High-Tech Lotion Could Heal Diabetic Ulcers

People who suffer from painful diabetic skin wounds, like ulcers and sores, may one day be able to apply a simple ointment that can remedy the problem.

Researchers from Northwestern University created a high-tech lotion that was able to interfere with a gene that normally stop wound healing.

Leveraging the power of spherical nucleic acids (SNAs) and a normal skin moisturizer, the scientists aimed to to target enzymes produced by the gene in question.

The special ointment was then applied to wounds in diabetic mice. After 12 days, the mice treated with the SNAs were healed of their wounds, while mice in the control group weren't healed until 18 days later.

"This work illustrates the scope and potential impact of the SNA platform for treating conditions of the skin with a known genetic basis," said Chad A. Mirkin, study researcher and inventor of SNAs. "It is the only known nucleic acid platform for treating such ailments and constitutes a new pipeline of therapeutics to address a broad swath of debilitating health conditions."

Prevention, not just treatment

Researchers believe SNAs - which are non-toxic nanoparticles made of gold and covered in RNA strands - could play a role in not just treating diabetic wounds, but also preventing them.

"We think it also might be possible to prevent these ulcers, not just heal them, by rubbing the ointment on the bottom of the foot," said Amy S. Paller, scientist and dermatologist who co-authored the study. "Our team is looking at this now."

In addition to wound healing, the SNAs also appear to help improve blood circulation at the wound site after healing.

The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: Northwestern University

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