Tapping into our expertise to solve an escalating health challenge

A culture of collaboration is a key part of the Kolling Institute’s research impact, and just one example of this is a joint project to reduce the devastating impact of vascular disease linked to diabetes.

The study has brought together research experts from endocrinology and cardiology to curb the number of lower limb amputations due to peripheral arterial disease.

Alarmingly, an estimated eight people a day have a lower limb removed because of the disease.

This trend is expected to continue with an increasing number of people developing diabetes and subsequently a diabetic foot ulcer. It's estimated more than 530 million people across the globe are living with diabetes.

Our researchers have launched a study investigating the use of medications to treat diabetic foot ulcers and peripheral arterial disease.

Mirabegron is one of those medications being tested. It is currently used to treat overactive bladder syndrome, but this research is helping to determine if it could restore dysfunctional blood vessels, improve oxygen and nutrients in the tissue, and help chronic wounds.

Researcher Cameron Evans, from the Cardiovascular Discovery Group, said Mirabegron works by opening blood vessels and increasing levels of nitric oxide, one of the body’s natural antioxidants.

“This will help blood vessels and diabetic tissue function normally and heal ulcers,” he said.

“Importantly, we are testing the medication in a gel form as the concentration of drugs taken orally often isn’t high enough to provide a therapeutic effect.

“Current treatments include a cocktail of medications or vascular surgery which are costly and carry increased risk.

“We hope our research will confirm if this medication will reduce amputation, improve quality of life and increase life expectancy.

“One in five people with diabetes is likely to develop an ulcer, so we could potentially be helping more than 130 million people with our research.”

The research project has been supported by the Australian Centre for Accelerating Diabetes Innovation PhD grant.

Cameron said he was tremendously grateful to receive the grant.

“Working weekends and researching five days is a tough slog, so receiving the grant is an incredible help.

“It has given me dedicated time to progress our valuable investigations.”