Researchers have made a breakthrough discovery in uncovering the source of pain caused by diabetic neuropathy.
A team from King’s College London says the new finding could help them develop a new treatment to ease the pain which affects thousands of people with diabetes.
The trial, conducted on mice, showed pain caused by diabetic neuropathy is due to the over-activity of a particular molecule called HCN2. By blocking it the researchers were able to remove the sensation of pain, which could form the basis of significant future treatments.
Diabetic neuropathy develops when people with diabetes have poor long-term control of blood sugar levels. People who are overweight, over the age of 40 and have high blood pressure are also more prone to developing neuropathy.
It is thought the painful condition affects one in four people with diabetes. Symptoms can vary from prickling tingling sensations to sharp, shooting pains in the hands and feet. Treating neuropathy has always been challenging because lack of research has meant molecular causes are poorly understood.
First study author Dr Christoforos Tsantoulas, from the Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases at King’s College London, said: “At present we do not have selective drugs which can suppress the activity of HCN2 without affecting other bodily functions, such as the regulation of heart rate.
“This research provides a stimulus for the development of targeted pain drugs that can block HCN2 without affecting the activity of other molecules.”
Some anecdotal evidence suggests that neuropathy pain may subside if good blood glucose control is maintained over a long-term basis. Following a low-carb or ketogenic lifestyle can help you to better achieve good blood glucose control. For guidance towards following a healthy low-carb lifestyle, join Diabetes.co.uk’s acclaimed Low Carb Program.
The findings of the study have been published in the Science Translational Medicine journal.