A husband-and-wife research team at Dundee University, named Scotland's innovators of 2000, are developing a treatment that could help diabetics avoid foot amputations.
Seth and Ana Schor of Dundee's dental school won the academic innovation category in the Unisys John Logie Baird awards for their work on "active dressing" to help heal wounds.
They developed a molecular regulatory system of three new complementary compounds. Two of these, MSF and IGD, can boost wound healing. The third, MSFI, helps to reduce scarring.
The Schors have already won almost £300,000 from Scotland's proof-of-concept fund to test their discoveries in pre-clinical studies. This has now been supplemented by a £600,000 grant from the United States National Institutes of Health to further develop the treatment for foot ulcers.
Diabetics can suffer from foot ulcers that do not respond to conventional therapies. As a result, they are 16 per cent more likely to face amputation of toes or feet. The NIH rarely awards grants outside the US, but the three-year funding will allow the Schors to work with researchers in Dundee medical school's centre for diabetes and department of surgery. Professor Seth Schor said: "Putting this funding together, we can advance the basic research and promote pre-clinical trials, which puts us in a strong position to attract a commercial partner."
He said the research was likely to lead to several potential products, such as a cream that could be used in combination with a bio-engineered skin graft.
The research team is considering forming a company to develop innovative treatments, but it would still need commercial collaborators, Professor Schor said.