is called A5G81 and is made up of 12 amino acids. This part is much smaller and simpler than the entire protein and is easier to make in the lab.
The team synthesized it in the lab and added it to a previously-developed antioxidant hydrogel bandage. The bandage takes the form of a liquid when applied to the skin but thickens into a stiff gel after being heated to body temperature.
This makes it capable of two things. First of all, it can conform to the exact surface contours of the wound and fills all the nooks and crannies. Secondly, a 3D scaffolding-like structure is made by the gel upon which cells can grow. This encourages tissue regeneration. The bandage has no risk of ripping adhered tissue as it can be simply washed off using a cool saline solution.
The lab tests have shown that the diabetic wounds healed 33% faster with the drug-free bandage. Additionally, it produces no side effects. A larger clinical trial is being planned currently and it is hoped that the bandage will get regulatory approval very soon.