Blocking a sensory nerve signal with medication could prevent or even reverse symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, according to new research published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
About 20 million Americans suffer from peripheral neuropathy, which often causes a painful stinging or burning sensation in the hands or feet.
“Peripheral neuropathy is a major and largely untreated cause of human suffering,” said lead author Nigel Calcutt, PhD, a professor of pathology at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. “It has huge associated health care costs.”
In studies on diabetic laboratory rats, Calcutt and his colleagues identified a molecular signaling pathway that, when blocked with the drug pirenzepine, promotes sensory neuron growth and prevents or reverses the nerve damage caused by peripheral neuropathy.