Effective wound treatment is a significant global healthcare issue. Fucoidan extracts have been studied across a range of areas that may benefit the skin healing process via topical use, oral ingestion and through a variety of innovative biomedical applications.
Topical wound healing
Research demonstrates the potential for two of Marinova’s purified and well-characterised fucoidan extracts to promote wound healing activity. In an Australian study, Undaria pinnatifida and Fucus vesiculosus fucoidan extracts both demonstrated inhibitory effects on processes linked to skin ageing, including the increased expression of SIRT1 in vitro (Fitton, 2015).
In a clinical study on UV-induced erythema, a Fucus vesiculosus fucoidan extract with a high polyphenol content, manufactured by Marinova, showed additional in vitro antioxidant activity compared with a placebo, as well as beneficial soothing and protective effects (Fitton, 2015). A further study utilising a fucoidan extract produced by Marinova also demonstrated activity in aiding skin immunity, soothing and protection. Fucoidan can be readily incorporated into gel and multilayer formulations intended to promote topical skin healing activity, and offers great potential for the development of novel treatment solutions for damaged skin.
Studies into composites including fucoidan extracts also show great promise for functional wound dressing applications (Yanagibayashi, 2012). These include hydrogels and chitin-fucoidan composites that help to create a moist environment in which healing can occur.
Growth factor binding
Fucoidan extracts have been studied for potential anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour, anti-thrombotic and anti-viral properties (Fitton, 2015). Many of these effects are thought to be derived from interactions with growth factors. This suggests that fucoidan extracts may be able to modulate growth factor-dependent pathways in tissue repair.
The wound healing process requires the repopulation of fibroblasts from the surrounding dermal tissue. An in vitro wound repair study showed that fucoidan modulated the effects of TGF (transforming growth factor) on dermal fibroblasts and restored the rate of fibroblast repopulation (O’Leary, 2004).
An Australian research group continues its innovative studies into the properties of polyelectrolyte multilayers (PEMs), strengthening the case for the use of fucoidan extracts in the development of new materials for medical device and wound healing applications. Researchers used high purity fucoidan extracted from Fucus vesiculosus, manufactured by Marinova, to create a unique PEM (Benbow, 2017). They found that the molecular weight of the fucoidan greatly altered the structure of the PEM, affecting hydration, elasticity and thus the capacity for small molecules to move through the material. A second study shed light on the pathways by which future wound healing systems might be developed (Benbow, 2020).
Chronic wounds are typically characterised by persistent inflammation and the decreased production of growth factors. Fucoidan extracts have been extensively studied for their potential anti-inflammatory properties and may be of particular benefit in the wound healing process.
The selectin blockade activity of fucoidan extracts has been widely reported and reviewed (Fitton, 2011). Fucoidan extracts have been shown to reduce the potential for systemic inflammation and, in animal studies, a fucoidan extract was demonstrated to inhibit selectin-induced inflammatory processes (Gassmann, 2010).
Fucoidans have also been shown in ex vivo and animal models to promote the maturation of dendritic cells, activate NK cells and promote cytotoxic activity (Zhang, 2015). These properties may prove valuable in modulating inflammation and supporting immune protection of the wound site.
The potential for fucoidan extracts to inhibit bacterial adhesion, biofilm formation and to inhibit virulence in pathogens may be of particular benefit in the wound healing process. An animal study demonstrated that a fucoidan extract enhanced the up-regulation of key immune responses and attenuated biofilm formation and the motility of pathogenic bacteria (Kandasamy, 2015).
The oral ingestion of Marinova’s fucoidan has also been shown to increase the anti-pathogenic activity of granulocytes and macrophages in healthy people (Myers, 2011).
A number of studies have demonstrated the ability of fucoidan extracts to inhibit pathogens. A fucoidan extract manufactured by Marinova was shown to inhibit Herpes Simplex virus entry in cells, including the effective inhibition of HSV1 (cold sore virus) and HSV2 (genital herpes virus) (Thompson, 2004). Research also demonstrated that oral administration of a fucoidan extract may protect against the infection of HSV1 and increase the production of viral antibodies (Hayashi, 2008).
Antibacterial activity has been recorded against multiple disease-causing pathogens, including Bacillus licheniformis and Staphylococcus aureus (Ayrapetyan, 2021). This suggests that fucoidan extracts may hold significant potential as adjunct therapeutic agents to control bacterial infection. The possible future use of marine polysaccharides for innovative wound dressings is well described by Andryukov, 2020.
A study into antibiotic immobilisation also showed how fucoidan extracts may be used in future controlled drug delivery systems (Araújo, 2004). Fucoidan extracts manufactured by Marinova have also been studied as potential agents for the release of therapeutics into wound sites and as immobilization agents for the controlled release of FGF-2 (Benbow, 2020).
A study of the wound healing process following a burn incident found that fucoidan extract was able to bind with burn-damaged collagen and form a polymer on the skin (Pielesz, 2015). Human clinical research into UV-induced erythema (a minor radiation effect) also showed that a fucoidan manufactured by Marinova and delivered topically was beneficial and ameliorated both erythema and water loss (Fitton, 2015).