A new treatment that could one day benefit burns victims, diabetes sufferers and the elderly – by fast tracking the healing of chronic wounds – has taken another step toward commercialization.
Research by associate professor Allison Cowin, from the Women's and Children's Health Research Institute in Adelaide, and the University of Adelaide's Discipline of Surgery, has today received a $529,450 development grant from Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
NHMRC development grants provide funding for health and medical research projects, helping to progress research out of the laboratory and towards commercialization and application in the real world.
Cowin and her research team have developed antibodies to speed up the healing of chronic wounds, such as burns and ulcers. They found that a specific protein known as Flightless I (Flii) restricts wound healing. The Adelaide researchers have been able to use antibodies to suppress the Flii protein, thereby promoting wound healing.
"Improving wound healing has the potential to benefit a large proportion of the community, particularly the aged, the obese and patients with diabetes, all of whom are at increased risk of developing chronic, non-healing ulcers," Cowin says. "This new technology will also have applications for treating burn injuries and surgical wounds," she says. "When a wound heals faster, the body is better protected against blood loss and infection. But in its haste to heal, the body also creates scar tissue that can cause chronic pain, deformity and disability. The medical need for improved wound healing will only expand as our population ages and the diabetic epidemic grows."
Cowin says further research into the treatment is needed and it could be as many as 10 years before such a treatment is available to the public.