Within the HEALiX-project, clinical and industrial wound care experts will join forces with leading academic researchers in wound care, wound microbiology, biomaterials and sensor science to address the clinical problem on no-healing wounds. Our aim is to develop a new generation of advanced but affordable multifunctional wound dressing materials that will give clinicians new and better means to go beyond wound management and instead focus on wound healing, with the vision to significantly reduce patient suffering and lower the economic burden of non-healing wounds.
The objectives of HEALiX are:
- To develop innovative wound dressing materials that provide optimal conditions for wound healing and that will drastically reduce the number of required dressing changes
- To explore and develop materials- and peptide-based strategies to combat wound infections
- To facilitate assessment of wound healing status using embedded wearable sensors
- To establish a strategic platform for innovation in technologies for advanced wound care
The materials design criteria and performance specifications suggested are formulated in close dialog between clinicians, academic and industry partners to ensure that the approach result in both a significant improvement in state-of-the-art in wound healing and infection control and materials that can be realistically produced and used in a clinical setting. The materials will be thoroughly assessed in in vitro and ex vivo models prior to being evaluated in in vivo wound models and in patients.
The outline and organisation of HEALiX is described schematically below:
Wound healing is a highly complex process involving multiple biological pathways and various cells, extracellular matrix (ECM) components, cytokines, growth factors and enzymes, in order to restore tissue integrity and homeostasis. In non-healing wounds, the normal regenerative process is dysfunctional and delayed, often as a consequence of infection. Traditional strategies in treatment of non-healing wounds involve measures to both control the underlying causes, such as infection, as well as various strategies to create a moist and protected wound microenvironment. Administration of systemic antibiotics is the standard of care in treating infected wounds, even though it is associated with increased development of antibiotic drug resistance and adverse side effects such as organ-specific toxicity and disruption of the normal flora. In addition to this, most systemic antibiotics have poor tissue penetration, especially in wounds with disrupted microcirculation (ie burns and chronic wounds). However, wound sites can be directly treated with topical antibiotic agents. The treatment has the advantage of avoiding many difficulties associated with systemic application, such as nephropathy, allergic reactions, and disturbances of the intestinal flora, while still providing an increased concentration of the antibiotic at the target site. The HEALiX project will focus on developing a comprehensive strategy to battle both non-healing wounds and antibiotics resistance by combining novel materials for wound healing with antimicrobial peptides.