Sometimes discoveries in science are not about the development of new medical devices or drugs, but about repurposing existing technologies for new applications. Researchers from University of Sheffield have now used ultrasound to reduce healing times of diabetic wounds by 30%. The study, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, describes the use of ultrasonic waves to promote wound healing cells called fibroblasts to migrate into the wound through mechanical stimulation.
This technology can be used to reduce long hospital stays and delayed wound healing of diabetic and elderly patients. “Using ultrasound wakes up the cells and stimulates a normal healing process. Because it is just speeding up the normal processes, the treatment doesn’t carry the risk of side effects that are often associated with drug treatments” says the lead author of the study, Dr. Mark Bass.
As ultrasound is already widely used in clinical settings, and because it is relatively risk-free, this technique for accelerated wound healing is expected to be in broad clinical use in the next 3-4 years.
From the study abstract:
In healthy skin, fibronectin activates Rac1 in fibroblasts, causing migration into the wound bed, and driving wound contraction. We discover that mechanical stimulation of the skin with ultrasound can overturn healing defects by activating a calcium/CamKinaseII/Tiam1/Rac1 pathway that substitutes for fibronectin-dependent signaling and promotes fibroblast migration. Treatment of diabetic and aged mice recruits fibroblasts to the wound bed and reduces healing times by 30%, restoring healing rates to those observed in young, healthy animals. Ultrasound treatment is equally effective in rescuing the healing defects of animals lacking fibronectin receptors, and can be blocked by pharmacological inhibition of the CamKinaseII pathway. Finally, we discover that the migration defects of fibroblasts from human venous leg ulcer patients can be reversed by ultrasound, demonstrating that the approach is applicable to human chronic samples.
Study in Journal of Investigative Dermatology: Ultrasonic Stimulation of Mouse Skin Reverses the Healing Delays in Diabetes and Aging by Activation of Rac1
Source: University of Sheffield…