Researchers claim to have identified a protein found only in people with diabetes that may impair blood vessel growth and lead to amputation.
Scientists from the University of Bristol discovered that protein p75NTR, found in the cells of mice with diabetes, seems to stop new blood vessels growing. Reduced blood vessel function can lead to poor circulation and slow healing wounds in people with diabetes. In the worst cases, this may result in amputation.
The researchers, funded by the British Heart Foundation, found that by suppressing the gene that produces p75NTR, blood vessel function in mice with diabetes improved.
Finding out more about complications
“We must be cautious when looking at the results of experiments in animal and cell models of human conditions," said Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK.
"However, this is interesting new research. Finding out more about what can lead to ulcers, amputations and other serious complications in people with diabetes is vital to protect long-term health.
More research needed to prove effects in humans
“If this research is proven in humans, a treatment could be developed to remove the p75NTR protein from which many people with diabetes could benefit. After all, as we announced recently, 100 people a week have an amputation because of diabetes.
“More research is needed, as we do not yet know why the protein seems to prevent the growth of new blood vessels in people with diabetes. We look forward to the researchers doing more work on the protein to help with the development of improved treatments in the future.”