Priority 2

Peripheral neuropathy and diabetic foot syndrome

Priority 2 - Peripheral neuropathy and diabetic foot syndrome leadership team:

Dr Matthew Malone (podiatrist)
Professor Robert Fitridge (vascular surgeon)
Associate Professor Paul Wraight (endocrinologist)
Professor Allison Cowin (scientist)

Approximately 50,000 Australians have diabetes related foot disease (DFD). It is the leading cause of amputations and a top 20 cause of hospitalisations. DFD mortality rates are worse than many cancers, and it costs Australia an estimated $1.6B annually. Peripheral sensory neuropathy (PSN) is a major complication of type 2 diabetes and in people with DFD, 80% exhibit PSN. Half of people with PSN experience symptoms such as frequent falls, balance issues and debilitating pain. There are limited treatment options.

Whilst most acute wounds in healthy people undergo orderly repair, people with diabetes are at higher risks of impaired wound healing and infection. Only 30% of all Diabetes Related Foot Ulcers (DRFU) heal within a 12-week treatment period. They often last 6-12 months, recur in 60-70% of patients, can lead to loss of function and decreased quality of life (QoL), and are a significant cause of morbidity. The longer an ulcer remains un-healed, the greater the risk of infection and amputation. Projects 2A and 2B will address unmet needs in PSN treatment, while 2C and 2D will principally accelerate new DRFU diagnostics and therapeutics.

Diabetic neuropathy treatment

(2A) Triple therapy for painful peripheral neuropathy - Led by Associate Professor Spiros Fourlanos

(2B) A subperceptual stochastic resonance electrical stimulation (“Feeling Aid”) device - Led by Professor Paul Breen and Associate Professor Jorge Serrador

Diabetes related foot ulcer diagnosis/treatment

(2C) Use of thermal imaging to predict ulcer healing status - Led by Professor Dinesh Kumar and Associate Professor Elif Ekinci

(2D) UNICORN project will complete a non-inferiority RCT comparing narrow versus broad-spectrum antibiotics for mild-moderate foot infection- Led by Professor Robert Fitridge, Dr Matthew Malone, Professor Alison Cowin and Associate Professor Paul Wraight

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