Build a Better Bandage | MSUToday

The National Institutes of Health has awarded more than $2 million to Morteza Mahmoudi of Michigan State University to continue her team’s efforts in finding effective treatments for chronic wounds.

MSU Assistant Professor Morteza Mahmoudi

Chronic wounds are complex injuries affecting millions of people around the world that do not heal on their own and can lead to amputation or even death. Mahmoudi said available bandaging techniques can be expensive and are currently unable to overcome all of the challenges that prevent wound healing.

“To heal a chronic wound, you have to solve all the problems,” said Mahmoudi, an assistant professor at the College of Human Medicine and the Precision Health Program. “We’re trying to create a dressing that has all the features and materials to do that.”

His team designs advanced dressings that can tackle the complexity of chronic wounds head-on. Part of the design process is to refine the bandages based on their interaction with the biology of real patients.

With the new grant, awarded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Mahmoudi’s team will analyze the biological and biochemical interactions between bandage materials and chronic wound fluids. Researchers will also examine the role of a patient’s gender in how the bandages work and promote healing. These studies will help improve future dressings.

“For example, we believe there may be significant gender differences in interactions, so we may need to make different dressings for males and females,” Mahmoudi said.

During normal healing, the body can naturally repair a wound while fighting infection. But chronic wounds are often accompanied by underlying health conditions that interfere with the body’s response to injury.

Chronic sores called diabetic ulcers, for example, affect about 15% of diabetic patients. Diabetes can restrict blood flow to a wound site, slowing both the natural healing process that repairs tissue and the natural immune response that fights infection. Diabetes can also cause loss of pain sensation near the wound, which can delay seeking medical help. The longer a wound remains open unattended, the greater the risk of infection.

Mahmoudi’s team has already made significant progress towards healing chronic wounds with technical dressings. The proposed dressing is skin-like, flexible and designed to reduce irritation and inflammation. It also uses nanoscale scaffolds loaded with biomolecules that fight bacteria and promote healing.

The dressing is designed to help a patient’s body heal normally, but each person heals differently. Mahmoudi’s next step is to learn how bandages interact differently with different individuals.

An illustrated diagram is presented in the form of three panels.  The first shows an open sore - an ulcer - on the bottom of a foot.  An inset magnifies the wound to show scab tissue and cells involved in wound healing and immune responses: epithelial cells, macrophages, neutrophils and fibroblasts.  Fluid or exudate from the wound is collected in a small sample tube.  The second panel shows that the contents of the tubes will be analyzed for female and male patients in two ways.  One is compositional analysis, the other measures the biological interaction of cells, represented by mottled purple orbs, with dressing components, represented by curved blue lines.  In the third panel, two bandages are shown - one near the male symbol and one near the female symbol - with the label

With its new grant, a research team led by Spartan is working to better understand chronic wounds and their differences in male and female patients in order to create more advanced treatment options. Credit: Courtesy of Mahmoudi Lab

With the $2 million grant, Mahmoudi’s group is partnering with Lisa Gould of South Shore Hospital who has more than 20 years of experience as a plastic surgeon and wound care specialist. Working with patients with diabetic foot ulcers, the team will create a library of fluids from chronic wounds to analyze cellular interactions with various bandaging treatments.

“We want to measure all sorts of things after the interaction. How did the immune system react? How did tissue regeneration progress? he said. “Basically, how does our body perceive dressing materials? How they perceive them determines how they react to them.

Tackling such a complex problem requires expertise in various fields – biology, materials science, mathematics, etc. But Mahmoudi’s team accumulated a diverse knowledge base and network of colleagues as Mahmoudi progressed in his career.

“It’s the result of being a scientific nomad for a long time,” he said. “You need all of these different areas to complete the puzzle at the end of the day, to solve these complex clinical problems.”

The research reported in this publication is supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under award number R01DK131417. The content is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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