A dressing made from jellyfish may speed up healing of chronic wounds. The material contains collagen, a protein also found in human skin, which provides a natural scaffolding to help new tissue grow and complete the healing process.
Initial results from tests on rats, published in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, showed the jellyfish collagen was safe to use and potentially effective at healing wounds.
More than 200,000 people in the UK have a wound that’s difficult to heal, defined as chronic if it takes more than six weeks to heal.
A dressing made from jellyfish may speed up healing of chronic wounds. The material contains collagen, a protein also found in human skin, which provides a natural scaffolding to help new tissue grow and complete the healing process
Wounds that typically become chronic include foot ulcers (a common complication of diabetes, which can lead to gangrene and amputation), pressure sores or bed sores, and leg ulcers (caused by high blood pressure).
Wounds can fail to heal for a number of reasons, but typically the problem is poor blood and oxygen supply or low levels of the growth factors necessary for healing tissue. As a result, collagen does not work properly or there is not enough of it to close the wound, leaving it open, inflamed and taking weeks or months to heal.
Various treatments have been tested to close chronic wounds, including ultrasound.
Collagen plays a key role in each phase of wound healing. As well as providing a natural scaffold around which new tissue can grow, it attracts cells such as fibroblasts and keratinocytes which clean the wound and encourage the growth of new blood vessels to speed healing.
When this process is hampered because of illness, the process can sometimes be kick-started using collagen from other sources.
Scientists have developed dressings containing collagen derived from pigs, horses and cows. While these can be effective, these sources can also carry a risk of disease because of potential cross-infection from viruses or bacteria.
Collagen from jellyfish is thought to overcome this problem.
It is being extracted from the Rhizostoma pulmo, also known as the barrel or dustbin-lid jellyfish, which is said to be rich in collagen and doesn’t carry any viruses or bacteria that could infect humans, so it is safer to use, according to the Cardiff-based company developing the dressing.
R. pulmo is common in the Irish Sea and usually about 15in (38cm) in diameter.
Once the collagen has been extracted from jellyfish, it is processed in a laboratory to create fibres that can be used in a dressing. Recent research shows that jellyfish collagen is compatible in the human body and has the potential to be used in wound healing, as results were comparable to those using a dressing made from cow collagen.
Commenting on the treatment, Stella Vig, a consultant vascular surgeon at Croydon University Hospital, said: ‘For wounds that remain difficult to repair, an adjunct such as a collagen scaffold encourages healing.
‘Harvesting this from jellyfish is novel and encouraging in the journey to eliminating chronic wounds and improving the lives of many people.’
How neck size may reveal risk of diabetes
Measuring the size of someone’s neck can more accurately identify their risk of type 2 diabetes than measuring their waist, researchers have found.
Scientists from University Hospital, Sofia, in Bulgaria, compared the usefulness of either measurement in 255 obese men and women.
They found that those with the biggest neck sizes (over 38cm in men and over 35cm in women) were more likely to have abnormally high blood sugar and raised blood pressure than those with the bigger waist, according to the study findings, published in the journal Endocrine Research.
The authors believe neck circumference should, in future, be more widely used as an indicator of diabetes.
Meanwhile, foot exercises can improve wound healing, according to new research
Meanwhile, foot exercises can improve wound healing, according to new research. In a 12-week study, 60 patients with foot ulcers were given either daily exercises or the standard dressings treatment.
In the exercise group, the wounds shrank to a quarter of their size, compared with little change in the control