Stretchy patch could help repair wounded skin, damaged arteries

Scientists in Australia have come up with a synthetic elastic patch to encourage healing in wounded skin or damaged arteries.

Usually, severe burns or damaged arteries are treated by grafting skin or vessels from another part of the body. However, this creates a new wound.

Artificial products that prompt skin and blood vessels to regenerate could replace grafts. But to date, these products have all been a little too artificial, says Tony Weiss at the University of Sydney, Australia.

Researchers have tried to prompt healing using the protein fibrin or animal-derived collagen. Neither is a typical component of human skin or arteries – although fibrin is involved in blood clotting – so they cannot help natural wound repair, says Weiss.

Weiss, with colleagues, suggests using a different protein called tropoelastin, which is used to make elastin – a typical component of the skin and arteries. They turned their tropoelastin into a flexible fabric using electrospinning, essentially inkjet printing biological cells.

Weiss”s team has already shown that this material can encourage damaged arteries to repair themselves in rabbits, and they say it can do the same for damaged skin.

Now, the researchers have found no adverse reactions when they injected the material into the deep skin layer of 12 healthy people.

“There was a wonderful response, it was very nicely tolerated,” New Scientist quoted Weiss as saying.

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