Ciencia Colombia , Colombia, Viernes, 26 de junio de 2015 a las 09:56

Collagen mesh helps close diabetic wounds and pressure sores

The medical patch has been tested in 15 patients where it has proved to be effective in skin scarring and regeneration

UN/DICYT This is a biodegradable patch made from type I collagen obtained from cow fascia. The mesh was conceived by the UNal Tissue Engineering Group and also tested in rabbits, where it has shown to improve scarring.


Its 90% effectiveness has been verified in people with venous or diabetic ulcers and pressure sores, in other words areas damaged by prolonged pressure on the skin.


Through government funding researchers will be able to carry out the first industrial production with the purpose of obtaining the necessary batches and request the sanitary registry from the National Food and Drug Oversight Institute (Invima, for its Spanish acronym) and carry out the first controlled clinical studies. This could be the first medical mesh with these characteristics developed by UNal.


The scientific development would demonstrate that it is possible to carry out a clinical application with public funding. Obtaining this product is the result of the work of the aforementioned group under leadership of Chemical Pharmacist Dr. Martha Raquel Fontanilla, who has implemented technologies which allow substituting natural tissue which stimulate areas of the body with these types of skin conditions.


“This is the result of the work of a team in order to obtain a product developed locally, even though there are similar products most are imported,” said Fontanilla.


Although they have still not carried out comparative research with products already in the market, the mesh has been tested in 15 patients with very promising results.


“Tissue regeneration treatments are often expensive and therefore the Colombian Health Providing Entities (EPS, for its Spanish acronym) opt to not cover them in their programs, although people which need these types of treatments are often low-income patients which are simply treated with creams and bandages,” said UNal Pharmaceutical Sciences doctoral candidate Ronald Jiménez, and whose current research is focused on designing and developing controlled delivery systems applied to tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.


Economic solution


In developed countries there is the need to develop low-cost and accessible technologies for treatment of venous or diabetic ulcers and pressure sores. For instance a prevalence research project carried out by the UNal Faculty of Nursery discovered that pressure sores accompanied by dermatitis are due to lack of medical care in 22 per cent of the cases. The greatest percentage of patients which suffer this pathology are older than 65 years of age.

Type I collagen is the protein used by researchers to produce the biodegradable patch. It is obtained from cow fascia, which is freeze-dried and processed to improve its stability and allow better handling, making the patch poriferous.


Collagen meshes are 3D structures that function as scaffolds for cells to stick to and multiply. They may be applied to different kinds of wounds as they are designed according the size of the area to regenerate and to adapt to the clinical needs.


Wound management


“What we have done with patients is place the own patient’s plasma pre-moistened mesh on the affected area after removing the dead tissue. Later we cover it with a dressing, repeating the procedure every week until the wound closes,” said UNal Biotechnology Ph.D. and member of the group Lady Espinosa.


According to the researchers, product application should be performed by a physician or an experienced wound care nurse, as actions are needed to prevent infection which may hinder patient recovery.