Research: Oestrogen affects chronic wound healing
Published on 03 October 2012 12:00 AM
Research funded by Age UK has discovered that lack of oestrogen seems to be the main cause for wounds failing to heal in later life.
Wounds that fail to heal, such as ulcers and bed sores affect around 200,000 people in the UK - most of whom are over 65 - and cost the NHS around £2-3bn ever year.
It's hoped that the research - carried out at University of Manchester - could provide hope for the hundreds of thousands of older people who suffer with this problem.
The researchers, led by Dr Matthew Hardman at The University of Manchester's Healing Foundation Centre, are currently testing a cream that is similar to oestrogen that they hope will lead to new treatments.
'We knew that oestrogen was important in healing, but we didn't realise it played such a pivotal role,' says Dr Hardman. 'Unfortunately it's not safe to simply give people oestrogen as it has far too many side effects.
'So, with the help of our second grant from Age UK, we're looking to develop and test treatment options using compounds similar to oestrogen but without the side effects that come with it.'
Current treatments include using maggots to clean wounds and using dressings, but these are largely ineffective.
Professor James Goodwin, Head of Research at Age UK, admitted: 'Chronic wound healing is a severely underfunded area of research, yet it affects thousands of older people every day and costs the NHS up to £3 billion a year.'
Dr Hardman now hopes that the compounds his team is currently testing will lead to further clinical trials and new, effective treatments to speed up the healing of chronic wounds in older people.
Age UK funds a range of applied, social and consumer research. However in order to continue and extend this important research, it urgently needs funds.
To donate to the charity visit our Research into Ageing pages