Welsh study explores cell therapy for diabetic foot

By Editor
25th September 2019
Footcare, Research

An advanced cell therapy clinical trial called has been launched in Cardiff to help prevent limb amputations and reduce severe pain for diabetic patients by stimulating blood vessel growth.

The University Hospital of Wales is leading the European study called Salamander, which will examine the effects of injecting cells into the artery of the leg to see if the process aids the healing of ulcers not deemed suitable for radiological techniques or bypass surgery.

People with diabetes with the condition critical limb ischemia are in the late stages of peripheral arterial disease. Traditional treatment options focus on restoring the blood flow and opening the veins through stents, balloons, catheters or bypasses, where the surgeonmakes a new connection between blood vessels in the leg around the narrowed blood vessel, to try and improve the blood flow to the calf, foot and toes.

However, for many people with diabetic foot, it is not possible to use an endovascular (less invasive) or surgical procedures and the only remaining option is amputation of the foot.

Mr Ian Williams, Consultant Vascular Surgeon and principal investigator said: “This is an exciting study to examine the effects of injecting patients own cells into the artery of the leg and see if this aids healing of ulcers which is not deemed suitable for radiological techniques or bypass surgery. This also ultimately may reduce the need for extensive wound debridement or even amputation”

Dr Mark Briggs, Head of Cell and Gene Therapy Strategy at the Welsh Blood Service, explained: “The real diffefence here is that the patient’s own cells, sourced from their bone marrow, will be used to help revascularise their limbs and thus help reduce resting pain and hopefully prevent limb amputation. This is a new treatment and very different from all others currently on offer.  It is important to note that it treats one aspect of the symptom of diabetes associated peripheral arterial disease, which causes non-healing ulcers in toes and feet and not diabetes itself.”

The Welsh Blood Service, along with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board are part of the consortium, running the study called the Midlands-Wales Advanced Therapy Treatment Centre (MW-ATTC, comprising Birmingham, Wales and Nottingham).

The health consortium conducting this clinical trial is jointly led by the Welsh Blood Service (on behalf of NHS Wales) and the National Institute for Health Research Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre.

It has been awarded £7.3M of UK Government funding to ensure more patients benefit from a new generation of breakthrough therapies.  £1.5M will come directly to NHS Wales and £550K to Trakcel, a Welsh software company developing scheduling/tracking software for advanced therapies; based upon technology developed at Swansea University

For more information on the clinical trial, click here.

Picture credit: Trust “Tru” Katsande

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