From the Journals

Umbilical cord allograft may boost diabetic foot ulcer healing



Dehydrated human umbilical cord allograft may have benefit over alginate wound dressings as a treatment for chronic, nonhealing diabetic foot ulcers (DFU), findings from an industry-funded, randomized controlled study suggest.

The findings “provide additional evidence of the safety and efficacy of dehydrated placental tissues,” wrote William Tettelbach, MD, and his colleagues. Their report is in International Wound Journal.

The burden of diabetic foot disease in the United States is immense. A 2014 study estimated that treatment of DFUs alone cost public and private insurers as much as $13 billion per year (Diabetes Care. 2014;37(3):651-8).

MiMedx, which funded the new study, has developed a product called EpiCord to protect the DFU wound site. The product’s website describes it as a “unique, thick membrane derived from umbilical cord” that’s “minimally manipulated, dehydrated, [and] non-viable” ( The study authors noted that “immunogenicity of placental tissue lends credence to its use as an allograft material for difficult-to-heal wounds.”

For the new study, which was conducted from 2016 to 2018 and led by Dr. Tettelbach, an infectious disease specialist who is now an employee of MiMedx, the researchers enlisted 155 adult patients with stubborn DFUs at 11 centers in the United States.

All the ulcers had 30% or less wound area reduction after 14 days of standard care. The majority of patients (81%) were male; 63% were obese, 43% were smokers, and 17% had a prior amputation.

The patients were randomly assigned to receive a weekly application of EpiCord (n = 101) or treatment with an alginate wound dressing (n = 54) in addition to standard care. The percentage of patients whose wounds healed completely by 12 weeks later was higher in the study group than in those who were treated with alginate dressings (70% vs. 48%, respectively; P = .0089), per an intent-to-treat analysis.

The researchers also focused purely on patients who had received adequate debridement (107/155 ulcers, 69%). Of those ulcers, 64/67 (96%), in the study group healed completely at 12 weeks, compared with 26/40 (65%) of the alginate group (P less than .0001.)

The researchers did not notice any adverse effects related to either dressing.

According to the study, the findings regarding EpiCord are comparable with a sister study of a similar product by the same company that was tested in diabetic lower-extremity ulcers. That study, of a product called EpiFix, was published in the same issue of the journal (Int Wound J. 2019 Feb;16[1]:19-29).

“A thicker and more durable allograft such as EpiCord may be a good choice for implantation into deeper wounds and in situations where suturing the allograft in place is desired,” the authors wrote of the EpiCord study.

MiMedx provided research funding to all of the authors.

SOURCE: Tettelbach W et al. Int Wound J. 2019;16(1):122-130. doi: 10.1111/iwj.12976.

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