Healing drug could prevent surgery scars

A NEW healing drug has the potential to prevent unsightly surgery scars, research has shown.

The drug, a synthetic cell-signalling agent, is injected under the skin at the site of the wound before and after an incision.

In tests, it significantly improved the appearance of scars as judged by panels of lay volunteers and experts.

Earlier research had identified transforming growth factor beta3 (TGFbeta3), a cytokine signalling molecule that sends messages between cells, as a possible anti-scarring therapy.

Three trials of the treatment were conducted on groups of volunteers who willingly suffered centimetre-wide puncture wounds in their arms.

Varying doses of the drug avotermin, an artificial form of TGFbeta3, were injected at the wound site before and 24 hours after injury.

In two trials, lower doses of the drug improved scarring appearance by up to eight points after 12 months. A third trial using higher doses resulted in improvements of as much as 64 points on the visual assessment scale.

Professor Mark Ferguson, from the University of Manchester, and colleagues wrote in The Lancet: “We detected substantial differences in collagen organisation in some participants, with avotermin-treated scars more closely resembling the basket-weave pattern of normal skin.”


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