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ARRA Investments in Wound Healing, Management, and Infection Prevention

Public Health Burden
There are over 6 million cases of chronic wounds in the U.S. annually, at a collective cost of more than $20 billion per year.  Included in this category are diabetic wounds, which may result in amputation, and pressure wounds.  Wounds from severe burns also constitute an important health issue, leading to 40,000 hospitalizations, 25,000 visits to specialty burn units, and nearly 4,000 deaths each year.  In the course of wound healing, abnormal formation of excessive scar tissue can lead to problems in skin structure and function, including keloids, which are disfiguring but generally benign accumulations of connective tissue under the skin.

One therapeutic approach for wounds is the replacement of destroyed tissues.  Chronic wounds and impaired wound healing may result from a tissue environment that interferes with healing processes, so another approach is to improve the wound bed, the area underlying the damaged tissue.  Therapy development for wound healing frequently combines the fields of biology, physiology, and tissue engineering.  These efforts are also fertile ground for collaboration between academic and industry researchers, particularly small businesses.  Examples of such NIH ARRA-funded projects include:
  • Development of a delivery mechanism for adult, human stem cells acquired from liposuction procedures, to be used in three-dimensional implants that will accelerate the healing of diabetic wounds.1
  • Approaches to re-engineer the wound bed, to create a more favorable environment for wound healing2
  • Developing and validating the efficacy of a dermal barrier to maintain the normal mechanical properties, and to confer a stable, infection-free skin attachment in needle-based bone implants3
  • Testing and optimizing the use of a biological molecule to prevent the progression of severe burn injuries4
  • Development of a molecule that may inhibit abnormal scar formation.5
Basic Research
A lack of oxygen in the wound healing process may contribute to the formation of keloids.  Research supported by NIH ARRA funds will investigate the molecular basis of the overproduction of connective tissue proteins, and the impact of the oxygen environment in the generation of keloids6. This information will provide insights into preventing this abnormal scarring.

  1. 1R41AR056896-01 -- Cell Sprayer for Chronic Wound Therapy -- Katz, Adam (VA)
  2. 1RC2AR058971-01 -- Beyond Biomaterials: Engineering the Wound Bed -- Abbott, Nicholas (WI), Murphy, Christopher (CA) (contact)
  3. 1RC1AR058356-01 -- Mobile Porous Subdermal Barrier to Maintain the Skin Seal of Percutaneous Devices -- Bloebaum, Roy (UT)
  4. 1RC2AR059384-01 -- Novel Peptide to Inhibit Burn Injury Progression -- Clark, Richard (NY) (contact), Singer, Adam (NY)
  5. 2R42AR053798-02A2 -- Restoration of Skin Structure and Function Post-Wounding -- Ghatnekar, Gautam (SC)
  6. 1RC1AR058179-01 -- Hypoxic Control of Collagen Biosynthesis -- Lee, Frank (PA)

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