A New Patch to Heal Diabetes Skin Lesions

By Fernanda Duque Hernández

Mexican Researcher improving the treatment of symptomatic ulcers.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Mexican Diabetes Federation, in the world there are more than 347 million people with diabetes of which 6.4 million are located in Mexico. In fact this disease is the second cause of death in the country, mostly due to resulting cardiac or renal complications and infections.

Another consequence of diabetes is a slow healing of wounds. People with this condition are vulnerable to chronic lesions, especially ulcerative types in their lower extremities. To decrease the number of amputations and infections resulting from this, Miriam Verónica Flores Merino, a doctor of the Autonomous University of Mexico State (UAEM), has developed a polymeric skin substitute as an alternative for diabetes patients.

Created at the UAEM’s Research Center for Medical Sciences, this improvement is literally a patch that is applied to wounded skin and helps the patient regenerate and scar over the tissue in about a month. This is possible because the patch is made of two polymers: Polyethylene glycol – which makes the patch bio-compatible with humans – and chitosan – a component that makes cell regeneration possible.

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According to Miriam Verónica Flores Merino, studies have shown the effectiveness of the patch and so far there have been no negative consequences in humans. She has also claimed that this improvement can be use over superficial wounds or burn injuries.

Before Flores Merino’s research, Mexico’s National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) had developed a substitute for the regeneration of skin using mesenchymal stem cells. However, the material was costly and its lifetime was short compared to the patch designed by Dr. Flores.

This medical alternative will improve the quality of life of many diabetes patients. The Mexico State Health Institute has stated that 25% of diabetics are affected by ulcers and amputations. In fact, complications from diabetes represent a US $3 billion cost per year for medical institutions across Mexico, a number that is hoped will decrease when the patch comes into use.

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