Foot ulcers are the most common reason that someone with diabetes is hospitalized, and are the major contributing factor to foot amputations performed on diabetic patients. The five-year mortality rate for diabetic patients who undergo amputation is a worrisome 50-percent; this rate is worse than breast cancer or Hodgkin’s disease.
The problem with foot ulcers
Foot ulcers in a diabetic patient weaken blood flow, which keep the wound from healing properly. The blood vessels that are needed to heal damaged tissue have difficultly developing in diabetics due to their lack of the protein HIF-1a (hypoxia inducible factor – 1 alpha) caused by blood sugar toxicity.
A new skin patch treatment
The Stanford University School of Medicine has developed a skin patch that might solve some of diabetic patients’ foot ulcer problems. The drug increases the protein HIF-1a to help with the development of those blood vessels that help heal damaged tissue. The main ingredient in the skin patch is deferoxamine, which has been available as an injectable for years, but has been unable to treat diabetic foot ulcers effectively until a patch could be developed.
In Stanford’s research, the patch has had several advantages:
• Wounds healed 14 days faster
• The quality of wound healing improved due to higher collagen levels in damaged skin
• The patch showed great potential to prevent repeat ulcers and maybe even initial ulcers
When will the patch be available?
The drug still needs to be tested in further clinical trials before it can be prescribed to diabetic patients at risk for foot ulcers. But due to its great promise, it is hoped to make it through clinical trials quickly and possibly become a first-line treatment for diabetic ulcers and preventative foot care.