Study Finds a New Gel Patch Could Improve Wound Healing and Reduce Scarring

Wound HealingScientists at Nanyang Technological University have developed a new Angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPTL4) gel patch prototype that could accelerate wound healing and minimize scar formation. This healing patch could be a great consolation for diabetic patients, who suffer from hard-to-heal skin lesions and for patients undergoing surgery. In fact, this patch is unlike other single-purpose patches available, which either reduce the scarring or improve healing, but not both. The research team led by Associate Professor Andrew Tan and Assistant Professor Cleo Choong found that the protein Angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPTL4) reduces inflammation in the early phase of wound healing and helps in the formation of new blood vessels and cell growth, and reduces scarring at the final phase.

Scarring happens when excessive collagen produced by the body is assembled in one direction. To reduce scars, all the scientists had to do was to find a ‘tuning knob’ that controlled the amount of collagen produced, instead of turning it off completely which is what typical anti-scarring medicine does, and which could interfere with the healing process. The team conducted experiments on mice with diabetic wounds. They found that the wounds healed stronger and thrice faster with the application of ANGPTL4. The active ingredient ANGPTL4 could be harvested from discarded fatty tissues from patients in hospitals. The easy extraction of ANGPTL4 also could mean that in future, a surgeon could use the patient’s fat and turn it into a healing agent on the spot, to promote faster recovery of the patient’s wounds after an operation. The scientists have also developed ways to package ANGPTL4 into easy-to-use formulations such as gel patches, topical creams and injectable microcapsules, making it easy for doctors and patients to use in future.

How the Skin Patch Works

Whenever scars were produced, a protein called Scleraxis was found to be working with the TGFbeta-Smad3 pathway. Scleraxis plays an important role in the formation of tendons, which are composed of parallel arrays of collagen closely packed together and similar in structure to scar tissue. However, the molecules produced by ANGPTL4 interfere with Scleraxis, reducing the scar collagen production. In addition to that, ANGPTL4 protein could be useful for other fibrotic diseases such as keloids. Other research studies are also using extracts of ANGPTL4 protein from placenta and adipose tissue to accelerate healing in wounds.

Wound Documentation using Electronic Health Record

Several technologies are now available to improve wound documentation, just like the introduction of advanced solutions for wound care. In fact, an electronic system can enhance the completeness and comprehensiveness of patients’ wound care records. Woundcare EHR has separate templates for recording wound care details, making it easy for physicians and the entire care team to extract relevant information in a short time and expedite care.