Guiding therapeutic intervention for burn injuries


Doctor with patient

Burn injuries are a widespread source of trauma in humans, affecting millions worldwide and potentially leading to a lifetime of pain.

Researchers at the Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, have been working to understand burn injuries better. Using a novel model of burn injury, combined with cutting edge analytical approaches, they have identified several new compounds which play a part in burns and subsequent pain. 

Burn injury is prominent source of trauma in humans, affecting millions worldwide and potentially leading to a lifetime of pain. Hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalised each year as a result of burns, and current treatments are not very effective, often with the sad result of a reduced quality of life.

In their paper, released in Analytical Chemistry, as part of the ACS Editor’s choice initiative, the team looks at how compounds newly discovered to be increased after burn injury may help us understand what occurs in the first few hours after a person suffers a burn. By further understanding the metabolic changes induced by burn injury, they hope to guide therapeutic intervention in the future, reducing healthcare costs and improving the quality of life of burn sufferers.

This new approach is equally applicable to the analysis of other tissues and pathological conditions, so there is hope this may further improve our understanding of the metabolic changes underlying a wide variety of pathological processes and skin disorders. 

Speaking about the importance of their research, Dr Elizabeth Want said: "Metabolomics offers the ability to discover new biomarkers for burn injury. Together with the novel model of burn injury pioneered by Dr Nagy, our studies have generated a wealth of metabolic data which we are currently mining to uncover additional compounds involved in this complex process.

"Ultimately, we hope that by combining our new workflow with other omics approaches we will be able to map entire pathways affected after a person suffers a burn so that they can be treated quickly and more effectively. We also believe that this method could be used to elucidate pathomechanisms in other diseases."


Benjie Coleman

Benjie Coleman
Department of Surgery & Cancer

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