Diabetic foot ulcers are the primary cause of hospital admissions for diabetics. Foot ulcers that heal improperly are at risk for infection, which can lead to amputation. According to the American Diabetes Association, one in four patients with diabetic foot ulcers will eventually require lower-limb amputation. Now science has found a way of mobilizing stem cells within the body to treat this health issue, which affects more than three million Americans annually.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), as distinct from the embryonic type, may be the key to healing diabetic foot ulcers. These stem cells can differentiate into various cell types. As a fetus develops, MSCs help drive its rapid initial growth; by the time we reach our teens, however, MSCs are mostly found in bone marrow.
When wounded or burned, our skin craves MSCs, which it harbored when first growing. In fact, recent studies show that surgically moving these cells from bone marrow onto hard-to-heal wounds accelerates healing.
In contrast to surgically removing MSCs from bone marrow—a painful, time consuming and expensive process—a new topical drug, the novel angiotensin analog DSC127, appears to activate the mesenchymal stem cells in a patient’s body.
“It appears that DSC127 directs MSCs to the injury site, mobilizing them to help repair wounded or burned skin, accelerate healing and reduce scar formation,” said Edward J. Quilty, Chairman & CEO of Derma Sciences Inc. Based in Princeton, New Jersey, Derma Sciences develops, manufactures, and markets innovative wound care products. “DSC127,” Quilty observed, “thus works as a catalyst for a stem cell treatment that is free of both the ethical controversies surrounding the medical use of fertilized embryos as well as potentially painful surgical interventions.”
Currently in a 75-patient Phase II diabetic foot ulcer clinical trial being conducted at some of the nation’s top institutions, the drug is being considered for additional indications including venous leg ulcers, arterial ulcers, pressure ulcers, thermal and chemical wounds, and scar prevention. Pre-clinical animal studies have demonstrated the efficacy of the compound in accelerating healing and reducing scar formation.
Source: American Diabetes Association