Scientists have revealed a new approach to treating foot ulcers after finding that a tissue repair drug is particularly effective at tackling this common diabetes complication.
It is believed that around 1 in10 diabetic patients develop a foot ulcer at some point, and left untreated they can lead to hospitalisation and even lower limb amputation.
But researchers in Italy say they have now found a pharmacological approach for improving the healing of diabetic foot ulcers and preventing amputation.
The scientists conducted a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 216 diabetic participants with foot ulcers who were free of visible infection. The participants were assigned to either receive injections of the tissue repair drug polydeoxyribonucleotide (PDRN) or a placebo for eight weeks.
During follow-up, more than a third (37%) of the PDRN-treated patients had their ulcers completely closed, compared with 19% of those who received the placebo, suggesting the tissue repair drug was twice as effective at healing the ulcers. Participants also reported fewer side effects from PDRN.
“Foot ulcers are a dangerous and expensive complication for people with diabetes, and current treatments such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy are costly and can have side effects,” said one of the study’s authors, Francesco Squadrito, MD, of the University of Messina in Gazzi Messina, Italy.
“Our study showed for the first time that a pharmacological approach can improve wound healing in people with diabetes.”
He added: “This approach could revolutionise the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers – a main cause of hospital admissions in the developed world.”
“An estimated 382 million people worldwide have diabetes, and it is crucial to find effective treatment options for hard-to-heal ulcers and other complications facing millions of patients.”
The research findings are due to be published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM).

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