A new biomaterial developed by researchers at Duke University and the University of California, Los Angeles significantly reduces scar formation after wounding, leading to more effective skin healing. The research demonstrates the activation of an immune response to trigger regenerative wound healing.
The hydrogel scaffolds create a structure to support tissue growth and accelerate wound healing. In the new study, the team showed that a modified version of their hydrogel is capable of activating a regenerative immune response, which can help heal skin injuries such as burns, cuts, diabetic ulcers, and other wounds that typically heal with significant scars.
Current wound healing hydrogels sit on the surface of the wound, where they act as a dressing and help the wound from drying out, which in turn helps the wound heal faster, but leaves behind a scar. Rather than resting on the surface of the skin, the team’s microporous particle hydrogels integrate themselves into the wound. The beads within the gel link together but leave open spaces, creating a porous structure that provides support for cells as they grow across the wound site. As the wound closes, the gel slowly dissolves, leaving behind healed skin without the scar.