Breakthrough Cure for Diabetic Foot?



Scientists from Łódź have developed a new hydrogel dressing to treat diabetic wounds. It supplies a tetrapeptide capable triggering the reconstruction of damaged blood vessels and the formation of new ones. That, in turn, can decrease the number of amputations. Diabetic wound care poses a greater problem than treating any other type of sores, both in Poland and worldwide. The costs of therapy and social implications are huge. More than 10,000 diabetes-related lower limb amputations are performed in Poland annually. No currently available biomaterials can significantly increase the probability of diabetic foot healing, and its treatment effectiveness hovers typically around just 50%. This is due to the nature of diabetic wounds characterised by necrosis which results from blood vessel damage leading to nervous tissue destruction and the gradual decay of the wound area. The novelty of the solution proposed in Łódź consists in combining a long-known hydrogel dressing with a simple tetrapeptide which, when introduced into the affected body part, provokes angiogenesis, that is the generation and regeneration of blood vessels. The same compound is naturally produced in humans, but it breaks down rapidly, hence its concentration in the body is very low. The tetrapeptide, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, has until now been administered by injection into tissues surrounding the wound. That, however, made it impossible to control the exact area of the drug action, causing sudden high concentrations followed by an equally sudden breakdown of the compound, which cancelled out the therapeutic effect. Professor Janusz Rosiak from the Institute of Applied Radiation Chemistry at the Łódź University of Technology explains that cellular tests of the biomaterial developed by his team have been successful. The dressing is applied directly onto the wound. It allows access to oxygen, constitutes a barrier against infection from the outside, absorbs effusions, ensures a moist environment, alleviates pain and, when removed from the sore, takes away necrotic tissue. The dressing enables a steady dosage of the tetrapeptide, which may prove to be a breakthrough in diabetic wound treatment. The solution has been registered at the patent office, but unless funds for further pre-clinical and clinical trials are raised, the scientists might make the know-how of their idea public.

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