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Healing chronic wounds

World-first $100 million health research centre opens.

After three years of constant pain and visits to numerous doctors and specialists, 18-year-old Sam McKnoulty thought the wound on his foot that refused to heal would be with him for life.

That was until he met nurse practitioner Michelle Gibb from QUT's Wound Healing Community Outreach Service who took one look and assured McKnoulty she could heal it. In just a couple of weeks he saw results and after 12 months the wound that had "ruled his life" was fully repaired.

The knowledge and expertise Gibb used to help heal McKnoulty's foot and the chronic wounds of people with diabetes, heart failure and other conditions is being built on in the world's first interdisciplinary national wound research centre, the CRC (Cooperative Research Centre) for Wound Management Innovation, which officially opened on Friday.

"I was able to wear shoes on my 18th birthday for the first time in three years," said Sam who has a rare condition that slows healing and caused his heel to bleed excessively.

"It was extremely painful, especially at night so I didn't sleep well and could go to school for only two hours a day."

CRC Wound Management Innovation CEO Dr Stephen Prowse said chronic wounds were estimated to cost the Australian health system $2.6 billion a year.

"The CRC brings together 22 academic, government, community care groups and industry participants, which together have contributed $100 million, to undertake fundamental genetic, biochemical and modelling research and directly link it to clinical practice and wound care products development," Prowse said.

The research in the CRC will be led by QUT Professors Zee Upton from the Faculty of Science and Technology, Professor Helen Edwards from the Faculty of Health, and Professor Rob Short from the University of South Australia.

Professor Helen Edwards, head of QUT's School of Nursing and Midwifery, has undertaken extensive research in wound healing and self-management of chronic wounds. She said the CRC's cross-disciplinary research would make a huge difference to the quality of life of thousands of people.

"Elderly people and people with diabetes are prone to skin ulcers due to slow healing. Almost half a million Australians suffer from chronic wounds and their numbers are growing with the ageing population and rise in diabetes," Edwards said.

QUT tissue engineer and biochemist Professor Zee Upton leads the Tissue Repair and Regeneration Program at QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) and is the inventor of the wound-healing product VitroGro.

"Our research gives us a real opportunity to transform healing outcomes for patients by translating our findings into therapies and products that can be directly applied in wound clinics," Upton said.

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