Women tend to like them, meteors tend to make them and De Beers tends to hoard them, but now diamonds turn out to have a more constructive use: making nasty wounds heal faster.
Northwestern University scientist Dean Ho and his team discovered that nanodiamonds are very attractive to insulin, best know for helping regulate blood sugar. Insulin, however, can also accelerate healing processes and stave off infection in wound sites, according to Ho:
Insulin accelerates wound healing by acting as a growth hormone. It encourages skin cells to proliferate and divide, restores blood flow to the wound, suppresses inflammation and fights infection.
Ho and his team discovered that it was easy to get the insulin to stick to the nanodiamonds, which are easy to get to the wound site without causing further damage. More interestingly, the only thing that can cause the insulin to release from the nanodiamonds is the presence of a base pH level, which often occurs in wounds and infected tissue.
A substantial amount of insulin can be loaded onto the nanodiamonds, which have a high surface area. The nanodiamond-insulin clusters, by releasing insulin in alkaline wound areas, could accelerate the healing process and decrease the incidence of infection. Ho says this ability to release therapeutics from the nanodiamonds on demand represents an exciting strategy towards enhancing the specificity of wound treatment.
Because the nanodiamonds don't cause great cell damage and the insulin releases slowly in the presence of a base solution, Ho speculates that nanodiamonds could represent an entirely new kind of therapeutic treatment for wound care. Plus your cuts would be really sparkly.
[Picture via myjewelrybox]