Improved therapy options for burn victims

Improved therapy options for burn victims

New procedure for better wound healing after burns
With major burns, skin grafts are often necessary because the affected skin can no longer be saved. However, skin grafts occasionally come with complications that may require reoperation and may cause increased scarring. Scientists at the Medical University of Vienna have now found that messenger substances from white blood cells can improve wound healing after a skin transplant.

Large burns are usually treated by transplanting skin layers from other parts of the body. The procedure has proven itself many times, but wound healing can occasionally become problematic. The research group led by plastic surgeon Stefan Hacker from the University Clinic for Surgery at MedUni Vienna has now succeeded in proving that "soluble factors of white blood cells improve wound healing after a skin transplant", the university said. The researchers published the results of their investigations in the scientific reports.

Complications in the healing process
The affected skin can often not be saved in the event of burns and must be removed. What remains is open wound areas, which are treated with skin transplants from the thigh or back to the injured area in the case of large burns. The following applies: "The younger the patient, the better the wound healing," according to MedUni Vienna. In older people and people with certain diseases (e.g. diabetes), however, the healing process takes considerably longer and sometimes this leads to complications that necessitate new operations or cause disfiguring scars.

Doubling of neovascularization
The research group led by Stefan Hacker has now successfully tested a method in animal models that can significantly improve wound healing after a skin transplant. They have succeeded in proving that soluble factors from white blood cells can contribute significantly to improved wound healing, according to the university. As part of the investigations, the researchers initially put white blood cells under stress by irradiating them with gamma rays so that they release certain proteins that stimulate the formation of new vessels and tissues. The released, soluble proteins were processed into a medication and applied to the wounds. The result was a doubling of the formation of new vessels and, in addition, a better and faster development of the skin than in the comparison groups, reports the MedUni Vienna.

The method can also be used for other wounds
According to the study director, the clinical application of the new method in humans should “not be limited to burn wounds, but should also work for other wounds, such as poorly healing skin ulcers in diabetics or after microsurgical tissue transplants.” The current study project was carried out in cooperation with Rainer Mittermayr from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Experimental and Clinical Traumatology and Michael Mildner from the University Clinic for Dermatology at MedUni Vienna. "The study is a good example of translational research that could soon benefit patients," said MedUni Vienna. (fp)

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