Tags: Diabetes | bandage | treatment | heals | diabetic | foot | ulcers

New Bandage Heals Diabetic Ulcers Four Times Faster

New Bandage Heals Diabetic Ulcers Four Times Faster

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By    |   Wednesday, 17 August 2016 11:54 AM


Foot ulcers aren't an inevitable result of diabetes, but 15 percent of the more than 29 million Americans with the disease will, at some point, develop a sore or wound on the foot — usually on the sole. Since the wounds are difficult to treat, 24 percent of diabetics who develop foot ulcers will be forced to undergo a lower-leg amputation. In some instances, what once seemed like a harmless sore might even be deadly.


Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a new treatment called a "regenerative bandage," which heals diabetic wounds four times faster than a standard bandage with no side effects.


"Foot ulcers cause many serious problems for diabetic patients," said Guillermo Ameer, professor of biomedical engineering in Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering and surgery in the Feinberg School of Medicine. "Some sores don't heal fast enough and are prone to infection."


High levels of blood sugar interfere with the body's ability to heal. Diabetes, especially if it's uncontrolled, can cause nerve damage that leads to numbness in the feet as small blood vessels narrow and reduce blood circulation which damages nerves. Diabetics with other chronic diseases, such as atherosclerosis, and those who are obese are at greater risk of developing ulcers.


A diabetic person might experience a simple injury, such as a small scratch and not notice it's there. The wound goes untreated, and the slowed circulation in the feet makes it more difficult for wounds to heal. A scratch or ingrown toenail that would be harmless in a healthy person can develop into a life-threatening sore in a diabetic.


"We thought that we could use some of our work in biomaterials for medical applications and controlled drug release to help heal those wounds," Ameer said.


Treatments for these wounds exist, but they are costly and can come with significant side effects. One gel, for example, contains a growth factor that has been reported to increase cancer risk.


"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," Ameer said.


Previously, Ameer's laboratory created a material that responded to heat and had thermo-responsive material — with natural antioxidant properties to counter inflammation — that is able to deliver therapeutic cells and proteins. His team used the material to slowly release a protein into the wound that speeds the body's ability to repair itself by recruiting stem cells to the wound and creating new blood vessels to increase blood circulation.


"We incorporated a protein that our body naturally uses to attract repair cells to an injury site," 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."


The thermo-responsive material is applied to the wound bed as a liquid, and solidifies into a gel when exposed to body temperature.


"The ability of the material to reversibly go from liquid to solid with temperature changes protects the wound," 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."


When examining ulcers covered with the new type of bandage, Ameer found blood flow to the wound was significantly higher than in those with a standard bandage, and the wound healed more quickly.


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


If you are a diabetic, follow these tips by Wound Care Centers to help prevent ulcers:


• Controll diabetes with a healthy diet, exercise, quitting smoking, and monitoring blood sugar
• Inspect and clean your feet daily
• Carefully trim nails
• Always protect your feet by wearing dry, clean socks and never walk barefoot
 

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Foot ulcers aren't an inevitable result of diabetes, but 15 percent of the more than 29 million Americans with the disease will, at some point, develop a sore or wound on the foot - usually on the sole. Since the wounds are difficult to treat, 24 percent of diabetics who...
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