India, August 28th, 2023: Queen’s University Belfast, one of the leading Universities in UK and Ireland as well as a member of the prestigious Russell Group of UK research intensive universities, have designed a new 3D printed bandage, which presents an innovative method of treatment to heal diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs). Known as a scaffold, the research is the first of its kind and is a breakthrough for diabetes management.

The new discovery combines lipid nanoparticles and hydrogels, which are used to create personalised skin-like 3D printed scaffolds. These scaffolds can release both a bulk and sustained release of antibiotic loaded molecules to treat diabetic ulcers. This combination has been shown to greatly improve patient outcomes and has the added benefit of being a more sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective method of treatment as these scaffolds in the future can be “easily” produced within the hospital setting. This approach will also cut time for medical professionals and improve patient care, as the wound dressing can be monitored and provide the treatment needed without the need to be taken on and off repeatedly in order for the medical professionals to check the healing process.

As a strategy to manage DFUs, skin alternatives and wound dressings are successful treatments as they keep the wound environment “under control”, whilst providing bioactive compounds that help to manage infection and inflammation and promote tissue repair. This is a complex process that requires several combined therapeutic approaches. As a result, there is a significant clinical and economic burden associated in treating DFU. Furthermore, these treatments are often unsuccessful, commonly resulting in lower-limb amputation.

Professor Dimitrios Lamprou, Lead on the project and Chair of Biofabrication and Advanced Manufacturing from the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s University Belfast said: “This innovative, personalised, and sustainable approach, provides the healing needed for the diabetic foot ulcers, to avoid any complications, and enables doctors to monitor the healing constantly. This avoids needing to remove dressing constantly, which can provoke infection and delay the healing process. Medical professionals also do not need to change the drug dosage as this double release, supports that need.”

Dr Matthew Wylie, Lecturer from the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s University Belfast and responsible for the in vitro antibacterial activity evaluation of these novel bandages, said: “Diabetic foot ulcers are chronic wounds highly susceptible to infection which can lead to limb- or life-threatening complications. Our natural liposomal antibacterial approach has shown promising initial antibacterial results highlighting the potential of this strategy to prevent bacterial colonisation during the crucial early stages of wound healing, as well as longer term protection of the wound.”

“Improved wound management will not only enhance patient quality of life but could reduce the need for traditional antibiotic therapy, a key aim in the fight against antimicrobial resistance development.” He added.

Diabetes is a lifelong condition among the top ten causes of deaths worldwide. DFUs are a serious complication of diabetes, affecting approximately 25% of diabetic patients. When identified, over 50% are already infected and over 70% of cases result in lower limb amputation. Out of 62 million diabetics in India, DFUs contribute to approximately 80% of all non-traumatic amputations in India, annually. Also, patients with a history of DFU have 40% higher 10-year death-rate, than those without.