Posted on Monday, January 22, 2018
As evidenced by statistics, diabetes is gaining the status of a potential epidemic in India with more than 62 million people affected with the disease. According to WHO estimates, globally 422 million adults were currently suffering from diabetes that caused nearly 1.5 million deaths annually. It is predicted that in India diabetes population may afflict up to 87 million by 2030. Approximately 25% of these diabetic patients develop foot ulcers during their lifetime. Beside this, impairment of wound healing also create problems in chronic diabetic patient, especially after they are in any surgical operation.
It is on this subject of diabetic wound healing that Durba Pal, assistant professor, IIT Ropar has based her research work. Her interest in the field was kindled while she was pursuing her PhD in the field of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes at Vishwa Bharati University in West Bengal. “My research helped me to understand the etiology (cause of a disease) and medications available for diabetes,” says Pal, who further worked on cellular reprogramming and wound repair during her postdoctoral studies at Ohio State University, US.
Pal joined IIT Ropar in 2016 in the department of Biomedical Engineering and recently won the AAPI (Association of American Physicians of Indian Origin) Young Investigator Award 2017 for her work in ‘miR-200b, a potential therapeutic target for diabetic wound healing’ at the 11th annual Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) in Kolkata in December 2017. In that, she was awarded the first prize from around 300 young physicians and researchers from around the world.
Speaking about her work on wound healing, Pal explained, “Slow healing of diabetic cut/wound is nothing new. My research work shows that a specific non-coding RNA, microRNA 200b, could be used as a potential therapeutic target for diabetic wound healing. High blood glucose level in diabetic patients is detrimental for wound healing and our work showed that following an injury, a transient down regulation of miR200b in endothelial cells favours rapid wound healing. High expression of miR200b in diabetic wound endothelial cells leads to its dysfunction and consequent impairment of wound healing.”
She adds further, “We have shown that diabetic wounds can be healed by delivery of anti-miR200b LNA (locked nucleic acid) at the wound edge leading to lower level of miR200b and improved wound angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels near wound that helps in healing) and blood perfusion (flow of blood to capillary bed in tissue).”
On the subject of miR-200b, Pal says, "For normal wound healing, transient low level of miR200b at wound edge is needed to initiate wound angiogenesis, but in diabetic wound, consistent high miR200b level at wound edge perturbed the wound healing. Such impairment of wound angiogenesis can be improved by delivering anti-miR200b LNA at diabetic wound edge.” Not just in diabetes, miRNAs have emerged as therapeutic targets for different diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, etc.
From a broader perspective Pal elaborates, “My research work is primarily focused on targeted miRNA-based therapeutics in disease biology and its application in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.”
As for the future, Pal anticipates that anti-microRNA200b LNA can bring hope to chronic diabetic patients who suffer due to its complications.
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