Research in soft tissue repair at NFB focuses on biomaterials for reconstructive surgery and chronic wound healing as well as investigating methods to treat the wounds in Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa.
Soft Tissue Repair
Diabetic patients have a reduced capacity to undergo normal tissue repair processes and are more susceptible to chronic wounds such as ulcers, resulting in patient trauma, cost, and often the need for amputation. In recent years, much attention has been given to the critical role of angiogenic factors in wound healing. At NFB the focus has been on the optimizing of ECM-based scaffolds for gene delivery to these chronic wound settings. The ultimate goal is threefold: to optimize these scaffolds for single and multiple gene delivery, to identify specific therapeutic gene targets, and finally, to apply these systems in a compromised wound model.
NFB has developed methods of analysis of wound healing model systems to assess the efficacy of treatments. Parameters such as wound closure, epithelialization, angiogenesis, inflammatory and fibroblastic cellular infiltration and scarring can be quantified using the robust methods that have been developed.
Another area of research involves utilizing and refining a novel biomaterial intended for eventual use in soft-tissue reconstructive surgery (staple-line reinforcements, abdominal and thoracic wall augmentation). Cholecyst-derived extracellular matrix is a patented, decellularized biomaterial of porcine origin. An optimal decellularization process for this biomaterial has been developed, followed by the identification of its natural macro-composition, architecture and mechanical properties. Several methods of stabilizing this biomaterial have been investigated which can tailor its degradation for a specific clinical target. Cellular compatibility and mechanical strength can be maintained with these stabilisation techniques. The current focus is on the evaluation of prototypes to confirm in vivo compatibility, degradation profile and pre-clinical functional efficacy.Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa
Wound Healing in Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa
Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (RDEB) is a genetic, blistering skin disease. This disease is caused by mutations in the COL7A1 gene which results in the reduction or loss of type VII collagen in the skin. Research at NFB is focused on delivering the COL7A1 gene to RDEB cells using a non-viral gene-delivery system through a functionalized scaffold.