An amputation is performed worldwide every 30 seconds on a person with diabetes. Researchers are testing a new way to improve circulation and save limbs with a patient’s own cells.

It is called angiogenesis. Researchers at Temple University Health System are testing the therapy that prompts the body to regrow blood vessels. Doctors extract bone marrow from a patient’s hip. The marrow is stimulated to produce new cells. Those cells are re-injected into patients, and create brand new vessels needed to improve blood.

"In those patients where we cannot do surgery to restore blood flow, we actually try and see if we can improve the flow by creating new blood vessels," said Dr. Eric Choi.

The earlier patients seek treatment, the better the outcome.

"If we can help them early, we don’t have to have 150,000 patients have foot or leg amputations," said Choi.

Nerve damage and poor circulation in diabetics’ feet can lead to ulcers. If not treated, the toe, foot, or even part of the leg may have to be amputated.

Choi says angiogenesis may increase the risk of developing cancer, so it may not be an option for all patients. Right now researchers are recruiting for the study. For more information visit, http://tuh.templehealth.org/content/limb_salvage.htm.