Diabetic ulcers, also known as diabetic foot ulcers, are a common complication of diabetes. They are typically caused by a combination of factors such as poor circulation, nerve damage, and prolonged high blood sugar levels, and can be challenging to treat due to the body's inability to fight infection and repair damaged tissue.
Scientists have discovered a new technique that may speed up the healing of diabetic wounds with a single application.
Researchers from the University of Nottingham have discovered a new class of polymer that aids in diabetic wound healing. According to a study published in the journal Advanced Materials, the polymer assists both immune and non-immune cells in healing.
Wound healing is a complex biological process that involves a multitude of cells working together, with a cell type called fibroblasts playing a vital role in forming new tissue required for healing. Diabetes can disrupt these processes in cells, making wound healing difficult and costly. In extreme instances, this can result in infection and the need for an amputation.
Experts from the School of Life Sciences and Pharmacy examined 315 different polymer surfaces, determining a polymer type that actively drives fibroblasts and immune cells to promote healing. A team from the School of Engineering created small particles that could be directly applied to the wound area.
A polymer is a chemical substance composed of molecules linked together in long, repeating chains. This unique structure allows polymers to be customized for various applications. In a lab experiment, a team demonstrated how this new material, when applied to a wound, produced three times more fibroblast activity over a period of up to 96 hours and achieved more than 80% wound closure.
This new polymer may be used as a coating on standard wound dressings to provide a quick and effective therapy.
Professor Amir Ghaemmaghami from the University of Nottingham's School of Life Sciences is one of the study's lead authors, claiming, "This research is a significant step towards becoming a practical, low-cost, and cost-effective diabetic wound treatment."
Professor Morgan Alexander of the University of Nottingham School of Pharmacy said: "In previous research, we have demonstrated that novel polymers have potential to improve wound healing; our bacterial biofilm-resistant materials are being used on urinary catheters in the NHS," adding that it can enhance infection by altering the bacterial cell behavior at the polymer surface.
Arsalan Latif, Leanne E. Fisher, Adam A. Dundas, Valentina Cuzzucoli Crucitti, Karen Lawler, Francesco Pappalardo, Benjamin W Muir, Ricky Wildman, Derek J. Irvine, Morgan R Alexander, and Amir M. Ghaemmaghami, 28 November 2022, Advanced Materials. DOI: 10.1002/adma.202208364.