Nita Wong ’21
Diabetes, a condition affecting nearly 10 percent of Americans, often causes nerve damage that results in numbness in the hands and feet. This inability to sense pain can turn a minor cut or sore into a situation requiring limb amputation or, in severe cases, leading to death. In a recent study, researchers at Northwestern University sought to tackle this medical dilemma by developing a device – a regenerative bandage – that accelerates healing in such wounds.
Under the leadership of Dr. Guillermo Ameer, a professor of biomedical engineering and surgery and director of Northwestern’s Center for Advanced Regenerative Engineering (CARE), the team worked to develop a bandage that both counters inflammation and conforms to the shape of the wounded area. The resulting antioxidant hydrogel bandage is a liquid that solidifies into a gel when in contact with the human body. Next, the researchers identified 12 amino acids in laminin – a protein that instigates cell adherence, migration, and proliferation in many body tissues, including the epidermis – that play a crucial role in the body’s healing process. They then grafted this peptide, known as A5G81, into their previously developed bandage. This final product, A5G81-PPCN, was compared to the Promogran Prisma wound dressing, a means of diabetic wound care management currently on the market. When both bandages were tested on diabetic mouse models, researchers found that A5G81-PPCN healed the mice’s wounds 33 percent faster than its clinically used counterpart.
The benefits of A5G81-PPCN extend beyond fast-tracked wound healing: the regenerative bandage lacks drugs or biologics that could cause in adverse side effects in patients. Ameer and his team are hoping that their future investigations, which involve a larger pre-clinical model, will quickly move this bandage to the market.
- Y. Zhu, et. al., Potent laminin-inspired antioxidant regenerative dressing accelerates wound healing in diabetes. PNAS, (2018). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1804262115
- Image retrieved from: https://www.pexels.com/photo/health-medical-medicine-diet-46173/