Researchers are studying whether a common antibiotic used to treat everything from acne to urinary tract infections could be converted to a powerful topical treatment for diabetic lower extremity wounds.

In a study published in Wounds online, a group of Canadian scientists explained their efforts to develop a stable, topical doxycycline hyclate. DOXY, a type of tetracycline, could be used to inhibit protein synthesis.

Persistently high concentrations of cytokines — small proteins that signal cells — within wounds are suspected of encouraging many patients’ inflammatory responses. Their presence can degrade growth factors, receptors and matrix proteins required for proper wound healing. The types most commonly over-expressed in diabetic foot ulcers are members of the matrix metalloproteinase, or MMP, family.

The research team, led by David Charles Baranowski, Ph.D., of biotech firm Delivra Corp. in Prince Edward Island, wanted to test DOXY’s ability to reduce MMP-9 specifically.

They found their 2% formulation netted a 30% decrease in MMP-9 when compared to a control. It also showed stability when stored for up to 70 days at 4o Celsius.