Design of Enabling-Regenerative Materials
Priority AxisTechnological and Social Innovation
Lead partnerUniversity of Brighton
Project budget2 724 815 €
ERDF amount1 634 889 €
DERMA will address the common challenge of improving the quality of life of the increasing elderly population of the 2 Seas area. By 2025, more than 20% of Europeans will be 65 or older, with a large increase in those over 80. We will tackle the problem of advanced age (or illness)-associated inflammation, infection and ulceration of the skin which costs the EU €6.5 billion per year. Dermal ulcers are a source of physical discomfort, can lead to further medical complications, and can liberate offensive odours that are distressing to the patient and may lead to social isolation and depression.
The objective of DERMA is to develop new interventions for the management and treatment of dermal ulcers and related skin conditions, including stomas. By addressing market and patient needs, as identified by our Observer Partners (OPs), the project will deliver advanced new technologies (incorporating marine sourced biopolymers) ready for exploitation by industry to manufacture improved products for the treatment of patients. It is expected that these enabling technologies will provide cost savings to the EU by improving the efficiency and success of wound management by healthcare providers.
Technologies with increased readiness levels for the treatment of dermal ulcers, peristomal inflammation, and related conditions in response to identified market and patient needs.
- a dressing for wound odour and infection control (TRL 3 to 5);
- a dressing with a diagnostic indicator of early wound healing status (TRL 3 to 5).
Beneficiaries will be elderly patients, cancer patients, diabetics, ostomates (all through improved treatment and quality of life), healthcare providers (better treatment options and cost savings), regional industry (boost for innovation, blue economy and sales).
Cross border approach
The problem of dermal pathologies of the elderly is a shared one of the 2 Seas region. To tackle effectively this growing problem, we need new improved technologies and management options to reduce costs and improve outcomes. This can occur by pooling the cross-border expertise of our consortium, in the field of wound care, towards critical mass for technological innovation. This will promote product development by 2 Seas industries - encouraged by dissemination to our regional SME networks. Ultimately, this will improve the quality of life of the elderly population across borders.
The DERMA project has developed novel dressing materials intended for the improved management of chronic dermal ulcers. In such wounds, infection and inflammation can cause skin tissue to breakdown, often producing offensive odours. These wounds can be painful, and the malodour embarrassing for the patient, potentially leading to social isolation and depression. Chronic wounds may also be subjected to a series of underlying infections that the body does not easily eradicate and that require clinical intervention.
To meet these twin challenges of malodour production and infection, the project has developed two types of materials; the first to manage unpleasant odours from a wound, and the second to visually indicate the emergence of a developing infection.
The materials to combat wound malodour have used activated carbon (AC) granules as the active ingredient. One form is a thin film made by combining AC with agarose from seaweed that has been treated to be flexible and elastic and able to fit the contours of the skin. In tests, volunteers found that the DERMA material was significantly better at masking a bacteria-like odour than control materials. The material has been augmented to have a fluid handling capability to make it potentially suitable for use on sloughy wounds which can otherwise cause damaging tissue maceration.
AC for odour control has also been incorporated into very fine, electrospun fibres with a large surface area for odour removal. These proprietary fibres are highly water absorbent, of benefit for wound moisture control. The fibres also have a remarkable ability to release antimicrobial agents over extended periods, meaning that, in the form of a wound dressing, they could potentially be more efficient than current materials.
To indicate the presence of an infection, a bacterial growth indicator dye, resazurin, has been incorporated into a biodegradable, transparent film. The dye changes colour from blue to bright pink when exposed to growing bacteria and is intended to provide an early warning that an infection is developing, and that intervention is required. The release of the dye from the film has been controlled such that the dye should remain visible in the dressing when applied to a patient.
Resazurin was also successfully entrapped within a molecule called cyclodextrin, adding further control to its release and allowing it to be electrospun to produce a fibrous, swellable material intended for the detection of infections.