Nanotech-enabled moisturizer may speed healing of diabetic skin wounds

Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a new high-tech but simple skin ointment that may one day help diabetic patients heal stubborn and painful ulcers on their feet.

The ointment is the creation of Amy S. Paller, MD, Walter J. Hamlin Professor and chair of dermatology and professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of Northwestern’s Skin Disease Research Center; and Chad A. Mirkin, PhD, George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, professor of medicine, chemical and biological engineering, biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering and director of Northwestern’s International Institute for Nanotechnology.

Amy S. Paller,MD

Chad A. Mirkin.PhD

Paller and Mirkin created a topical gene regulation technology that combines spherical nucleic acids (SNAs) with a common commercial moisturizer to create a way to topically “knock down” a gene known to interfere with wound healing, according to a press release. The researchers hope the moisturizer will reduce the prevalence of chronic, non-healing skin wounds which can lead to amputation.

“Finding a new way to effectively heal these resistant diabetic wounds is very exciting,” Paller stated. “In addition, this study further proved that SNAs — in nothing but common moisturizer — can penetrate the skin barrier, a challenge that other therapies have been unable to conquer.”


Paller AS, et al. Proc. Natl Acad Sci. USA. 2015; doi:10.1073/pnas.1505951112.

Disclosure: Mirkin reports he is a cofounder of AuraSense Therapeutics LLC. Paller reports he is on the advisory board for AuraSense Therapeutics LLC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.