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Skin patch could heal diabetic ulcers

January 14, 2015
by Richard R. Rogoski
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Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine are developing a skin patch that shows promise in healing and even preventing diabetic ulcers.

Using deferoxamine (DFO), a drug already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for reducing toxic levels of iron in the blood, these scientists spent four years searching for an appropriate material that could deliver just the right amount of DFO to the skin to activate the formation of new blood vessels.

In studies using mice, the researchers, led by Geoffrey Gurtner, MD, a professor of surgery at Stanford, were able to envelop the DFO with a surfactant that turned DFO molecules into microparticles. These microparticles were then embedded into an ultra-thin skin patch made of a pliable polymer matrix.

Dominik Duscher, MD, a postdoctoral scholar in surgery, explained in a press release how the patch works. “Once the patch is applied — the moisture in skin makes a natural adherent — the diffusion of the DFO begins and its molecules are drawn into the wounded tissue and skin."

With clinical trials in the planning stage, Gurtner sees an even broader range of uses for the DFO patch. “This same technology is also effective in preventing pressure ulcers, which are a major source of morbidity and mortality in patients with neurologic injury or the elderly,” he said.