A gene therapy in the form of a thick gel is about to revolutionize wound treatment. The gel is called Nexagon, and when you apply it to a wound, it reprograms the cells to heal more quickly and efficiently.
Unlike an antibiotic cream, which promotes healing by preventing infection, Nexagon is actually speeding up your body’s healing process. Or, in the case of ulcers, it’s jumpstarting a healing process that’s failed to start. Doctors have been testing Nexagon on people with chronic ulcers on their legs, which are wounds that essentially never heal or take at least six months to do so. After just four weeks, some patients reported they were completely healed up.
According to the Associated Press:
The gel, named Nexagon, works by interrupting how cells communicate and prevents the production of a protein that blocks healing. That allows cells to move faster to the wound to begin healing it.
Though it has only been tested on about 100 people so far, experts say if it proves successful, the gel could have a major impact on treating chronic wounds, like leg or diabetes ulcers, and even common scrapes or injuries from accidents.
In most chronic wounds, Becker said there is an abnormal amount of a protein involved in inflammation.
To reduce its amount, [cell biologist David] Becker and colleagues made Nexagon from bits of DNA that can block the protein’s production. “As that protein is turned off, cells move in to close the wound,” Becker said. The gel is clear and has the consistency of toothpaste.
In an early study on leg ulcers, scientists at the company Becker co-founded to develop the gel found that after four weeks, the number of people with completely healed ulcers was five times higher in patients who got the gel versus those who didn’t. The average leg ulcer takes up to six months to heal and 60 percent of patients get repeated ulcers . . . The gel has also been used on a handful of people who have suffered serious chemical burns to their eyes, including a 25-year-old workman in New Zealand who accidentally squirted liquid cement into one of his eyes. In that case and five others, after Nexagon was applied, the outer lining of the patients’ eyes and the blood vessels within them regrew, saving their vision. In the U.S., the gel has been granted approval by the Food and Drug Administration for serious eye injuries.