Diabetic neuropathy, a complication of diabetes, affects millions worldwide, causing pain, numbness, and a reduced quality of life. Despite significant advancements in diabetes management, effective treatments for diabetic neuropathy remain unrealised.
We asked one of MAC Clinical Research’s Clinical Research Physicians, Dr Lucy McLellan, about diabetic neuropathy, its impact on people’s lives, and the current landscape of new treatments.
What is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Dr Lucy said: “diabetic neuropathy is a common long-term complication for people with diabetes. It can cause pain, numbness, sensitivity, and unpleasant sensations in the affected areas. These symptoms can affect people’s ability to participate in their usual activities, including work, hobbies, and sleep.”
It’s estimated that around half of people living with diabetes, both type one and type two, will develop diabetic neuropathy1. Diabetic neuropathy is a consequence of prolonged elevated blood sugar levels, leading to nerve damage. This damage can manifest in various ways, including tingling sensations, pain, and numbness, predominantly in the hands and feet. Diabetic neuropathy is a broad term, which encompasses various types of nerve damage associated with diabetes, with diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain (DPNP) specifically referring to the pain that can result from damage to the peripheral nerves, and typically affects the feet and legs, but can also occur in the hands and arms, too.
Current Diabetic Neuropathy Treatments
Current therapeutic options primarily focus on managing symptoms rather than addressing the underlying causes of diabetic neuropathy, highlighting the urgency for more effective interventions to not only alleviate discomfort but also halt or reverse nerve damage.
Dr Lucy adds: “The current approved medications to treat DPNP, such as certain antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and pain relievers, can also be associated with various side effects, making it difficult to manage DPNP effectively. Many people also find the current medications ineffective or have persistent troublesome symptoms.”
How are treatments advancing?
Clinical trials play a pivotal role in advancing our understanding of diabetic neuropathy and developing potential new therapies. Dr Lucy highlights the importance of taking part in these trials: “Clinical trials help determine if investigational drugs are safe and if they can improve people’s health. Before any medication can be approved and made available to the public, it must go through several stages of research, to make sure that it is safe and effective.
“Testing the study drug in adults with DPNP will help us learn what effects it may have on this condition. The trial will also look at the safety of the study drug and whether it is effective compared to a placebo, which has no active ingredients.”
How to get involved in a clinical trial?
MAC Clinical Research is currently running a clinical trial for DPNP to test a potential new treatment for the condition. Dr Lucy emphasises MAC’s understanding of diabetic neuropathy and the ways patients can be accommodated; she said: “MAC can help arrange your travel to and from the clinic if you are unable to drive. If you do drive, then we will reimburse your travel costs.
“In addition, we provide refreshments while you are at the clinic and you will receive a payment for each visit, to compensate you for your time. If you have any concerns or questions about attending your local MAC site, then we are always happy to discuss this with you in advance of your visit.”
To be eligible for the clinical trial you must:
- Be aged 18 to 75.
- Have a BMI of 18 to 40kg/m2.
- Have a diagnosis of type I or type II diabetes.
- Have neuropathy in both feet or both legs that has been present for six months or more and is due to diabetes.
Other eligibility criteria will apply.
If eligible, you can receive up to £1050 plus reasonable travel expenses. For more information and to register your interest, visit MAC’s diabetic neuropathy research page.
1 Current Diabetes Reports – Epidemiology of Peripheral Neuropathy and Lower Extremity Disease in Diabetes