Diabetics are naturally prone to a large array of complications and infections, most of which are worsened by their inability to heal well. But transplanting cord blood-derived endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) has been found to “significantly accelerate” wound closure in diabetic mice, says a team of Korean researchers.
EPCs are rare cells that circulate in the bloodstream and have the ability to transform into endothelial cells, the cells that make up the lining of blood vessels. The ability to reconstruct blood vessels is essential to wound healing. They have already been used to treat strokes, heart attacks and peripheral artery disease (blockage of the blood flow to organs and extremities), which is also common in diabetics.
“EPCs are involved in revascularisation of injured tissue and tissue repair,” said the study’s chair, Dr Wonhee Suh of the CHA University Stem Cell Institute in Seoul. “Wounds associated with diabetes that resist healing are also associated with decreased peripheral blood flow and often resist current therapies. Normal wounds, without underlying pathological defects heal readily, but the healing deficiency of diabetic wounds can be attributed to a number of factors, including decreased production of growth factors and reduced revascularisation.
“The transplantation of EPCs derived from human umbilical blood cells accelerated wound closure in diabetic mice from the earliest point,” said Dr. Suh. “Enhanced re-epithelialisation (growth of protective skin cells) made a great contribution in accelerating wound closure rates.”
Experts say this study opens the possibility of the future clinical use of endothelial progenitor cells derived from cord blood in the treatment of diabetic wounds. To read more, click here.