Aug. 2, 2012 -- An experimental spray-on skin product may help people with chronic leg wounds heal faster and more effectively than available treatments, a new study suggests.
The spray-on skin is made up of skin cells and suspended in a mixture of different types of proteins. The participants in this study all had venous leg ulcers, which are shallow wounds that occur in people who have a circulation problem in their veins. These wounds tend to develop on the inside of the lower leg. Most at risk for venous ulcers are inactive and obese people, as well as people with varicose veins.
People in the study who used the new treatment experienced a greater reduction in wound size than those who didn't use it.
The findings appear in the Lancet.
Healthpoint Biotherapeutics of Fort Worth, Texas, is developing the new product and sponsored the study.
As it stands, most venous leg ulcers are treated with compression bandages. Some doctors also use skin grafts in which skin is taken from another area of the body and used to resurface the wound. Skin grafts involve surgery, and people can develop a wound at the skin donation site, too.
"If you don't get these to heal, they become chronic, and the older the wounds are, the harder they become to heal with anything," says researcher Herbert B. Slade, MD. He is a pediatrician at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth and is also the chief medical officer at Healthpoint Biotherapeutics. "Compression bandages work for 30% to 70% of people, but are not 100% effective."
That is where the spray-on treatment may come in.
In the 12-week study of 205 people, those who received the spray-on treatment and compression bandaging had a greater reduction in wound size than those who used compression bandaging without the test treatment.
Researchers tested two strengths of the new therapy, along with compression bandages. The biggest improvements were seen in the lower-strength dose given every two weeks; there was a 16% greater reduction on average of the wound area, compared to a group that was given a spray that didn't contain the new therapy, after 12 weeks.
Side effects were similar in the different groups. The spray-on treatment sped wound closure by an average of 21 days compared to the comparison group.