The research, conducted by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the School of Clinical Dentistry at the University of Sheffield, alongside the Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Biomedical Materials Research at the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Lahore, Pakistan, found that sugar can help aid new blood vessel formation, also known as angiogenesis.
The new way of stimulating blood vessel formation with sugar uses a combination of simple and inexpensive sugar added to a hydrogel bandage.
This successful method is much more simple and cost-effective than more traditional methods, such as adding in expensive short-lived growth factors, said the academics.
The new technique, conceived and developed by the collaborative research group, works because a specific group of sugars can stimulate skin healing.
Dr Muhammed Yar from COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Lahore made the initial discovery during his research to understand how tumours stimulate new blood vessels. He found that a naturally occurring sugar (2-deoxy-D-ribose) increased when tumours encouraged new blood vessels to be made.
Working with Professor Sheila MacNeil and Professor Ian Douglas from the University of Sheffield, the team then investigated the ability of this group of sugars to stimulate new blood vessel formation and stimulate wound healing, both of which produced successful results.
This innovative research is a key step to developing simple, robust and low-cost wound dressings that can be used to treat poor-healing wounds, such as chronic ulcers in the elderly, and diabetic ulcers.
Professor Sheila MacNeil from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield said: "Throughout the world, people are living longer and unfortunately, experiencing more non-healing skin wounds associated with age, poor blood supply, and diabetes. These are often difficult to treat and are very expensive for healthcare systems to manage.
"The new skin-healing technique using simple sugars (and) promises to aid wound healing more simply, meaning patients would need less treatment, clinicians could treat more patients, and significant savings could be made by national healthcare systems."
Source: Materials Today Communications
"Deoxy-sugar releasing biodegradable hydrogels promote angiogenesis and stimulate wound healing"
Authors: Muhammad Yar, et al.