In a place like the US, where type 2 diabetics is constantly on the rise, more than one-fifth of the population in the country have chronic, non-healing skin wounds, where many undergo amputation.
Diabetic patients now may soon have a way of healing foot ulcers and skin wounds faster according to North Western University researchers. Scientist & dermatologist Amy S. Paller & chemist Chad A. Mirkin were the first to come up with this revolutionary topical gene regulation technology that speeds healing ulcers in diabetic animals. They combined spherical nucleic acids (SNA's) with a common commercial moisturizer to topically tone a gene down known to interfere with wound healing.
In a place like the US, where type 2 diabetics is constantly on the rise, more than one-fifth of the population in the country have chronic, non-healing skin wounds, where many undergo amputation. The Northwestern discovery offers a possible solution to this grave problem. According to Dr. Peller, it is exciting to find novel ways of effectively healing these wounds, but research also showed that the SNA's are nothing but common moisturizers which penetrate the skin barrier, a challenge other therapies were unable to conquer.
Paller teamed up with Mirkin who designed SNAs targeting the gene that produces this troublesome enzyme. These SNA's were put in a regular moisturizer and applied to wound edges in diet induced diabetic mice. This brought about a remote healing in the mice as compared to control groups after only 4 days. The treated animal's wounds were healed in 12 days, where as the control group's wounds took 18 days to heal. Another improvement was the blood circulation in the treated animals wound site. The study illustrates the versatility of SNA's, which can be used for any known genetic target as they are non toxic to humans. The findings also show the critical role of GM3 synthase in diabetic wound healing. Each SNA is a benign nanoparticle, made of gold, only 13 nanometers in diameter, densely covered with 40 duplex RNA strands where the sequence of these strands is designed to knock down the GM3 synthase gene. The research team also have an eye on using the SNA - rich ointment to prevent and not just treat diabetic ulcers and to reduce the abnormal sensations frequently felt in diabetic's feet. Paller believes "It also might be possible to prevent these ulcers, not just heal them, by rubbing the ointment on the bottom of the foot". The team is working on the same.