About one-fourth of people with diabetes develop painful foot ulcers, which are slow to heal due to low oxygen in the wound from impaired blood vessels and increased inflammation. These wounds can become chronic, leading to poor quality of life and potential amputation.
Jianjun Guan, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, has developed a hydrogel that delivers oxygen to a wound, which decreases inflammation, helps remodel tissue and accelerates healing. Results of the work, which were in a mouse model, are published Aug. 28 in Science Advances. Ya Guan, a doctoral student, and Hong Niu, a postdoctoral research associate, both in Guan’s lab, are co-first authors.
Guan’s hydrogel delivers oxygen to the wound using microspheres that gradually release oxygen to interact with the cells through an enzyme on their surface that converts what is inside of the microsphere into oxygen. The oxygen is delivered to the wound over about a two-week period, and inflammation and swelling decrease, prompting healing.
“The oxygen has two roles: one, to improve skin cell survival under the low-oxygen condition of the diabetic wound; and two, oxygen can stimulate the skin cells to produce growth factors necessary for wound repair,” Guan said.
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