New material made from cow tissue can help heal wounds quicker

Farm animals could help save your limbs.

Right now, more than 1.5 million people in the United States are non-traumatic amputees.

Vascular disease, a major complication associated with diabetes, is the most common cause.

Now, a new material from cows is healing wounds and halting some amputations.

Louis Clark has had foot problems for six years.

He says, "I was actually walking on a broken foot for about a year and a half, two years, because I felt nothing."

Nerve damage led to a Charcot foot, a condition where his bones weakened, collapsed and then split through the skin. The wound simply would not heal.

Dr. Steven Kavros of Mayo Clinic says, "Every day that that wound is open, you have a chance of infection setting in."

Dr. Kavros says if a wound will not heal, amputation can be the next step. Now, by using one of the purest forms of collagen, he is seeing faster healing.

"Type 111 collagen is a special type of collagen that heals very quickly."

It is present in human fetuses, but it disappears after birth. This new material, called PriMatrix, is made from fetal cow tissue.

"This PriMatrix is front-loaded with type 111 collagen, so it can stimulate not only wound healing, but wound healing in an organized fashion."

It is activated in saline, and then placed on the wound. Blood vessels integrate into it, and it dissolved into the skin.

"What we are finding is that the wounds healed exponentially compared with the standard of care."

Instead of a wound healing in 32 weeks, the PriMatrix cuts healing time to less than 10 weeks. Louis says it changed his life.

Clark says, "I would have had to have my foot amputated. There's no question about it."

Instead, his wound healed in six weeks.

"It's almost like a miracle, to be honest with you. I am very thankful. I really am."

The material has no negative side effects, but it cannot be used by people who are allergic to beef since it is made from cow tissue.

PriMatrix is still being investigated, but it is already FDA cleared for many wounds, including diabetic wounds.


BACKGROUND: There are about 1.7 million amputees in the United States. The primary cause of amputations is vascular disease -- a major complication associated with diabetes. Vascular disease accounts for 82 percent of all amputations in the U.S. Other causes for amputation are trauma, cancer-related amputation and congenital-related amputations, but these causes are on the decline while diabetes amputations are on the rise. Typically, with amputations due to diabetes, major wounds do not heal, and the result is amputation. There are several treatments for major wounds and ulcerations, such as skin grafts made of keratinocytes and fibroblasts and a gel-like growth factor that can be rubbed on the wound.
(SOURCE: Amputee Coalition)

WHAT IS IT? Primatrix is a regenerative medicine rich in type III collagen. This is the same collagen found in a human fetal dermis, which promotes rapid cell growth. It's a dermal substitute for wound management and healing. It handles like a natural tissue, conforms to the wound or surgical site, and is easily sutured. Primatrix allows for rapid cell regeneration and revascularization. Primatrix acts as skin replacement on large, infected, irregularly-shaped abscesses or ulcerations. It leads to wounds healing exponentially quicker than they would with standard treatment. Primatrix is FDA-approved for partial and full-thickness wounds, pressure, diabetic and venous ulcers, second-degree burns, trauma, lacerations, tunneled and draining wounds, surgical wounds, donor sites, wound dehiscence and post-Moh's surgery. Primatrix was awarded the American Podiatric Medical Association's Seal of Approval, ensuring both physicians and patients that Primatrix is safe and effective for wound healing. (SOURCE: Delray Medical Center)

HOW DOES IT WORK? Primatrix is a dry sheet activated in saline, and after wound cleaning, it is stapled to the wound bed. Many layers of Primatrix may be added depending on the depth of the wound. Primatrix is wrapped in several bandages. The dressing should be changed every three to four days. Primatrix has been shown in several cases to save the limbs of those who would have otherwise become amputees. (SOURCE: Delray Medical Center)

Dana Wirth Sparks
Mayo Clinic Department of Public Affairs
(507) 538-0844

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