An emerging biomarker may eventually lead to new approaches for treating diabetics at risk of developing nerve damage, UNSW researchers have found.
The researchers say neuropathy in diabetic patients is under-diagnosed and early identification has been problematic. It is estimated that up to 50 per cent of diabetics end up with nerve damage.
They tested nerve excitability in diabetics with and without neuropathy and found those without irreversible nerve damage still showed excitability abnormalities well before the development of clinical symptoms.
Excitability testing provides a biomarker to identify the early development and severity of diabetic neuropathy, the key researcher Dr Cindy Lin said.
The research was led by UNSW and the School of Medical Sciences Dr Cindy Lin and is published in the journal Diabetes.
Professor Matthew Kiernan from UNSW says the research may lead to new therapeutic approaches for treating patients with diabetic neuropathy early.
It may yet prove possible to initiate therapy in diabetic patients well before they manifest the neurological symptoms and disability that inevitably reflects the presence clinical neuropathy, Professor Kiernan says in his commentary, also published in Diabetes.
Pharmacological manipulation of axonal membrane channels seems likely to provide further new therapeutic approaches for treating patients with diabetic neuropathy, he says.