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Scientists have developed a new therapeutic approach that could save diabetic patients from amputation by promoting wound healing.

Diabetic patients frequently have lesions on their feet that are very difficult to heal due to poor blood circulation.

In cases of serious non-healing infections, a decision to amputate could be made.

“With this treatment, we can succeed in closing wounds and promoting healing of diabetic ulcers, we might be able to avoid amputations,” said Jean-Francois Cailhier, nephrologist at University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) in Canada.

We discovered a way to modify specific white blood cells – the macrophages – and make them capable of accelerating cutaneous healing, researchers said.

It has long been known that macrophages play a key role in the normal wound healing process. These white cells specialize in major cellular clean-up processes and are essential for tissue repair, researchers said.

They accelerate healing while maintaining a balance between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory reactions (pro- reparation).

“When a wound does not heal, it might be secondary to enhanced inflammation and not enough anti-inflammatory activity,” Cailhier said.

“We discovered that macrophage behaviour can be controlled so as to tip the balance towards cell repair by means of a special protein called Milk Fat Globule Epidermal Growth Factor-8, or MFG-E8,” Cailhier said.

Researchers showed that when there is a skin lesion, MFG-E8 calls for an anti-inflammatory and pro-reparatory reaction in the macrophages. Without this protein, the lesions heal much more slowly.

The team then developed a treatment by adoptive cell transfer in order to amplify the healing process.

Adoptive cell transfer consists in treating the patient using his or her own cells, which are harvested, treated, and then re-injected in order to exert their action on an organ.

 

Source: The Tribune

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