A new cheap ointment drug has been developed to help fight against chronic diabetes and wounds, including diabetic foot ulcers and burns. The nanometer-sized treatment was created by scientists from Harvard Medical School, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and others in the US and Japan.
Diabetics often suffer from poor blood circulation, which can result in skin wounds that don’t heal, and can lead to infection and, as last resort, amputation . Although there are proteins, called growth factors, that can help the healing process, it is a costly process to purify these growth factor proteins, and they are not long lasting.
A paper on the experimental drug, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows how genetic engineering was used to develop a type of ‘robotic’ growth factor protein that is able to respond to temperature. The protein is seen as robotic because it responds and reacts to heat in a similar way that robotic machines respond to their environment by doing specific activities.
When the researchers increased the temperature, it caused many of the proteins to combine into a nanoparticle more than 200 times smaller than a single hair. It also made the process of protein purification a great deal more straightforward and therefore cheaper, and had the effect of allowing the growth factor proteins to be confined focused on where the wound or burn is located.
However, more work on the drug is necessary before it will be ready for human clinical trials.

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