Australian pharmaceutical research company Pharmaxis has teamed up with the University of Western Australia (UWA) to start a world-first clinical trial to investigate a cream to stop scars forming after trauma, particularly following burn injuries.

The trial will be led by prominent surgeon and burns expert Professor Fiona Wood and her team from UWA and researchers from Fiona Stanley Hospital in Murdoch, Western Australia.

Together they will test Pharmaxis’s topical discovery, known as PXS-6302, which has shown promising pre-clinical results in restraining the enzymes that play a significant role in the development of scar tissue.

“It’s exciting for the research team to explore a novel path to reduce scarring and to be moving closer to that goal,” said Professor Fiona Wood.

“Scar-less healing is the vision that has motivated our work over many decades.”

“Current treatments aim to rectify the scar in the acute phase such as during wound healing and scar maturation through options such as compression therapy, silicone gel sheeting or when the scar is established by cryotherapy, scar revision or laser, with limited outcomes at times,” said senior research fellow at UWA’s School of Biomedical Sciences Dr Kylie Sandy-Hodgetts.

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“This new compound may potentially avoid the need for invasive procedures such as further surgery or laser procedures.”

The pioneering human trial will first evaluate the safety and tolerability of the product in healthy volunteers before conducting further trials in burns and surgical patients.

If successful, the treatment could prove to be life-changing as scarring of any kind, severe or minor, burns or surgical, can have huge psychological effects on the people who have them.

“Scar formation following surgery has a huge impact on patient wellbeing and how people feel about themselves,” Sandy-Hodgetts said. “What we’re hoping is that this new cream may have the potential to improve scar outcomes in patients following surgery.”

Pharmaxis CEO Gary Phillips said the company is excited to see its expertise in fibrosis being applied to help patients with scarring.

“We have had a long and productive collaboration with researchers at UWA and this important trial of our drug PXS-6302 will establish whether the remarkable results seen in the pre-clinical models can be replicated in patients,” said Phillips.

“Scarring can have a devastating and life-long impact on people who have suffered traumatic injuries.  A topical cream to reduce scarring would have a significant role in treatment with broad application in the hospital and community medical settings.”