Research focus: Skin injuries are evolving as an epidemic issue. Chronic skin lesion is a globally widespread disease, often referred to as a “wound difficult to heal” and one which has a strong impact on both overall health and quality of life. Genetic and clinical variables, such as diabetes, smoking and inflammatory/immunological pathologies, are among the important risk factors limiting the regenerative powers of many therapeutic applications. Therefore, optimisation of current clinical strategies is critical. Experimental research: Here we summarise the field’s current state by focusing on the use of stem-cell therapeutic applications in wound healing, placing considerable emphasis on current clinical approaches being developed at Rome’s Sapienza University. These involve protocols for the ex vivo expansion of adipose tissue-derived mesenchyme stem cells using a patented GMP-compliant platelet lysate, Mesengen™, and cellular and acellular dermal substitutes. A combination of multiple strategies, including genetic modifications of stem cells, biomimetic scaffolds or novel vehicles like nanoparticles, is also discussed as future approaches. Case studies: Here we present a report portraying our clinical experience of the treatment of chronic phlebostatic ulcers. The aim of the study reported here was to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment with dermal substitutes of cutaneous lesions originating from chronic venous insufficiency, therapy which took into consideration parameters such as the reduction of wound size and the improvement of quality of life. Chronic skin lesion, a globally widespread disease, is often referred to as a “difficult wound” and has a strong impact on both overall health and quality of life. The difficulties encountered when seeking to heal this ailment have led to a quest for and development of new therapeutic approaches, including dermal substitutes. We can subdivide these into acellular matrices, such as Integra and Hyalomatrix, and cell therapies such as platelet concentrate and mesenchyme cell concentrate. Results: In all the patients treated, elements of improvement were observed: the appearance on the wound bed of small islands of granulation tissue, superficialization of the bottom of the ulcer and a growth of marginal tissue. During the first 30 days, a reduction in more than 25% of the area of the lesion and a reduction in more than 50% at the end of the observation period were recorded in 10 of the patients who underwent preliminary surgical treatment out of the 13 subjects included in the study sample. On the whole, at the end of the observation period, we witnessed an average 57% decrease in the lesion in all the patients; furthermore, during the treatment period, there was a gradual reduction in pain, measured using the NRS numerical scale. An overall average reduction in pain of four points on the NRS numerical scale was achieved. At the end of the 8-week evaluation period, the majority of the patients reported an improvement in the quality of their lives, since, in addition to the reduction of spontaneous pain, there was a diminution of pruritus, secretions—often malodorous and capable of affecting social life negatively—with recovery of functional capacity and almost complete recovery of habitual daily activities. During the period of treatment, no superinfections of the wounds or secondary complications related to the use of the various products were detected. Main conclusions: The numerous technological opportunities provided by regenerative medicine—including advanced dressings and dermal substitutes—if applied correctly, in compliance with a multidisciplinary approach where necessary, seem to offer advantages not only in terms of clinical efficacy and patient life quality but also in terms, it would appear, of healthcare costs, an aspect which should not be either overlooked or underestimated.
Part of the book: Wound Healing