The Problem

Dr. Eva Feldman working with Dr. Amy Rumora in the lab
Dr. Amy Rumora & Dr. Eva Feldman

Diabetes has become a national and global epidemic and public health burden. There are 30 million Americans with diabetes, while another 85 million suffer from prediabetes. Worldwide, almost 463 million people had diabetes in 2019. That number is projected to increase to 700 million by 2045.

  • Type 1 diabetes (T1D) can develop at any age, but most frequently in adolescents and children. Here, the pancreas loses the cells that make insulin, the glucose regulating biomolecule.
  • Type 2 diabetes (T2D) accounts for around 95% of diabetes cases, and occurs more frequently in adults. The body develops resistance to insulin and can no longer regulate glucose. Unfortunately, controlling blood glucose does not stop T2D progression.
  • Additionally, a growing number of people have prediabetes, a condition characterized by an impaired ability to regulate blood glucose.
  • Complications of diabetes progression include nerve, eye, kidney, and cardiovascular damage. These can eventually lead to significant disability and possibly death.
  • Our focus is nerve damage to peripheral nerves in the arms and legs, which leads to neuropathy, or damage to the brain, which leads to cognitive decline. Diabetic nerve damage – neuropathy – is the most common diabetes complication and affects about 60% of diabetes patients and 30% of prediabetes patients.
  • Obesity and diabetes are closely associated; over 90% of diabetic people are overweight. Obesity and diabetes are the main drivers of nerve damage. Prediabetic individuals can also develop nerve damage.

"At least half of the 30 million Americans with diabetes have neuropathy. It’s a very common, prevalent problem in a very common, prevalent disease. Additionally, about 30% of the 84 million Americans with prediabetes have neuropathy."

Dr. Eva Feldman | U.S. News & World Report
  • Obesity, particularly fat concentrated around the waist, and high blood sugar contribute to neuropathy—pain, numbness, and weakness in the peripheral nerves. READ THE STUDY
  • Obesity is also a driver of cognitive decline. READ THE STUDY
  • Saturated fats, not sugars, impairs the ability of nerves to distribute energy. READ THE STUDY
  • A diet with unsaturated fats can prevent and improve neuropathy. READ THE STUDY
  • An imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants (oxidative stress) is linked to neuropathy. READ THE STUDY
  • Inflammation is a driver of pain in neuropathy. READ THE STUDY
  • We developed the Michigan neuropathy screening instrument (MNSI): Questionnaire and physical foot examination used by researchers worldwide. READ THE STUDY