15% of the 425 million people in the U.S. living with diabetes develop foot ulcers. This is called diabetic foot ulcers, and it is said to increase the risk of death on a person by up to 2.5 times. Treating the ulcer with current means takes around 120 days.
Now, with a nitric oxide-releasing technology, a team of biometric engineers say they can reduce the healing time of this diabetic foot ulcer by 99 days – that is from 120 to only 21 days.
The Cause of Healing Complications in Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Findings show the reason why most patients with ulcer take long to heal a wound, which sometimes goes up to 150 days is because of impaired nitric oxide production. Insufficient supply of this chemical lowers the healing capacity of skin cells.
As stated, in America alone, close to 64 million diabetic patients struggle with stubborn foot ulcers. Per year, it is estimated that $176 billion gets spent on diabetes treatment.
In the quest to lower these expenses, experts from Michigan Technological University have created what they call a nitric oxide-laden bandage that monitors, adjusts and releases the chemical, based on the need or depending on the state of the cells.
To arrive at that, they first investigated what goes inside the skin cells when nitric oxide was introduced. In this case, the focus was on dermal fibroblast cells, which they analyzed on both normal and diabetic human cells.
Recovering Wound Function
While this may sound like a new approach for treating diabetic wounds, the thing is there is nothing new. The researchers say their goal was simply to restore natural wound function. In other words availing the necessary components to allow natural wound healing.
“Our study shows we can boost nitric oxide to required levels to improve the speed of wound healing in diabetic ulcers. We were looking at the profiles of diabetic patient cells against those of healthy people to see if there is a nuanced way to bring back wound function,” said Megan Frost, a professor of biomedical engineering and chair of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology.
We Now Have a Nitric Oxide Bandage – Application
Looking at the population affected by diabetic foot ulcers this nitric releasing method on wounds could be a complete game changer. However, the main work is to perfect the design and function of the bandage. To make it more effective, the researchers say they are now working on bandages with a more personalized healing power.
The hurdle they are facing, however, according to their report published on the Journal of Medical Sciences is expanding their cell samples for research. Top on that there is also another phase of application which will involve testing the bandage and concept on patients. What this means is that patients struggling with diabetic foot ulcers will in a short period of time, have a working bandage prototype.
In the medical world, this would be a major milestone, using a simple concept to deliver portions of nitric oxide through a bandage to treat one of the hardest-wound to heal, in 21 days.