Development of new antibody therapies for the treatment of burn injuries and hypertrophic scars

Alexander Cameron1,2, Damian Adams1, Jessica Jackson1, Peter Anderson2, Allison Cowin1

1Future Industries Institute, University of South Australia

2Paediatrics and Reproductive Health, University of Adelaide

Hypertrophic scarring has a severe impact on the quality of life for millions around the world.  Occurring after burns, trauma or elective surgery it carries a large burden of disease, which includes disfigurement, pain, disability and psychological co-morbidity.  Current techniques for preventing or treating hypertrophic scarring remain limited and there is, as yet, no medical treatment to reduce or prevent hypertrophic scar development. Our studies have identified Flii as a potential target whose manipulation could improve burn injury repair and reduce scar formation. Our studies have shown that Flii is increased in human burns and hypertrophic scars and that when Flii is present at high levels in mouse models of burn injury healing is delayed and scarring is severe. In contrast, mice with low levels of Flii have reduced scarring, with decreased dermal thickness, smaller cross sectional scar area, fewer myofibroblasts and a decreased ratio of collagen-I to collagen-III. Consequently we have generated and screened a panel of affinity purified antibodies which can neutralize the activity of Flii in burns and have tested these antibodies in murine burns and hypertrophic scarring models and shown that they improve healing responses. These studies suggest that Flii affects the fibroproliferative process underlying hypertrophic scarring and confirms Flii as a potential target for the development of burns.

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