New research findings have shown that a new type of inhibitor could prevent microvascular diabetic complications such as diabetic eye and kidney diseases. The research, led by the University of Bristol, will be published in Cardiovascular Diabetology.
Diabetes affects an estimated one in eleven adults worldwide, resulting in uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Even when this common disease is treated, it can lead to life-changing complications affecting the body’s small blood vessels, known as microvessels.
Treatments are available for patients suffering from microvascular complications such as diabetic eye and kidney diseases, but these treatments do not completely halt the progression. Ultimately, they can lead to blindness and kidney failure in patients.
The research team was interested in the protective lining of all blood vessels, known as the glycocalyx. It is known that this protective lining is damaged in diabetes. The researchers demonstrated in two mouse models that preventing damage to this protective layer could stop the development of diabetic eye and kidney diseases.
This is achieved through a „heparanase inhibitor.“ Heparanase acts like a pair of scissors, damaging the glycocalyx lining. Heparanase inhibitors prevent this damage from occurring. The research team has developed a novel class of these drugs that could be successfully developed as a treatment for patients.
Dr. Rebecca Foster, Associate Professor of Microvascular Medicine at the Bristol Medical School: Translational Health Sciences (THS) and lead author of the study, said: „Our findings are exciting because we have shown that a type of medication may be able to prevent various diabetic complications, which are a global health problem for adults with diabetes.“
We are currently conducting research to bring our novel class of inhibitors to clinical application. As over 8% of the adult world population is currently suffering from diabetes, we hope that patients can benefit from our findings in the future,“
Dr. Monica Gamez, Research Associate at the Bristol Medical School (THS) and corresponding author
The study was funded by the Medical Research Council [MRC].
Gamez, M., et al. (2024) Heparanase inhibition as a systemic approach to protect the endothelial glycocalyx and prevent microvascular complications in diabetes. Cardiovascular Diabetology. doi.org/10.1186/s12933-024-02133-1.