Scientists have found a revolutionary way of treating open wounds without the need for surgery or skin grafting, The Guardian has reported. The technique involves using viruses to reprogramme non-healing wound cells to stimulate the healing process.
The normal healing process for open wounds involves outer layer skin cells creating a seal over the damaged tissues. However, it can be complicated in patients who suffer from circulatory conditions, as well as the elderly. In some cases, open wounds can become non-healing ulcers which can lead to amputation and even death. Statistics gathered by the NHS campaign group ‘Stop the Pressure’ estimate that the class of ulcers known as ‘pressure ulcers’ affect 700,000 people a year, and cost the NHS £3.8 million per day.
Professor Izpisua Belmonte and his team based at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, led the study and published the results in the scientific journal Nature. They found that by reprogramming the cells of non-healing ulcers in mice to become ‘epithelial’ (healing) cells, the open ulcers successfully healed within 28 days. If this technique is used successfully in humans, it would present a better and quicker solution than using skin transplants or skin grafts.
Rosie Nelson, an associate in Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team, who specialises in orthopaedic injuries, commented: “Several of our clients have sought our advice following complications as a result of non-healing wounds, which have sometimes left them with life-changing injuries. This potential breakthrough could have a huge impact on the safety and quality of life for patients with open wounds.”