UCD Launches Stem Cell Study to Reduce Amputations from Vascular Disease, Diabetes

Daily Democrat | 2011-03-20

SACRAMENTO -- UC Davis Vascular Center researchers have embarked on a highly anticipated study that involves using a patient's own stem cells to increase blood circulation to the lower leg with the hope of preventing amputation due to severe arterial disease or diabetes.

"Losing a limb is a devastating complication of advanced vascular disease," said John Laird, medical director of the vascular center and a principal investigator of the study.

"We are deeply committed to finding alternatives to amputations that save lives and improve quality of life for vascular patients."

An estimated 85,000 leg amputations are performed each year in the U.S. due to advanced atherosclerosis -- also known as critical limb ischemia -- which occurs when the buildup of fatty deposits, calcium and plaque in arteries greatly reduces blood flow to lower extremities. Current treatments for the condition include opening blockages with balloon angioplasty, bolstering weakened arteries with metal stents or bypassing damaged arteries with vein grafts. When the disease progresses to the point of limb-threatening ischemia and when angioplasty, stents or surgery are not viable, amputation becomes the only option.

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