The Program for Neurology Research & Discovery will receive $1.2 million over six years from the Norvo Nordisk Foundation, as part of a larger study to understand diabetic neuropathy in American and European populations.
The funds are part of an overall grant of 60 million Danish Kroner ($9 million) that will establish the International Diabetic Neuropathy Consortium (IDNC) of researchers in the U.S., Denmark and England. Diabetic neuropathy afflicts about half of diabetes patients. It is characterized by extreme pain in the feet, and is one of the leading causes of diabetes-related hospital admissions and amputations.
Researchers from the University of Michigan, the Odense University Hospital in Denmark, and Oxford University in the United Kingdom will work together on the study, the largest ever to investigate the mechanisms of diabetic neuropathy, or nerve pain. The grant’s lead investigator is Troels Jensen, a Clinical Professor in the Department of Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University.
“We are so fortunate to receive funding for this important work,” said PNR&D Director Eva L. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D. “Diabetes has reached epidemic levels in the United States and Europe, and by combining the brainpower and resources of these three major research institutions, we have a real chance of getting to the bottom of this excruciating condition that affects so many diabetes patients. We’re thankful to Novo Nordisk and Dr. Jensen for this opportunity.”
Dr. Feldman will travel to Denmark in May 2015 to help launch the IDNC initiative.
It is estimated that 26 million Americans and 60 million Europeans suffer from diabetes, and both numbers are expected to climb in the coming years.
Researchers hope to combine data from clinical studies, basic research and registry studies, so they can eventually assess an individual patient’s risk of developing diabetic neuropathy. Such early detection will allow physicians to treat the affliction more effectively.
Researchers in Dr. Feldman’s lab are focused on the following:
· Understanding how changes in blood glucose and lipids (blood fats) that result during diabetes damage nerves.
· Using nerve cells grown in a petri dish and treated with high glucose and lipids to discover new drugs to treat nerve damage.
· Determining the changes in DNA, RNA and protein from nerves in animals and patients affected with diabetes to uncover the cause of nerve damage. This will point the way to new treatments to protect and nourish the nerves under attack.
· PNR&D researchers are also studying the relationship of obesity, insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s disease, and links between diabetes and dementia.
The Novo Nordisk Foundation gave DKK240 in 2014 for four separate studies on the prevention of diabetes and obesity, and the complications of diabetes.