New model could enhance healing of pressure ulcers related to spinal cord injury

More than 2.5 million Americans are affected by pressure ulcers each year, and patients with spinal cord injuries have an increased vulnerability to ulcers.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have created a computational model to enhance understanding, diagnosis and treatment of pressure ulcers related to spinal cord injury, according to a press release.

The results of clinical trials that used the model are published in the June 2015 issue of PLOS Computational Biology.

Yoram Vodovotz, PhD, professor in the Department of Surgery at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and colleagues found that in order to effectively treat the lesions, anti-inflammatory measures had to be applied well in advance of any clinical signs of ulcer formation.

The researchers designed a computational model of pressure sore development based on serial photographs of developing ulcers from spinal cord-injured patients enrolled in studies at the University of Pittsburgh’s Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Spinal Cord Injury. Photos were taken when the ulcer was initially diagnosed, three times per week in the acute stage and once a week as it resolved.

“Computational models like this one might one day be able to predict the clinical course of a disease or injury, as well as make it possible to do less expensive testing of experimental drugs and interventions to see whether they are worth pursuing with human trials,” Vodovotz said in the release. “They hold great potential as a diagnostic and research tool.”

Reference: Vodovotz Y, et al. PLoS Comput Biol. 2015;doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004309.

Disclosures: Vodovotz and co-author Gary An are inventors on U.S. Patent No. 8,165,819, “Modeling Wound Healing.”

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