Did you know that the leading cause of lower body amputations is from infected ulcers caused by diabetes? Foot ulcers triggered by diabetes contribute to increased medical costs, hours of pain, and a lower quality of life for the patient. Now, biomedical engineers working at Northwestern University have developed a product to help address this issue. The product they’ve developed is a new form of regenerative ulcer bandage that actually speeds up the healing process.
If you saw the first Hunger Games movie, you might recall when our heroine, Katniss Everdeen was burned. Her trainer sent her a container of jelly-like cream that healed her burns overnight so she could continue in the contest. Well, the regenerative bandage developed at Northwestern is kind of like that (although not quite as miraculous!). The new bandage is made up of a ‘thermo-responsive, biocompatible material that is administered to the wound in a liquid form, but then hardens into a gel-like state once it reaches body temperature. It supplies a protein that helps accelerate the body’s ability to heal the ulcer. The protein is a ‘stromal cell derived factor-1’, which encourages the body to send repair cells to the wound. The result is that the wound heals up to four times faster.
This is another example of innovative new technology being used in the service of healthcare. If successful in practice, this product could point the way for the development of other regenerative bandages that could speed up healing of all types of wounds.