Human skin wound dressings to treat cutaneous ulcers

October 2, 2013

Researchers from Université Laval's Faculty of Medicine and CHU de Québec have shown that it is possible to treat venous ulcers unresponsive to conventional treatment with wound dressings made from human skin grown in vitro. A study published recently in the journal Advances in Skin and Wound Care demonstrates how this approach was successfully used to treat venous lower-extremity ulcers in patients who had been chronically suffering from such wounds.

About 1% of the population suffers from lower-extremity ulcers. These wounds regularly become inflamed or infected and are very slow to heal, if they do at all. They are frequently associated with aging, diabetes, and circulatory system disorders such as varicose veins and oedema. "Obese individuals and those who work constantly standing up are especially vulnerable. These ulcers can persist for years. It can be a hellish clinical situation when standard treatments don't work," noted Dr. François A. Auger, director of both the study and LOEX, the tissue engineering and regenerative medicine laboratory where it was conducted.

Standard treatment for ulcers involves methodically cleaning these wounds and applying compression bandages. Drugs became available around 20 years ago but they are expensive and their efficacy has been somewhat limited. A graft using the patient's own can be effective but is problematic because it requires a significant amount of skin to be removed from elsewhere on the body.

This very problem inspired LOEX researchers to use their expertise with in vitro skin culture to create biomaterial-free biological wound dressing. The process is complex and requires several steps: removing 1 cm2 of skin from the patient, isolating the appropriate cells, growing them in vitro, and creating a skin substitute with both dermis and epidermis. After eight weeks of growth the self-assembled sheets of skin substitute can be applied over the ulcers, much like bandages, and replaced weekly as long as necessary. "This totally biological bandage is much more than a physical barrier," stresses Dr. Auger. "The cells secrete molecules that speed up healing by helping to set natural healing processes in motion. It would be hard to imagine a model closer to the human body's natural physiology."

Tests were successfully carried out on five . It took only an average of seven weeks to cure 14 ulcers that had been affecting patients for at least six months, and in some cases, several years. "This is a last recourse once all other treatment options have been exhausted," notes François A. Auger.

Dr. Auger sees another promising application for these biological bandages: "We have shown that this is effective for patients with leg . Now, we intend to carry out a clinical study to demonstrate that the same treatment works for patients with serious burns, as soon as we get the necessary approvals."

Explore further: 'Spray-on skin' could revolutionize treatment of venous leg ulcers

Related Stories

'Spray-on skin' could revolutionize treatment of venous leg ulcers

August 2, 2012
The treatment, which consists of skin cells (keratinocytes and fibroblasts) suspended in a mixture of different types of proteins associated with blood clotting, was tested on a group of 228 patients suffering from venous ...

Too much of a good thing? Too many 'healing' cells delays wound healing

July 1, 2013
Like most other things, you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to wound healing, and new research proves it. According to an article published in the July 2013 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, wound ...

3L tubular bandaging significantly improves healing of chronic wounds, study finds

October 18, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—A characteristically inflamed, weeping sore that fails to heal, heals slowly or tends to recur is known as a chronic wound, a common debilitating and painful medical condition which requires specialist ...

Enzyme could be the key to aiding wound healing in diabetic and elderly people

June 6, 2013
Blocking a crucial enzyme which produces the stress hormone cortisol could lead to improved wound healing. This would be beneficial for patients with diabetes-associated ulcers', elderly patients who have undergone surgery, ...

New study finds higher than expected numbers of pressure ulcers in children

July 25, 2013
A new study has uncovered a problem in pediatrics thought to be a major issue only in adult medicine: pressure ulcers.

Recommended for you

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant

July 19, 2017
Many diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, can lead to liver failure. More than 17,000 Americans suffering from these diseases are now waiting for liver transplants, but significantly fewer livers are available.

Lunatic Fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain

July 19, 2017
The discovery that the brain can generate new cells - about 700 new neurons each day - has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan and Dan Duncan ...

New animal models for hepatitis C could pave the way for a vaccine

July 19, 2017
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of hepatitis C—a disease that affects nearly 71 million people worldwide, causing cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated—it might be worth ...

Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation via cannabinoids

July 18, 2017
Chemical compounds called cannabinoids are found in marijuana and also are produced naturally in the body from omega-3 fatty acids. A well-known cannabinoid in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, is responsible for some of its ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.