Diabetes, a globally prevalent medical condition with more than 420 million affected patients, is often associated with chronic wounds whose treatment remains challenging. Researchers at the Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden and the Department of Dermatology of the University of Leipzig have now jointly developed and tested a set of hydrogel wound dressings based on glycosaminoglycans, a class of naturally occurring carbohydrates. The hydrogels allow for the reduction of inflammatory reactions in ways that promise new treatment modalities for patients suffering from chronic cutaneous wounds.
Collaborating within the Coordinated Research Center “Functional biomaterials for controlling healing processes in bone and skin” of the German Research Foundation, the interdisciplinary team explored a new approach to neutralize
pro-inflammatory chemokines, signaling proteins that trigger the migration of immune cells into skin wounds. Employing biomolecular interactions, the engineered hydrogels were shown to effectively bind and inactivate pro-inflammatory chemokines.
As reported in the current issue of Science Translational Medicine and highlighted with the cover image, the novel wound dressings accelerated cutaneous healing in a diseased animal model. Further testing of the promising materials may pave the way for a potential future application in human patients. Beyond that, the underlying concept is expected to be similarly applicable in the treatment of other disorders associated with pathologically enhanced inflammatory reactions.
N. Lohmann, L. Schirmer, P. Atallah, E. Wandel, R. A. Ferrer, C. Werner, J. C. Simon, S. Franz, U. Freudenberg, Glycosaminoglycan-based hydrogels capture inflammatory chemokines and rescue defective wound healing in mice.
Sci. Transl. Med. 9, eaai9044 (2017).