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.
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 upwards of £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
Dr 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 and the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, they have discovered the unique healing properties of a tree indigenous to Queensland’s tropical rainforest.
Epoxy-tigliane compounds, which occur within the seeds of the Fontain’s Blushwood Tree (Fontainea picrosperma), are being examined by the researchers to see how epoxy-tiglianes induce their desirable wound healing effects. The aim is to develop these into novel pharmaceuticals as therapies against abnormal healing during chronic wounds and fibrosis.
QBiotics 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.
Research into this area continues, while early drug production is underway.
QBiotics 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 skin healing, following tumour destruction.
This has led the researchers to evaluate the effects of EBC-46 and other epoxy-tigliane compounds on fibroblast and keratinocyte wound healing responses and their underlying mechanisms of action.