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To Our Children Section

Pigs Play Part In Burns Research

PIGS are filling a vital role in joint Australian-Dutch research which could lead to completely new treatment of human burn victims.

The Australian side of the project is in the hands of Dr Nicholas Vardaxis, senior lecturer in pathology at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), who is working closely with Dr Thomas Brans, of the Dutch Burns Foundation.

The researchers chose pigs for the investigation of the wound healing process because no other animal so resembles the human skin's structural and functional aspects.

While Dr Vardaxis says it is not new to use pigs in burn research, what makes the joint study different is its focus on wound healing and the factors affecting it. Various standard dressings and new ones, including herbal remedies, are being studied.

Probably the most novel is a prawn shell extract developed by an RMIT colleague, Dr Colin Rix. Among its obvious advantages are that it is a natural material which does not cause allergic responses and is biodegradable in the wound. Initial study also shows the extract has great potential in healing quality, reducing scar tissue and lowering infection.

For further information, contact: Dr Nicholas Vardaxis,
Pathology Department, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology,
GPO Box 2476V, Melbourne, Vic 3001.
International telephone 61-3-9660 2717

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