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Wound Care > Research and Science > A newly-discovered protein gives hope for treatment that will reduce the risk of amputation

A newly-discovered protein gives hope for treatment that will reduce the risk of amputation

New findings from British scientists at the Universisty of Bristol could lead to future treatments to prevent lower limb amputations in diabetes (Caporali, A. et al. (2008) Circulation Research 103 (2): 15-26).

Amputation of toes or the whole foot is often no longer avoidable

Diabetes can have serious complications such as e.g. a diabetic foot. In Germany alone, every fourth out of the 4 mio people affected can be regarded as a patient at risk of developing a diabetic foot (Source: www.ot-forum.de). This occurs due to obstruced vessels which lead to a restriction of blood supply to and healing capacity of the affected areas. Because of physical reasons, legs and feet are often severely affected. After blood supply is obstructed, the tissue seems to be unable to heal itself
by growing new blood vessels, the wounds fail to heal and amputation may be the only option.

British scientists grouped around C. Emanueli found a protein, p57NTR, which plays a decisive role in the delayed tissue regeneration in diabetes patients. Diabetes causes the increased formation of p57NTR in the cells lining the blood vessels and prevents the growth of new blood vessels and recovery of tissue following inadequate blood flow. In healthy blood vessels, this protein is almost not present, so that the development of new blood vessels and healing of the obstructed blood supply and wounds is rapid.

In order to demonstrate the harmful action of this particular protein, Dr. Emanueli’s group put the  p57NTR into healthy blood vessel cells of tissue and restricted blood supply which caused impaired healing identical to that seen in diabetes. A further proof was achieved by carrying out an animal experiment in diabetic mice. The researchers inhibited this protein which was present due to diabetes before restricting the blood supply. The researchers found that p75NTR inhibition enabled the limb to recover from the restricted blood flow and be well supplied with blood.
The findings demonstrate that by suppressing the action of one particular protein, recovery of tissues following inadequate blood flow can be improved. Before these findings will open up new avenues for their use to combat diabetes-induced vascular disease, further laboratory tests of human specimen are required to confirm these preliminary results.