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  • 1 Feb, 2022
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Role of Collagen in Wound Care

Rachel Simmons, Senior NPD Scientist, Scapa Healthcare

You may recognize “collagen” as an ingredient in many commercially available beauty serums, creams and capsules popular in the cosmetic industry, but collagen is also used in a variety of medical devices to treat chronic, non-healing wounds. 

What is collagen, where does it come from, and what benefits does it bring to wound healing?

Collagen is a protein found throughout the body, particularly in the skin, ligaments and tendons, teeth and bones, and connective tissue. It is made up of three proteins wrapped around each other in a triple helix (rope like structure), forming a highly organized 3D scaffold around cells as extracellular matrix or ECM. Some of the key functions of Collagen include providing strength to ligaments and elasticity to the skin. 

Collagen used in medical devices is mainly derived from animal sources with bovine (cow) and porcine (pig) being the most common. The inclusion of collagen in advanced wound dressings can provide numerous benefits including wound healing by improving the wound conditions.

One of the main challenges in wound care is the management of chronic wounds, which are defined as wounds that fail to proceed through the normal phases of wound healing in an orderly and timely manner. This can be frustrating, painful and unpleasant for the patient and their family; therefore, quick progression to healing is the objective. A wound environment can have multiple factors which contribute to its non-healing state. These can include inflammation, excessive exudate, protease activity and infection. 

Benefits of collagen in wound care 

Collagen has multiple benefits when used as a primary dressing in direct contact with the wound surface, including:

-Collagen is a non-toxic, natural material and “recognized” by patient cells so there is a low likelihood of an inflammatory response being stimulated
-Collagen enhances the deposition of new collagen fibers and acts as a scaffold for cellular adhesion and migration
-Collagen supports clotting and wound contraction
-Collagen is bioresorbable/biodegradable so does not need to be removed from the wound; reducing trauma and pain at dressing changes. As the collagen breaks down in the wound, the amino acids released can be reused by cells
-As collagen breaks down in the wound, its components induce Growth Factors and Cytokines to aid the healing process
-The breakdown products of Collagen are chemotactic for neutrophils, macrophages, and fibroblasts to the wound site
-Collagen is the substrate for Matrix Metalloproteases (MMPs). MMPs are essential for wound debridement; however elevated MMP levels in the wound environment may impair wound healing. Collagen from a medical device can provide an alternative substrate for excessive MMPs and reduce the MMP levels in the wound.

Collagen can be manufactured into many medical device constructs to suit different wound care applications, such a sponges, films and powders. It has the potential to be combined with other materials to provide additional benefits to patients, such as with silver for its’ antimicrobial properties.

Scapa Healthcare has over 20 years’ experience in the development and manufacture of collagen wound care products at our site in Gargrave, UK. To learn more about how Scapa Healthcare can help you develop custom advanced wound care solutions and bring them to market, contact us directly at healthcare@scapa.com.

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References
1. Collagen in Wound Healing, Shomita S. Mathew-Steiner, Sashwati Roy, Chandan K. Sen, Bioengineering (Basel). 2021 May; 8(5): 63.
2. Role of collagen in wound management, Rangaraj A., Harding K., Leaper A., Wounds UK, 2011, 7(2): 54 
3. Collagen-based devices for soft tissue repair Pachence JM. Journal of Biomedical Material Research. 1996 Spring; 33(1): 35.
4. Underlying biochemistry in non-healing wounds perpetuates chronicity, Cullen B, Martínez JL, Wounds International. 2016, 7(4): 10
5. Biochemical analysis of acute and chronic wound environments. Tarnuzzer RW, Schultz GS. Wound Repair and Regeneration. 1996 Jul-Sep;4(3): 321
6. Challenges in the treatment of chronic wounds Frykberg RG, Banks J. Advances in Wound Care.  2015; 4: 560
7. The Clinical uses of collagen-based matrices in the treatment of chronic wounds, Yang HJ, Kang SY, Journal of Wounds Management and Research. 2019; 15(2): 103

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