Faster Wound Healing with Silent Gene

Faster Wound Healing

Credit: Vera DesMarais/Albert Einstein College of Medicine


New study finds that a drug combining siRNA and nanoparticles promotes faster wound healing.

Nanoparticles are marvelously multi-purposed. Earliers studies have used the particles to fight different forms of cancer, as an antiseptic, to reduce inflammation or even replace certain blood cells . Now researchers have tested a combination of siRNA and nanoparticles forming a drug that promotes faster wound healing.

Faster Wound healing by Combining siRNA and Nanoparticles

“We envision that our nanoparticle therapy could be used to speed the healing of all sorts of wounds, including everyday cuts and burns, surgical incisions, and chronic skin ulcers, which are a particular problem in the elderly and people with diabetes,” said study co-leader David J. Sharp, Ph.D.

The nanoparticles was envisioned after earlier research, from the same research team, found that the enzyme fidgetin-like 2 (FL2), slows the rate at which skin cells migrate towards a wound to heal it. The researchers figured wounds should be able to heal faster if they simply reduced levels of this enzyme. Said and done, they developed a drug that inactivates the gene producing this enzyme and encased it in tiny gel nanoparticles, which function as delivery vehicles. This drug-nanoparticle combination was tested on mice and researchers found that their approach worked, mice treated with the drug healed twice as fast as untreated controls.

To test if this enzyme had the same function in people, the research team suppressed enzyme activity in cultured human cells. Using a wound-healing-assay researchers found an intriguing change, lowering the activity of FL2 lead to unusually fast cell movement. Even though the differences between cultured cells and living people are huge this find is encouraging.

The drug is simply siRNAs specific for FL2, it binds to the FL2 gene’s mRNA and silences it, preventing the enzyme from being constructed. The difficulty lies in delivery, getting the sensitive siRNA molecules into the cells to silence the gene. Researchers solved this problem by encasing the siRNA in gel nanoparticles that deliver siRNA into the cells and protects them from degradation.

[pullquote]”We saw normal, well-orchestrated regeneration of tissue, including hair follicles and the skin’s supportive collagen network.”[/pullquote]

The next step for researchers is to test the drug combination on pigs, whose skin closely resembles human skin.