Diabetes is associated with painful foot ulcers in as much as one-fourth of the population that are slow to heal. This is due to low oxygen supply to the wound from damaged blood vessels and elevated inflammation. In the later stage, the wound can become chronic resulting in poor quality of life and even amputation.
In a new development to treat diabetic ulcers, an expert at the McKelvey School of Engineering, Washington University has developed a hydrogel that delivers oxygen to the site of injury. The gel functions to reduce inflammation, help remodel tissue and accelerate healing.
The findings are published in Science Advances.
Elaborately, with respect to the function, hydrogel delivers oxygen to injury site using microspheres that releases oxygen gradually. The oxygen is supplied to the injury site for a period of two weeks to reduce inflammation and swelling, and prompt healing.
In fact, oxygen works in two ways: First, to improve survival of skin cells with low oxygen supply of the diabetic wound, secondly, oxygen can provide stimulus to skin cells to generate growth needed for wound repair.
Importantly, tissues require oxygen to survive and even more when they are injured. Meanwhile, there exists several lines of treatment for chronic wounds with people of diabetes. The most common one being large number of sessions in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, which lacks consistent effectiveness and carries risk of oxygen toxicity.
For clinical trials undertaken in mice, wounds that are treated with hydrogen that contain oxygen releasing microspheres showcased a higher rate of closure than wounds that were treated only with common gel or the ones with no treatment.