Skin care: new research into scar-free healing

Jan 21, 2008
Skin care: new research into scar-free healing
Treating skin wounds (blue) with osteopontin antisense DNA (top) reduces the size of scars (area between arrows)

New research from the University of Bristol shows that by suppressing one of the genes that normally switches on in wound cells, wounds can heal faster and reduce scarring. This has major implications not just for wound victims but also for people who suffer organ tissue damage through illness or abdominal surgery.

When skin is damaged a blood clot forms and cells underneath the wound start to repair the damage, leading to scarring. Scarring is a natural part of tissue repair and is most obvious where skin has healed after a cut or burn. It ranges from trivial (a grazed knee) to chronic (diabetic leg ulcers) and is not limited to the skin. All tissues scar as they repair; for example, alcohol-induced liver damage leads to fibrosis and liver failure, and after most abdominal surgeries scars can often lead to major complications.

Tissue damage triggers an inflammatory response by white cells to protect skin from infection by killing microbes. The same white cells guide the production of layers of collagen. These layers of collagen help the wound heal but they stand out from the surrounding skin and result in scarring. Research by Professor Paul Martin and colleagues at the University of Bristol shows that osteopontin (OPN) is one of the genes that triggers scarring and that applying a gel, which suppresses OPN to the wound, can accelerate healing and reduces scarring. It does this in part by increasing the regeneration of blood vessels around the wound and speeding up tissue reconstruction.

The findings will be published by the Journal of Experimental Medicine on 26 January in a paper entitled ‘Molecular mechanisms linking wound inflammation and fibrosis: knockdown of osteopontin leads to rapid repair and reduced scarring’. The paper is available online now.

Speaking of the discovery, Professor Martin said: ‘White blood cells (macrophages), and the chemical signals (PDGF) delivered to the wound cells, and osteopontin itself are now all clear targets for developing medicines to improve healing of skin wounds and other organs where fibrotic tissue repair can be debilitating. We hope that it won’t be too long before such therapies are available in the clinic. Indeed, the technique for suppressing OPN to reduce scarring is currently being licensed and patented by a Biotech company specializing in wound-healing therapies.’

Earlier research by Professor Martin’s lab and others has shown that embryos of many species, including humans, heal wounds without leaving a scar. Now it looks like the same may be true for adults.

Source: University of Bristol

Explore further: Humiliation tops list of mistreatment toward med students

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Innovative strategy to facilitate organ repair

Apr 18, 2014

A significant breakthrough could revolutionize surgical practice and regenerative medicine. A team led by Ludwik Leibler from the Laboratoire Matière Molle et Chimie (CNRS/ESPCI Paris Tech) and Didier Letourneur ...

Slug glue: A future with no sutures?

Aug 14, 2013

The materials for stitching up injuries and surgical wounds may have changed over the millennia, but the basic process of suturing tissue remains the same. In the 21st century, however, the method may finally ...

New plaster enhances wound healing

May 31, 2012

(Phys.org) -- Swiss researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a plaster that accelerates wound healing and is easily removed from the wound at any time. Burn victims in particular may profit from this invention ...

Recommended for you

Humiliation tops list of mistreatment toward med students

12 hours ago

Each year thousands of students enroll in medical schools across the country. But just how many feel they've been disrespected, publicly humiliated, ridiculed or even harassed by their superiors at some point during their ...

Surrogate offers clues into man with 16 babies

20 hours ago

When the young Thai woman saw an online ad seeking surrogate mothers, it seemed like a life-altering deal: $10,000 to help a foreign couple that wanted a child but couldn't conceive.

Nurses go on strike in Ebola-hit Liberia

21 hours ago

Nurses at Liberia's largest hospital went on strike on Monday, demanding better pay and equipment to protect them against a deadly Ebola epidemic which has killed hundreds in the west African nation.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge arrives in North Korea

Aug 31, 2014

It's pretty hard to find a novel way to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by now, but two-time Grammy-winning rapper Pras Michel, a founding member of the Fugees, has done it—getting his dousing in the center ...

Cold cash just keeps washing in from ALS challenge

Aug 28, 2014

In the couple of hours it took an official from the ALS Association to return a reporter's call for comment, the group's ubiquitous "ice bucket challenge" had brought in a few million more dollars.

User comments : 0