Skin scarring after deep dermal injuries is a major clinical problem due to the current therapies limited to established scars with poor understanding of healing mechanisms. From investigation of aberrations within the extracellular matrix involved in pathophysiologic scarring, it was revealed that one of the main factors responsible for impaired healing is abnormal collagen reorganization. Here, inspired by the fundamental roles of decorin, a collagen-targeting proteoglycan, in collagen remodeling, we created a scar-preventive collagen-targeting glue consisting of a newly designed collagen-binding mussel adhesive protein and a specific glycosaminoglycan.
Pohang University of Science and Technology research suggest decorin, which helps organise collagen into a neater structure and can become healing glue (New Glue-Like Substance could Be The Key to Healing Wounds Without Scars) for skin scarring after deep dermal injuries
Adhesives are commonly used throughout our daily lives to glue objects together and of the many types available, there exists a category of adhesives called bioadhesives. These natural polymeric materials, such as mussel adhesive proteins, have garnered great interest because they tend to be biocompatible and can be used for biomedical applications involving skin or other tissues.
When skin tissue is damaged by a deep cut, it repairs itself by quickly filling up the wound with collagen.
This protein is a key ingredient for normal skin tissue, but when it’s growing to cover a wound, the collagen fibres form a scar because they don’t arrange themselves in the same neat cross-weave pattern as they do in skin.
There’s is a substance called decorin, which helps organise collagen into a neater structure and can become healing glue.
The collagen-targeting glue specifically bound to type I collagen in a dose-dependent manner and regulated the rate and the degree of fibrillogenesis. In a rat skin excisional model, the collagen-targeting glue successfully accelerated initial wound regeneration as defined by effective reepithelialization, neovascularization, and rapid collagen synthesis. Moreover, the improved dermal collagen architecture was demonstrated by uniform size of collagen fibrils, their regular packing, and a restoration of healthy tissue component. Collectively, our natural healing-inspired collagen-targeting glue may be a promising therapeutic option for improving the healing rate with high-quality and effective scar inhibition.
A team of researchers with the Department of Chemical Engineering at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), led by Professor Hyung Joon Cha, has now identified the mechanism by which Dopa-Fe3+ complexation affects surface adhesion and cohesion of mussel adhesive proteins at the interface. Through their research on responses to microenvironment at the mussel plaque/substrate interface, they have discovered how mussels regulate Dopa functionality as a response to differing pH concentrations in order to strengthen surface adhesion and cohesion.
New Glue-Like Substance Could Be The Key to Healing Wounds Without Scars
Depa-Fe3+ complexation has been known to play an important role in mussel adhesion through adhesive proteins, but its function at the plaque/substrate interface, where actual surface adhesion occurs, remained a mystery. The research team investigated the effects of Dopa-Fe3+complexation on underwater cohesion and surface adhesion by measuring cohesive and surface adhesive interactions using surface forces apparatus. They discovered that the strong surface adhesion present at low pH levels—similar to the environment present during the secretion of adhesive proteins—vanishes through Dopa-Fe3+ complexation and alternatively, strong cohesion is generated at higher pH levels similar to seawater.
Professor Cha explained that this discovery is an important step towards a deeper understanding of the mussel adhesion mechanism. He also expressed great anticipation for applications of the findings to the development of new bioadhesives.
This research received financial support provided by the Marine Biotechnology program (Marine BioMaterials Research Center) funded by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Korea, and was recently published in Chemistry of Materials—a preeminent journal in the chemistry field.