Reversing diabetic neuropathic pain

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Reversing diabetic neuropathic pain

Neuropathy is a debilitating condition that damages nerve cells and thus causes pain and diabetic neuropathy refers to the nerve damage due to diabetes. An international team of Australian and German scientists have shed a light on a molecule capable of inhibiting the protein under the skin, giving new hope to millions of people living with diabetic neuropathy. The current study on mice found out that the new protein would block the nerve channels causing pain. Scientists are hopeful that this finding will pave the path and  helps to develop a new drug to treat diabetic neuropathy, as well as other neuropathies. Senior Australian co-author, Dr Kate Poole, who was part of the research team, conducted the research at the Max Delbruck Centre for Molecular Medicine in Germany, said nerve damage generally cannot be repaired. "Therefore, proper pain management can significantly improve the lives of people with diabetic neuropathy and others living with nerve damage," said Dr Poole, who is now based at UNSW's School of Medical Sciences.

The skin of human is equipped with an array of receptors that allow the perception of the slightest brush, meaning some of these receptors can even detect extremely small movements. Such movements  are conveted into electrical signals through channels at sensory endings in the skin. The sensitivity of these channels is controlled by a protein called STOML3, which is required for normal receptor function. Researchers showed that with the inhibition of STOML3, it did not affect the non-pain-related touch sensitivity in mice, but making sure that sensitivity of touch was not disturbed by turning off the pain receptors.

Professor Gary Lewin, senior co-author, from the Max Delbruck Centre for Molecular Medicine, said the research represents a new approach arising from an understanding of the mechanisms that turn sensations of touch into pain. "If human patients respond the same way, this will represent a major step in treating a neuropathology that has a devastating effect on the lives of many people," Professor Lewin said.

Dr Poole said, "We will be studying force sensing molecules in the cells that make our cartilage to see if we can identify a way to reverse the cartilage damage that occurs when people develop osteoarthritis." "This also involves going back to the drawing board to look more closely at force sensing proteins in other cells and tissues so we can increase our understanding of how human cells sense their physical surroundings."


Nature Neuroscience

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Scientists discover how to reverse pain caused by diabetes-related nerve damage


Dr Kate Poole, Gary Lewin

Nature Neuroscience
Exploratory, Diabetic neuropathy, Nerves, Maintenance Therapy
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