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J Dermatol Surg Oncol. 1992 Jul;18(7):604-6.

Topical use of human recombinant epidermal growth factor (h-EGF) in venous ulcers.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, University of Miami School of Medicine, FL 33101.


A great deal of interest has been focused recently on the potential use of synthetic polypeptide growth factors to stimulate healing of chronic wounds. In this pilot double-blind randomized study conducted at a single center, we used human recombinant epidermal growth factor (h-EGF) to treat 44 patients with venous ulceration of the lower extremities. An aqueous solution (10 micrograms/mL) of h-EGF was applied topically to the ulcers twice a day until healing occurred or for a maximum of 10 weeks. Patients were evaluated weekly for measurements of ulcer size and for the formation of granulation tissue suitable for grafting. Nine patients were excluded from efficacy evaluation because of protocol violations. Therefore, 35 patients (17 h-EGF, 18 placebo) were evaluable for efficacy, and 44 patients (22 h-EGF, 22 placebo) were available for safety. The median baseline ulcer size for all patients was 18.5 cm2, and was not significantly different between h-EGF and placebo group (12.9 cm2 versus 19.2 cm2, respectively, P = .27). By study end, six (35%) of h-EGF treated patients and two (11%) in the placebo group had healed completely (P = .10). Another 6 patients (2 of 17 h-EGF, 4 of 18 placebo; P = .50) developed healthy granulation tissue that was suitable for grafting. The median ulcer size reduction was 7% for h-EGF versus 3% for placebo per week (P = .29), and 73% versus 33% at study end (P = .32). No untoward side effects were related to the application of h-EGF. We conclude that topical application of h-EGF, in the dose and manner used in this study, was safe but failed to significantly enhance re-epithelialization of venous ulcers. However, a greater reduction in ulcer size and a larger number of healed ulcers with the use of h-EGF are encouraging results.

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