Modulation of wound healing

Our aim is to assist the development of new therapies to minimise blood loss and disfigurement after traumatic injury, promote the healing of chronic wounds, and clear wound infection.

Traumatic injury is common, affecting millions of people each year.  Control of blood loss and disfigurement (scarring) are key issues following trauma. The NHS spends around £5billion annually on the treatment of chronic wounds (eg leg, pressure and diabetic foot ulcers). These debilitating, slow healing wounds usually afflict the elderly – with an aging population their prevalence will increase. Infection is a significant complication in all wounds. Antibiotic resistance has led to increased wound infection – with limited means of treatment. These problems are significant burdens to patients, the NHS, and the economy. Conventional treatments are largely ineffective – more effective therapies are required.

The body’s responses to injury and infection are complex, involving cells and processes throughout the body. Currently, it is impossible to replicate these complexities in vitro, therefore animal studies must be undertaken if new therapies are to be developed.

In the past 10 years, under similar project licences, we have progressed nine wound therapy products to clinical use, using mice, rat, rabbit and pig models. In this project, we will continue to use these well-established animal models to support the development further, more advanced, wound therapy products. 

In the next five years, we expect to use up to 3600 mice, 1100 rats, 300 rabbits and 260 pigs. The proposed protocols are of moderate severity and the methods of analysis have been designed to minimise the number of animals used. Only agents considered suitable, according to existing data or after preliminary tissue culture studies, will be investigated in this work. 

Under stable general anaesthesia surgical wounds will be created, test materials applied and wounds dressed. All animals will be given post-surgical pain relief. Bacteria will be applied when anti-infective materials are being tested. Wound healing/infection will be assessed over time with the aid of non-invasive methods (e.g. digital photography) and by analysis of tissue samples taken post-mortem. The size of the wounds, number of interventions undertaken, volumes of test materials applied, and the number of repeat assessments over time – will be the minimum necessary to ensure scientific validity.

The health and welfare of our animals is very important to us. All animals will be closely examined shortly after recovery from surgery – and subsequently on at least a daily basis. Experience has shown that the procedures to be followed in this project are well tolerated by the animals we use.  

Non-technical summary 

Read modulation of wound healing non-technical summary (PDF).

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