LSUHSC researchers working to prevent diabetic neuropathy

September 22, 2009

New Orleans, LA - Dennis Paul, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmacology, and Harry Gould, MD, PhD, the Tom Benson Professor of Neurology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, have been awarded one of two scientific research grants made in 2009 by The Neuropathy Association. The $80,000 grant will fund research to learn how to prevent nerve cell death in people with uncontrolled or untreated diabetes resulting in neuropathy.

In these patients, an enzyme called sodium potassium ATPase, know as the sodium pump because it pumps excess sodium ions out of the cell, does not work. When inflammation occurs, it triggers an increase in the number and sensitivity of sodium channels in the nerve cell membrane causing an influx of sodium with no way to get rid of it. Water follows the sodium into the nerve cells, causing swelling until the cells burst, a process called lysis.

Drs. Paul and Gould believe that by studying the role of nerve cell death by lysis, they can contribute a better understanding of how diabetic neuropathy develops, leading to better ways to influence the process.

"Understanding the mechanism of nerve cell survival after inflammatory or neuropathic insult will lead to new treatment and prevention strategies for diabetic neuropathy," says Dr. Paul.

The LSUHSC research team was chosen from thirteen applicants involved in neuropathy research at medical institutions across North America.

"We continue to invest in critical research that builds on our understanding of neuropathy's many forms, hopeful that our investments will lead to more effective treatment options and cures," says Thomas H. Brannagan, III, MD, Medical Advisor for The Neuropathy Association.
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Peripheral neuropathy is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States, affecting more than 20 million Americans. Neuropathy results from injury to the peripheral nerves - the motor, sensory and autonomic nerves - connecting the spinal cord to the muscles, skin, blood vessels and internal organs. It usually affects the hands and feet, causing weakness, numbness, lack of coordination, or pain. Diabetes causes about 30% of cases.

About LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans

LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans educates Louisiana's health care professionals. The state's academic health leader, LSUHSC comprises a School of Medicine, the state's only School of Dentistry, Louisiana's only public School of Public Health, and Schools of Allied Health Professions, Nursing, and Graduate Studies. LSUHSC faculty take care of patients in public and private hospitals and clinics throughout the region. In the vanguard of biosciences research in a number of areas in a worldwide arena, the LSUHSC research enterprise generates jobs and enormous economic impact, LSUHSC faculty have made lifesaving discoveries and continue to work to prevent, advance treatment, or cure disease. To learn more, visit http://www.lsuhsc.edu and http://www.twitter.com/LSUHSCHealth.

About The Neuropathy Association

The Neuropathy Association is the leading national nonprofit organization providing neuropathy patient support and education, advocating for patients' interests, and supporting critical research. The Association has more than 50,000 members and supporters and a nationwide network of 135 patient support groups, 5 chapters, and 12 Neuropathy Centers of Excellence. For information about peripheral neuropathy and The Neuropathy Association, visit www.neuropathy.org.

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

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