London: British scientists claim to have designed a special sock for diabetics, which can significantly reduce a patient's risk of undergoing foot amputation.

Just by wearing the garment, called Difoprev, sufferers can speed up the repair of damaged skin and prevent ulcers, a major cause of foot loss -- in fact, it could cut the risk of amputation by 60 per cent, say the scientists.

Difoprev, worth 1.50 pounds, uses a special ingredient -- a moisture-boosting protein extracted from bacteria discovered in Antarctic mud.

Known for its hydrating properties, the protein is impregnated into the fabric of the sock, then slowly released directly into the tissue of the feet, British newspaper the 'Daily Mail' reported.

Many diabetics are forced to undergo foot amputation due to chronic ulcers triggered by high blood sugar levels which damage nerve endings over time, reducing sensation in limbs.

Long-term diabetes sufferers don't notice when they cut their feet or develop a blister so they don't get treated and this leads to ulcers. Another symptom is poor circulation, triggered by a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries.

Skin with a reduced blood supply does not heal well, again leading to ulcers which are prone to infection because bacteria feed on the abundance of glucose in the body. Until now, gels have been the main treatment to keep skin hydrated.

Difoprev works by ensuring the feet are kept hydrated for 12 hours a day. The sock lasts for three days but comes with a supply of capsules containing its special moisture-boosting ingredients. These are mixed with water and soaked into the sock which is then left to dry and then worn again.

(Agencies)