UCLA co-authors of the research include graduate students Thi Nguyen and Caitlin Decker, former postdocs Dr. Sung-Hye Kim and Dr. Darice Wong, and Joseph Loo, professor of chemistry and biochemistry.
The research was federally funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.
Our ability to heal from wounds is essential to our survival. When those natural healing processes are compromised, serious wounds can lead to infection and other health problems. People with diabetes, for example, can have wounds that heal very slowly. The resulting chronic wounds are debilitating and can lead to loss of limbs or even death. Yet, despite the need for wound dressings that can stimulate the body to heal wounds, very few are curative.
"This very important clinical need is the motivation behind our research," Maynard said.
The importance of fibroblast growth factor was recognized in 1973, when biologist Hugo Armelin discovered that this previously unknown chemical, extracted from the pituitary gland, successfully caused cells to divide. Since then, researchers have applied fibroblast growth factor to wounds such as foot ulcers resulting from diabetes, but the treatments have not been very effective. What scientists now recognize, Maynard said, is that these growth factors typically lose their activity quickly in storage.
Knowing that other key biomolecules have been stabilized before with the help of polymers, Maynard and her team developed a strategy to maintain bFGF activity by taking advantage of its known structure and binding capabilities. Their new polymer, p(SS-co-PEGMA), mimics heparin's natural ability to stabilize the growth factor.
After showing that p(SS-co-PEGMA) was non-toxic to human cells important in wound healing, they used it to conjugate bFGF and demonstrated that they could keep the growth factor active outside of the body for e
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University of California - Los Angeles