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Insight into mechanisms of diabetes-induced microvascular disease reveals new therapies
Date:7/16/2008

New findings from Bristol scientists could lead to future treatments to prevent lower limb amputations in diabetes - which currently affect 100 people a week in the UK (source Diabetes UK).

The research from the University of Bristol is published online in Circulation Research and was funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and the European Vascular Genomic Network of Excellence (EVGN).

Diabetes can have serious complications like gangrene and skin ulcers due to a restriction of blood supply to and healing capacity of the affected areas and this causes the dysfunction of cells lining the blood vessels. Legs and feet are often severely affected, and, after blood supply is obstructed or injury, the tissue seems to be unable to heal itself by growing new blood vessels making the situation much worse. If gangrenous wounds fail to heal amputation may be the only option.

Dr Costanza Emanueli, BHF Reader at Bristol University and colleagues at the Bristol Heart Institute have previously found that a group of growth factors - known as neurotrophins - play a role in the vascular system. Growth factors act on two completely different types of cellular receptors. One type, trk, mediates positive actions, such as survival and growing new blood vessels and the other, p75NTR, has not been comprehensively characterised.

In healthy blood vessels, the cells that line the blood vessels do not possess the p75NTR receptor, and the development of new blood vessels and healing of the obstructed blood supply and wounds is rapid. However, diabetes causes the cells lining the blood vessels to produce the p75NTR receptor, and prevents the growth of new blood vessels necessary for blood supply and healing of damaged tissue.

Dr Emanueli's group found that if they put the receptor gene into healthy blood vessel cells, the cells became dysfunctional. Equally, injecting the gene into healthy muscle and then restricting blood su
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Contact: joanne.fryer@bristol.ac.uk
joanne.fryer@bristol.ac.uk
44-117-331-7276
University of Bristol
Source:Eurekalert

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