UCL News


New bio-active gel cuts wound healing time in half

20 October 2003

Wounds could, in future, be healed in half the time they take to heal currently, thanks to a new bio-active gel being developed by scientists at UCL.

Initial tests indicate that the gel - Nexagon - accelerates healing of wounds dramatically on a range of injured tissues, including skin, cornea, brain and the spinal cord.

It is expected the elderly and diabetics could benefit from the gel because they are particularly prone to slow-healing wounds and infection. Nexagon works by speeding up the rate of wound closure and reducing the inflammation. In a variety of experimental models wounds typically close twice as fast as they would do normally. For instance, an everyday cut, which would normally heal in about 7 days would be closed in 3 days.

It is anticipated that the gel could make a significant difference to treatment and recovery times, resulting in substantial savings to the health service. Nexagon has been nominated as a finalist in 'The Medical Futures Innovation Awards 2003', devised to support innovators based in the NHS, medical sector, life sciences industry and academia.

Dr David Becker, Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology at UCL, who led the project, said: "An estimated 95 million people worldwide suffer from wounds each year and yet few effective wound healing treatments have been developed. There remains a large unmet need."

While researchers and pharmaceutical companies in the past believed that an inflammatory response was required for normal wound healing, new research suggests that inflammation may delay healing and cause a bigger scar. This technology is the first of its kind to improve wound healing by targeting cell-cell communication.

Dr Becker continued: "The challenge now lies in taking the Nexagon treatment to the clinic. We are currently seeking an investment partner to fund the entry into clinical trials. In addition we wish to investigate new areas of research into wound healing and skin disorders such as psoriasis and keloid scars to create the next generation of innovative products based on this technology."

Notes to editors:

  1. Nexagon works through manipulation of a novel target in wound healing, the gap junction (a small channel that allows cells to talk directly to their neighbours) accelerates wound healing by speeding up the rate of wound closure, reducing the degree of inflammation and reducing scar formation.
  2. The patented bio-active gel - Nexagon - has been developed by UCL scientists in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology.
  3. For further information, or photographs illustrating the rapid healing effect of the gel on wounds, please contact Alex Brew (020 7679 9726) in the UCL Media Relations Office.