A new treatment that could one day benefit burns victims, diabetes sufferers and the elderly – by fast tracking the healing of chronic wounds – has taken another step toward commercialization.
Research by associate professor Allison Cowin, from the Women’s and Children’s Health Research Institute, Adelaide, and the University of Adelaide’s Discipline of Surgery, has received a $529,450 development grant from Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
Cowin and her research team have developed antibodies to speed up the healing of chronic wounds, such as burns and ulcers.
“We are developing an antibody-based wound treatment which improves wound healing. It would have applications in many different types of wounds particularly chronic wounds and burn injuries,” Cowin said stressing that possible implications for the amputee population are not completely known. “I guess the wound created around an amputation might be treated with the preparation as any other wound and we would potentially hope to make this site heal better.”
They found that a specific protein known as Flightless I (Flii) restricts wound healing. The researchers have been able to use antibodies to suppress the Flii protein, thereby promoting wound healing.
“Improving wound healing has the potential to benefit a large proportion of the community, particularly the aged, the obese and patients with diabetes, all of whom are at increased risk of developing chronic, non-healing ulcers,” Cowin said in a news release. “This new technology will also have applications for treating burn injuries and surgical wounds. When a wound heals faster, the body is better protected against blood loss and infection. But in its haste to heal, the body also creates scar tissue that can cause chronic pain, deformity and disability.
Cowin said further research into the treatment is needed and it could be as many as 10 years before such a treatment is available to the public.
“This is preliminary research which shows very promising results using our laboratory based wound models. It is too early to say how much better the healing rate will be in patients following this new treatment but we are seeing a 25%-30% improvement in our wound models compared to controls. With our second generation antibodies we would hope to further improve on this,” Cowin told O&P Business News.