Lower-extremity ulcers often require surgery to properly treat the wound.

As the technology behind new and future forms of wound healing continues to progress and enhance the medical field, a recent study has caught attention for combining futuristic methods of treatment with human flesh.

Doctors from the Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada, have tested the ability to treat venous ulcers that cannot be healed through conventional forms of therapy by using wound dressings derived from human skin grown through in vitro processes. The researchers implemented the study as a way to figure out how to successfully heal lower-extremity ulcers, typically found on the legs and feet, for those who had been suffering with long standing chronic wound symptoms stemming from the ulcers.

Lower-extremity ulcers affect approximately 1 percent of the world population, and are often experienced with side effects of inflammation and wound infection. Another common setback is that the recovery process for these ulcers is also reported to be relatively slow. These ulcers are often attributed as results of aging, diabetes and circulatory system failures, and the usual forms of treatment are generally to cleanse and dress the wound with compression bandages, which more often than not is proved to be an ineffective form of treatment. While antibiotics are also available, they tend to be extremely expensive and their role within the healing process is somewhat limited.

With the lack of lower-extremity ulcer treatment in mind, the researchers turned to using the in vitro designed human skin to help invent a biomaterial-free biological wound dressing. They then used a process to administer the dressing to the wounds which involved several steps, including:

  • removing 1 square centimeter of skin from the patient
  • isolating the appropriate cells needed for healing
  • growing the cells in vitro
  • creating a skin substitute within both the dermis and epidermis

After eight weeks of growth, the human skin generated wound dressings were then ready to be applied to the patients just like bandages. For the five patients tested, it took an average of seven weeks for 14 ulcers to be cured, with most of the ulcers irritating the patients for anywhere between six months and several years.

Looking ahead

Dr. François A. Auger, a professor from the Université Laval and lead author of the study, expressed how critical the research could potentially be for those suffering from not having adequate wound healing resources for the ulcers.

“These ulcers can persist for years. It can be a hellish clinical situation when standard treatments don’t work,” Auger said in a statement. “This totally biological bandage is much more than a physical barrier. The cells secrete molecules that speed up healing by helping to set natural healing processes in motion. Now, we intend to carry out a clinical study to demonstrate that the same treatment works for patients with serious burns, as soon as we get the necessary approvals.”

However, it will take some time for Auger and his research team to receive the official approvals and funding to go forth with testing these new human skin wound dressings. In the meantime, alternative methods of treatment can be advised by your clinician if you have an ulcer. It’s important to seek the appropriate methods of treatment from official health care providers if you are dealing with a chronic wound.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.