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The BBC are reporting: Hope over diabetes wound healing
Scientists have engineered a protein which may help speed up impaired wound healing in people with diabetes.
Slowed wound healing, mainly due to damage to small blood vessels, can be a serious complication of diabetes.
Korean researchers gave the protein to diabetic mice, and found it helped to speed up wound healing by promoting new blood vessel growth.
The researchers, writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, say they are working on a human form.
The protein in question, angiopioetin-1, is naturally produced by the body, where it helps to promote growth.
A team from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology manufactured a synthetic form which was more stable than its natural counterpart.
They injected it into mice 12 hours after a deep cut was made in the animals' tails.
The wound closed faster in those animals who received the injection, and the skin regenerated more quickly.
Analysis showed a higher density of blood vessels around the wound.
This suggests the protein helped to speed up the healing process by triggering the development of blood vessels that supply nutrients to the tissues at the site of the injury.
It also seemed to stimulate growth of new lymphatic vessels in the immune system.
Applying the protein in a saline solution directly to the wound produced a similar effect.
Lead researcher Dr Gou Young Koh told the BBC News website that at present impaired wound healing could result in some people with severe diabetes losing limbs.
He hoped that his work would eventually end the need for such drastic measures.
Amanda Eden, of the charity Diabetes UK, said: "The healing of wounds is a problem for people with diabetes who do not have good blood glucose control or have circulatory problems.
"Diabetes UK would welcome any safe effective method of treatment which could help people with diabetes make a swift recovery with wound healing.
"This research is in its infancy but we look forward to future results.