Researchers at Queen's University in Belfast have unveiled a new treatment that could revolutionise the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers.
Foot ulcers affect a quarter of diabetic patients. When identified, over 50% are already infected and over 70% of cases result in lower limb amputation.
The newly-designed "scaffold" bandage slowly releases antibiotics over a four-week period to effectively treat the wound.
"These scaffolds are like windows that enable doctors to monitor the healing constantly," explained Professor Dimitrios Lamprou from Queen's School of Pharmacy.
"This avoids needing to remove them constantly, which can provoke infection and delay the healing process."
Diabetes, a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high, is among the top ten causes of deaths worldwide.
The treatment strategy required for the effective healing of diabetic foot ulcer is a complex process that requires several combined therapeutic approaches.
As a result, there is a significant clinical and economic burden associated in treating the ulcers, and treatments are often unsuccessful.
The new bandage treatment is produced by 3D bioprinting and is described as being cost-effective while improving patient outcomes.
"Using bioprinting technology, we have developed a scaffold with suitable mechanical properties to treat the wound, which can be easily modified to the size of the wound," said Lead author Ms Katie Glover, from the Queen's School of Pharmacy.
"This provides a low-cost alternative to current DFU treatments, which could revolutionise DFU treatment, improving patient outcomes while reducing the economic burden caused by rapidly increasing patient demand as the number of people with diabetes continues to increase every year."