Researchers are developing a gel derived from blood pressure drugs to aid in chronic wound healing.

A topically applied gel created from a common class of blood pressure pills has shown promise as a potential treatment in diabetic wound care after testing on mice and pigs.

Johns Hopkins Medicine reported that a team of researchers, led by Johns Hopkins, seek to have the gel approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a possible solution for skin wounds among diabetics and older adults that have proven to be treatment resistant.

If approved, it would mark the first new wound healing drug approved by the FDA in approximately 10 years, according to Peter Abadir, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins.

Showing potential

“Using medicines that have been available for more than two decades, we think we have shown that this class of medicines holds great promise in effectively healing chronic wounds that are prevalent in diabetic and aged patients,” said Abadir, the first author of the paper that was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

According to data shared by the National Institutes of Health, chronic wound care affects 5.7 million people in the U.S with an annual cost of approximately $20 billion.

The research is based off the fact that the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), which controls the collagen deposition, inflammatory response and signaling that facilitates the healing process. In diabetic and older patients, studies have shown, the RAS is abnormally regulated.

The pills the gel is made from blocks the RAS inflammation pathways and increase blood flow to the wound. Applying the gel directly to the wound encourages faster healing. The group also sees the possibility of using the gel as a treatment for scars and other skin issues.

Encouraging test results

In the tests on mice, half of them showed complete wound healing, while only 10 percent of those receiving a placebo did. In testing on pigs, those that underwent the gel treatment had wounds that healed faster and by the 50th day, all wounds were healed. No subjects in the placebo group had wounds that healed.

Jeremy Walston, M.D., the paper’s senior author, said the team is ready to move on to the next stage of development.

“Now that we’ve proven efficacy in animals, we’re moving on to the next stage of FDA-required testing in humans. Hopefully, this medication will be available for public use in a few years, if further research bears out our results,” Walston said, as quoted by Johns Hopkins.

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