The study, conducted in a mouse model, is published in Cardiovascular Diabetology, and was funded by the Medical Research Council.
Diabetes, a disease which results in uncontrolled blood glucose levels, is estimated to affect one in 11 adults worldwide. Even when managed, this common disease can result in life-altering complications, impacting the small blood vessels of the body, known as the microvasculature.
While treatments are available for patients who develop microvascular complications, such as diabetic eye and kidney disease, these treatments do not fully delay progression. Eventually they may result in blindness and kidney failure in patients.
Developing a novel class of drugs
The research team was interested in the protective lining of all blood vessels, called the glycocalyx. This lining is known to be damaged in diabetes.
The researchers showed in two mouse models that by preventing damage to this protective layer, the development of diabetic eye and kidney disease could be stopped.
This is achieved using a ‘heparanase inhibitor’. Heparanase acts likes a pair of scissors, damaging the glycocalyx lining. Heparanase inhibitors stop this damage from happening.
The research team has developed a novel class of these drugs, which could be developed as a medication to treat patients.
Hope that patients could benefit in the future
Dr Rebecca Foster, at the University of Bristol, and senior author of the study, said:
Our findings are exciting as we have shown that one type of medication might be able to prevent different diabetic complications, which is a global health problem for adults living with diabetes.
Dr Monica Gamez, at the University of Bristol and corresponding author, added:
We are currently conducting research to advance our novel class of inhibitors to clinical use. With over 8% of the global adult population currently living with diabetes, we hope patients could benefit from our findings in the future.
Content courtesy of the University of Bristol.
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