Molecule Could Prevent Diabetes-Related Amputations

Enzymes that activate blood vessel formation crucial for wound healing.

Patients with diabetes have an increased risk of developing slow-healing wounds, especially on their legs and feet. These injuries result in a significant number of amputations, which causes poor patient outcomes and drives up the cost of healthcare.

A new study published by Antioxidants and Redox Signalling explored the mechanisms by which the molecule deoxyribose-1-phosphate stimulates the creation of new blood vessels. Since creating new blood vessels is crucial for tissue repair, this molecule may lead to new regenerative therapies for slow-healing wounds.

"We're very excited to provide new insights into how this crucial molecule works to stimulate the formation of blood vessels in people,” said lead researcher Giordano Pula, PhD. “We now hope to be able to use this knowledge to trigger the formation of new blood vessels in patients where this is required for tissue regeneration, such as diabetic foot ulcers."

The authors specifically focused on how deoxyribose-1-phosphate activates the NADPH oxidase 2 (NOX2) enzyme. This action stimulates the NFkB transcription factor, which turns on the genes involved in forming new blood vessels, according to the study.

Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2) plays a significant role in the formation of novel blood vessels. The authors report that VEGFR2 is currently a target in regenerative medicine research.

The authors hypothesize that these findings may help develop a therapy that could increase the formation of blood vessels to inhibit diabetic ulcers, thus preventing the need for amputations.

The investigators are now planning to analyze how deoxyribose-1-phosphate can stimulate skin repair by increasing blood vessel formation in wounds and slow-healing ulcers, according to the study.

Diabetes is a leading cause of the loss of toes, feet, or legs that is not the result of an accident; however, approximately half of these amputations can be mitigated with proper care, according to the CDC.

The CDC recommends that patients can reduce their risk of amputation by self-examining their feet daily and asking their healthcare providers to examine their feet at every visit. Patients can also manage their symptoms and keep their A1C levels in check to prevent ulcers.