People who reported painful diabetic neuropathy and who received two low dose rounds of a non-viral gene therapy called VM202 reported significant pain reductions that lasted for months, according to a study published in the Annals of Clinical And Translational Neurology.

Researchers from Northwestern Medicine reported on the results of this phase two, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, which looked at 84 people who went to a clinic twice in a two-week timespan for a series of injections into the back of their calf muscles and lower legs. Some of those people received injections of a saline placebo, others received a low dose of the therapy and others a higher dose.

At three months, patients in the low-dose group experienced a significant reduction in pain when compared with the placebo group. The effect persisted at six and nine months in the low-dose group, the researchers said.

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VM202 contains human hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) gene. Growth factor is a naturally occurring protein in the body that acts on cells – in this case nerve cells – to keep them alive, healthy and functioning. 

The researchers concluded that future studies are needed to investigate if the therapy can actually regenerate damaged nerves.

This study was supported by a grant from the Korean Ministry of Health & Welfare grant A091089 and by ViroMed, Co., Ltd. 


1. Kessler JA. Ann Clin Transl Neurol. 2015; DOI: 10.1002/acn3.186