Molecules in Parasitic Worm Can Help Prevent Amputations

Molecules in Parasitic WormNon-healing wounds in diabetic people often lead to amputation. Numbness in the feet due to diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage) can make people less aware of injuries and foot ulcers. A research conducted by James Cook University has found that a molecule produced by a Thai liver parasite could be the solution to those non-healing wounds. The study estimates that about 12 Australian diabetics each day had a limb amputated because of a non-healing wound, and globally people underwent amputations every 30 seconds. The granulin molecule discovered in worm spit, is found to improve wound healing.

The scientists from the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) are now able to produce a version of the molecule on a large enough scale to make it available for laboratory tests and eventually clinical trials.

Granulins are a family of protein growth factors that are involved in cell proliferation. As granulin didn’t perform well when introduced to E. coli bacteria, the team had to build their own version of designer worm spit. After testing different segments and structures of the molecule, the team concluded that those hairpin bends in the molecule were the key to wound healing.

The lab-produced granulin peptides have shown great promise in tests, driving cell proliferation in human cells grown in lab plates, and demonstrating potent wound healing in mice. The researchers have developed a cream containing the molecule that has been successfully tested on mice. They aim at creating a cream that a diabetic could apply at home, avoiding a lengthy hospital stay and possible amputation.

Any patient with a wound or ulceration should undergo a complete history and physical examination and those details should be documented. Documentation with a wound-specific EMR helps to document the key features of a wound more easily and efficiently. It has been recommended that in clinics, the diabetic patient with a foot wound should be assessed at three levels – the patient as a whole, the affected limb and foot, and the infected wound. The affected limb and foot should be assessed for arterial ischaemia, venous insufficiency, presence of protective sensation, and biomechanical problems. Wound assessment and documentation must include wound size, wound measurements, wound bed, exudate, edges; peri wound skin, and other vital facts.