Clinicians presently find it hard to predict how scars will form after surgery or after a burn wound, without using invasive testing.
The research team used new nanoparticles in animals and human skin samples to demonstrate the potential to rapidly and accurately predict whether a wound is likely to result in excessive scarring as occurs in skin contractures and keloids.
If required, doctors can then take conventional preventive steps to lessen scar formation, such as using silicon sheets to ensure a wound is flat and moist.
In developed countries alone, around 100 million patients will develop scars each year, arising from 80 million elective and trauma surgery operations. In Singapore, an estimated 400,000 people (1 in 12 people going through procedures) develop scars each year because of surgery.
Excessive scarring can greatly affect a patient’s quality of life, both psychologically and physically, as the scars can inhibit activity and movement, and can be painful when strained.
The new method was formulated 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.