New research sheds light on the complex connections between diabetes and chronic wounds.

For millions of people with diabetes worldwide, chronic wounds are a constant concern. According to, there are several ways diabetes affects wound healing. These include increasing a person’s risk for infection, affecting the health of blood vessels, and causing a loss of sensation that makes self-injury more likely.

One of the root causes for these issues is a diabetic person’s delayed insulin metabolism. As Diabetes U.K. explained, this impeded metabolism impacts much of the body’s wound -healing systems, affecting everything from skin cells to how blood travels. Yet despite the influence of this insulin metabolism, experts still don’t understand the system fully.  A new study is shedding light on the connection between diabetes and wound healing.

Making the Connections

In a recent study in the journal Nature Communications, a group of scientists has uncovered new insights into how insulin metabolism impacts wound healing. The team is comprised of researchers from several different institutions, including the Institute of Genetics of the University of Cologne.

For a long time, most scientists assumed that the linchpin had to do with elevated glucose levels. This excess of glucose would interfere with the immune system, and that is why diabetic people contend with non-healing wounds. Only now, as the study explains, a person’s slowed insulin metabolism might be the culprit for slow wound healing.

To reach this conclusion, the team studied skin from a group of fruit flies called drosophila melanogaster, chosen because of how similar their own insulin metabolism is to humans. By removing certain layers of the fly’s skin, the team was able to study how the remaining cells reacted to an injury. Normally, the wound seals itself off. However, when the flies were modified to have a diminished insulin metabolism, the same process took substantially longer and was often incomplete or producing weaker tissue structures.

In a press release, lead author Parisa Kakanj explained that this discovery could aid with the development of drugs that activate insulin metabolism within the wound site. The team is already at work with another group of scientists, including those from the University Hospital Cologne, to begin early development of that drug therapy.

A treatment could be available within just a few years’ time. In the meantime, people with diabetes can ensure proper wound care by watching what they eat and getting regular exercise to strengthen the body.

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