Reducing Diabetic Amputations By Healing Wounds Faster

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Reducing Diabetic Amputations By Healing Wounds Faster: One of the problems diabetic patients have is the slow healing of wounds. Sometimes these wounds become intense enough that an amputation is required. Researchers suggest it may be possible to speed up healing time in wounds among diabetics. indicates, “The drug, deferoxamine, helped diabetic mice heal small cuts 10 days faster than those who did not receive treatment, according to researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The team is now working to arrange human trials for deferoxamine. If the results translate, it could help doctors combat such diabetic complications as foot ulcers.”

Deferoxamine is an iron-binding drug that seems to accelerate wound healing.

According to, “Blisters, cuts or pressure sores on diabetic patients’ lower limbs often heal slowly or not at all, putting patients at risk for infection and amputation. Internal injuries are an issue, as well: More than 40 percent of patients hospitalized for heart attacks have clinical diabetes, and they are less likely to recover fully than their non-diabetic counterparts. The reason, say researchers, is that diabetic tissue fails to reconnect oxygen-deprived areas to the bloodstream with new vessels. What they didn’t know was why the vessels don’t form.”

The problem is in the glucose. High blood sugar in diabetic patients makes it difficult for new vessels to form. The use of deferoxamine in this context is a short jump from it’s approved use for, “The management of chronic iron-overload disorders.” This study demonstrates clinically that there may be a 90% improvement among diabetic patients who would use this type of therapy by effectively negating the effects of high glucose on wound healing.

Why does an iron-reducing drug allow for improved healing among diabetics? The research suggests, “High glucose inside cells results in the creation of free radicals, which oxidize iron. The iron then interacts with other cellular molecules to form DNA-damaging hydroxyl radicals.”

Although researchers had to develop special ways to level the playing field to compare the effectiveness of the inexpensive drug they did see extremely promising results, “Mice treated with the drug healed in 13 days, compared with 23 days in untreated mice. Treated mice also produced almost threefold more vascular endothelial growth factor.”

This research follows on the heals of other research that is finding new uses for existing drugs – new applications for drugs that might be able to facilitate positive results while remaining inexpensive.

Deferoxamine is generally administered through an injection, but scientists are discussing the possibility of a dissolvable sheet that can be placed on the wound and work to facilitate healing directly at the site of the wound.

The implications for this new research are huge. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) reports, “Diabetes is the most frequent cause of non-traumatic lower limb amputations. The risk of a leg amputation is 15 to 40 times greater for a person with diabetes. More than 60% of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations in the U.S. occur among people with diabetes. Each year, 82,000 people lose their foot or leg to diabetes.”

Other sources suggest amputations among diabetics are ten times higher than non-diabetics. In finding a way to reduce the wounds that can lead to amputation the end result is both lives saves as well as an improvement in the overall quality of life for many diabetic patients.

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