Clinicians currently find it difficult to predict how scars will develop following surgery or after a burn wound, without resorting to invasive testing.
Using new nanoparticles, the joint research team has shown in animals and human skin samples the potential to quickly and accurately predict whether a wound is likely to lead to excessive scarring as occurs in keloids and skin contractures.
If necessary, doctors can then take conventional preventive measures to reduce scar formation, such as using silicon sheets to keep a wound flat and moist.
In developed countries alone, about 100 million patients will form scars annually, arising from 80 million elective and trauma surgery operations. In Singapore, an estimated 400,000 people (1 in 12 people undergoing procedures) develop scars each year due to surgery.
Excessive scarring can dramatically affect a patient’s quality of life, both physically and psychologically, as the scars can impede movement and activity, and can be painful when stretched
The new technique was developed by a team led by Assistant Professor Xu Chenjie from NTU’s School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, nanoscience expert Professor Chad A Mirkin from Northwestern University, United States, and Dr Amy S Paller, Chair of Dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.