We are directing the first-in-man clinical trial of a new battle-ready dressing that actively prevents scar formation. Containing the naturally occurring protein Decorin, the dressing is being developed for ease-of-use in austere conflict and humanitarian environments to be applied on the battlefield in the immediate “buddy-to-buddy” first responder care.
Whereas in Helmand Province in Afghanistan the time to professional care at Camp Bastion was very rapid, it is expected that future conflicts will involve far longer and more complicated medical evacuation, possibly by land or sea. Responding to this, we are working to develop a Smart Dressing that becomes the gold standard in the military’s trauma pack and places the wound in the best possible state to repair.
Recognising the limitations of what treatments can reasonably be taken into austere conflict and humanitarian environments, the dressing – rehydrated at the point of use – has been developed to be light and durable enough that it can easily form part of an embedded medics first aid kit. The gel dressing releases a naturally occurring protein called Decorin; one of the body’s natural protections against scar formation. It also acts like a second skin, reducing water loss so the wound does not dry out, and creating a barrier against contamination.
The dressing has been developed through funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Wellcome Trust. The phase 1 clinical trial will recruit burns patients from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and aims to demonstrate the safety and efficiency of the dressing. The trial will look at whether it improves healing time and reduces scarring, when compared to the current gold standard dressing.