Non-Viral Gene Therapy Provides Relief for Diabetics With Painful Condition

by Bidita Debnath on March 5, 2015 at 11:19 PM
Font : A-A+

 Non-Viral Gene Therapy Provides Relief for Diabetics With Painful Condition

Walking barefoot on sand "felt like walking on glass" for Keith Wenckowski, who has lived with type-one diabetes for more than twenty years.

One of the participants in a new Northwestern Medicine study who suffered from painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN), Wenckowski finally found relief from the constant foot pain that required him to wear shoes at all times, even to the beach.


The study found that those with PDN who received two low dose rounds of a non-viral gene therapy called VM202 had significant improvement of their pain that lasted for months.

"I can now go to a beach and walk on the sand without feeling like I am walking on glass," Wenckowski said.

The results of this phase two, double-blind, placebo-controlled study will be published March 5 in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translation Neurology.

Right now there is no treatment for this disease of the peripheral nerves that affects 20 to 25 percent of diabetics. Patients with the most extreme form of the disease feel intense pain with a slight graze or touch. The pain can interfere with daily activities, sleep, mood and can diminish quality of life.

"Those who received the therapy reported more than a 50 percent reduction in their symptoms and virtually no side effects," said 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."

Kessler is the Ken and Ruth Davee Professor of Stem Cell Biology in the department of neurology and a professor in the department of pharmacology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He also is an attending physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

VM202 contains human hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) gene. Growth factor is a naturally occurring protein in the body that acts on cells -- in this case nerve cells -- to keep them alive, healthy and functioning. Future study is needed to investigate if the therapy can actually regenerate damaged nerves, reversing the neuropathy.

Wenckowski had continuous numbness, but now, more than a year since he received the therapy, his symptoms have not returned. "I am hoping the effects I am feeling do not cease," he said.

Patients with painful diabetic neuropathy have abnormally high levels of glucose in their blood. These high levels of glucose can be toxic.

Damaged nerve cells send out abnormal signals, causing the patients to feel pain, usually in their lower limbs and fingertips. The condition can lead to injuries, chronic foot ulcers and even amputations.

Painkillers and other medications can alleviate symptoms, but those drugs often come with undesirable side effects.

"We are hoping that the treatment will increase the local production of hepatocyte growth factor to help regenerate nerves and grow new blood vessels and therefore reduce the pain," said Dr. Senda Ajroud-Driss, associate professor in neurology at Feinberg, an attending physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and an author of the study.

Eighty-four subjects with PDN completed this study. They went to a clinic twice in a two-week timespan for a series of injections into the back of their calf muscles and lower legs. Some received injections of a saline placebo, others a low dose of the therapy and others a higher dose.

"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," Ajroud-Driss said. "Side effects were limited to injection site reaction."

The subjects reported their pain symptoms to the researchers over the next nine months. At three months, patients in the low-dose group experienced a significant reduction in pain compared to the placebo group. The effect persisted at six and nine months in the low-dose group, the scientists said.

A future, much larger phase three study will soon be underway.

"Right now there is no medication that can reverse neuropathy," Kessler said. "Our goal is to develop a treatment. If we can show with more patients that this is a very real phenomenon, then we can show we have not only improved the symptoms of the disease, namely the pain, but we have actually improved function."

Source: Medindia

News A-Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
World Alzheimer's Day 2021 - 'Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer's
'Hybrid Immunity' may Help Elude COVID-19 Pandemic
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
DNA Finger Printing Diabetes - Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose (SMBG) Diabetes and Exercise Reiki and Pranic Healing Genetic Testing of Diseases Pancreas Glycemic Index Type 2 Diabetes Weaver Syndrome Monogenic Forms of Diabetes 

Recommended Reading
Tips for Diabetics to Stay Healthy During Holiday Season
A Little of extra planning and self-care tips can keep diabetes under control during holiday ......
Smart Insulin to Make Treatment Easier for Type 1 Diabetics
People with Type 1 diabetes may no longer need to inject multiple shots of insulin everyday to ......
Pancreatic Islet Cell Transplantation Restores Type 1 Diabetics' Blood Sugar Defense Mechanisms
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) patients who have developed low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) as a complication ....
External Artificial Pancreas Better Than Conventional Treatments in Effective Glucose Control Among Diabetics
Utilizing an external artificial pancreas is more effective in improving glucose control and ......
Diabetes - Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose (SMBG)
Self-Monitoring Of Blood Glucose (SMBG) is one of the greatest advancements in the management of Di...
Diabetes and Exercise
Regular exercise especially in type II diabetes not only helps reduce the sugar but also reduces the...
DNA Finger Printing
DNA fingerprinting is a technique which helps forensic scientists and legal experts solve crimes, id...
Genetic Testing of Diseases
Genetic testing helps to confirm a genetic condition in an individual and involves q complex laborat...
Glycemic Index
GLYCEMIC INDEX (GI) is a scale which helps to rank carbohydrate- rich foods, depending on how they a...
Monogenic Forms of Diabetes
The most common types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2 are polygenic meaning developing from multiple ...
Type 2 Diabetes
Globalization and changing lifestyles has made diabetes very common in developing countries so much ...
Weaver Syndrome
Weaver syndrome is a genetic disorder in which children show accelerated bone growth, advanced bone ...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use