A high-tech plaster that emits a healing gas could slash the time it takes for wounds to mend.
The dressing gradually releases nitric oxide, which in turn makes the blood vessels dilate, improving blood flow to the area. This increases the amount of oxygen-rich blood reaching the wound, boosting the growth of healthy tissue.
The gas-releasing plaster, called EDX110, has already been trialled in the United Kingdom (UK) on patients with severe diabetic foot ulcers.
Results showed that it completely healed more ulcers than a standard dressing did. Scientists behind the new invention hope it will help to reduce the number of diabetes-related foot amputations currently performed in the UK — which average around 130 a week.
At least one diabetes patient in ten develops poor circulation to the legs and feet because high levels of sugar in the blood thicken the walls of capillaries, tiny blood vessels in the lower leg, reducing blood flow.
Even the slightest cut can then develop into an open wound because, as blood circulation slows, the damaged skin is starved of the oxygen-rich blood and immune cells it needs to mend itself.
Up to 40 per cent of diabetic ulcers take three months to mend, and in around 14 per cent of cases wounds are still present after a year. Most are treated with dressings that absorb pus and debris from the ulcer while protecting it against infection.
Bandages impregnated with antibiotic medicine are sometimes used if there are signs of an infection, and special insoles can also be worn while walking to ease pressure on the ulcers on the sole of the foot.
The gas-based plaster, developed by London-based firm.
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