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Spray-on leg ulcer treatment unveiled

A “spray-on skin” developed by scientists could greatly improve recovery from chronic leg ulcers, trial results suggest.

The experimental treatment, called HP802-247, consists of skin cells suspended in blood clotting proteins, which is sprayed on the wound.

In a phase II randomised trial involving 228 patients with venous leg ulcers, it appeared to accelerate healing and improve the chances of wound closure.

Two different cell concentrations and two separate dosing frequencies were tested against placebo over a 12-week period. All patients also received four-layer compression bandages.

Those receiving the highest cell concentration every 14 days were 52% more likely to see their ulcer healed after three months than placebo patients. They also experienced a 16% greater reduction in wound area after seven days.

The trial was conducted by the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and Healthpoint Biotherapeutics, which developed the spray.

It is a living human cell formula consisting of keratinocytes and fibroblasts, which release growth factors into the wound on a cellular level for tissue regeneration, along with fibrinogen, which forms a “cellular web” for blood clotting and elasticity.

Study author Herbert Slade said: “The treatment we tested in this study has the potential to vastly improve recovery times and overall recovery from leg ulcers without the need for a skin graft.”

The study results are published online in The Lancet. A phase III trial is planned for later this year, the researchers said.

Venous leg ulcers, the most common type of leg ulcer, affect about one in 500 people in the UK.

Standard treatment consists of compression bandages, infection control and wound dressings. However, this only heals between 30% and 70% of ulcers.

While skin grafts have been used, this results in a further wound at the site from which the transplanted skin is taken.

Dr Slade said: “The spray-on solution can be available as soon as required - skin grafts take a certain amount of time to prepare, which exposes the patient to further discomfort and risk of infection.”

Readers' comments (3)

  • George Kuchanny

    Good oh! I know someone who has one of these dratted things - only 20 years of waxing and waning on the repair...

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  • Andrew Kingsley

    New developments in this field are always welcome - however to date many other cellular and advanced therapies have not provided in practice the great leap forward we are all hoping for. Unless the wound is properly prepared the chronic wound milieu mashes up all the lovely cells and cytokines in preparations like this - it will still require much of the basic therapeutic work done now - what preparations like this may do is reduce overall time to healing but is sadly unlikely to be a magic wand

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  • Andrew

    I agree.

    A major obstacle, however, is securing patient compliance. Many patients find difficulty in tolerating compression bandaging and of course there are those who prefer to use an "alternative" remedy!

    Other issues in the control of the patient but rarely addressed include smoking cessation and weight reduction. Eating a balanced diet is a challenge to many as is maintaining a reasonable degree of mobility.

    The "leg ulcer" is not going to disappear any time soon !

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