Wound Healing and Wound Care

Skin wound healing can be defined as a discrete timeline of physical phases constituting the post-trauma repair process. Here in the Charles Institute we study the regulated sequence of cell biologic and molecular biologic events that are set into motion to repair that damage. We are interested in comparing these in healthy and pathological skin tissues (e.g., chronic non-healing wounds, genetic disorders, and burns) at all ages. Furthermore, our polymer chemists are involved in developing strategies and technologies to deliver therapeutics to the skin in order to correct genetic defects and other applications.

Diabetic foot ulcer (Wang Lab):

Diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore or wound with disintegration of the surrounding tissue, which commonly occurs on the bottom of the foot and can affect anyone with diabetes. Ulcers occur due to multiple physical and physiological factors, such as lack of feeling in the foot (neuropathy), restricted circulation, deformities, friction or pressure, and trauma, as well as being an indication of mismanaged diabetes. Diabetic foot ulcers are not only costly  to the health system,15% of people with diabetes develop foot ulcers and 70% of ulcers recur within five years, but also put the individual at risk of needing amputation. In fact 85% of all amputations worldwide are preceded by a foot ulcer. There is also the risk of potentially fatal infections from the wound site. 

Current therapeutic technologies for diabetic foot ulcers include closely monitored glycaemic control, aggressive regular removal of damaged tissue, antibiotics, moist wound dressings, skin graft, pressure offloading, and surgeries. However, these treatments are usually associated with a very high possibility of recurrence and amputation. With over 400 million people worldwide living with diabetes, mostly in low and middle income countries, there is a pressing need for efficacious and low cost treatments for diabetic foot ulcers.At the UCD Charles Institute, the Wang group are developing a smart hydrogel dressing to treat diabetic wounds. This degradable polymer-based dressing will contain stem cells derived from fat tissue which will help to accelerate the rate of healing and reduce the incidence of amputation.