As part of a joint project, German scientists from several universities have developed customized biomedical materials based on tropoelastin. It is a soluble precursor for elastin; a molecule that allows body tissues to expand and contract.
Tropoelastin protein molecules are produced naturally in the human body and are the main building block of elastin. This biopolymer gives the skin and organs their elastic properties. In the past, scientists have tried, without much success, to reduce scarring by injecting tropoelastin directly into wounds.
Now German scientists are working with biotech firm Skinomics to study the use of protein in a dressing for chronic, difficult-to-treat wounds. In their work, they used the electrospinning process to obtain ultra-thin tropoelastin nanofibers. They are then stitched together to form a sheet of elastin-like material. According to scientists, the resulting wound dressing “combines biocompatibility, durability, biodegradability and favorable mechanical properties, similar to those of the skin.”
Depending on the nature of the wound for which the dressing is intended, parameters such as pore size and mechanical properties can be adjusted. Skinomics has already begun preclinical testing to test the biocompatibility of the dressing and is reporting good results so far. Elastin is chemically and enzymatically extremely stable, biocompatible and does not induce immune rejection when used as a biomaterial in humans.