Genital Wound Healing Research

Our translational research program combines investigation into the basic science rationale (i.e. genetics, molecular biology) behind disease processes with an understanding of the clinical issues faced by patients and providers.

An exciting new line of research focuses on factors associated with genital wound healing. Hypospadias is the most common congenital genital defect affecting 1 in 300 boys. Complications following hypospadias repair are common, especially when the original defect is severe. The most significant complications include the formation of fistulae and strictures. An added area of concern is post-operative cosmesis and scar formation.

Other than severity of presenting condition, few factors have been found to influence the rate of complications or scar formation. Clinically it has been observed that operations conducted when the child is less than 6 months of age seem to have fewer complications than those done when the child is 1 year of age. Basic science research has established that fetal wounds, which produce low levels of inflammatory cytokines, heal without a scar whereas adult wounds, which produce high cytokine levels, do scar. Thus age and cytokine level are implicated in the surgical outcome.

The goal of this project is to unite these two fields of study and determine whether wound healing following hypospadias repair is related to the child’s age at time of repair, the levels of inflammatory cytokines in the child’s genital skin, or both.

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