Every year in this country, hundreds of thousands of diabetic patients develop foot ulcers. (These are open sores that can take days, weeks or even months to heal and close up.) Why is that the case? And what's the cause of this crisis?
Well, many diabetics do not produce enough insulin. (That's the hormone responsible for helping cells turn glucose into energy. So, when you don't produce or process insulin well, your blood sugar levels can shoot up.)
Then, high blood sugar levels can damage your blood vessels, restricting blood flow to your legs and feet. As a result, healing, oxygen-rich blood never gets to your outer extremities. In turn, even the smallest of cuts can develop into these large, open infections (ulcers.) And, if doctors can’t get those ulcers to heal, the infected tissue may spread to the blood or bone. (If that happens, it threatens the entire limb.) In fact, ulcers are responsible for many diabetic foot amputations.
That’s why, as a podiatrist, I’m excited any time a new ulcer treatment becomes available. That’s why, today, I’m going to tell you about an easy-to-use, non-invasive new treatment option. (Want to hear the best part? It comes in the form of a spray.) Plus, we'll go over new studies that could change the way doctors approach ulcer treatment. Ready to learn more? Just keep reading!
New Spray Treatment for Diabetic Ulcers
First, let's talk spray treatments for ulcers. The name of the new treatment option is Granulox, and it contains hemoglobin. This is a substance your body produces on its own. It's found in red blood cells. (They're the ones responsible for delivering oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body.)
In the Granulox spray, hemoglobin binds with oxygen from the air. This makes it easier to get that air to the bottom of your wound. In our office, we would clean out the ulcer, then spray your the wound. We could use the spray at every dressing change, helping speed up the ulcer's healing. Plus, researchers believe Granulox could help patients with vein disease and venous leg ulcers.
Faster Healing Times with Granulox
So, how much faster can wounds heal with the hemoglobin spray? According to studies, adding Granulox to treatment cuts the ulcer’s healing time in half! That’s a big deal for patients dealing with open wounds. Especially for those who have exhausted other treatment options.
Another big deal? Using Granulox spray reportedly cuts the cost of treating your diabetic ulcer by up to 40%!
But, here’s some sort-of-bad news. while Granulox is currently available in the UK, the FDA has not yet approved the spray for use here at home. Still, thanks to its promising results overseas, the FDA has fast-tracked the Granulox approval process. And that is good news for those of us protecting diabetic feet in Houston and all over the country.
New Approach for Diabetic Ulcer Treatment
A combined group of teams from across Scripps Research have revealed a new way to treating diabetic foot ulcers. It involves
targeting a gene that's in charge of your tissue growth and healing. When they did so, scientists were able to speed up the division rate for injured cells. In turn, chronic wounds healed faster. (Full results appeat in Nature Chemical Biology.)
To target the gene, researchers developed a topical, small-molecule drug. When applied to ulcers, it closed wounds quickly, without affecting nearby skin. The development is exciting because this drug, called PY-60, targets tissue growth in a new way.
At first, researchers tested results on animal models. Then, they moved to lab-grown skin samples. Next, they plan to start clinical trials. Meaning, we can hope to see even more diabetic ulcer treatments making their way to the FDA.
Now, while I can't promise either of these treatments will be available in Houston, I can say this. I always work hard to keep you posted about the latest developments in diabetic foot care (plus other fancy new foot treatments.) That way, I can heal your feet and keep you reading! In other words, be sure and check back with me regularly on the blog, so you don't miss new updates. I’ll update this post if and when Granulox or PY-60 gain approval. In that way, I'll be able to offer new and effective ways to heal diabetic ulcers.
In the meantime, don't think you have to wait for new drugs to heal your ulcers. Help is available right now, in my Houston podiatry practice.
What does that mean for you? If you have noticed a break in the skin or an ulcer forming on your feet, it is a medical emergency! Contact Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider immediately and we'll get you in. The sooner you come in, the faster we can get your diabetic foot ulcer healed. With the latest medical technology, or with tried and true therapies, we'll heal your wounds. And protect you from beocming part of the growing diabetic amputation crisis.