The exponential rise in general surgical procedures within the last five years, compounded by the spiking incidence rate of diabetes and its signature tissue ulceration comorbidity has thrust open wound care to the forefront of treatment-related medical research. As one might expect, prolonged wound exposure generates a host of complications including bacterial and viral infection, blood loss, extreme pain, and the general daily aggravation of managing these associated issues. Even the smallest wounds have the ability act as an open door for pathogens prepared to cause full bodily infection, especially in the case of the immunocompromised.
The skin and its antipathogenic properties are regarded as the first line of defense from external factors as they are the immediate interface with contagions swarming within our daily environment. And considering the severity of the consequences that exist if our first line of defense is breached, it becomes immediately clear the importance placed on treating and repairing this tissue. Moreover, this concern does not simply end at the ectodermal layer. Current studies have explored many new treatment options designed to expedite tissue repair, most with very encouraging results. These studies have ranged from orthopedic to soft internal tissue examinations, all of which demonstrate the need and potential for some form of exogenous tissue-healing derivative. This has led to the increasing clinical incorporation of biological restorative tissue technologies. This viable treatment option falls under the broad scope of “biologics”, or medicinal products created using biological processes rather than being chemically synthesized. These products normally refer to engineered and/or harvested macromolecules in order to distinguish from products like blood, vaccines, and other directly extracted biological sources. These biologics are commonly delivered via “allograft” process, or the surgical transplantation of tissue between two genetically dissimilar individuals of the same species. Often, the cellular and structural components requisite for a soft-tissue allograft are harvested from human amniotic membrane and umbilical cord of consenting mothers post- delivery. These exogenous allografts are composed of multiple cell layers, a basement membrane, avascular connective tissue, as well as numerous extracellular matrix proteins, growth factors, and cytokines. In total, this entire cellular scaffolding offers the rudiments necessary to elicit a host-tissue response that can initiate angiogenesis, encourage tissue deposition, thwart local infection, and culminate in the viable restoration of structure and function of the grafted site. Even more amazing, application of these tissue regenerative membranous allografts are often as simple as laying it over the wound site followed by a standard dressing.
What does all this mean for us in our daily lives? As our community continues its rise of surgical procedures, and for the many of our neighbors struggling with the secondary effects of diabetes, relying on these regenerative therapies may be a healthier and faster way to restore quality of life and get us back up on our feet.