Self-healing bandages, which use patients' own cells, could help treat diabetic ulcers, their makers say.
The bandage is created in the laboratory
The bandage is being developed by CellTran, a company linked to the University of Sheffield.
Currently, diabetics have to attend clinics over months or even years to have their wounds dressed.
Trials of the bandage have shown it can help these difficult-to-treat wounds to heal in an average of eight weeks. It is already used to treat burns victims.
The bandage is created by taking a small tissue sample is taken from a patient and growing a culture from the cells in a laboratory.
The cells are then placed on a membrane made from a medical-grade polymer. The membrane is then treated with a special cell-friendly coating, enabling skin cells to attach and grow on this surface.
When cells are ready, the cell-membrane bandage is used to dress the patient's wound instead of a standard bandage.
Because the cells belong to the patient, they are not rejected by the body but can actually transfer to the wound and grow.
For particularly difficult wounds, the cells are applied every week.
Clinical trials of the bandage are now underway, and the technique is also being used on other types of ulcer.
The research has been funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
Levels of diabetes in the UK are forecast to rise significantly in the years ahead. Chronic ulcers affect many diabetics, with sufferers often attending clinics for months or years to have their wounds dressed.
Natasha Ede, care advisor for Diabetes UK, said: "Foot ulceration is a serious complication of diabetes. It is the most common reason for people with diabetes to be admitted to hospital in the UK.
"Foot ulcers should be treated by a healthcare professional and normally a sterile dressing and antibiotics are used.
"Diabetes UK would welcome any safe effective method of treatment which would help people with diabetes make a swift recovery from painful foot ulcers."