Researchers are hoping to determine if mature B lymphocytes can speed and improve diabetic wound healing

A Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team said they have discovered that mature B lymphocytes may greatly speed the healing process of acute and chronic wounds, including a diabetic foot ulcers, according to a news release from MGH.

In addition, the team said that the lymphocytes – an abundant immune system cell – may also be beneficial to improving the quality of regenerated tissue and minimizing scarring.

A new opportunity for treatment

Dr. Ruxandra Sirbulescu, the lead and corresponding author of the MGH report, said the finding presents a new opportunity in wound care.

“Our demonstration that B lymphocytes – immune system cells that are abundant in the blood – can accelerate wound healing in both healthy and diabetic skin potentially opens up an exciting path to a new treatment for chronic wounds, such as diabetic foot ulcers,” Dr. Sîrbulescu said. “Diabetic foot ulcers are the most common cause of non-traumatic major amputations around the world and the costliest type of chronic wound to care for, so an inexpensive and safe way to accelerate healing would have great benefits.”

The discovery comes after earlier research by the MGH Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center found that B lymphocytes cells improved the structure and function of cardiac tissue damaged by a heart attack in animal subjects.

Meanwhile, 2017 study that appeared in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences stated that while the role of B lymphocytes in the wound healing process was unclear, the key factor could be the way in which the cell pulls in neutrophils (an immune cell that is among the first to move to a wound site) and macrophages (specialized cells that protect against infection).

Tested in mice

The more recent mature B lymphocytes research involved diabetic and non-diabetic mice and showed that an application of the concentrated mature B cells improved tissue repair and accelerated healing in both subjects. Meanwhile, in the diabetic mice, the B cell application reduced the wound size and accelerated the healing process of chronic skin ulcers. The number of blood vessels and nerve endings in the regenerated tissue also was increased.

Because the mature B lymphocytes used had a limited lifespan (up to 14 days), they are easier to control than other cell types that are used in wound care therapies.

The researchers said through standard blood pheresis (in which the blood is filtered and separated and the mature B lymphocytes retained) they could collect enough B cells in a single session to facilitate several treatments.

The MGH researchers are collaborating with other scientists to establish protocols to create the D cell preparation and arrange a clinical study using patients with diabetic foot ulcers.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.