Mesenchymal Stem Cells may Aid in Diabetic Foot Ulcers

In a recent preclinical study on rabbits, researchers from the National University of Ireland Galway showed that administering allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has the potential to speed up wound recovery in diabetic patients. The study may help one day treat wounds of diabetic patients, especially the ones presenting with diabetic foot ulcers, which often lead to debilitating leg amputations.

During the study, the researchers first extracted MSCs from non-diabetic, healthy rabbits, which were then seeded in a collagen scaffold. The MSCs were afterwards applied to full thickness rabbit ear-skin wounds.

According to the study, after 1 week the applied MSCs had greatly helped in wound recovery. The study also revealed that the higher the number of the applied MSCs the higher the percentage of the wound closure was, with the maximum dosage tested containing around 1,000,000 mesenchymal stem cells. The treatment works by augmenting angiogenesis, the process through which new blood vessels form from pre-existing ones.

Professor Timothy O’Brien, principal investigator of the study says that their promising results allow them to apply for human clinical trials on the same stem cell approach, adding that mesenchymal stem cells have many therapeutic properties and are very easy to culture in the lab.

“It has been shown in Galway and by other scientists that they (MSCs) release special factors that can help new blood vessels to grow. Increasing blood flow is a key step in wound healing.” said O’Brien.

Diabetic foot ulcer is a major complication of diabetes mellitus, occurring in 15% of all patients with diabetes and accounting for more than 80% of all lower leg amputations. A treatment plant should be assessed by diabetes specialists and surgeons while the treatment consists of appropriate bandages, antibiotics debridement and arterial revascularisation.

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