A team of scientists from Imperial College London has developed a bio-inspired material which will help in accelerating healing process in human body. The rate of wound self-healing itself plays critical role in certain situations as a speedier recovery could help save lives. Dr. Ben Almquest heading the team of scientist at Imperial College is working towards accelerating the healing process through use of biomaterials.
The new material called Traction force Activated Payloads or TrAPs is specially developed to interact with and augment the healing process in the human body. The team is currently looking to adopt this material in traditionally used materials which help with healing and tissue regeneration. In case of chronic wounds, in addition to body’s natural ability to self-heal, an accelerated healing rate is needed. TrAPs precisely helps in this by adopting to the body’s needs.
Whenever the body experiences a wound, there occurs a formation of thin layer of collagen. The cells pass through this thin layer of collagen and bring with them a thread of proteins. These healthy proteins are responsible for cell regeneration and activation of the healing process. But these proteins are not enough for accelerated growth of tissues. Scientists found that if they could somehow manage a long thread of proteins at this stage, there would be rapid healing.
What the new material promises to do is mimic this healing action accelerating the natural process exponentially. The technique used by this material uses Aptamers. Aptamers are folded DNA segments, researchers used these aptamers so that proteins could be attached throughout its many folds. A handle is attached to one side the DNA string while a collagen layer is attached to the other end. When the cells thorough the natural process of cell regeneration, moves through the thin collagen layer on top of the wound, they bring TrAPs with them which unravels the Aptamers and huge number of proteins along with it on the wound. The process thus augments cell regeneration.
The technique has unraveled new potential to deliver tailored for specific types of cells. Doctors can now select a particular aptamer for a particular cell type along with ability to pull different aptamer at different stage of cell repair. This ability of using cell movement to trigger healing process is observed in many creatures including humans and sea sponges. The new approach mimics this process which offers flexibility to interact with different types of cells in the damaged tissue.
The applications of this approach is fascinating with potential adoptions in repairing nerve damage, scar tissue which occurs after heart attack and also fractured bones. The key feature is that TrAPs are easy to create in laboratories and can be produced on an industrial scale. Its dynamic and intelligent healing which actively communicates with the wound has shown hope for healing many chronic wounds including diabetic foot ulcers which is a leading cause of leg amputations.