A drug that might prevent or reverse nerve damage caused by diabetes is now being tested in humans in the United States. Diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage causes a loss of sensation in the hands and feet. Diabetic patients with nerve damage might not always notice small injuries, which when left unnoticed may become severely infected.
The new drug, designed by researchers at Sangamo Biosciences, uses a natural protein that turns on the patient’s own gene for helping nerve growth. Test results on diabetic rats showed that repeated treatments with the drug led to increasingly improved nerve function, according to researchers as reported in the journal Diabetes.
The researchers note that the Phase 1 clinical trial that they are conducting is the first human test of an entirely new class of drug that could turn any gene on or off depending on the disease. However, they add that while patients in the Phase 1 trial tolerated the drug well, it still needs to be tested for longer time periods to prove its safety – especially since the treatment would need to be administered repeatedly.
Most recent results of the study were published in the journals Diabetes, Nature and Nature Biotechnology.