Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine suggest that, in order to effectively treat pressure ulcers in patients with spinal cord injury, anti-inflammatory measures should be applied very early in their development, well before the earliest clinical signs of formation.

The study’s findings are published in a recent issue of PLOS Computational Biology.

A news release from the university explains that the researchers devised a computational, or “in silico,” model of the pressure ulcer formation process based on serial photographs of developing ulcers from patients with spinal cord injury who enrolled in studies at University of Pittsburgh’s Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Spinal Cord Injury.

Photos of the ulcers were taken when they were initially diagnosed, three times per week when they were in the acute stage, and once a week as they healed.

The research team found that if they started with a single small round area over a virtual bony protuberance and altered factors such as inflammatory mediators and tissue oxygenation, they could recreate a variety of irregularly shaped ulcers that mimic what is seen in reality, per the release.

After conducting two virtual trials of potential interventions, they found that anti-inflammatory interventions could not prevent the pressure ulcers from forming unless they were applied very early in the ulcers’ development, the release explains.

“Computational models like this one might one day be able to predict the clinical course of a disease or injury, as well as make it possible to do less expensive testing of experimental drugs and interventions to see whether they are worth pursuing with human trials,” says Yoram Vodovotz, PhD, one of the study’s authors.

“They hold great potential as a diagnostic and research tool,” he says.

[Source(s): University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, EurekAlert]