This regenerative medication, commonly referred to as cellular therapy, is a skin construct containing layers of the two major types of skin cells suspended within a collagen matrix that is widely used to promote closure in long-standing open skin wounds. When sheets of this material are placed over open chronic skin wounds of patients with diabetic foot ulcers, they stimulate faster and more complete healing. (Click here for photos of Apligraf's remarkable capacity to heal chronic wounds.) In addition to reporting on the efficacy of this treatment for such patients, our studies both in the laboratory and with patients have demonstrated that human skin equivalent, previously thought to act as a type of inert skin graft, in fact is biologically active and provides 15 growth factors that are important for skin repair. These growth factors are released by the living cells and act together in a synchronized manner to accelerate healing through the controlled release of growth factors from keratinocytes and fibroblasts, which attract, stimulate and support the growth of the specialized skin cells needed to reconstitute the complex structure of normal skin. This therapy decreases amputations in persons with diabetic foot ulcers and is FDA-approved for use on DFUs. It is also the only FDA-approved treatment for venous ulcers that is based on randomized controlled clinical trials.
Below left: A diabetic foot ulcer in an unusual location, on the dorsal surface of the first toe. Below right: In this photo, taken eight weeks after a single application of Apligraf, the wound has healed completely.