Progress in research and development continues to expand the scope of modern wound care systems!
Modernization of wound care practice can be attributed to the extensive research and development initiated by both the academicians as well as companies. Wound management encompasses initial injury, fluid loss, tissue regeneration, infection treatment, closure, the formation of the final scar, and remodeling. The field of advanced wound care embodies the technological and medical evolution in wound care systems accomplished in the last decade. Advanced wound care practices have proven especially helpful in treating wounds that heal at a slow pace. Traditional wound care systems required regular dressing changes and were time-consuming, adding to the expenditure of the already-massive wound care market. With advanced wound care systems, most of which have already been commercialized while others are in the pipeline, have not only reduced the valuable time that goes into wound care but also made the entire process more efficient.
Researchers have explored several unique options from collagen to spiders and have imbibed their discoveries into wound care products. Back in 2012, scientists from the University of Akron, Ohio, by lead author Vasav Sahni, had published their research titled “Spider Silk Inspired Functional Microthreads” in the American Chemical Society journal Langmuir that described the development of a synthetic material resembling a specific type of silk spun by an orb spider. The scientists relied on concepts of fluid mechanics to adjust the size and spacing between the glue beads and used commercially available materials to synthesize a thread that resembled the spider silk threads. This research came around the same time that a team led by biochemist Artem Davidenko, belonging to the DWI at the RWTH Aachen University, Germany, was studying the use of spider-spun silk in wound healing. A similar study from 2017, conducted by a team from the University of Nottingham, published in the journal Advanced Materials, demonstrated a novel antibiotic variety of spider silk that could be used in wound healing. This thread was different as it was created by using a new technique known as ‘click-chemistry,’ which involves particular chemical reactions that can bond the molecules to a material. The research explained that the silk thread had two principal advantages in wound care. Firstly, the silk could be incorporated in advanced dressings for treating slow-healing wounds, for instance, in case of diabetic ulcers, wherein the material could prevent infection over weeks or months by releasing antibiotics meticulously. The thread could also expedite tissue regeneration wherein the silk fibers acted as temporary scaffold before undergoing the process of biodegradation. The researchers used the antibiotic ‘levofloxacin,’ as it causes fewer side effects, and has also proven effective against drug-resistant strains such as streptococcus pneumonia.
Wounds in diabetic patients are a major concern, as they can take longer to heal completely. Diabetic ulcers can often lead to amputation. Earlier this year, in a breakthrough discovery, a team of scientists from the Imperial College London successfully designed a molecule, christened ‘traction force-activated payloads’ or TrAPs, which can harness the body’s natural healing powers. They facilitate the interaction between materials like collages and the tissues in the body, activating the growth proteins that trigger the healing process within the tissue. Further research demonstrated how TrAPs could be engineered to release personalized regenerative proteins depending on the targeted cells. This ability to adapt to different types of cells suggests that the technology could be applied to different kinds of wounds such as diabetic ulcer but also in other types of wounds like nerve damage, bone fractures, and scar tissue injuries following heart attacks.
Earlier this year, as part of an international collaboration, a team reported an electrospun-based formulation of new composite biocompatible nanofibers made using jellyfish biomass. The research titled ‘Jellyfish-Based Smart Wound Dressing Devices Containing In Situ Synthesized Antibacterial Nanoparticles’ involved the decoration of nanofibers with in situ produced bio-templated silver nanoparticles, led to the formation of a scaffold that exhibited potent antibacterial characteristics. The research, published in Advanced Functional Materials, demonstrated the use of jellyfish biomass as a biocompatible and biodegradable raw material to fabricate antibacterial mats.
Recently, scientists from Northern Arizona University have invented a novel technique that not only speeds the healing process but also lowers the risks of infection. The team integrated antimicrobial materials known as ionic liquids into the wound-healing scaffolds used on the skin. The ionic liquid sterilizes the wound-healing device and makes the scaffold resistant to colonization by a wide variety of microbial pathogens. The researchers aim to apply the properties of the scaffold to lower the risk of infection during wound closure. Another ongoing study in advanced wound care products is research proposed by scientists from Heriot-Watt University. The research is part of a two-year project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The researchers are working on devising tiny sensors that can ‘hear’ what happens under the layer of the bandages, which will render the need for removing the bandage to see the progress of healing useless.
Recently, a team comprising of Bo Chi and colleagues belonging to the Nanjing Tech University have successfully developed an electrospun, photocrosslinkable hydrogel filled with ginsenoside Rg3 (GS-Rg3) that not only accelerates wound healing but also curbs the production of collagen that occurs after an injury, thereby limiting the formation of hypertrophic scars. Numotech Inc., the AVANTI Technologies Inc. nursing team-backed medical devices firm, has found a solution for one of the biggest challenges in the healthcare industry. The Numobag Kit created by the company has proven effective in the rapid healing of severe wounds, which might have led to limb amputations. The kit has also been effectively employed by AVANTI’s nurses to save an elderly patient’s limb from being amputated.
Apart from academicians, companies are also taking steps to propel the advanced wound care sector. In 2017, MPP Group introduced three dextranomer-based products for advanced wound care dressings that were available in single-serve stick-picks and bottles. In February this year, Axio Biosolutions launched MaxioCel, a next-generation wound care dressing made using chitosan, which has been effective in pain management and scar improvement in patients with chronic wounds like diabetic foot ulcers, venous leg ulcers, pressure ulcers, cavity wounds, and skin abrasions, among others.
In July 2019, Advanced Medical Solutions Group received the 510(k) clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its wound care products, viz., Silicone PHMB Foam Dressing and Silver High-Performance Dressing. The Silicone PHMB Foam Dressing is an antimicrobial gelling fiber technology intended for use on chronic wounds. It is made of ionic silver that maintains antimicrobial activities for nearly a week. The Silver High-Performance Dressing is an atraumatic adhesive dressing that is useful in cases of post-surgical wounds. Finland-based UPM recently launched a novel product named “FibDex” in the European market, as the first wound dressing developed from wood-based nanofibrillar cellulose to obtain regulatory approval and a CE mark. The core of the dressing contains nanofibrillar cellulose, which has proven biocompatible with human cells and tissues.
According to Reports and Data the global advanced wound care market is speculated to record a CAGR of 7.1% to reach the valuation of USD 16.83 billion by the year 2026 from USD 9.63 billion in the year 2018. Against the global landscape, the Asia Pacific region is expected to deliver the highest growth rate at 9.5% in the forecast years, with the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases like diabetes, lifestyle changes, and efforts to lower surgical expenses by decreasing the duration of hospital stays. Key players in the market include 3M Company, Cardinal Health Inc, Coloplast A/S, Convatec, Inotec AMD, Johnson & Johnson, Ogenix Inc., and Smith and Nephew Plc, among others. The need for the development of advanced wound care systems stems from the increasing geriatric population and the ever-increasing occurrences of medical issues such as diabetic ulcers. The advanced wound care market has rocketed in the past few decades and can be expected to stay on the same trajectory in the future. The incorporation of advanced wound care systems by existing companies to stay relevant in the already consolidated industry and new companies trying to establish their presence in the market with modern technology will make the competition fiercer.