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Gel made from patient DNA could provide hope for diabetic foot ulcer sufferers

Wednesday 4th January 2017
Scientists have developed a new healing gel that uses patient DNA and vitamin C to treat diabetic foot ulcers. Image: kiatipol via iStock
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Diabetic foot ulcers can take a long time to heal, meaning they are at high risk of infection. Unless expert podiatry support is provided and better diabetes management is implemented, these ulcers could lead to the development of gangrene and the need for amputation.

However, there is new hope for those suffering from diabetic foot ulcers, as scientists have been working on creating a new healing gel using the DNA of patients themselves, the Daily Mail reports.

Researchers have found that they could create an effective long-term healing gel by taking a blood sample from a patient and using an advanced form of spinning to separate out the plasma - which is essential for helping the blood in a wound to clot - from a protein called thrombin that plays a key role in tissue regeneration.

Vitamin C is then added to the spun sample to make a gel that can be applied to wounds that are taking a long time to heal, such as diabetic foot ulcers. Around 14 per cent of these sores remain unhealed for 12 months or more, while 40 per cent take longer than three months to heal.

The gel-covered wounds then need to be tightly wrapped in a standard dressing, with an initial trial of this method conducted by Barts Health NHS Trust in London showing that nine in ten wounds that had remained open for a year or more healed successfully following application of the DNA-based gel.

Stella Vig, a consultant vascular surgeon at Croydon University Hospital, commented: "Chronic wounds are a burden to the patient, family and the NHS. Patients can also become allergic to dressings if they are applied over a long time.

"A wound dressing made of a person's own blood reduces the risk of allergic reactions. And a gel that provides healing for 90 per cent of patients who have given up on the wound ever healing is a real bonus."

Written by Angela Newbury

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