Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Fragmented Healing

Protein fragments found in wounds provide clues to the state of healing and infection

27 July 2021

Fragmented Healing

An infection settling into a wound is like being kicked when you’re down. Infections make a bad situation worse, with microorganisms capitalising on a rare opportunity to slip past our protective skin, delaying healing and potentially leading to more serious problems. A new study aiming to characterise infected wounds in order to better predict and prevent them analysed the proteins found at healing and infected wound sites. During infection, bacteria provide their own protein-degrading enzymes which act alongside the body’s, so the resulting mix of protein fragments (peptides) is different. Analysing this mass of protein rubble revealed 150 peptides unique to infected wounds (pictured, with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria coloured yellow) and 90 found only in healing wounds, including some with antimicrobial properties. The researchers suggest that checking the protein fragments in wounds might help monitor healing, spot infection before symptoms show, and prevent bacteria rubbing salt in the wound.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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