The research group has also shown that after treating human subjects with AMD3100 or G-CSF, angiogenic cells can be collected from the blood by a technique that separates them and concentrates them. They found that the cells maintain their function after freezing and so can be stored for future use.
"It's possible that if a patient was scheduled to have a procedure that would damage blood vessels, such as angioplasty, physicians could collect angiogenic cells before the procedure and use them during the patient's recovery," Link says.
Angiogenic cells may also help improve blood flow in peripheral vascular disease, a problem often encountered in diabetic patients, who can suffer from poor circulation in their limbs that causes pain or sores and may lead to amputation.
The potential of the two drugs for treating such conditions was addressed in another study by the research group, also published in a recent issue of Blood, which tested the effect of both AMD3100 and G-CSF in mice after blood flow to a leg had been impaired. Both drugs induced new blood vessels to grow in the affected legs of the mice, and combining the drugs had the greatest benefit.
"We are now working to set up a clinical trial to test G-CSF in patients with peripheral vascular disease," Link says. "We chose G-CSF in this case because it's not essential that the treatment act quickly - the condition has been present for months before the patients are treated - and the drug already has FDA approval for medical use. We want to find out if this treatment will lead to long-lasting improvement in blood flow, heal ulcers, relieve pain and prevent amputations."