New Treatment Can Heal Diabetic Wounds Quickly

Regenerative bandage could reduce amputations and poor health outcomes from diabetic sores.

Researchers recently created a regenerative bandage that can heal diabetic wounds quickly and without side effects.

Foot ulcers and other diabetic wounds can potentially lead to amputations, or even death in some patients. The novel bandage uses a material that can heal wounds 4 times faster than a standard bandage, according to a study published by the Journal of Controlled Release.

“Foot ulcers cause many serious problems for diabetic patients," said researcher Guillermo Ameer, DSc. “Some sores don't heal fast enough and are prone to infection. We thought that we could use some of our work in biomaterials for medical applications and controlled drug release to help heal those wounds.”

These wounds can develop into serious infections since diabetes can lead to nerve damage and numbness in the feet. These patients also have slower circulation, making it difficult to heal. Treatments for the wounds can be costly and have significant side effects, such as increased cancer risk, according to the study.

“It should not be acceptable for patients who are trying to heal an open sore to have to deal with an increased risk of cancer due to treating the wound,” Dr Ameer said.

Researchers previously developed a thermo-responsive material that can deliver therapeutic cells and proteins. The material also has antioxidant properties that can combat inflammation.

The material releases a protein that increases the body’s ability to self-repair by recruiting stem cells to the wound to create new blood vessels and increase circulation, according to the study.

“We incorporated a protein that our body naturally uses to attract repair cells to an injury site,” Dr Ameer said. “When the protein is secreted, progenitor cells or stem cells come to the wound and make blood vessels, which is part of the repair process.”

Interestingly, the material is applied as a liquid then solidifies into a gel due to body heat. Researchers noted that when the same amount of the protein was applied at 1 time, the benefit was not seen, which makes the slow release crucial to wound healing.

They also state that the antioxidant properties of the material help reduce oxidative stress to help the wound heal, according to the study.

“The ability of the material to reversibly go from liquid to solid with temperature changes protects the wound,” Dr Ameer said. “Patients have to change the wound dressing often, which can rip off healing tissue and re-injure the site. Our material conforms to the shape and dimensions of the wound and can be rinsed off with cooled saline, if needed. This material characteristic can protect the regenerating tissue during dressing changes.”

Researchers imaged the wounds, and discovered they were significantly healthier after using the regenerative bandage and blood flow was increased as well.

“The repair process is impaired in people with diabetes,” Dr Ameer concluded. “By mimicking the repair process that happens in a healthy body, we have demonstrated a promising new way to treat diabetic wounds.”