News Release
 

December 2, 2009

CONTACT: Kim Guenther
(215) 662-6183
kim.guenther@uphs.upenn.edu

Penn Medicine - University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and University of Pennsylvania Health System

Gene Therapy Hastens Healing Process in Chronic Leg Ulcers

PHILADELPHIA – Chronic wounds, including venous leg ulcers which are caused by poor circulation in the veins of the legs, are difficult and expensive to treat. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have developed the first targeted, short-term delivery method using gene transfer technology to effectively treat venous leg ulcers.

The standard treatment for venous leg ulcers involves lower limb compression, takes up to six months to heal and is unsuccessful in 30 -70 percent of cases. The new treatment requires injecting venous leg ulcers with a non-replicating adenovirus that expresses platelet-derived growth factor-β (PDGF-β). This prompts the wound healing process; endothelial precursor cells were attracted to the wound and new tissue formed.

“By temporarily increasing the production of (PDGF-β), wounds decreased in size in 93 percent of clinical trial participants within 28 days of the injection,” said David Margolis, MD, PhD, lead author and professor of Dermatology and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “Using gene transfer technology, the growth factor penetrated the wound, reached the target cells and initiated the wound healing process.”

The phase I study, which followed 15 patients for 24 weeks, appeared in The American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy. No further studies are planned at this time.

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Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 17 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $392 million awarded in the 2013 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania -- recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; Chester County Hospital; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2013, Penn Medicine provided $814 million to benefit our community.


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