Skip to main content

Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins Pediatric

A Novel Way to Heal Diabetic Wounds in Older Adults

December 1, 2017

Researchers discover effective therapy for age-related conditions

The mission of the Biology of Healthy Aging Research Program is to translate new knowledge at the molecular level into new effective therapies for age-related conditions. The research program spans the gamut of unique interdisciplinary collaborative efforts involving laboratories studying the basic diseases of aging and is focused on developing and translating innovative ways to approach these conditions. 

Approximately one million Americans with diabetes have chronic wounds. Unfortunately, there are few treatments that address this very serious issue. In response to this, and through extensive basic biological investigation, program faculty Jeremy Walston, M.D., and Peter Abadir, M.D., have identified age-related changes within mitochondria that act as tiny power generators when each cell is in the body. Malfunction of these mitochondria–in part–is likely responsible for slowing wound healing in diabetics and in older adults. Building on this unique discovery, and based on evidence that mitochondria don’t work well in chronic wounds in diabetics and older adults, Drs. Walston and Abadir have developed and tested a novel medication for chronic wounds that has proven to be highly effective in two diabetic animal models. This medication also has improved the quality of the skin and reduced the size of scars. The extraordinary discovery offers–for the first time–encouraging news to diabetic wound sufferers and their health care providers.

Drs. Walston and Abadir have received highly competitive funding through a National Institutes of Health Technology Development Grant and two Maryland Innovation Initiative Grants. Translation to the patient’s bedside, where the implications could be profound and global, must follow a very strict and costly path to assure efficacy and patient safety. Further developmental efforts are underway to bring this new technology to patients.

For more information on research conducted within the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, visit

© The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Health System. All rights reserved.