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Innovative Magnetic Gel Heals Diabetic Wounds Three Times Faster

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 02 Nov 2023
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Image: The new gel could be a potential game-changer in wound management (Photo courtesy of NUS)
Image: The new gel could be a potential game-changer in wound management (Photo courtesy of NUS)

Over 500 million people worldwide are suffering from diabetes, and this number is poised to increase significantly in the near future. One of the most difficult medical challenges associated with diabetes is the treatment of chronic wounds, like foot ulcers, which are both common and difficult to heal. Each year, these diabetic foot ulcers affect between 9.1 and 26.1 million individuals globally, with a diabetic foot ulcer developing in about 15 to 25 percent of those with diabetes at some point in their lives. Traditional methods for treating these ulcers frequently fall short, leading to recurring complications and, too often, limb amputations. With the aim of addressing this global healthcare challenge, researchers have developed a novel magnetic gel that significantly speeds up the healing process for diabetic wounds, potentially reducing recurrence rates and, consequently, the number of amputations.

The unique invention conceived by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS, Singapore) represents a holistic approach to wound care, accelerating the process across several areas. The specially designed wound-healing gel is infused with two types of skin cells approved by the FDA — keratinocytes, which are vital for skin repair, and fibroblasts, which help build connective tissue — along with tiny magnetic particles. To optimize healing, a wireless magnetic device is employed externally, activating the skin cells to speed up the healing process. The recommended duration for this magnetic stimulation ranges from an hour to two.

Laboratory experiments demonstrated that the magnetic wound-healing gel, supported by increased fibroblast activity, not only boosted the cells’ growth rate by around 240 percent but also more than doubled their collagen production, an essential component for wound healing. Moreover, it facilitated better interaction between fibroblasts and keratinocytes, which is the key to forming new blood vessels. The gel has significant potential not only in diabetic wound care but also in transforming the treatment for other complicated wounds, including burns. Researchers are now refining the gel further and teaming up with clinical partners to evaluate its effectiveness on diabetic human tissues.

“Our technology addresses multiple critical factors associated with diabetic wounds, simultaneously managing elevated glucose levels in the wound area, activating dormant skin cells near the wound, restoring damaged blood vessels, and repairing the disrupted vascular network within the wound,” explained Assistant Professor Andy Tay, who led the team. “The approach we are taking not only accelerates wound healing but also promotes overall wound health and reduces the chances of recurrence.”

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