A researcher from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, was awarded a new $744,992 grant from the National Institutes of Health to improve imaging and early detection of chronic wounds and guide treatments, according to a news release.
Kyle Quinn, PhD, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, is using multiphoton microscopy to create 3-D, microscale images of chronic wounds to measure different wound properties. The images reveal the metabolism and structure of skin layers and wound regions so physicians can diagnose chronic wounds and determine appropriate treatment, according to the release.
Chronic wound numbers
Chronic, nonhealing wounds are caused by poor circulation, neuropathy, immobility and other factors. Past research has shown they affect about 6.5 million patients in the U.S., and a study published in 2009 estimated the cost of advanced care was more than $25 million each year. Clinicians can struggle when treating chronic wounds because optimal methods to diagnose a wound or evaluate appropriate therapeutic interventions are unavailable, according to the release.
“It’s currently a wait-and-see approach,” Quinn said in the release. “After an initial diagnosis or checkup, the patient will come back weeks later, and the clinician will evaluate whether the wound has closed or begun closing. If it hasn’t, then the clinician will have to try some other treatment.”
With multiphoton microscopy, Quinn can exploit the intrinsic fluorescence of NADH and FAD, two cellular metabolic cofactors found in chronic wounds. These cofactors are necessary for most metabolic pathways. Quinn uses the multiphoton microscopy to build images of wound sections so he and others can detect and assess metabolic changes.
Data from a pilot phase of the research, funded by an earlier NIH award and accepted for publication in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, indicated the ability to see differences in the metabolism of diabetic and nondiabetic wounds in frozen tissue samples. With the new grant, Quinn plans to noninvasively monitor individual wounds in live animals throughout the healing process. By the end of the three-year grant, he hopes to develop a suite of quantitative biomarkers to predict wound chronicity and to guide therapy, according to the release. The long-term goal is to test the method in a clinical setting.