Corneal confocal microscopy (CCM) as a surrogate marker for diabetic neuropathy
Diabetic neuropathy is the most common and costly complication of diabetes, leading to nerve pain, foot ulceration and amputation in severe cases.
Currently, there is no reliable and non-invasive test to diagnose diabetic neuropathy, monitor progression of the disease, or assess improvement. Furthermore, there is no licensed therapy to prevent or reverse human diabetic neuropathy.
Manchester pioneered work for establishing the technique of corneal confocal microscopy (CCM) – used to image the eye – as a tool for diagnosing diabetic neuropathy at its early stages. CCM has now been adopted in many leading centres across the world to facilitate diagnosis and monitor progression or improvement in response to treatment.
Following on from this work, Dr Mitra Tavakoli is leading a programme of research investigating whether in vivo microscopic assessment of nerves in the eye can be used as a surrogate marker of diabetic neuropathy. This involves following the progress of a 400 patients over 8 months in 4 community settings in Manchester (Harpurhey, Hulme, Urmston and Altrincham) to understand the natural history of diabetic neuropathy, studying the molecular basis of neuropathy and pain, and exploring how to incorporate CCM into clinical practice.
This research will be conducted from April 2015 and is funded by NIHR-CLAHRC Greater Manchester and Heidelberg Engineering.