Local company makes medical breakthrough in scar tissue

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EDZELL-based pharmaceutical company PharmEcosse Limited is launching clinical trials into the use of insulin to prevent unsightly scars.

Investigations have found that insulin, more commonly used for treating diabetes, can significantly speed up healing by ‘switching off’ the wound-healing process before it can form a scar. Studies to date have shown that insulin can significantly reduce or prevent the formation of scar tissue after surgery.

This will be the first time the hormone has been used in this way following research which has taken place over the past 14 years.

Dr Claire Linge, head of research at PharmEcosse, which is backed by Scottish Enterprise’s Scottish Seed Fund, said that millions of people in the UK who undergo surgery every year could potentially be helped by this treatment.

She said: “We have been looking into the use of different components to prevent or reduce scar tissue over the past 14 years.

“Insulin was found to control the activity of the key cells involved in wound closure and subsequent scar formation.

“This means the wound closes but the build up of scar tissue slows down or stops.

“Importantly, we have found that insulin can be successfully used as a single dose at the time of surgery and so it is a quick and easy process.

“Around 6 million people in the UK undergo surgery every year and potentially they could be helped by this treatment.”

Now PharmEcosse, based in Edzell, has received the go ahead to start clinical trials.

These will be carried out by Mr Charles Nduka, consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon at the McIndoe Surgical Centre and the world-renowned Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead.

The trials, due to start this month, will take place on women who are undergoing non-cancer breast surgery such as reductions and augmentations.

Mr Nduka said: “This treatment, which has traditionally been used for diabetes, aims to minimise signs of surgery.

“In my experience, scarring affects patients mentally as well as physically, particularly if it is in a prominent position on the body. Therefore this treatment has the potential to revolutionise people’s lives.

“At this stage, the trials will take place on women who are undergoing non-cancer surgery so that we are able to administer the insulin on one breast and a placebo on the other.

“We are therefore looking for ladies who are thinking of having breast augmentations or reductions to take part. Patients will be monitored over 12 months following surgery.

“But there is no reason why this couldn’t be used for anyone who has suffered skin injuries either from surgery or after an accident.

“Therefore, for example, in the future it could also be used for patients who have undergone surgery to treat cancer.

“Insulin is an everyday drug but it has the potential to change people’s lives the world over.”

For more information about taking part in clinical trials, please go to http://www.pharmecosse.com/