Diabetes: Effective relief for nerve pain steps closer
Drugs that block a protein called HCN2 may have the potential to provide much-needed relief for people with diabetes who have chronic nerve pain.
So concludes a study by researchers from King's College London in the United Kingdom, who report their work in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Diabetes is a long-lasting disease that arises when the body either cannot use or does not make enough insulin, which is a hormone that helps cells to turn blood sugar into energy.
The global burden of diabetes is rising. In 1980, around 4.7 percent of adults (108 million people) had diabetes. By 2014, this proportion had risen to 8.5 percent (422 million).
Many people with the condition experience diabetic nerve pain - that is, a chronic disorder that results from diabetic neuropathy, which is a type of nerve damage caused by high blood sugar.
Diabetic nerve pain is a complex condition with several symptoms that can include sharp shooting pains, tingling and prickling sensations, and extreme sensitivity to touch. The symptoms often start in the hands and feet before spreading up into the arms and legs.
The pain can be so bad that it impairs mobility, causing people to gain weight, which worsens the effects of diabetes and so sets up a vicious cycle.
Urgent need for effective treatments
"As many as 1 in 4 diabetics suffer from nerve pain," comments senior author Peter McNaughton, a professor in the Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases at King's College London. "Yet there are currently no effective treatments and people therefore typically must resign themselves to a life of c Continue reading