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Scientists uncover potential treatment for painful side effect of diabetes

05-14-2012 09:30 BJT

LONDON, May 13 (Xinhua) -- An international team of scientists reported on Sunday in the journal Nature Medicine that they have a deeper understanding of why diabetics suffer from increased pain and temperature sensitivity, which may lead to new treatment for those side effects of diabetes.

Painful diabetic neuropathy, which is abnormal and persistent pain experienced by roughly 50 percent of patients with diabetes, impairs patients' quality of life and affects sleep, mood, mobility, ability to work and self-esteem.

Currently there is no clear understanding of how abnormal glucose metabolism produces heightened pain in diabetics, but this study offers vital new insights. The team showed that a compound called methylglyoxal (MG), which is produced excessively from glucose in diabetes, is a new culprit in pain discomfort.

"MG appears to attack and modify a key protein in the nerve endings called 'Nav1.8' causing nerves to become super-sensitive to pain and extremes of temperature," said Professor Paul Thornalley, who is a co-author of the study and from University of Warwick, UK.

"So diabetics typically develop a heightened sensitivity to hot and cold, accompanied with intense pain."

The research indicates that removing MG would lead to a reduction in pain and opens up new routes to develop accurate, targeted drug treatments to help diabetics. Researchers at Warwick are currently investigating ways to increase the amount of an enzyme named Glo1, which removes MG catalytically.

Professor Thornalley said: "With global rates of diabetes increasing each year, our research is offering valuable insight into the science behind why glucose metabolism causes so many side effects and ultimately how we can develop treatments to improve patient care and outcomes."

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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