The science of tissue repair is constantly evolving. A new understanding of how the body repairs wounds is influencing the strategies used by the medical community. A great example of this is new TrAPs technology.
TrAPs, or traction force-activated payloads, are materials that speed up wound healing by ‘talking’ to the body, so to speak. TrAPs take advantage of the way cells act within the structure of body’s tissues. They help the body find ways to heal itself.
During the wound healing process, cells move within the collagen scaffolding of the tissue. They ‘pull’ on the collagen as they go. This tugging activates healing proteins that are located within the tissue. This is a totally natural process that scientists have been able to observe in recent years.
TrAPs are human-made technology that mimics this process closely. They’ve been designed with ‘handles’ that can be grasped by passing cells. They’re constructed from DNA segments called aptamers. These DNA segments cling to healing proteins. Just as with the collagen structures, when the aptamers are ‘pulled,’ they release the proteins. This aids in healing.
At the heart of this process are the proteins. They contain information that tells healing cells produced by the body to grow and multiply, which speeds wound healing. Because TrAPs harness the body’s own tools and processes, they offer a truly revolutionary next step for medical providers. Rather than devising invasive new processes, TrAPs use the materials and methods that the body produces.
Scientists have known that cell movement is involved in healing for some time. This process has been observed in simple animals like sponges and in complex mammals like humans. TrAPs offer a great new option to clinicians who see lots of wounds that are resistant to healing. They offer real promise for patients with diabetic complications and even for patients with broken bones.
TrAPs use technology that works across a number of tissue types, including skin and bone. It could also be useful in dealing with scar tissue following heart attacks. The aptamer DNA used in this process is currently approved for use as a medication. That means scientists know they are safe to use in the body. There is a hope that this will speed up approval processes from the FDA and other regulatory bodies.