Disease Area Biomedical engineering, Pain & critical care

Burn Bandage Breakthrough

Despite best efforts from medical staff, burns remain hard to treat, and traditional bandages can act as a breeding ground for bacteria. “We’ve covered severely burned patients with grafts and cell therapies, only to have them develop infections,” says Lee Ann Laurent-Applegate, Director of the Cell Therapy Unit at CHUV, Switzerland,  “Plastic surgery reconstruction can provide ‘new skin’ but the process can take several months, in which time bacterial infection and resistance can occur, with detrimental results.”

Laurent-Applegate led a research team in developing a new type of bandage, with antimicrobial and regenerative effects (1). The researchers first saw an opportunity to fund the research when Switzerland opened a specific call for funding in translational medicine. “It was a very competitive grant call with several rounds of elimination. But we ended up as one of six national platforms to be financed,” says Laurent-Applegate.

The team used antimicrobial dendrimers G3KL and G3RL, in conjunction with progenitor keratinocytes (skin cells) and animal collagen, to create a biodegradable bandage that was able to suppress the bacterial growth of multi-drug resistant bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa, as well as aiding re-epithelialization.

Following their initial success, the team plans to follow two parallel research tracks. The first will take place over the next few months at the University of Zurich, and involve in vivo testing of two final formulations for wound healing efficacy in mini-pig burn models. Commercial plans are also afoot, says Laurent-Applegate: “Since the University Hospital cannot develop big pharma-scale end-products, we’ve formed a spin-off to our laboratory, called Elanix Biotechnologies AG. Through Elanix, we plan to use our first generation bandages in multi-site clinical trials.” 

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  1. P Abdel-Sayed et al., “Anti-microbial dendrimers against multidrug-resistant P. aeruginosa enhance the angiogenic effect of biological burn-wound bandages”, Sci Rep, 6 (2016).
About the Author
William Aryitey

My fascination with science, gaming, and writing led to my studying biology at university, while simultaneously working as an online games journalist. After university, I travelled across Europe, working on a novel and developing a game, before finding my way to Texere. As Associate Editor, I’m evolving my loves of science and writing, while continuing to pursue my passion for gaming and creative writing in a personal capacity.

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