Formation of scars following wounding or trauma represents a significant healthcare burden costing the economy billions of dollars every year. Activation of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) has been shown to play a pivotal role in transducing mechanical signals to elicit fibrotic responses and scar formation during wound repair.
We have previously shown that inhibition of FAK using local injections of a small molecule FAK inhibitor (FAKI) can attenuate scar development in a hypertrophic scar model. Clinical translation of FAKI therapy has been challenging, however, due to the lack of an effective drug delivery system for extensive burn injuries, blast injuries, and large excisional injuries. To address this issue, we have developed a pullulan collagen-based hydrogel to deliver FAKI to excisional and burn wounds in mice. Specifically, two distinct drug-laden hydrogels were developed for rapid or sustained release of FAKI for treatment of burn wounds and excisional wounds, respectively. Controlled delivery of FAKI via pullulan collagen hydrogels accelerated wound healing, reduced collagen deposition and activation of scar forming myofibroblasts in both wound healing models.
Our study highlights a biomaterial-based drug delivery approach for wound and scar management that has significant translational implications.