Researchers have developed a new technology that is beneficial at each stage of the healing process, and possess the capability to accelerate the body’s chance to recover.
FREMONT, CA: In the medical industry, researchers are coming up with several materials to help heal wounds. The collagen sponges help in treating burns and pressure sores, and scaffold-like implants are utilized to repair broken bones.
Recently a new molecule has been created that can transform the way traditional materials work with the body. Called as traction force-activated payloads (TrAPs), the technique lets materials interact with the body’s natural repair systems to accelerate healing.
Cellular call to action
After an injury, crawling of cells takes place through the collagen scaffolds found in wounds. As the cells move, they pull on the scaffold, which stimulates hidden healing proteins that start repairing the injured tissue.
TrAPs are designed as a way to recreate this natural healing technique. The DNA segments were folded into three-dimensional shapes called aptamers that stick tightly to proteins. Post this, a customizable handle is attached that cells use to grab onto on one end prior to attaching the opposite end to a scaffold-like collagen.
During laboratory testing of this technique, it was found that the cells pulled on the TrAPs since they crawled through the collagen scaffolds. The pulling caused the TrAPs to unveil like shoelaces to reveal and stimulate the healing proteins. These proteins guide the healing cells to develop and multiply.
By changing the cellular handle, it becomes easy to change the type of cell which can grab, hold and pull, thus enabling tailoring of TrAPs to release particular therapeutic proteins, based on which cells are existing at a given point of time. Therefore, TrAPs generate materials that can intelligently communicate with the right type of cell at the right time during wound repair.
From laboratory to humans
This technique is adaptable to multiple cell types, so it can be utilized for distinct kinds of injuries like fractured bones, scar tissue post heart attacks, and damaged nerves. New methods are also required for patients whose wounds don’t heal regardless of current inventions, such as diabetic foot ulcers, which are the main cause of non-traumatic lower leg amputations.
TrAPs can be easily recreated in various laboratories and can be scaled up to industrial quantities. Their adaptability empowers scientists to create new techniques for lab studies of diseases, tissue development, and stem cells.