New Material Could Speed the Healing of Open Wounds in Patients With Diabetes

Patients with
diabetes who suffer from hard-to-heal open wounds may soon
have help in the form of a cottony glass material developed at Missouri
University of Science and Technology.

The glass fiber material could become a source of relief for diabetics
fighting infections. It also could be used by battlefield medics or emergency
medical technicians to treat wounds in the field.

In a recent clinical trial, the material was found to speed the healing
of venous stasis wounds in eight of the 12 patients enrolled in the trial.

The material — a nanofiber borate glass — was developed in the
laboratories of Missouri S&T’s Graduate Center for Materials Research
and the Center for Bone and Tissue Repair and Regeneration, according to
Delbert E. Day, PhD, curators’ professor emeritus of ceramic engineering
and a pioneer in the development of bioglass materials. Day and his former
student, Steve Jung, developed the material during the past 5 years.

Other bioactive glass materials are formed from silica-based glass
compositions and have been used primarily for hard-tissue regeneration, such as
bone repair. But Day and Jung experimented with borate glass, which early lab
studies showed reacted to fluids much faster than silicate glasses.

“The borate glasses react with the body fluids very quickly,”
Day stated in a press release. “They begin to dissolve and release
elements into the body that stimulate the body to generate new blood vessels.
This improves the blood supply to the wound, allowing the body’s normal
healing processes to take over.”

Clinical trials at Phelps County Regional Medical Center in Rolla began
in the fall of 2010 with 13 pateints. One dropped out early in the process. All
have diabetes and had wounds that had been unhealed for more than a year.

Day said the wounds can heal within a few weeks to several months after
the material is applied, depending on wound severity. “Within a few days,
most patients see an improvement,” Day said.

The material is produced at Mo-Sci Corp., a glass technology company
founded by Day.

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