Injectable gel fills wounds and promotes tissue regeneration

Injectable gel fills wounds and promotes tissue regeneration
UCLA researchers have developed an injectable gel that promotes faster healing and tissue regeneration in skin wounds.

Researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed an injectable hydrogel that helps skin wounds heal more quickly. The material creates an instant scaffold that allows new tissue to latch on and grow within the cavities formed between linked spheres of gel.

The research was published online today in the journal Nature Materials. The study was led by co-principal investigators Dino Di Carlo, professor of bioengineering, and Tatiana Segura, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering; and co-lead authors Donald Griffin and Westbrook Weaver, both postdoctoral scholars.

Doctors treating try to keep the area moist because dry heal much more slowly than wet ones. To accomplish this, they often use topically applied hydrogel dressings or films, to seal over or cap the wound and provide moisture. In other cases, ointments are used to fill in the wound, much like filling a pothole with new asphalt. However, none of these materials provide an optimal scaffold to allow new tissue to grow as they degrade. As a result, the new tissue growth is relatively slow and fragile.

"Achieving a biomaterial that promotes rapid regeneration while maintaining structural support has been a holy grail in the field of ," Di Carlo said. "Our team has achieved this in an injectable form by combining tailored material chemistry and microfluidic fabrication of uniform spherical building blocks, each about the width of a human hair."

"Our technology is beautifully simple, as it utilizes any available chemistry to generate tiny gels that can be assembled into a large unit, leaving behind a path for cellular infiltration," Segura said.

The result is a packed cluster of microscopic synthetic polymer spheres attached at their surfaces, something like a jar of gumballs that are stuck together. The cluster creates a scaffold of microporous annealed particles, or a MAP gel, that fills in the wound. New tissue quickly grows into the voids between the microspheres, and as the spheres degrade into the body, a matrix of newly grown tissue is left where the wound once was. New tissue continues growing until the wound is completely healed.

"The beauty of the MAP gel is that there are no other added growth factors that other technologies require to attract cells into the material," Weaver said. "The geometry of the MAP gel networks entices cells to migrate into the gel without the need for anything other than a cell adhesive peptide, so that the cells can grab onto the gels."

The researchers demonstrated the MAP gel can promote the growth of new cells and formation of networks of connected cells at previously unseen rates. During in vivo tests, the researchers observed significant regeneration in the first 48 hours, with much more healing over five days compared to materials in use today. "We envision this material being useful for a wide range of wound applications, from acute damage, like lacerations and surgical wound closures, to more chronic applications like diabetic ulcers and large-area burn wounds," Griffin said. He noted the hydrogel scaffolds could be useful in trauma situations, such as battlefields or emergency rooms.

Dr. Philip Scumpia, a clinical instructor of dermatology and dermatopathology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, was also a co-author on the paper.

Explore further

Nanofibrous hydrogels applied to burn wounds can accelerate healing and enhance the regeneration of skin tissue

More information: Accelerated wound healing by injectable microporous gel scaffolds assembled from annealed building blocks, Nature Materials (2015) DOI: 10.1038/nmat4294
Journal information: Nature Materials

Citation: Injectable gel fills wounds and promotes tissue regeneration (2015, June 8) retrieved 25 May 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Jun 08, 2015
I wonder if, by 2030, any of these articles will have a buy link included? It takes longer to bring new products to market than it takes for them to be invented. Especially, the medical breakthroughs. When I talk to my doctor about them, he looks at me like I am crazy and my resources are hoaxes. I wish these articles included local places to talk or find people or products that match the breakthroughs. It is still interesting information, and I am not taking the research for granite. But, it would be great to find clinics or stores that offer the breakthroughs.

Jun 09, 2015
I remember 10 years ago when I first heard about the invisibility cloak being invented, I haven't seen or heard anything about it on the news or locally. I did hear about it being invented once again about a year ago. I also remember learning about a new type of tire being invented that is all purpose durable plastic that never goes flat and never needs air. It was gray and looked cool and new. That was approximately 5 years ago. I have never seen one in a shop or on the road. The tire I guess is explainable since I am sure Goodyear or Michelin doesn't want a tire being sold that never goes flat. Also, the invisibility cloak would have crime repercussions. Yet, it would be nice to be able to buy some of this new technology. Time flies by faster than people think. It takes ten to twenty years for markets to change course and now it takes ten to twenty years for new products to be brought to market. Possibly even longer. What year will the consumer finally get these products?

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