Drug-laced collagen “dances” to reduce scarring

July 27, 2021
Drug-laced collagen “dances” to reduce scarring

A relatively new drug has been shown to influence unusual behaviour in scar tissue formation, according to biomedical researchers at Virginia Tech’s College (VTC). Collagen-producing cells called fibroblasts – which make scar tissue less pliable – were observed to “dance” when treated with the drug molecule alphaCTI and behaved more like healthy, unwounded tissue.

Apart from their unsightly appearance, scars may also reduce a patient’s range of motion due to its limited elasticity. Treatment with alphaCTI is expected to both improve the appearance of scars and patient outcomes, as seen in a recent double-blind study at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC.

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Led by Professor Rob Gourdie, surgical wounds were created by excising 5-mm punches of skin from the inner biceps of 49 healthy test subjects. Each person had one punch taken from each arm. The resulting wounds were then treated with topically applied gels – one wound on each person received a gel containing alphaCT1, while the other received a non-medicated gel as a control.

The findings of the study reveal a previously unreported feature of scar formation: wounds treated with alphaCT1 contained enmeshed collagen fibroblasts that could stretch and snap back in all directions like a rubber band.

It is believed that the “fibroblast dance,” is what causes the collagen strips to become enmeshed; Professor Gourdie further explains how the unusual pattern of cellular movement could dictate scar formation and appearance.

By contrast, the wounds that were treated with the control gel produced much less pliable scars, in which the collagen strips were situated parallel to one another. Tests conducted on rats and guinea pigs produced similar results.

Alpha CTI is known to disrupt cell-to-cell signaling and so influence wound healing. It was invented by Professor Gourdie and colleagues just some ten years ago, and is currently the subject of a Phase III clinical trial for bilateral breast surgery patients.

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Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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