Discovery could help diabetics and others with slow-to-heal wounds

Apr 17, 2010

A new discovery about the wound-healing process could lead to better treatments for diabetics and other patients who have wounds that are slow to heal.

Loyola University Health System researchers found that certain slow the wound-healing process. Thus, it might be possible to improve by inactivating these cells, said Elizabeth Kovacs, PhD, who heads the laboratory team that made the discovery.

The findings by Kovacs and colleagues are reported online, in advance of print, in the Journal of Surgical Research.

In the study, the immune system cells that impeded the healing process are called natural killer T (NKT) cells. NKT cells perform beneficial functions such as killing and virus-infected cells. However, researchers discovered that NKT cells also migrate to wound sites and impede the healing process.

Kovacs and colleagues used an to examine the effects of NKT cells on healing. Healing was significantly slower in normal mice that had NKT cells than it was in a special breed of mice that lacked NKT cells.

"We demonstrated that early wound closure was accelerated in the absence of NKT cells," Kovacs and colleagues wrote. "Importantly, we also made the novel observation that NKT cells themselves are a constituent of the early wound inflammatory infiltrate."

Certain conditions, such as diabetes and infections, can slow or prevent from healing. The study found that NKT cells may be at least partially to blame. Researchers don't know how NKT cells slow healing. But they believe they may be able to inactivate NKT cells using an antibody. They are testing this prediction in a follow-up study.

Kovacs is a professor and vice chair of research in the Department of Surgery at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. She also is director of research of Loyola's Burn & Shock Trauma Institute.

Co-authors of the study are Jessica Palmer, Julia Tulley, Dr. John Speicher, Douglas Faunce, PhD, first author Dr. David Schneider and Dr. Richard Gamelli. Schneider is a resident at Loyola and Gamelli is dean of the Stritch School of Medicine and director of the Burn & Shock Trauma Institute.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and by the Ralph and Marion C. Falk Medical Research Trust.

Scott Somers, Ph.D., who manages wound healing research and training grants supported by the NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences, said, "Beyond the novel finding of a fundamental mechanism controlling wound healing, this work also highlights the contributions of physician-scientists like Dr. Schneider, a surgical resident who is training to do hypothesis-based, cutting-edge scientific investigation."

Explore further: Researchers take 'first baby step' toward anti-aging drug

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Artificial skin system can heal wounds

Dec 20, 2007

A new study in Artificial Organs tested the effects of a wound dressing created with hair follicular cells. The findings reveal that skin substitutes using living hair cells can increase wound healing.

New study may hold promise for future disease therapies

Jun 01, 2009

Linking genetic material microRNAs with cells that regulate the immune system could one day lead to new therapies for treating cancer, infections and autoimmune diseases, according to a Henry Ford Hospital study.

Study uses bone marrow stem cells to regenerate skin

Jan 14, 2009

A new study suggests that adult bone marrow stem cells can be used in the construction of artificial skin. The findings mark an advancement in wound healing and may be used to pioneer a method of organ reconstruction. The ...

Preventing pancreatic islet loss after transplantation

Feb 02, 2010

Although transplantation of pancreatic islets is an attractive way to treat type 1 diabetes, early islet loss soon after transplantation has limited its clinical use. By studying islet transplantation in a mouse model of ...

Recommended for you

Biomedical team creates 'nerve on a chip'

Dec 24, 2014

Michael J. Moore and J. Lowry Curley first met in the laboratory as professor and student. Now the two Tulane University researchers have started a new biomedical company that's winning praise and awards.

User comments : 0

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.