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Research finds component in blood to help heal wounds

New research by RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences suggests that effective wound healing may be aided. This is by replicating a crucial component of our blood.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a natural healing substance in our blood. This study explores ways of enhancing the wound healing process. It can be done through extracting PRP from the blood of a patient with a complex skin wound. 3D printing can manipulate it to form an implant for tissue repair. Above all, difficult-to-heal skin wounds would be able to treat with this in a single surgical procedure.

In conclusion, the results showed that application of the 3D-printed PRP implant helped to speed up the healing of the wound. This is by enabling efficient vascularisation (meaning development of new blood vessels) and inhibiting fibrosis (scarring/thickening of tissue). For effective wound healing, both of these are essential.

Professor of Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine at RCSI spoke about the novel aspects of this discovery.

Professor Fergal O’Brien said: “Existing literature suggests that while the PRP already present in our blood helps to heal wounds, scarring can still occur. By 3D-printing PRP into a biomaterial scaffold, we can therefore increase the formation of blood vessels. We can do this while also avoiding the formation of scars. After that it will lead to more successful wound healing.

“As well as promising results for skin wound healing, this technology can potentially be used to regenerate different tissues. Therefore dramatically influencing the ever-growing regenerative medicine, 3D printing and personalised medicine markets.”

Funding for this project came from Science Foundation Ireland under the M-ERA.NET EU network and the Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research Centre, and the EU BlueHuman Interreg Atlantic Area Project.

The RCSI research team collaborated with researchers from the 3B’s Research Group at University of Minho and ICVS/3B’s Associate Laboratory in Portugal, the Trinity Centre for Biomedical Engineering and AMBER, the SFI Centre for Advanced Materials and Bioengineering Research.

The finding, published in Advanced Functional Materials, was led by researchers at the Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG) and SFI AMBER Centre based at RCSI’s Department of Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine.

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