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The Use of Stem Cells to Treat Diabetic Foot Problems

written by: Lashan Clarke • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 5/16/2011

A serious complication of diabetes, are wound ulcers that are common on the feet and legs. These ulcers can result in amputation of the limbs and reduced quality of life for a diabetic. New research in the use of stems cells for diabetic foot care will be discussed in detail.

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    One of the major complications of diabetes are wound ulcers, especially the wounds occurring on the feet of diabetics. However, this year has seen new information released on how stem cells can be used for diabetics.

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    Diabetics and Wound Care

    Stem cells for diabetic foot treatment is a new form of research that deals with the increasing demands of treating foot ulcers in diabetics. Instead scientists have discovered that stem cells from human fetuses can be used to repair these chronic wounds. The research was mainly against leg ulcers located on the back of the leg in type 1 diabetics.

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    How Stem Cells Work in Wound Care

    Fetal stem cells might be used in wound care as they can rapidly divide and mimic the regular skin’s ability to heal. A fetus is able to quickly heal without any evidence of a scar. As a result, the use of stem cells from a fetus can suggest that it is not the inherent properties of the cells that carry out wound healing, but rather a set of chemicals might be responsible for starting and maintaining the wound healing process.

    The reason stem cells are used is based on the cell’s ability to differentiate into various other cells. Thus, the cell can be placed in an environment in which it can differentiate and start producing cell growth factors. These fetal stems are used because they are to quickly divide much faster and are more effective than the use of adult cells from the body. This could result in identifying the chemicals that the body needs for wound healing, and eventually reducing the use of fetal stem cells from human beings.

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    Why This Research is Important

    This research is indeed ground-breaking as it may save a diabetic from having to undergo complications such as a wound infection and gangrene. For many diabetics, improper wound care, has led to the person having to get a food amputated. If the amputation surgery is filled with complications, then the person will also have an increased risk of death after surgery.

    The wounds are usually ischemic ones that lack the normal blood supply. Diabetes is a condition that disrupts the normal nerve and blood supply. Therefore, the body is unable to transport the cells within the blood that will normally promote wound healing. Prescription creams and gels that promote cell growth can be used, but have only limited success with wounds that do not lack a blood supply. These creams are not effective against the type of wounds that work well with stem cells.

    The research discovered that stem cells from the fetal heart and aorta called CD +133 was not only able to regrow new tissue, but also stimulate the differentiate into blood vessels. These stem cells released grow factors and cytokines to promote healing. Cytokines are used to help the cells communicate and trigger processes. Thus the stem cells transported to an adult wound may stimulate the area to heal effectively.

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