Foot ulcers are among the most worrisome potential complications of diabetes. Numbness in the feet may allow ulcers—open sores—to develop unnoticed. Diabetes often impairs the body’s natural ability to heal such wounds. Without medical treatment, foot ulcers sometimes become so infected that amputation is necessary.

Even when they are given medical attention, some foot ulcers may stubbornly persist. No wonder doctors and patients alike wish for more effective treatments in such cases. Now, a new study suggests that a better way to treat foot ulcers may have been found. And it relies on, of all things, trout sperm.

Putting PDRN to the test

Polydeoxyribonucleotide, or PDRN for short, is a preparation that helps burns and other chronic wounds heal by stimulating the growth of new tissue. The building blocks of PDRN are extracted from trout sperm and then purified and sterilized. Doctors wondered: would PDRN heal diabetic foot ulcers too?

Researchers at the University of Messina in Italy compared the effects of PDRN and a placebo in 192 participants with hard-to-heal foot ulcers. The study, reported online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found that 37.3 percent of PDRN-treated participants achieved complete healing within a matter of weeks, compared with only 18.9 percent of the participants who received a placebo.

While more research is needed, the study’s authors believe PDRN could be a safe and effective means of improving the poor wound healing that often comes with diabetes.