Chronic skin wounds, e.g. venous leg ulcers, fail to repair via an orderly and timely self healing process. In the UK alone, about 650.000 patients are affected by a chronic skin wound, resulting in a £3 billion annual cost to the National Health Service (NHS) . Hydrogels have been widely investigated for the design of exudate-swollen dressings, since their compatibility with biological media is beneficial towards effective wound exudate management . At the same time, (1) the narrow trade-off between hydrated mechanical properties and swelling ration, (2) the lack of enzyme-sensitive biomimetic features and (3) the limited customisation of hydrogel architecture critically impair the successful translation of these materials in to the clinic [3, 4]. To address these challenges, type I atelocollagen was selected as a biomimetic building block for the design of highly-swollen hydrogels (swelling ration ~ 2000 wt. %). Functionalisation with an aromatic monomer led to photo-induced, mechanically-competent (compressive modulus ~ 100 kPa) type I atelocollagen networks with retained enzymatically cleavable triple helices (verified by circular dichroism and degradation study in vitro), deliverable as either hydrogel or wet-stable fibre and fabric. Application of the dry networks on a full thickness wound model in db/db diabetic mice promoted complete wound closure after 20 days. Temporal profiles of wound contraction and re-epithelialisation were statistically insignificant with respect to the ones of two leading commercial dressings, whilst wound controls proved to be unable to heal in the same conditions. The presented collagen technology offers great promise for the manufacture of competitive dressings for advanced chronic wound care, whereby control of compressive properties, hydrogel architecture and material-modulated protease activity plays a major role.
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 Tronci G, Grant CA, Thomson NH, Russell SJ, Wood DJ. Influence of 4 vinylbenzylation on the rheological and swelling properties of photo-activated collagen hydrogels. MRS Advances 2015, DOI:10.1557/adv.2015.11.
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