Rx for Healing Foot Ulcers from Diabetes

Diabetes related foot ulcers may be treated with tissue repair medication

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Foot ulcers may be painless, but for diabetes patients they may also lead to hospitalization and limb amputation. A tissue repair therapy, however, shows great promise for healing these sores.

For people with diabetes, foot ulcers are common because of poor blood flow, nerve damage or changes in foot shape. If neglected, these slow-healing wounds can become infected, and severe infection can lead to the loss of a limb.

Scientists recently found that a medication that stimulates the tissue repair process, greatly improved the healing rate in diabetes patients at risk of amputation.

"Have all foot ulcers examined by a health care provider."

Francesco Squadrito, MD, in the Department of Experimental Medicine and Pharmacology at the University of Messina in Gazzi Messina, Italy, and his colleagues conducted a study on 216 individuals who had diabetic foot ulcers but no sign of infection.

While 106 patients received a placebo, 110 were given polydeoxyribonucleotide (PDRN). Obtained from trout sperm through a classified process, this compound had already been proven successful at healing wounds in mice with diabetes.

PDRN acts through adenosine receptors in the body. Adenosine regulates tissue functions and may be important in the function of normal nerve cells, in controlling cell proliferation and inflammation. Adenosine receptors are proteins that span along the membrane of nerve cells.

Patients were given either placebo or PDRN injections three days a week for two months. After eight weeks, 37 percent of those in the PDRN group had ulcers that were totally closed compared to 19 percent of the placebo patients.

While PDRN-treated subjects completed wound-healing in a median time of 30 days, those in the placebo group required a median time of about 49 days for ulcers to close.

“PDRN-treated patients have a two-fold greater probability than placebo recipients to reach ulcer healing within eight weeks,” wrote the authors.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 65,700 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations were performed in diabetes patients in 2006. About 85 percent of these amputations could be prevented if ulcers are successfully treated, according to Dr. Squadrito.

“Foot ulcers are a dangerous and expensive complication for people with diabetes, and current treatments such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy are costly and can have side effects,” Dr. Squadrito said in a press release. “Our study showed for the first time that a pharmacological approach can improve wound healing in people with diabetes.”

Diabetes patients have to pay close attention to foot care, according the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Ulcers can often go unnoticed because they may not cause any pain. The ADA recommends contacting a doctor if individuals have any signs of infection. Look for redness, increased warmth, or swelling around the wound — as well as extra drainage, pus, odor, fever or chills, increased pain, and increased firmness around the wound.

The study was published online in February in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Review Date: 
March 2, 2014
Last Updated:
March 3, 2014