U-M researchers stand for World Diabetes Day
Researchers from the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery (PNR&D) gathered earlier this week to support World Diabetes Day, celebrated on Nov. 14 with the theme “Diabetes and Women — Our Right to a Healthy Future.”
Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., affecting more than 29 million people with another 86 million showing pre-diabetic signs. The number of diabetes patients is increasing by 5 percent per year and more than one in three Americans born in 2000 will likely develop diabetes in their lifetime.
PNR&D, under the direction of Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., is a team of more than 30 physicians and neuroscientists dedicated to understanding neurological disorders and finding better treatments and cures. Diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage, is the leading cause of diabetic amputations and can also cause damage to the heart and eyes.
“Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in our country and around the world,” Feldman said. “And the sad fact is that its numbers will continue to climb. Its neurological complications can be devastating, and we are determined to understand those complications so we can treat and ultimately cure them.”
Understanding diabetic neuropathy is a main focus of PNR&D scientists:
- PNR&D scientists have developed a diagnostic procedure for peripheral neuropathy that is used worldwide.
- PNR&D researchers have discovered that excess fats in the bloodstream (dyslipidemia) may play a greater role in diabetic neuropathy than sugars in the bloodstream — a finding that may help find new treatments.
- The program’s laboratory is working to understand how excess fats in the bloodstream negatively impact the human brain — and developing studies in patients that identify how obesity and diabetes can reduce a patient’s ability to think, as well as reduce strength and mobility.
- Next steps include conducting clinical trials in a number of distinct populations to compare the nervous system benefits of weight loss, increased exercise and bariatric surgery.
World Diabetes Day focused this year on women’s health. According to the International Diabetes Federation:
- There are currently more than 199 million women living with diabetes. This total is projected to increase to 313 million by 2040.
- Two out of every five women with diabetes are of reproductive age, accounting for more than 60 million women worldwide.
- Diabetes is the ninth leading cause of death in women globally, causing 2.1 million deaths per year.
- Women with type 2 diabetes are almost 10 times more likely to have coronary heart disease than women without the condition.
- Women with type 1 diabetes have an increased risk of early miscarriage or having a baby with malformations.
For more information about the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery, please click here.