The role zinc might have on the body is being investigated as researchers believe it could help form the basis of future diabetes treatments.

A team from the University of St Andrews have been looking at what causes blood clots and why they are commonly associated with those who have diabetes.

Through their work, they have turned their attentions to zinc, which helps the blood clot once someone has become injured.

However, clotting can sometimes occur in people who have health problems such as type 2 diabetes or obesity. When this happens, it can damage the blood vessels leading to stroke or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

The research team have discovered that the way zinc is transportation in the blood comes down to increased levels of fatty acids. If there is too much then the zinc cannot perform the way it should and it begins to interact with clot-activating proteins.

Dr Alan Stewart, Senior Lecturer and Principal Investigator at University of St Andrews, said:  “Our research suggests that by altering how zinc is handled, elevated levels of fatty acids in the circulation can contribute to the formation of unwanted and potentially dangerous blood clots.

”Ultimately, we hope that these findings will aid the development of new therapeutic strategies to reduce vascular disease risk in patients with type 2 diabetes, as well as other diseases associated with high levels of circulatory fatty acids”.

The study was funded by the British Heart Foundation. James Jopling, from the organisation, said: “Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes – conditions which can severely affect quality of life.

“As such, it is vital we understand more about it and how to treat it. Research projects like this one in St Andrews help inform how we treat patients, identify those at particular risk and ultimately find new ways to save and improve lives.”

The findings have been published in the scientific journal, Chemical Science.

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