Researchers from University of Toronto Engineering have developed a peptide-hydrogel biomaterial that they suggest prompts skin cells to “crawl” toward one another and help heal wounds such as bed sores and foot ulcers.

The scientists, led by professor Milica Radisic, tested their biomaterial—called QHREDGS, or Q-peptide for short—on keratinocytes derived from healthy skin, as well as on keratinocytes derived from elderly diabetic patients. They saw non-healing wounds close 200% faster than with no treatment, and 60% faster than treatment with a leading commercially used collagen-based product, according to a media release from University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering.

“We were happy when we saw the cells crawl together much faster with our biomaterial, but if it didn’t work with diabetic cells, that would have been the end of the story,” says Radisic, in the release. “But even the diabetic cells travelled much faster—that’s huge.”

Radisic and PhD students Yun Xiao and Lewis Reis compared their biomaterial to the commercially available collagen dressing, to hydrogels without the peptide, and to no treatment. They found that a single dose of their peptide-hydrogel biomaterial closed the wounds in less than 2 weeks, per the release.

The study was published recently in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

[Source(s): University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Science Daily]