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Medical Minute: Nerve Damage

Sixty percent of people with diabetes will eventually develop nerve damage, which can lead to foot ulcers and amputations. While there are therapies to treat the disease, no treatment currently available can reverse it. Now, doctors say they may have found one.

It may look easy, but for Greg Stone, walking is becoming a challenging chore. Greg has diabetes. He also has neuropathy, or nerve damage, a complication that affects 60 percent of diabetics.

"I'm losing more and more feeling all the time. The tingling gets worse and then after the tingling, things get numb, and then after a while, you have no feeling at all."

Dr. Aaron Vinik from Eastern Virginia Medical School hopes this drug will change Greg's future.

"This compound improves the blood supply to the nerves, so it addresses the basic biology of nerve damage," says Dr. Vinik.

By improving blood supply, PKC inhibitors slow the progression of neuropathy and even reverse it.

"Currently, there is no treatment for diabetic neuropathy, so this is the first in its class of compounds that would address the underlying disease."

The drug could potentially prevent foot ulcers in diabetics, which would ultimately prevent amputations. There are 85,000 amputations each year. Most of them are a result of neuropathy. Greg applauds the research.

"I think we're on the edge of a whole new generation of potential drugs that are coming that will see the day when neuropathy can be treated."

"One of these days, there's hope that someday again in the future, I can regain the feeling that I've already lost."

For more information, contact:

Aaron Vinik, M.D.
Strelitz Diabetes Institutes of Eastern Virginia Medical School
P.O. Box 1980
Norfolk, VA 23501
(757) 446-5912

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