Compound being developed to help patients with scars from keloids and severe burns.

Scars are an unsightly reminder of past injuries and old trauma. Luckily, there are quite a few ways to deal with them. Research has demonstrated that massage can deal with the pain and itching associated with scarring. Meanwhile, mild skin products and silicon gels can reduce scars’ appearance. There is also data proving that silicone-based wound dressings can prevent scars from forming in the first place. Now, there is a new, equally promising treatment for scars on the horizon, courtesy of researchers from the American Chemical Society.

A new approach to scars

During the ACS’ August 2016 National Meeting & Exposition, a group of scientists led by Dr. Swaminathan Iyer outlined a new compound for scars that’s currently being developed. During a presentation, Iyer explained that the team is trying to help patients with large scars from burns or keloids, for which there are very few treatment options available.

And the data proves just how many patients deal with these injury types. The American Burn Association estimated that there have been 40,000 burn hospitalizations in 2016 alone. As for keloids, the ACS estimated that 250,000 Americans undergo removal surgery annually.

To deal with these burn wound scar types, Iyer and her team are looking into new ways to impede a special enzyme called lysyl oxidase. Per a 2015 study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the LOX enzyme is an integral component of the scarification process and is responsible for directing the development of the tissue growths.

To prevent LOX from starting up the scarring process, the team, which represents several universities in Australia, experimented with chemicals using a “Scar-in-a-jar,” a biological model of fibrous material that represents human scar tissue. Several LOX inhibitors were added to the faux scar and then studied using a photon microscope.

In an accompanying press release, Iyer said that the initial results were quite pleasing. She also explained that the compound might be able to help with more cosmetic scars.

“The preliminary data strongly suggest that lysyl oxidase inhibition alters the collagen architecture and restores it to the normal architecture found in the skin,” Iyer explained. “Once the in-vitro validation has been done, the efficacy of these compounds will be tested in pig and mouse models. Depending on the success of the animal studies and optimal drug candidate efficacy, human trials could be undertaken in a few years.”

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