Newspaper Article - November 2019 Group Meeting

Newspaper Article - November 2019 Group Meeting

The group welcomed Walid Sweaad to talk about the project he is undertaking at the Imperial College London.  Walid was accompanied by his project supervisor Costanza Emanuelli and doctors from Brazil.  The evening also saw the drawing of the Christmas Rafle.

Mike gave out notices and advised the of the evening’s events – a ‘Bring and Buy sale’, the Christmas Raffle, the Christmas 100 club draw. Mike introduced Walid.  Walid thanked the audience for the opportunity of talking to people that had diabetes and could benefit from any discoveries that he makes.  Walid kindly wrote a piece on this project for the group, which is below.

“All the cells and tissues in our body rely on a steady supply of oxygenated blood and this is delivered by blood vessels known as arteries and capillaries. In the diabetic vasculature these vessels are exposed to elevated glucose levels for prolonged periods, resulting in damage to their inner walls. Over time these vessels become more vulnerable to the build-up of sticky plaques made of fat and cholesterol causing the vessel to harden and narrow, resulting in a reduction in blood flow and the starvation of downstream tissues and organs of oxygenated blood. Additionally, under normal conditions the body reacts to ischemia by generating new blood vessels. However, in diabetic patients this response is compromised and the vascular damage is aggravated. Depending on the location and severity of this blockage, the resulting complications manifest in the form of a number of macrovascular and microvascular diseases. One such disease is known as Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), which effects an estimated 20% of individuals over the age of 70 and results from the occlusion of an artery supplying the limb with blood. PAD can progress to its most severe form, a life-threatening condition known as Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI) characterised by chronic rest pain, ischemic ulcers, gangrene and an increased risk of amputation. Current treatments for CLI rely on surgeries to unblock or widen the obstructed vessel or bypass surgery to give the blood another route around the blockage. However, many CLI patients are poor candidates for surgery due to late diagnosis or severe comorbidities, in fact CLI patients face a 25-40% risk of minor or major amputation. There is therefore an urgent clinical need for the development of novel therapeutic strategies to give patients who are unsuitable for surgery another option. In this project we are investigating whether a new RNA chemical modification (known as “N6-Methyladenosine” or m6A) is a possible target to locally promote new blood vessel growth to restore the supply of blood to deprived limbs. We have found that diabetes dysregulates m6A in the cells that line our blood vessels. We have also used a mouse model of limb ischaemia to show that the primary protein that produces m6A is greatly reduced in the ischemic limbs of diabetic mice. More importantly, we find this protein to also be reduced in limb muscles of diabetic patients with CLI undergoing amputation. Additionally, this study is providing the first insights into the relevance of m6A in the regulation of the formation of new blood vessels. We also investigated whether restoring m6A to normal levels could be used as new therapeutic solution for ischemia associated with diabetes. Preliminary studies found that although overexpression of m6A levels in diabetic and non-diabetic mice with limb ischaemia increases the formation of new blood vessels, this was not accompanied by improved blood flow, which suggests the need for improving endothelial cell targeting of our molecular intervention.”

After Walid’s excellent presentation the group heard about what it is like having Diabetes in Brazil.  Brazil has the 4th largest incidence of diabetes in the world. The doctor specialised in Diabetes in pregnancy.  She advised us there is now a drive to educate those with gestational diabetes about food choices, with the hope that this will be a lifelong change to their eating habits and their families eating habits.

The group handed over a cheque for £5,000 to the researchers for their study.

After the excellent presentations the 100 club and the raffle was drawn.