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NTU Singapore: Advanced Imaging Hastens Wound Healing

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) found that wavy wounds heal faster than straight wounds because the shape of the wound affects how the cells move.

By using advanced imaging tools on synthetic wounds that looked like human skin, researchers have watched how cells moved and found that cells near wounds with wavy edges moved in a swirling pattern, while cells near wounds with straight edges moved in straight lines parallel to the edges.

Modern imaging equipment lets scientists see synthetic wounds in high resolution and detail, which lets them do a full study of how the wounds work. This lets doctors, scientists, and others closely study how wounds heal, watch for new tissue growth, and figure out how well different treatments work. Precise imaging helps find the specific stages of wound healing, such as inflammation, proliferation, and remodelling. This makes it easier to do an accurate review and decide how to treat the wound.

Likewise, modern imaging techniques can record both surface and underlying aspects of synthetic wounds, resulting in a three-dimensional picture of the wound bed. This allows for the visualisation of many components inside the wound microenvironment, such as blood vessels, collagen structures, and cellular interactions. Healthcare providers can make more educated decisions about treatment tactics and wound care regimens if they have extensive knowledge about the wound’s structural composition and cellular dynamics.

Further, the NTU researchers created artificial wounds with a variety of widths to study how cells migrated to repair wound gaps under various conditions. They discovered that wavy wounds caused more sophisticated collective cell movements, such as a swirly, vortex-like motion, using particle image velocimetry, an optical monitoring technique for fluid flow. In contrast, cells moved parallel to the front of a straight wound, marching in straight lines like a marching band.

The NTU team found that the swirling or vortex-like movement is critical to gap bridging, which occurs when cells create bridges to restore damaged tissues and speed up wound healing in wavy wounds. This is the first time that the association between gap bridging and wound healing speed has been established.

According to the researchers, these findings pave the way for the development of more effective procedures for wound healing, wound care, tissue repair, and plastic surgery. Professor K Jimmy Hsia, the lead researcher and President’s Chair in Mechanical Engineering at NTU School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (MAE) and School of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, said that the way one cut a skin wound affects how quickly it heals. But not much is known about why this happens or what could change how fast the wound heals. The study adds to the promising area of mechanobiology with new information that could help surgeons come up with better ways to treat wounds in patients.

In addition, Lim Chwee Teck, Principal Investigator, Mechanobiology Institute and National University of Singapore Society Chair Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, highlighted that wound healing is an important but poorly known stage of patient recovery. This intriguing study provides important information that can help with faster wound healing with reduced scarring by shedding light on wound healing under complicated geometries.

The NTU2025 five-year strategic plan, which focuses on health and society as one area with the potential for major intellectual and societal influence, is in line with this study’s research pillar.


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