Mark Yorek awarded continuing grant support from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs

The new grant “Diabetic Neuropathy: Function-Structure of Corneal Nerves to Assess Injury-Repair” will start Jan 1, 2017 . Direct costs are $275,000 per yea for 4 years.

 Currently, there is no treatment for diabetic peripheral neuropathy and the lack of a means for early detection complicates finding a successful treatment. Currently the only option physicians have to delay its progression is glycemic control. However, even good glycemic control provides little improvement of peripheral neuropathy in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Studies to be done in this proposal funded by Rehabilitation Research & Development from the Veterans Affairs will test a novel subjective assay for the early detection of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The method employs the use of hyperosmolar eye drops to activate transient receptor channel-8 receptors (TRPM8) in the cornea which results in reflex blinking and squinting if the nerves are intact. During pre-diabetes/diabetes, damaged peripheral nerves lose sensation and will have less reflex response to corneal stimulation. Thus, after application of a hyperosmolar eye drop to the cornea of a person with peripheral neuropathy they will have a reduced response and will blink and squint less than a normal subject. In this proposal we will also further examine the efficacy of a safe and cost effective treatment to slow progression and reverse nerve damage caused by peripheral neuropathy. We first introduced fish oil as a treatment of peripheral neuropathy in pre-clinical studies using pre-diabetic and diabetic rodents. We will expand those studies in this proposal, culminating in a feasibility study of treatment using human subjects with type 2 diabetes and neuropathy. If successful, this feasibility study will provide a proof of concept to advance fish oils to a larger clinical trial for diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

 Congratulations Dr. Yorek!

Monday, October 10, 2016