Project/blog link:Wound Healing: A New Hope BASIS Advisor: Lisa McDonough Internship location: Northern Arizona University / NACET Onsite Mentor: Robert Kellar, PhD, Associate Professor
Properly treating a chronic wound costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time. Current treatment methods, such as using skin grafts, are also incredibly inefficient and frequently aesthetically unappealing. In the case of skin grafts, a donor is required. This means that the skin has been used, and must be prepared for the graft. As part of the cleansing cycle, the skin is meshed, so that it will cover a larger area. Unfortunately, this leaves evidence of the surgery, since the skin will contain a meshed pattern. But there is hope for a better process. Stem cells have become a focal point of this hope, due to their unique ability to develop into different cell types. But stems cells by themselves cannot heal a wound. There has to exist some sort of structure that can support the growth of these cells in the wound. As a result, a new idea has come forth to lay down a “scaffold” in the wound. By laying this template for the cells, the healing process is accelerated. As part of my research, I will be working with these scaffolds and experimenting with their use. At the same time, with the use of in vitro or bench top assays, I will be testing agents that are therapeutics and cause an acceleration of wound healing.