Cutaneous wound repair is a physiological process aimed at restoring a lost skin integrity. Chronic skin wounds arise from a dysfunction of this process and result in a skin sore that is unable to timely heal or will never heal. Several frequent diseases predispose to wound chronicity, including diabetes and cardiovascular disorders. Chronic wounds also develop as the result of prolonged pressure in bedridden or wheelchair patients.
Given the variety of causes, chronic wounds are very frequent. Recent estimates indicate that they affect about 1-2% of the worldwide population and up to 5% of subjects older than 65 years. This number is expected to grow due to an increasing prevalence of ulcer-causing diseases and the overall increased life expectancy.
Chronic ulcers carry a heavy human and economic burden. Patients, who suffer from severe pain, distress, and loss of function and mobility, experience a dramatic impairment of their lives. Chronic infections or amputations are common complications.
No commonly accepted standard of care exists. Most severe cases, about 10-20% of patients, are not managed in a cost-efficiently manner with available therapies. The development of more effective approaches is imperative to diminish the current human and economic burden that chronic wounds impose to the society and the healthcare system.
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