WELLESLEY -- A Wellesley researcher has developed a cream designed to ease foot problems experienced by diabetics, a problem that causes nearly 90,000 amputations of toes, feet and legs nationwide each year. Many diabetics suffer from poor blood flow in the feet, due to a lack of arginine, said Eric Fossel, who has a Ph.D. in chemistry and is the owner of Strategic Science & Technologies Inc. in Wellesley.
"They have a general problem with circulation," Fossel said. "It manifests most severely in their feet because they're farthest from the heart. It's hardest to pump blood there." It is estimated that 15 percent of diabetics develop foot ulcers caused by neuropathy and vascular disease. Diabetics, Fossel said, have only about 10 percent of the normal amount of arginine, an amino acid that is a precursor of nitric oxide, which controls blood flow.
Fossel says his new product, HealthiBetic Foot Cream, improves blood flow and increases temperature in diabetics' feet. The researcher, a former Harvard Medical School professor, conducted a study of 13 patients published in the January issue of Diabetes Care magazine detailing the product's performance. So far, Healthibetic is available only online, but Fossel hopes it will eventually be sold in drugstores.
Locally, Greg Smith, who works at Foreign Motors West in Natick and lives in Pembroke, has been using the foot cream for about two months and says it has all but eliminated an uncomfortable tingling he felt in his feet and toe infections he often suffered. "It was not comfortable at all," he said of the time before using HealthiBetic. "I was getting toe infections because of lack of circulation. I was getting heavy-duty cracks on my feet because of lack of circulation and moisture. 'His feet have steadily improved while he has used the cream, said the 52-year-old Smith. "The more you use it, the warmer your feet feel," he said. "Before I used this, I had tingling in my feet, and basically foot problems being a diabetic. If you don't end up taking care of your feet, they end up leaving you, so to speak." Dr. Ralph Sherman, an internist and diabetes specialist who practices at Lincoln Medical Center in Framingham, said he and his colleagues were unaware of the new product.
"I don't know enough about it. I'm interested in learning more, particularly how it benefits people who are having complications," Sherman said. While Fossel believes his product can limit diabetics' amputations, Sherman says previously-existing treatments, if followed by more patients, could achieve the same goal. "It is unfortunate that every year many thousands of diabetic patients suffer amputations. We think at least 50 percent of those surgeries could be prevented," Sherman said. Sherman says by controlling blood sugar and cholesterol levels diabetics can preserve good circulation. Also, some medicines prevent blood clots, he said.
The current methods are effective as long as patients report problems immediately and undergo regular examinations, he said. Fossel, though, believes his new foot cream is more effective than other treatments. "Really, all they have is special shoes and socks and moisturizing creams," Fossel said. "Those don't do anything to improve blood flow. They just improve comfort." Dr. Robert Rizza, vice president of the American Diabetes Association, told WebMD.com that Fossel's findings are "intriguing but preliminary." "This pilot study showed that arginine does increase blood flow, but it is not yet clear if this translates into fewer foot ulcers or better healing of ulcers," Rizza said.
Healthibetic is classified as a dietary supplement by the Food and Drug Administration and can be purchased without a prescription, Fossel said. Strategic Science and Technologies began selling it last summer. Further information is available at healthibetic.com. A 4-ounce jar, enough for one month, sells for $34.95, said Catherine Maker, vice president of marketing for Strategic Science. The company hopes insurance companies will decide to cover the product, she said. The cream, which should be applied morning and night, works best if diabetics use it shortly after learning they have the condition, she said. "Our feeling is it should be used in the early stages of diabetes to promote and have continued good foot health," she said.
Jon Brodkin can be reached at 508-626-4424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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|HealthiBetic Foot Cream was greeted at the recent American Diabetes Association meeting in Orlando with great enthusiasm. HealthiBetic is a transdermal L-Arginine cream and has recently been shown to improve blood flow and temperature in the feet of patients with diabetes with impaired foot circulation in an article published in Diabetes Care. Flow, measured by Doppler was increased 33% at the Metatarsal and 35% at the Achilles.
Temperature increased 5 degrees at the Metatarsal and 8 degrees at the big toe. HealthiBetic is the first and only product for care of the feet of patients with Diabetes which actively improves blood flow, reversing the cause of foot complications in these patients. L-Arginine, a naturally occurring amino acid is the biochemical precursor of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is the substance that controls local blood flow by relaxing the smooth muscle lining of the blood vessels. The research defining this function of nitric oxide was the topic of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine. L-Arginine is classified as a dietary supplement and has long been available in oral form.
The transdermal delivery of L-Arginine has been made possible through application of patented new technology coved by US Patent Number 5,895,658 has been issued to Eric T. Fossel and licensed to Strategic Science & Technologies, Inc. of Wellesley, MA. This patented technology creates a hostile biophysical environment in the cream causing the chemical potential of the L-Arginine to be raised, resulting in transfer of L-Arginine from the cream to the foot tissue.In addition to vascular disease itself, diabetics have abnormally low levels of L-Arginine and abnormally high levels of ADMA, an inhibitor of the enzyme that converts L-Arginine to nitric oxide.
The transdermal supply of exogenous L-Arginine helps to overcome these biochemical defects, restoring impaired blood flow. Impaired blood flow in the feet is a cause of major complications of diabetes. Among these complications are cold, painful feet and ulcers.
Unfortunately, it is often impossible to control these complications and the ultimate remedy of amputation is required. In the United States alone there were over 87,000 amputations last year due to diabetic complications. It is thought that restoring blood flow in the feet of patients with diabetes may prevent ulcers and amputations. Further research is needed to support that expectation. Until the current methodology was developed, there was nothing available to actively improve the health of the feet of patients with diabetes. Special socks and shoes as well as moisturizing creams are widely used to improve foot comfort, but, they do nothing to improve blood flow. The transdermal L-Arginine foot cream used in the Diabetes Care study is called HealthiBetic Foot Cream and is available from Cana International Distributing Inc.
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