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Critical limb ischaemia

When arteries become blocked, slowing or limiting blood flow, it can cause pain and sometimes the loss of a limb. Severe cases of critical limb ischaemia can be life threatening. Around 70% of patients are eligible for surgery; those who are not have had few options other than amputation. But regenerative therapies could change that.

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Our cells rely on a steady supply of oxygenated blood, delivered by the arteries and capillaries. But the build-up of sticky plaques can cause the arteries to narrow, restricting blood flow. In some people, this starves the limbs of blood, leading to a serious condition called critical limb ischaemia that kills more than half of those affected within 5 years of diagnosis. Although blocked arteries can sometimes be cleared through surgery, for many patients, the only option is amputation to remove the affected limb. This animation explores gene and cell-based therapies that aim to stimulate the growth of new blood vessels, revitalizing blood-starved tissues and helping to avoid the need for amputation.

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