Regenerated hair follicles at the center of a wound. The follicles appear as teardrop structures. Keratin 5 positive tips appear in green. (Credit: Duke University)

A new biomaterial significantly reduces scar formation after wounding, leading to more effective skin healing. This new material, which quickly degrades once the wound has closed, demonstrates that activating an adaptive immune response can trigger regenerative wound healing, leaving behind stronger and healthier healed skin.

The hydrogel activates a regenerative immune response, which can potentially help heal skin injuries like burns, cuts, diabetic ulcers, and other wounds that normally heal with significant scars that are more susceptible to reinjury.

The team instead focused on the chemical linker that allowed the scaffold to be naturally broken down by the body. The updated material integrated into the wound and supported the tissue as the wound closed. But instead of lasting longer, the team discovered that the new gel had almost entirely disappeared from the wound site, leaving behind just a few particles. The healed skin turned out to be stronger and included complex skin structures that are typically absent in scars.

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