Discover lends hope to individuals with sort 2 diabetes

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A new treatment for a major killer of people with type 2 diabetes may be in the works after a major discovery from the University of Otago.

Otago researchers have found a microscopic difference in the hearts of most people with blood sugar, which affects 10% of New Zealanders.

More than 50% of people with type 2 diabetes die of heart disease, and Associate Prof. Rajesh Katare of the Department of Physiology in Otago said that while stem cell therapy has been effective in treating heart disease, it has generally not been effective in diabetic hearts worked because tiny molecules called microRNA are different in about 70% of diabetics.

A specific microRNA called miR-30c was critical to the survival, growth and formation of new blood vessels for stem cells, said Prof. Katare.

There was a lack of diabetic stem cells, a finding that was confirmed when stem cells were taken from the heart tissue of patients who had undergone heart surgery at Dunedin Hospital.

However, researchers found that they were able to increase the level of the missing miR-30c in the heart with a simple injection, said Prof. Katare.

In addition to identifying the causes of poor stem cell function in a patient with diabetes, the new microRNA therapy could transform the treatment of heart disease in diabetics, said Prof. Katare.

The hope was that people with type 2 diabetes who needed stem cell therapy for their heart disease could receive an injection that would help the miR-30c microRNA and make the stem cell therapy work.

Although the study didn’t include data on non-diabetic stem cells, the researchers suspected that this would have far-reaching implications – on other stem cell therapies.

The hope was that stem cell therapy would be more effective and easier in all cases.

Researchers would do more laboratory tests before starting human trials, he said.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz