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'Spray-on Skin' May Someday Heal Stubborn Leg Ulcers
Date:8/3/2012

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 2 (HealthDay News) -- A pharmaceutical company says preliminary findings support a spray-on treatment that uses skin cells to speed the healing of venous leg ulcers, a condition that often strikes the elderly.

The treatment hasn't gone through all the research necessary before it can become available in the United States, and the approval process will take years. Also, it's not clear how much the treatment will cost, and it's possible that future research will reveal side effects.

Still, the findings are promising and important because "current treatments are not able to heal everyone," said Dr. Herbert Slade, chief medical officer of Healthpoint Therapeutics, which funded a study into the treatment. "In the area of chronic wound care, our study stands out as being well-designed, well- conducted, sufficiently large to be meaningful and, best of all, the treatment shows very good efficacy thus far."

An estimated one in 50 older Americans suffers from the leg ulcers, which can develop after the blood in veins backs up, perhaps due to blood clots, Slade explained. The backed-up blood seeps into tissue and makes them more susceptible to injury, he said.

"The ulcers are usually caused by mild trauma, like bumping your leg or ankle into a hard object," he said. "If you don't get the ulcer treated quickly, or if it doesn't respond to standard treatment, it becomes a chronic wound."

Physicians often recommend compression bandages to push the blood back up the veins, but the treatment -- along with care of the wound itself -- only works 30 percent to 70 percent of the time, Slade said. "If this standard approach doesn't work, there are very few options," he said. "Doctors have used skin grafting in some cases, but that requires making another wound on your body."

The new treatment attempts to coax the body into healing itself with the use of human skin
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