Experimental gene therapy has been shown to not only treat symptoms of painful diabetic neuropathy, but also help the body heal, new research suggests.
Diabetic neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes in which nerve damage can result in sudden and severe pain.
Researchers at Northwestern University, United States conducted a study that involved 84 participants who all suffered from painful diabetic neuropathy.
They found administering two low dose rounds of VM202 – a non-viral gene therapy – significantly improved their pain relief for up to a year.
How does VM202 work
VM202 contains human hepatocyte growth factor gene, which is responsible for the health and function of nerve fibres.
The group treated with the gene therapy were given injections twice during a two-week period, with VM202 administered into the back of the calf muscle and lower leg. A control group received saline placebo injections, while the group receiving the gene therapy either had a low dose or a high dose.
Dr. Senda Ajroud-Driss reported: “We found that the patients who received the low dose had a better reduction in pain than the people who received the high dose or the placebo. Side effects were limited to injection site reaction.”
“Those who received the therapy reported more than a 50 per cent reduction in their symptoms and virtually no side effects,” added Dr. Jack Kessler, lead author of the study. “Not only did it improve their pain, it also improved their ability to perceive a very, very light touch.”
Researchers are now planning a phase III study to further assess VM202 and believe this study offers hope for treating diabetic neuropathy.
The results of the study were published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translation Neurology.

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