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Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Friday, 7 January 2011
Bees honey is behind new technique to help ulcers heal
Bees in hive
The chemical that helps the healing is derived from the honey-making process

A new type of medical bandage using chemicals derived from bees' honey is being trialled in Staffordshire.

Early results show that the dressing produces better and quicker effects on long-term wounds than traditional methods.

Julie Stanton, a tissue specialist with the South Staffordshire Primary Care Trust, said its use could be "life-changing".

She said it had had success with seven out of ten patients.

The bandage was developed by Professor Paul Davis, the man who invented the pregnancy test. Speaking to BBC Television, he explained that the honey derivative put both iodine and oxygen into a wound, using two layers of gel that slowly interact.

The iodine kills the bacteria in the wound, as does the oxygen, as it empowers white blood cells to kill the bacteria.

Staffordshire patients

Speaking to BBC Radio Stoke, Julie Stanton - a specialist in tissue viability at South Staffordshire PCT - said she was pleased that the PCT was trialling the bandage.

She explained that the chemical produced by bees which is used in the dressing was integral to the success of the treatment.

She said that it was mainly being used in Staffordshire on leg ulcers and surgical wounds that aren't healing: "For people with these long-term wounds, life can be appalling and painful.

"To use something that has this positive effect can be life-changing."

Honey health

Asked if she was concerned that this treatment costs twice as much as usual methods, she pointed out that the NHS spends 4% of its budget treating people with wounds that won't heal.

She said the results will be analysed later in the year by the PCT, which would then re-assess its use for cost-effectiveness.

Honey has been much touted for its medicinal qualities. Scientists hope that its ingredients may also be used to combat MRSA, the 'superbug' present in British hospitals.

The South Staffs PCT is one of the largest in the country covering an area stretching from Burton upon Trent to Rugeley, and including Cannock, Lichfield, Stafford, Tamworth and Uttoxeter.


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