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Using Australian tropical rainforests to help treat chronic wounds and scarring

How collaborative research with industry is identifying and evaluating new wound healing therapies from trees indigenous to the Queensland's tropical rainforests.

Tropical rainforest

Normal wound healing in skin is a complex process. It involves a number of different stages which restore the skin structure and function. However, abnormalities to these processes can cause significantly delayed or excessive wound healing, culminating in chronic wounds or dermal fibrosis respectively.

Chronic wounds, such as venous leg ulcers and diabetic foot ulcers, are a major cause of disability, particularly amongst the ever-increasing ageing population. These wounds are estimated to occur in around 3% of the Welsh population and cost NHS Wales over £30 million per year to treat.

Excessive dermal scarring (fibrosis) is another largely unmet clinical need, usually occurring as a consequence of keloid or hypertrophic scarring, burn injuries or trauma. It is estimated that around 100 million patients annually develop scars, following surgical operations alone.

Consequently, chronic wounds and dermal fibrosis both pose significant challenges to healthcare services worldwide, confounded by current acceptance that existing therapies are largely unsatisfactory in treating these conditions.

Discovering natural remedies

Professor Ryan Moseley is a specialist in wound repair and regeneration at Cardiff University. His research continues to examine and address inadequacies in wound healing therapies.

Through a collaborative venture with Australian biotechnology company, QBiotics Group and the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, they have discovered the unique healing properties of a tree indigenous to Queensland’s tropical rainforest.

Epoxy-tiglianes, which occur within the seeds of the Fontain’s Blushwood Tree (Fontainea picrosperma), are being examined by the researchers to discover how epoxy-tiglianes induce their desirable wound healing effects. Ultimately, it is our aim to develop epoxy-tiglianes as novel pharmaceutical therapeutics for the future treatment of non-healing, chronic wounds and excessive scarring situations in skin.

QBiotics Group

QBiotics Group specialises in the discovery of new pharmaceuticals, sourced from the untapped flora and fauna within the unique natural habitats of Australia's tropical rainforests, to treat major health problems such as cancer and impaired healing. Our research is developing their lead pharmaceuticals to promote wound healing and reduce scarring.

Drug development

Research into these areas continues.

QBiotics Group are developing one epoxy-tigliane (EBC-46) as an anti-cancer drug against solid tumours. In addition to its anti-cancer effects, EBC-46 has been shown to stimulate exceptional wound healing in skin, following tumour destruction.

This has led to us to evaluate the effects of EBC-46 and other epoxy-tigliane analogues on fibroblast and keratinocyte wound healing responses and the identification of their underlying mechanisms of action.

Meet our experts

Professor Ryan Moseley

Professor Ryan Moseley

Professor in Tissue Repair

+44 (0) 29 2251 0649 (Ext. 10649).