January 31, 2013

Diabetes breakthrough

Many possibilitiesScientists we fund at the University of Bristol have made a breakthrough in our understanding of why people with diabetes might be at higher risk of heart disease.

Thanks to your donations, we are funding a research team led by Professor Paolo Madeddu looking at the effect of stem cells on our blood vessels. The team have discovered that stem cells from the bone marrow, which help repair blood vessel wear and tear, are not released properly in people with diabetes.

Diabetes occurs when the level of sugar in the blood is too high. We know that having diabetes increases heart disease risk, but we don't fully inderstand the link. We fund a range of research which is looking to explain the link between diabetes and heart disease.

Understanding more about injured blood vessel repair will aid in the fight to mend hearts damaged after a heart attack

Other studies we funded have made links between diabetes and heart disease. For example, researchers at the University of Warwick have shown that people with diabetes have higher levels of 'ultrabad' cholesterol in their blood.

Our Associate Medical Director Professor Jeremy Pearson said: “Professor Madeddu and his team have shown for the first time that the bone marrow in patients with diabetes can’t release stem cells. Stem cells are important for the repair of blood vessel damage commonly found in people with the disease.

"If we could restore the ability of the marrow to release stem cells there is potential to reduce the effects of diabetes, and prevent the devastating consequences of the condition such as blindness and amputation. Understanding more about injured blood vessel repair will also aid in the fight to mend hearts damaged after a heart attack, a vital research area we fund through our Mending Mending Broken Hearts Appeal."

The study was published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation Research. Like all the research we fund, the study relied on donations from the public - please donate to help support our life-saving work.