Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Anti-Muscarinics: New Wonder Drugs For Neuropathy? Or The Latest In A Long Line Of Nice Tries!

Today's post from (see link below) is one of a series of current articles all across the net about a potentially very effective new treatment for neuropathy. The difference between this one and the rest is that you can understand it, so kudos to the author for having 'translated' complex science into a language we can all understand. The article looks at a new development and study (still, unfortunately, at the rodent testing stage) aimed at blocking sensory nerves with medication, in order to cut out pain signals to the brain. By using the drug Pirenzepine (currently used to treat various conditions including Parkinson's) it is said that nerve growth and repair can be stimulated and that in itself is something new! If this drug is also effective on humans, it could provide a major breakthrough in the treatment of neuropathy. So many articles about this family of drugs are popping up that you get the feeling that serious people are seriously excited about it. Let's hope it all works out as it's meant to but scientists will have to accept that neuropathy patients have been here before and skepticism is more the order of the day than optimism. Nevertheless, it sounds very promising indeed. Remember that name...Pirenzepine.

Medication Could Reverse Peripheral Neuropathy  
By Pat Anson, Editor January 19, 2017

Blocking a sensory nerve signal with medication could prevent or even reverse symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, according to new research published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

About 20 million Americans suffer from peripheral neuropathy, which often causes a painful stinging or burning sensation in the hands or feet.

"Peripheral neuropathy is a major and largely untreated cause of human suffering," said lead author Nigel Calcutt, PhD, a professor of pathology at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. "It has huge associated health care costs."

In studies on diabetic laboratory rats, Calcutt and his colleagues identified a molecular signaling pathway that, when blocked with the drug pirenzepine, promotes sensory neuron growth and prevents or reverses the nerve damage caused by peripheral neuropathy.

The discovery suggests that pirenzepine and other anti-muscarinic drugs – a class of nerve medication that is already used to treat Parkinson’s disease, motion sickness, irritable bowel syndrome and other conditions – could be used as a new treatment for peripheral neuropathy.

"This is encouraging because the safety profile of anti-muscarinic drugs is well-characterized, with more than 20 years of clinical application for a variety of indications in Europe," said senior study author Paul Fernyhough, PhD, a professor in the departments of pharmacology and therapeutics and physiology at the University of Manitoba in Canada. "The novel therapeutic application of anti-muscarinic antagonists suggested by our studies could potentially translate relatively rapidly to clinical use."

The first symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are usually a tingling or numbing sensation in the toes, feet, and hands caused by small fiber nerve damage. The symptoms progress, spread and become more painful, dramatically affecting quality of life.

Researchers say treating the disease in its early stages is key.

“Since small fiber degeneration develops early in the human disease and can be reliably quantified using a variety of minimal or noninvasive techniques that can be applied iteratively, future clinical trials of anti-muscarinic drugs might feasibly focus on reversal of these early indices of neuropathy,” they said.

“Further, as anti-muscarinic drugs were effective in augmenting collateral (nerve) sprouting in our in vitro assay, this new therapeutic approach may be most effective during the early stages of a dying-back neuropathy prior to overt and/or complete fiber loss.”

Nearly 26 million people in the United States have diabetes and about half have some form of neuropathy, according to the American Diabetes Association. Small fiber neuropathy can also be caused by lupus, HIV, Lyme disease, celiac disease or chemotherapy.

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