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[IP] Drug's promise does not pan out for diabetics
November 02, 2000
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People who have diabetes-related nerve damage do
not appear to benefit from a synthetic version of human nerve growth factor,
according to results of a new study.
Findings from animal studies and smaller human studies had suggested that
people with diabetic polyneuropathy--a nerve-damage disorder that results in
numbness, weakness, and pain--might benefit from recombinant human nerve
growth factor (rhNGF). The compound is a genetically engineered version of a
naturally-occurring factor that plays a major role in the development and
maintenance of the nervous system outside the brain and spinal cord.
In the new study, rhNGF did not improve the symptoms experienced by patients
with diabetic polyneuropathy, according to Dr. Stuart Apfel from Albert
Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York and associates.
The researchers compared 418 patients who received injections of rhNGF three
times a week for 48 weeks with 461 patients who received (inactive) placebo
injections. The findings are published in the November 1st issue of The
Journal of the American Medical Association.
"Overall, 31% of the patients improved, 38% worsened, and 31% remained
unchanged (after rhNGF treatment)," the authors report. These results appeared
to be slightly worse than those experienced by patients who received placebo.
Patients who received rhNGF were also much more likely to have pain or
sensitivity at the injection site, muscle aches, and swelling than those who
received placebo, the report indicates.
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