The long-term objective of this project is the synthesis and assembly of wound healing devices that mimic, as closely as possible, the biochemical and mechanical characteristics of healthy human skin. The proposed research would focus on the synthesis of membranes containing electrospun human recombinant tropoelastin and collagen mixtures. The ratios of the two molecules and the spinning conditions can be adjusted to mimic the matrix of human skin. These wound healing devices can then be applied to chronic wounds to accelerate wound closure and improve the strength and flexibility of the resulting scar. One of the most important applications of such wound healing devices is to chronic wounds in patients suffering from diabetes. These wounds cause significant morbidity and mortality and remain a challenge for treatment. The proposed work would extend earlier promising studies in a murine model to the rapid closure of wounds in a [splinted full thickness wound model in diabetic mice], an untested biochemical and physiological background. The hypothesis is that the presence of a scaffold that mimics the protein composition and structure of skin will stimulate the regrowth of skin cells and accelerate wound closure. The resulting scar will also be stronger and more flexible, due to the presence of elastin, and less prone to subsequent failure. Introducing tropoelastin/collagen scaffolds into wounds in diabetic mice and measuring the rate of wound closure relative to standard of care controls will test these hypotheses. Once the wounds have healed, the scars will be removed and subjected to mechanical tensile strength testing, with the results again compared to the scars produced in standard of care controls. A successful outcome of the proposed work, defined as a statistically significant improvements in closure rate and wound tensile strength compared to controls, will provide a basis for the development of a new, more effective wound closure device for chronic wounds.
Chronic (Non-healing, or slow to heal) wounds in patients suffering from diabetes is a significant and persistent public health problem, affecting 1.4 million people in the US alone, and costing over $180 billion per year. The proposed project tests, in diabetic mice, a novel membrane dressing that is synthesized and assembled to mimic healthy human skin. The goal is to show that the presence of this membrane helps accelerate wound healing and strengthens the eventual scar.