Plasma protein injections help chronic wounds heal
Plasma protein injections help chronic wounds heal

Chronic diabetic wounds can completely heal if they are injected with a plasma protein called plasminogen, according to new research from Umea University in Sweden.

Doctoral student Yue Shen undertook the plasminogen study for his thesis. Plasminogen stimulates inflammation that promotes wound healing, and the substance was lacking in chronic wounds in diabetic mice, Shen discovered. By injecting plasminogen at the wound site, he was able to trigger the inflammatory response and significantly increase the rate of healing.

“The findings in Yue Shen’s thesis not only reshape our molecular understanding of the role of plasminogen during wound healing process, but also bring hope to millions of desperate patients who suffer from chronic wounds,” according to a Umea University statement.

A clinical study to use human plasminogen to treat people’s chronic wounds is now being put together.

In his thesis, Shen showed how plasminogen — a well-known plasma protein — acts as a key regulatory molecule of inflammation that can be used to treat different types of chronic wounds. When plasminogen is injected around diabetic wounds, the healing process starts and the wounds eventually heal fully, he found.

Researchers hope to eventually develop a plasminogen-based medication that can be used to treat diabetic foot ulcers and other chronic wounds.

Diabetic wounds are the most severe type of chronic wounds that largely impair the quality of life in patients and inflict an enormous burden on the healthcare system. They tend to strike nursing home residents especially hard. Worldwide, there are more than 350 million diabetic patients and about 20% of them develop diabetic foot ulcers that often do not heal, which can eventually lead to amputation. 

By some estimates, a limb is lost every 20 seconds as a consequence of a diabetic foot ulcer that does not heal. To date, medical solutions that can change this situation have proven limited.