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New research looks to prevent diabetes complications

New research being funded by Diabetes UK is investigating whether regular doses of medication derived from fish oil could be used to improve nerve damage and prevent diabetes complications such as amputation, blindness or heart disease.

Researchers at the University of Southampton will study 100 people at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes to determine whether a medication called OMACOR can improve the function of nerves and small blood vessels in the feet. OMACOR is a medication derived from fish oil found in Norwegian sardines.

Improving the lives of people with diabetes

Researcher Keith McCormick said: “OMACOR has already proved to be extremely successful in the treatment of high triglycerides (a type of fat) in the blood, but if this trial is successful it will provide evidence that treatment with these purified long chain fatty acids can also serve to improve small nerve and blood vessel function that is very relevant to people at risk of Type 2 diabetes. It is hoped this knowledge could then help to improve the lives of people with diabetes who are at risk of nerve and blood vessel damage.”

Preventing complications in those at risk

“We know that neuropathy and blood vessel damage are behind many of the complications of diabetes,” said Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK.

“Type 2 diabetes can go undetected for up to ten years, meaning 50 per cent of people already have complications, such as neuropathy, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke, by the time they’re diagnosed. The research being funded at the University of Southampton therefore has the potential to identify a readily available treatment to prevent some of the serious complications of diabetes and protect those at risk.”

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