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Last Updated: Friday, 25 July, 2003, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Collagen sealant 'speeds healing'
Pic: Edith Chenault, Texas Cooperative Extension
The material helps bind the wound together
Pouring a collagen-based sealant into a wound could speed up healing - and may reduce scarring, say doctors.

Collagen - a protein found naturally in skin - has long been used in preparations designed to aid healing.

However, a team working at the Texas Agricultural Research Station combined it with other ingredients to make it more flexible, and stop it tearing if the patient moves.

They believe it could become a cheaper option because it only has to be applied once.

The prime market for such products is in the treatment of diabetic sores, which can be extremely slow to heal.

When tested on laboratory rats, wounds closed in three days compared with six if left untreated.

The animals displayed less scarring, although the researchers said there was no proof that this would be the case in humans.

Flexible friend

Dr Douglas Miller, who led the project, said: "Collagen in the most abundant protein in the mammalian body, and in skin, it's about 60% of your total protein.

Pic: Edith Chenault, Texas Cooperative Extension
The material is flexible
"It's been described literally as the glue that holds you together.

"If you've got a large open wound, your body moves, your skin moves, your muscles flex, and if this doesn't flex with it, it is simply going to tear.

"This has good mechanical strength, but it also has elasticity."

He said that other chemicals designed to speed healing and prevent infection, such as slow-release antibiotics, could be added to the sealant.

It could be used as a slow-release method of getting other drugs into the system.

Filling a wound that is half an inch deep and one inch in diameter would cost in the region of $100, he said - still cheaper than the cost of repeated visits to the GP to get the wound cleaned, treated and re-bandaged.


SEE ALSO:
GM silkworms make collagen
17 Dec 02  |  Science/Nature


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