JDRF industry partner Sangamo BioSciences said that its Phase II trial of a gene therapy drug showed significant results in reversing and repairing diabetic nerve disease. The trial evaluated a gene therapy to treat mild to moderate nerve damage in the legs. A common diabetic complication, “peripheral sensory neuropathy” is associated with the loss of small nerve fibers in the arms and legs, often leading to a loss of sensation and motor function as nerve damage progresses. The Sangamo study showed that the drug has a direct positive effect on nerve regrowth, and that it is safe. People with diabetic neuropathy who were given the therapy had a significant increase in the number of these small nerve fibers in the skin. The data from this and another study in people with severe neuropathy will form the basis of an additional study to confirm these findings.
The therapy promotes the production of a specific protein linked to nerve growth and function. An increase in these proteins are thought to protect and repair nerve damage in people with diabetes—while current treatments only address the pain associated with neuropathy.