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Wednesday, 10 October, 2001, 23:01 GMT 00:01 UK
Research could speed ulcer healing
Leg and foot ulcers are common in diabetics
Diabetics who have foot or leg ulcers that fail to heal might be helped following a discovery at a UK university.

Poor circulation in diabetics can mean that wounds do not close and heal normally.

As a result diabetics are 16 times more likely to face amputations.

University of Dundee husband and wife team Professor Seth and Dr Ana Schor believe they have found a molecule which kickstarts the process.

Their molecule, called Migration Stimulating Factor (MSF), encourages the blood cells and other cells to arrive at the wound site and start laying down new blood vessels - angiogenesis.

The only problem with excess MSF is its prolonged presence appears to be an increased risk of encouraging cancer growth - but the team is also developing an inhibitory drug which will cancel this out.

Their work has attracted a grant of 600,000 from the American National Institutes of Health to try to come up with a drug based on the molecule.

Professor Schor said: "This work could make an important contribution to the improvement of patient care, not just for those with non-healing diabetic ulcers but for patients with other types of non-healing wounds such as bedsores in the elderly and the bedridden."

Healing process

He said that the proper progress of wound healing depended on the arrival of tissue cells and white blood cells, and their contributions to covering the wound bed with blood vessels and connective tissue.

He said: "Dysfunction in any of these events will impair the normal progression of wound healing and result in the generation of a chronic non-healing ulcer."

"MSF is involved in a number of these activities, including the stimulation of cell migration, the deposition of a new connective tissue matrix and, perhaps most significantly, the induction of angiogenesis."

Professor Seth, an American who has lived in the UK for 30 years, and his Spanish wife Dr Ana Schor were last year named Scotland's innovators of the year at the Unisys John Logie Baird awards for developing active wound dressings which induce rapid healing.

See also:

26 Oct 00 | Health
Gel ' heals wounds without scars'
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