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      Borrowing From Nature: Biopolymers and Biocomposites as Smart Wound Care Materials

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          Wound repair is a complex and tightly regulated physiological process, involving the activation of various cell types throughout each subsequent step (homeostasis, inflammation, proliferation, and tissue remodeling). Any impairment within the correct sequence of the healing events could lead to chronic wounds, with potential effects on the patience quality of life, and consequent fallouts on the wound care management. Nature itself can be of inspiration for the development of fully biodegradable materials, presenting enhanced bioactive potentialities, and sustainability. Naturally-derived biopolymers are nowadays considered smart materials. They provide a versatile and tunable platform to design the appropriate extracellular matrix able to support tissue regeneration, while contrasting the onset of adverse events. In the past decades, fabrication of bioactive materials based on natural polymers, either of protein derivation or polysaccharide-based, has been extensively exploited to tackle wound-healing related problematics. However, in today's World the exclusive use of such materials is becoming an urgent challenge, to meet the demand of environmentally sustainable technologies to support our future needs, including applications in the fields of healthcare and wound management. In the following, we will briefly introduce the main physico-chemical and biological properties of some protein-based biopolymers and some naturally-derived polysaccharides. Moreover, we will present some of the recent technological processing and green fabrication approaches of novel composite materials based on these biopolymers, with particular attention on their applications in the skin tissue repair field. Lastly, we will highlight promising future perspectives for the development of a new generation of environmentally-friendly, naturally-derived, smart wound dressings.

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          Most cited references 171

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          Wound healing--aiming for perfect skin regeneration.

           Tamara Martin (1997)
          The healing of an adult skin wound is a complex process requiring the collaborative efforts of many different tissues and cell lineages. The behavior of each of the contributing cell types during the phases of proliferation, migration, matrix synthesis, and contraction, as well as the growth factor and matrix signals present at a wound site, are now roughly understood. Details of how these signals control wound cell activities are beginning to emerge, and studies of healing in embryos have begun to show how the normal adult repair process might be readjusted to make it less like patching up and more like regeneration.
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            Factors affecting wound healing.

             L DiPietro,  S Guo (2010)
            Wound healing, as a normal biological process in the human body, is achieved through four precisely and highly programmed phases: hemostasis, inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling. For a wound to heal successfully, all four phases must occur in the proper sequence and time frame. Many factors can interfere with one or more phases of this process, thus causing improper or impaired wound healing. This article reviews the recent literature on the most significant factors that affect cutaneous wound healing and the potential cellular and/or molecular mechanisms involved. The factors discussed include oxygenation, infection, age and sex hormones, stress, diabetes, obesity, medications, alcoholism, smoking, and nutrition. A better understanding of the influence of these factors on repair may lead to therapeutics that improve wound healing and resolve impaired wounds.
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              Human skin wounds: a major and snowballing threat to public health and the economy.

              ABSTRACT In the United States, chronic wounds affect 6.5 million patients. An estimated excess of US$25 billion is spent annually on treatment of chronic wounds and the burden is rapidly growing due to increasing health care costs, an aging population and a sharp rise in the incidence of diabetes and obesity worldwide. The annual wound care products market is projected to reach $15.3 billion by 2010. Chronic wounds are rarely seen in individuals who are otherwise healthy. In fact, chronic wound patients frequently suffer from "highly branded" diseases such as diabetes and obesity. This seems to have overshadowed the significance of wounds per se as a major health problem. For example, NIH's Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool (RePORT;, directed at providing access to estimates of funding for various disease conditions does list several rare diseases but does not list wounds. Forty million inpatient surgical procedures were performed in the United States in 2000, followed closely by 31.5 million outpatient surgeries. The need for post-surgical wound care is sharply on the rise. Emergency wound care in an acute setting has major significance not only in a war setting but also in homeland preparedness against natural disasters as well as against terrorism attacks. An additional burden of wound healing is the problem of skin scarring, a $12 billion annual market. The immense economic and social impact of wounds in our society calls for allocation of a higher level of attention and resources to understand biological mechanisms underlying cutaneous wound complications.

                Author and article information

                Front Bioeng Biotechnol
                Front Bioeng Biotechnol
                Bioeng. Biotechnol.
                Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                02 October 2018
                : 6
                1Smart Materials, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia , Genoa, Italy
                2In vivo Pharmacology Facility, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia , Genoa, Italy
                Author notes

                Edited by: Gianni Ciofani, Politecnico di Torino, Italy

                Reviewed by: Gozde Ozaydin Ince, Sabanci University, Turkey; Satoshi Arai, Waseda University, Japan; Filippo Rossi, Politecnico di Milano, Italy

                *Correspondence: Giulia Suarato giulia.suarato@

                This article was submitted to Nanobiotechnology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology

                Copyright © 2018 Suarato, Bertorelli and Athanassiou.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 171, Pages: 11, Words: 9554
                Bioengineering and Biotechnology
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