In industrialized countries, about 1 to 2% of the population suffer a problematic wound during their lifetime. After the age of 65 years, chronic wounds cause significant costs and public health problems. In fact, elderly patients suffer a higher mortality rate from chronic wounds than from cancer. The costs are also significant: it is estimated that in Europe they represent 2 to 4% of the healthcare budget. Meanwhile, the population in Europe is aging rapidly, so these costs will only increase.

Severe burns, specifically, lead to severe morbidity and significant mortality besides being an economic burden. In 2010, the annual incidence of severe burns in Europe was estimated to be 0.2 to 2.9/10,000 inhabitants, with 50% being children younger than 16 years and 60% being males. Burn injuries were mortal in 1.4% to 18% of analyzed reports. Older age and size of burned surface area along with chronic diseases were the major risks factors for mortality. (Multi)-organ failure and sepsis were the most frequently reported causes of death. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, services for chronic wound care were reduced dramatically.

Today, NABIHEAL is ready to take on chronic wound care, developing cost-effective treatments in order to reduce the care journey by roughly 10 months compared to conventional cures, thus reducing healthcare costs by >20 k€ per wound. NABIHEAL customized dressings will impact 3 categories: wound care, medications, and hospitalizations. NABIHEAL also considers the prevalence of complex wounds due to the rapidly increasing risk factors related to age and obesity.

Besides, impacts of technologies and enabled dressing products to develop in NABIHEAL are oriented to generate value into the Advanced Wound Management (AWM) sector and increase competitiveness of SMEs of the consortium and other possible stakeholders in this market. AWM market is expected to reach 6.4 million € by 2026 with respect to the global wound care market that is projected to reach 25.2 million €, representing 25.4% of the total wound care market. NABIHEAL expects to be a source of market opportunities on AWM by innovative wound dressing as part of the treatment of complex wounds.

NABIHEAL partners are well positioned to spur the development of the AWM industry. A strength of the consortium is that it has valuable representation in the nano- and biotechnology value chain, with the ambition of being key players in the current and future global functional dressing for precision medical approaches.

Economic Impact

NABIHEAL will strongly contribute to support the European Strategy for KETs (Key Enabling Technologies), in particular, focusing on three of them: nanotechnology, industrial biotechnology and advanced materials. NABIHEAL's SMEs (NT, HCELL, MyB, BIO, ASPH) exhibit Key Enabling and Advanced Manufacturing Technologies. In this sense, NABIHEAL consortium presents operating manufacturing sites in Europe (Spain and Germany), thus, assuring the whole NABIHEAL value chain supply from design to pilot and commercial production, which permits achieving increased European autonomy in the development of these products, building industrial alliances and initiatives. Additionally, no critical raw materials will be used that could jeopardize the product development, contributing to the resilience of the value chain.

Environmental Impact

NABIHEAL considers the use of resilient, sustainable, and secure raw materials, in support of the twin green and digital transformations. The project also contributes to the circular economy by the effective reuse and recycling of raw materials, such as the molecules of high biological and therapeutic value, extracted from tissues of biological origin. The use of in vitro assays supports the Environmental Sustainability and circularity and complies with the European efforts to facilitate the 3R’s (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of animal experiments). Moreover, the employment of green manufacturing technologies such as DELOS, which doesn’t need metals or carbon, and such as a microreactor, which can reduce the environmental impact of the harsh down processing conditions (pH, temperature, use of detergents, etc.) contributes to the environmental protection and the sustainable economy. In addition, Safety-and-Sustainability-by-Design aspects for the development/processing of these smart materials will be considered during NABIHEAL implementation. NABIHEAL also follows the “Do no significant harm principle” since it is a sustainable project without harmful impact on the environment.

Social Impact

NABIHEAL will enhance both the patient’s life expectancy and quality of life due to its new Safe-and-Sustainable-by-Design (SSbD) wound care biomaterials. Moreover, these advanced antimicrobial dressings will address major societal challenges in health at the EU level related to resistant bacterial infections and complex wounds. NABIHEAL will serve as a demonstrator for the completion of this platform development at preclinical and industrial scale, paving the way for tailored solutions for other topical diseases in which infection and inflammation play a significant role or even for other types of tissue injuries, or other administration routes thanks to the inter-operability and applicability of the employed technologies (DELOS, microreactor) and wound dressing components.