A device to help treat diabetic foot ulcers using DNA has received over £1.1m of funding from the European Research Council (ERC), it has been announced.
Dr Cathal Kearney, from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), has been awarded the €1.3m grant from the ERC’s Starter Grant for his work entitled Bilayered ON-Demand Scaffolds for diabetic foot ulcers (BONDS).
The money will be used to help develop a device that enables the body’s cells to grow new tissue which can be used to mend the broken skin caused by diabetic foot ulcers. The device will be made using a sponge-like material in which DNA can be delivered inside it, directing cells to heal the wound.
Kearney said: “I am honoured to have been awarded this prestigious research grant from the ERC. In Ireland, it is estimated that €70 million a year is spent on the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers, with almost one in five cases resulting in amputation.
“This research has the potential to change that for the better for people with diabetes not only in Ireland but across the world.”
Diabetic foot ulcer wounds can typically take a long time to heal, which is why this project could be hugely beneficial to the millions of people who are affected by the diabetes complication. Good foot care is essential for people with diabetes to prevent foot ulcers occurring by spotting any early signs of damage.
Professor Ray Stallings, director of research and innovation at RCSI, added: “This award to Dr Kearney is a testament to his stellar research in the area of biomaterials, and the expertise of RCSI’s Tissue Engineering Research Group that is addressing health issues arising from a range of chronic conditions such as diabetes.
“This innovation could transform the lives of diabetes patients across the world, and we look forward to seeing the outcomes of Dr Kearney’s work as his research expands as a result of this important grant.”

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