Adding a gene-suppressing drug to an over-the-counter gel cut wound-healing time by half and significantly improved healing outcomes compared with control treatments. Results from the combination therapy, which was tested in mice, were published in October in Advances in Wound Care.
“Not only did wound healing occur more rapidly and completely, but actual regeneration occurred, with hair follicles and the skin’s supportive collagen network restored in wounded skin—clinically important improvements that are unprecedented in wound care,” says senior author David J. Sharp, Ph.D., professor of physiology & biophysics at Einstein. “We foresee this therapy having broad application for all sorts of wounds, from playground cuts to battlefield injuries to chronic wounds.”
In 2015 Dr. Sharp’s lab discovered that the enzyme fidgetin-like 2 (FL2) puts the brakes on skin cells as they migrate toward wounds to heal them. He reasoned that reducing FL2 levels might enable healing cells to reach their destination faster.
So his team developed small interfering RNA molecules (siRNAs) that specifically inhibit the gene that codes for FL2. When the siRNAs were encased in nanoparticles and sprayed on mouse skin wounds, the treated wounds healed faster than untreated wounds.
In this study, Dr. Sharp enhanced the siRNAs’ wound-healing potential by combining them with PluroGel—a protective antimicrobial gel that keeps wounds moist when applied to bandages. Dr. Sharp incorporated the siRNAs into microparticles made of collagen, a protein that releases its siRNA “cargo” after coming in contact with the skin.
Dr. Sharp plans to seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration permission to test the wound-healing therapy in clinical trials.