According to a recent study by UCL researchers, casein-infused bandages greatly accelerated the healing of wounds in rats as compared to animals in control groups. Casein is a protein that naturally appears in cow’s milk.
The study, which was just released in Interface, is the first to use an animal model to investigate casein’s purported therapeutic properties. The encouraging findings imply that casein, which is affordable, plentiful, and possesses antibacterial qualities, has the potential to take the place of pricey elements like silver in wound dressings.
The casein protein, which forms up to 80% of casein in cow’s milk, is a type of protein that can be found in the milk of mammals. Interest in casein’s antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory qualities as well as its use as a high-protein food has increased during the past ten years.
In this study, polycaprolactone (PCL), a biodegradable polyester frequently used as bandage material, was combined with pure casein by researchers at UCL. They spun this mixture into fibers resembling bandages using a method called pressurized gyration, which was created at UCL in 2013 and from which they made casein-infused bandages. If electrospinning had been used instead of other, more expensive manufacturing techniques, this would not have been achievable. Three sets of rats with similar tiny skin perforations were created. The first group’s wounds were covered with casein-infused bandages, the second group’s with regular PCL bandages, and the third group’s with no bandages at all.
After three, seven, ten, and fourteen days, the wounds were photographed, measured, and microscopically inspected to determine the degree of healing.
At 14 days, the casein-infused bandages caused wounds to heal to 5.2% of their original size, compared to 31.1% in the control group and 45.6% in the untreated group.
The casein bandages were found to be non-toxic and to have substantially lower amounts of immune-related chemicals around the wounds they were used to heal.
The study’s first author, Dr. Jubair Ahmed (UCL Mechanical Engineering), said: “Natural materials have many unique features, many of which are unexplored. We were aware that casein was rumored to have healing properties, and our findings indicate that there is a great deal of potential for using it in medical applications, such as coverings for wounds. To ensure that casein dressings are secure and efficient in people, more research is required.
Given that casein is a byproduct of skimmed dairy milk, it would be a very inexpensive substance that could be mass produced if it were approved for use in treating humans. However, if casein is to be utilized in the clinic, where consistency is essential for safe and successful therapy, it would need to be resolved that the chemical makeup and potency of natural substances can differ.
Senior author of the study and Professor Mohan Edirisinghe (UCL Mechanical Engineering) said: “All the research to date suggests that casein has promise for wound healing, but at this time, we don’t really know why in any great depth. It’s possible that casein’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory capabilities are involved.