Diabetes affects more than 29 million Americans, or 9.3 percent of the population. One of the many complications of the disease is the inability of wounds to heal properly because diabetic patients often have nerve damage, weakened immune systems or narrow arteries. In 2010, 73,000 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations were performed in the United States due to diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) announced Tuesday that it is funding a $1.6 million Accelerator Award to Mayland Chang, research professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame, to help lower that number. The research award, part of the association’s Pathway Awards program, will provide funding for Chang’s project, “A Strategy to Accelerate Diabetic Wound Repair,” over five years.
Chang’s research is broadly focused on exploring the molecular basis of disease and designing small molecules for therapeutic interventions. She has ongoing projects related to stroke, traumatic brain injury, cancer metastasis and MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). A newer area of work for Chang is to understand why diabetic wounds are so difficult to treat and to develop novel therapeutics to promote wound healing.
Using a mouse model and a novel diagnostic resin that binds to active forms of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), proteases involved in tissue remodeling, Chang’s research group found that MMP-9 may cause diabetic wounds and MMP-8 may be involved in wound repair. They also demonstrated that selective pharmacological inhibition of MMP-8 delayed wound repair and inhibition of MMP-9 accelerated wound healing.
Using a combination of research techniques, Chang’s project will identify the mechanisms associated with diabetic wound development, progression and healing; study bacterial colonization in diabetic wounds; and find interventions that expedite the healing process. To achieve these goals, she will validate the roles of MMP-8 and MMP-9 in diabetic wounds, investigate the relevance of these MMPs in human patients, evaluate novel MMP-9 inhibitors and determine the contribution of bacterial infection on wound repair.
“This research project will allow intervention of chronic wounds, a complication of diabetes for which pharmacological clinical recourse is not available,” Chang said. “Our work holds great promise in addressing an unmet medical need.”
Accelerator Awards are designed to support early-career investigators or established researchers who are accomplished in other fields, but would like to apply their expertise to innovative diabetes-related research topics.
Contact: Mayland Chang, 574-631-2965, firstname.lastname@example.org