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Newly developed foam helps with wound healing
Poorly healing wounds and severe scarring can significantly impair a person's mobility and health. Researchers from Switzerland have now developed a foam that is intended to prevent excessive scarring and to help wound healing get started. An essential ingredient: turmeric, a healing spice known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
A wound on the foot that does not close or a scar on the elbow that tensions with every movement: poorly healing injuries are a common cause of health restrictions. However, the complex process of wound healing is still not fully understood or even controllable. Scientists from Switzerland have therefore developed a foam that is placed in skin wounds and optimizes the natural healing process.
The healing process should be supported more comprehensively
As the Federal Materials Testing and Research Institute (Empa for short) wrote in a communication, Markus Rottmar and his team took a step in a new direction in the Empa “Biointerfaces” laboratory with the “Scaravoid” project. "Traditional treatments target individual factors in wound healing, such as oxygen supply or moisture regulation, and only produce an inadequate tissue response," explained Rottmar. The healing process within “Scaravoid” should be understood and supported more comprehensively.
Excessive scarring or inadequate wound closure
According to the experts, it has so far been clear that a perfectly orchestrated interplay of many factors in the body is necessary to close an injury to the skin and to transform it into healthy tissue. Cells have to be attracted so that a well-dosed inflammation cleans the wound. So that the cleaned defect closes, new tissue grows, which is finally converted into functional skin.
As astonishing as the body's self-healing powers work in the ideal case, a malfunction can also disturb the balance and lead to excessive scarring or inadequate wound closure. For example, in older people or diabetics there is an increased risk that the complex cascade will be impaired.
With “Scaravoid”, the Empa team is now intervening in several ways with a biological polymer framework that has already been approved for medical use. According to the information, the polymer is foamed in a high-pressure reactor using supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2), whereby the pore size can be finely controlled with the aid of pressure and temperature.
Once placed in an injury, the polymer scaffold should begin its work: with its open-pore architecture, it offers immigrant cells a suitable scaffold to settle in. Because the foam is biodegradable, the cells redesign the polymer structure according to their needs and form a new, functional tissue.
Curcumin with anti-inflammatory properties
However, to prevent undesirable scar formation, the polymer scaffold is equipped with a bioactive substance that is supposed to inhibit scar formation. Here the scientists used nature and used a substance that we know more from the kitchen than from the hospital: curcumin.
The powder of the turmeric root (also called yellow ginger or turmeric) colors as an additive E100 certain foods such as mustard or margarine and contributes to the aroma in the curry powder. Curcumin, on the other hand, is interesting as a pharmacological component because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
Scientific studies have shown that curcumin helps with arthritis, among other things, thanks to its anti-inflammatory effect. According to health experts, the substance can also reduce brain inflammation, which is associated with both Alzheimer's disease and severe depression.
The Empa researchers added curcumin to cell cultures and found that the production of biomarkers, which typically occur in scars, is significantly downregulated. Curcumin is integrated into the structure of the foam, which is gradually released. It controls the behavior and function of the cells that migrate into the scaffold, and is said to support the natural balance of wound healing.
What is currently being analyzed in laboratory tests in the form of small polymer disks is to be used in clinical applications in the form of larger polymer membranes. The membrane can then be cut to size by the doctor and placed in the wound bed. The membranes are intended to optimize wound healing, particularly in the case of serious injuries, such as after traffic accidents or severe burns. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.