Research into healing is incredibly complex with many different cells playing roles in the healing processes.
We know that hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy has multiple effects even on a single type of cell, and understanding these effects is key to exploring the potential of the therapy for assisting the wound healing process.
Using state-of-the-art biomedical techniques the targets of HBO action can be understood through laboratory studies, using modern tissue culture techniques and innovative concepts. When needed, we also benefit from patients and volunteers enthusiastic about our desire to learn and who are thus willing to provide samples of blood or tissue for laboratory studies.
The focus of our laboratory based studies currently falls into two broad categories:
How does HBO help with wound healing process?
Within this category, we are learning how HBO can be used to transform the status of difficult-to-heal wounds by moving them from a persistent inflammatory state onto a healing trajectory, that can ultimately result in the repair of the damaged tissue.
Our interests extend from soft tissue to bone and from underlying medical conditions which interfere with wound healing (such as diabetes) to overcoming physical damage caused my medical treatments (such as radiotherapy).
Overcoming persistent infection and understanding how HBO interacts with antimicrobial systems, in the context of wound healing and tissue repair, also form part of our scope and feed into our research goals.
Can HBO interact with currently accepted drugs and treatment strategies to enhance outcomes?
Many treatments rely on oxygen as a component of therapy, particularly where reactive oxygen species/free oxygen radicals form part of the process that leads to the death of unwanted cells.
In some tissues with a poor blood supply oxygen can become a limiting factor during treatments and we are interested in the use of hyperbaric oxygen to enhance current therapies, particularly in the field of cancer treatments.
We are studying this concept focussing on photodynamic therapy as an accepted treatment for skin cancer but within which there is widespread interest in enhancing the capacity and efficiency of killing aberrant cells.
In understanding how oxygen interacts within such treatment we are beginning to explore other avenues whereby oxygen can be used as a switch to moderate competing processes in cells and potentially find new ways to use old drugs.