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Diabetes limb loss could be reduced

17th July 2008

Scientists have made a discovery that they believe could reduce the risk of people suffering diabetes from losing a limb.

Researchers at the University of Bristol have highlighted a protein that they believe may be responsible for the circulatory complications that can lead to leg ulcers and gangrene.

Often amputation is the only course of treatment but now there is hope that the discovery could lead to drug treatment to reduce the number of amputations caused through diabetes-related conditions.

At present, about 100 people a week in Britain lose a limb to diabetes, often because of restricted blood supply to tissues leaving limbs such as legs and feet vulnerable.

The study in mice, part funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and published in Circulation Research, focused on a protein receptor called p75NTR which diabetes causes to be produced and undermines the body’s ability to push forward the healing process.

The BHF said the finding was highly significant and could pave the way for the development of a new drug.

Dr Iain Frame of the charity Diabetes UK said: "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."

Research shows that people with diabetes are 15 times more likely to need a lower limb amputation than those without the disease and as many as seven out of 10 people having an amputation will die within five years as a result of possible complications and their condition.

 

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