A hydrogel developed by scientists from Rice University to help the body heal may also be particularly good at treating chronic wounds in the lower extremities of people with diabetes.
The multidomain peptide (MDP) hydrogel is known by its amino acid sequence: K2(SL)6K2.
Tests on diabetic animal models in the Rice lab of chemist and bioengineer Jeffrey Hartgerink suggest that the injectable hydrogel could significantly accelerate wound healing compared with another hydrogel often used in clinics.
“This is particularly exciting because the study shows our material has an effect that’s positive and better than things that are already out there,” says Hartgerink, in a media release from Rice University. “This has been a long time coming.”
The typical treatment for a diabetic foot ulcer has not changed much over the last century, the researchers note in the release.
“The current gold standard of treatment is to debride the wound, which means to remove necrotic tissue. The wound is washed, bandaged and patients are told to keep pressure off the foot,” states Nicole Carrejo, a Rice graduate student and lead author of the hydrogel study, which appeared recently in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering.
“Various treatments and materials may be tried, but oftentimes, everything fails, which can lead to amputation,” she adds.
In the study, the researchers report that Rice’s MDP hydrogel significantly accelerated the healing of wounds in genetically diabetic rodents. Treatment led to wound closure in 14 days, the formation of thick granulation tissue, including dense growth of blood vessels and nerve cells, and the regeneration of hair follicles, per the release.
They compared their results with a control group treated with a commercial hydrogel that required twice as long to reach the same degree of wound closure. “Unlike our MDP hydrogel, the control hydrogel does not get infiltrated by cells,” Carrejo adds. “Although the control results in the healing of wounds, we believe cellular infiltration of our MDP helps lead to the acceleration of wound healing.”
Hartgerink hopes to move the hydrogel toward clinical trials as a material rather than a drug to ease the federal approval process. “That would make it much more practical to do a clinical trial,” he says, in the release. “These preclinical experiments have been exciting enough to warrant that thought process.”
[Rice University, Science Daily]