University of Otago researchers have discovered a way to treat heart disease people with type 2 diabetes, more than 50 percent of people with this type of diabetes die from heart disease.
Associate Professor Rajesh Katare, of the Department of Physiology, says it has been known that stem cells in the heart of diabetic patients are impaired. For diabetic hearts, stem cell therapy has proven to be inefficient.
“Based on the results of laboratory testing, we identified the number of microRNAs that are impaired in stem cells of the diabetic heart,” Associate Professor Katare says.
“Among several microRNAs we identified that one particular microRNA called miR-30c – which is crucial for the stem cells’ survival, growth and new blood vessel formation – is reduced in the diabetic stem cells. All these functions are required for stem cell therapy to be successful in the heart.
“Importantly, we also confirmed that this microRNA is decreased in the stem cells collected from the heart tissue of the patients undergoing heart surgery at Dunedin Hospital.”
Following this, the researchers were then able to increase in the heart the level of miR-30c missing by a “single injection”.
“This resulted in significantly improving the survival and growth of stem cells in the diabetic heart,” Associate Professor Katare says.
Researchers will now undertake more laboratory testing before moving on to humans.