Hepatocyte Growth Factor May Improve Painful Diabetic Neuropathy

Dr. John A Kessler MD The Ken and Ruth Davee Professor of Stem Cell Biology Department of Neurology Professor, Department of Pharmacology Northwestern University Feinberg School of MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. John A Kessler MD
The Ken and Ruth Davee Professor of Stem Cell Biology
Department of Neurology
Professor, Department of Pharmacology
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Kessler: Painful diabetic neuropathy afflicts millions of patients. It interferes with sleep and many daily activities of living, and predisposes to depression.

There is a loss of sensation in the legs which predisposes to foot/leg ulcers which may lead to amputation.

The only currently available treatments, other than controlling glucose levels, are drugs including gabapentin, pregabalin, or antidepressants which have major side effects and which help only some patients.

These are medications which must be taken daily or several times daily and are often poorly tolerated by patients.

This study examined the effects of a nonviral gene therapy approach for using hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) to treat patients with painful diabetic neuropathy. HGF helps to support the health of neurons and it also helps to grow new blood vessels to support nerve function.

Patients received two sets of treatments (injections) and were then followed for 9 months.  The treatment was exceptionally well tolerated –  literally without significant side effects.

The patients had highly significant reductions in pain and improvement in the quality of life, and their ability to sense gentle pressure (touch) was improved. The benefits lasted months without additional treatment.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Kessler: Hepatocyte growth factor gene therapy may provide a treatment that not only reduces symptoms and improves quality of life but also may help to regenerate nerve function.

No other such potentially regenerative treatments have ever been available.

The percentage of patients whose symptoms improved exceeded what has generally been reported for any other treatments.

If the findings are further substantiated in a planned large phase 3 study, this will be the first regenerative therapy for the nervous system.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Kessler: A planned phase 3 study will seek to make this an approved therapy that will be widely available.

Future studies will help to determine whether retreatments with hepatocyte growth factor will lead to actual cure of aspects of the nerve damage rather than just relief of symptoms.

Citation:

John A. Kessler, A. Gordon Smith, Bong-Soo Cha, Sung Hee Choi, James Wymer, Aziz Shaibani, Senda Ajroud-Driss. Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of HGF gene therapy in diabetic neuropathy. Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, 2015; DOI: 10.1002/acn3.186

 

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. John A Kessler MD (2015). Hepatocyte Growth Factor May Improve Painful Diabetic Neuropathy 

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