In a new study, scientists have developed a new skin patch, which may help boost the healing of diabetes-related ulcers.
According to the researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, this safe and effective skin patch would deliver a drug that enhances the healing of diabetes-related ulcers. The patch, which they tested in mice, may also serve as a way to prevent ulcer formation.
The study's lead authors are Dominik Duscher, MD, a postdoctoral scholar in surgery, and Evgenios Neofytou, MD, an instructor at the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute. Developing the skin patch raised a set of formidable challenges, which the Stanford team took on, step by step, working with materials engineers led by co-author Jayakumar Rajadas, PhD.
The DFO needed to be modified to penetrate the outermost layer of the skin to activate the formation of new blood vessels, but its release also needed to be controlled to prolong the availability of the DFO at a therapeutic level. It took nearly four years of attempts before the team produced a solution: Envelope the DFO with a surfactant, which would lower the DFO's natural surface tension and transform its molecules into microparticles that could penetrate the skin, then embed them in a pliable polymer matrix, a couple of millimeters thick, that would protect the fragile DFO microparticles and disperse them gradually as the matrix disintegrated.
Duscher said that the mice tolerated it very well, which could bode well for humans. Once the patch was applied -- the moisture in skin makes a natural adherent -- the diffusion of the DFO begins and its molecules were drawn into the wounded tissue and skin. Not only did the wounds in the mice heal more quickly, Duscher said, but the quality of the new skin was even better than the original. The researchers also used the DFO matrix on a mouse with diabetes to see if it would prevent ulcer formation -- and it did.
The researchers said that they were excited by the results and hope to start clinical trials soon to test this in humans. The paper is published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.