A compound found in excessive quantities in the glucose of people with diabetes may hold the key to successful treatment of neuropathic pain, says an international team of researchers.
The compound, methylglyoxal, attacks and modifies a protein, called Nav1.8, in nerve endings.
This damage causes nerves to become much more sensitive to pain and temperature extremes.The result in people with diabetes is neuropathy, nerve damage, and pain, especially in the limbs. An estimated 50 percent of people with diabetes suffer from this demoralizing and debilitating condition.
Researchers, led by the University of Warwick in the UK, think that removing methylglyoxal from diabetic glucose could be one way to counteract the development of neuropathy. They are currently looking into an enzyme called Glo1, which causes methylglyoxal to undergo a chemical change that cancels its ability to attack nerve endings.
Damage from high blood sugar has been a known factor for many years. But pinpointing this one specific effect opens the door for an effective anti-pain therapy.