For people with diabetes, elevated blood sugar adversely affects the ability to heal. Their slow-healing wounds invite hard-to-treat infections that can eventually lead to amputation. In fact, they are 15 times more likely to undergo limb amputations than people without diabetes.
Woundchek, a diagnostic test developed by UK-based Systagenix, could lower amputation rates among people with diabetes by detecting hard-to-treat wounds at an earlier stage. Woundchek tests the wound for “elevated protease activity,” which is associated with chronic non-healing wounds.
Proteases are enzymes that cut peptide bonds between proteins. Although they are essential for many normal bodily functions, including blood clotting and cell growth, they can be co-opted by pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites, which use them to attack the immune system and infect cells. Increased protease activity indicates that a wound is likely to be harder to heal than normal.
By detecting elevated protease activity in wounds, the Woundchek test could allow healthcare professionals to begin treating wounds more aggressively at an earlier stage. Such intervention could reduce the number of wounds that progress to the point that amputation becomes necessary.
Woundchek is not currently available in the United states. Systagenix is hoping to market the test here sometime later this year.