Heparin mimetic peptide nanofiber gel promotes regeneration of full thickness burn injury
Burn injuries are one of the most common types of trauma worldwide, and their unique physiology requires the development of specialized therapeutic materials for their treatment. Here, we report the use of synthetic, functional and biodegradable peptide nanofiber gels for the improved healing of burn wounds to alleviate the progressive loss of tissue function at the post-burn wound site. These bioactive nanofiber gels form scaffolds that recapitulate the structure and function of the native extracellular matrix through signaling peptide epitopes, which can trigger angiogenesis through their affinity to basic growth factors. In this study, the angiogenesis-promoting properties of the bioactive scaffolds were utilized for the treatment of a thermal burn model. Following the excision of necrotic tissue, bioactive gels and control solutions were applied topically onto the wound area. The wound healing process was evaluated at 7, 14 and 21 days following injury through histological observations, immunostaining and marker RNA/protein analysis. Bioactive peptide nanofiber-treated burn wounds formed well-organized and collagen-rich granulation tissue layers, produced a greater density of newly formed blood vessels, and exhibited increased re-epithelialization and skin appendage development with minimal crust formation, while non-bioactive peptide nanofibers and the commercial wound dressing 3M™ Tegaderm™ did not exhibit significant efficiency over sucrose controls. Overall, the heparin-mimetic peptide nanofiber gels increased the rate of repair of burn injuries and can be used as an effective means of facilitating wound healing.