At the Nantes University Hospital, a patient almost completely burned last summer was able to benefit from an innovative treatment to survive: a dressing made from sea worm hemoglobin. A success and a first in Europe on such a surface.
A revolutionary treatment for a hopeless case
This is an astonishing first in Europe on such a large skin surface area. During last summer, a patient with 85% second and third degree burns was treated by teams from the burn center at the Nantes public hospital. “The patient’s total body surface area burned was such that the ratio between the areas to be grafted and the areas of skin that could be removed was very unfavorable and the vital prognosis was at stake. specifies the Nantes University Hospital.
Faced with the seriousness of the case, the doctors opted for a revolutionary treatment: an innovative dressing containing hemoglobin from marine worms. A solution that made it possible to “continuously restart the healing process”. A clear success: three months later the patient was able to be transferred to a rehabilitation center.
A new type of oxygenating dressing
The HEMHealing oxygenating dressing in question is a “local” product, developed using technology from Hemarina, a Breton biopharmaceutical laboratory. This dressing is enriched with hemoglobinarenicola marina, marine worms present on the beaches of the Atlantic and the English Channel. This hemoglobin is particularly interesting for several reasons:
- It carries 40 times more oxygen than human hemoglobin;
- It is naturally extracellular and can therefore be injected into the bloodstream;
- It is 250 times smaller than a red blood cell and is capable of reaching very difficult to access areas;
- However, the basic unit, the globin chain, is more than 99% identical to that of human hemoglobin.
This strong healing power has changed the situation and allowed a new approach to the seriously injured. “Usually, for 85% burns we carry out numerous operations to excise the burns and gradually replace them with the patient’s skin. In this patient, in order to limit the surface to be grafted and therefore to be taken from the rare unburned areas, we opted for this dressing in order to try to heal the thorax, abdomen and back without surgery, allowing us to preserve graft donor sites for hands and lower limbs”explains Pierre Perrot, head of department at the Nantes burn center.
Hope for all injuries that require oxygen
For the Nantes University Hospital, this first is a success and the future prospects are immense. In addition to the care of serious burn victims, this HEMHealing dressing could also help hypoxic wounds (which require oxygen) such as diabetic foot ulcers, bedsores, or other wounds.for which there is currently no satisfactory therapeutic solution.
The incredible discovery of a marine worm
TipsForWomens had the chance to interview Franck Zal, researcher in marine physiology, at the origin of this restorative technology, coming from a bloodworm, which he describes in a book “A treasure under the sand” (published on January 18).
Passionate about marine biology, he is interested in marine organisms and among them, bloodworms, capable of breathing whether at high or low tide. “I focused on breathing, and the transport of oxygen, to focus on this hemoglobin molecule which I completely dissected.. There, Franck Zal details several things: the worm does not breathe when the beach is at low tide, but has loaded its hemoglobin molecules like loading an oxygen bottle. “I also realize that these hemoglobin chains are very close to human chains. I tell myself that we will be able to use it, and gradually decline the applications on organs, tissues or even sickle cell anemia or periodontal diseases. To date, no fewer than 63 patents have been filed by the Hemarina company.
The oxygenating dressing is already commonly used to treat around ten types of small wounds, when the tragedy of this summer occurs. The burn patient then had a prognosis which did not exceed one week of survival. “Professor Perrot knew Professor Lantiéri who had already used the technology. He called him for this desperate case that nothing was working on. Everyone (researcher, doctors, ANSM, etc.) mobilized quickly. Today, the patient has recovered baby skin and is preparing to spend the holidays with his family.” rejoices the researcher.
Et this technology should not be a unique case. According to Franck Zal, the product, the molecule and the formulation are perfect. It simply remains to industrialize the process to be able to use it more widely.