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2nd December 2021 Latest News

Preventing Amputations from Diabetes

Emma Solly_THRF

Decreasing the risk of amputations for diabetic patients.

Worldwide, a limb is amputated every 30 seconds because of diabetes. This is a very scary statistic and not only creates a significant burden on patients’ quality of life, but can also be life-threatening.

What if there was a way to decrease the chances of this happening? PhD student Emma Solly is determined to find out!

Sometimes blood vessels in the body can be blocked, preventing tissues from getting the oxygen and nutrients needed. To overcome this, the body grows new blood vessels to restore blood flow to the area.

However, in people with diabetes, their ability to grow new blood vessels in response to wound injuries and blood vessel blockages is impaired, resulting in higher rates of lower limb amputations. This can also result in an increased risk of heart attacks or chronic non-healing wounds in patients.

Emma is researching whether microRNAs can regulate blood vessel growth and reduce the likelihood of an amputation. Her PhD is supported through KTDRA and The Hospital Research Foundation Group*, made possible thanks to the generous support from our donor community.

“Our group recently found that a microRNA, called miR-181c can regulate blood vessel growth but its role in diabetes is unknown,” Emma said.

“The aim of my PhD research is to determine whether miR-181c can be a new target to improve blood vessel growth for people with diabetes in the hope of reducing the need for amputations.”

To conduct this research, Emma is using a compound that blocks the action of miR-181c and testing the results on the way that endothelial cells (the main cell type in blood vessels) function.

“I hope to characterise the potential of miR-181c as a novel therapeutic target to promote blood vessel growth in patients with diabetes,” Emma said.

 “If successful, this work will help to inform the development of new therapies in the future.”

Emma said the funding from KTDRA and THRF Group has been a great head start for her research career.

“My PhD would not have been possible without The Hospital Research Foundation Group,” Emma said.

“It’s given me a great opportunity to fully focus on my research without having to worry about funding. I am incredibly grateful to KTDRA and THRF Group for funding me throughout my PhD.”