At UHN, we strive to deliver Compassionate Care & Caring. Learn more about the services and supports that are available to you throughout your journey.
Our UHN programs and services are among the most advanced in the world. We have grouped our physicians,
staff, services and resources into 10 medical programs to meet the needs of our patients and help us make
the most of our resources.
At the heart of everything we do at UHN are our Healthcare Professionals. Refer a patient to one of our 12 medical programs. Learn more about the resources and opportunities available for professional growth.
University Health Network has grown to be one of the largest research and teaching hospital networks in Canada - pioneers in improving the lives of patients. Our long history of health professions education at Toronto General, Toronto Western, Princess Margaret and Toronto Rehab hospitals has consistently advanced the science of education.
University Health Network is a health care and medical research organization in
Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The scope of research and complexity of cases at UHN has made us a national and international
source for discovery, education and patient care.
Being touched by illness affects us in different ways. Many people want to give back to the community
and help others. At UHN, we welcome your contribution and offer different ways you can help so you can find one that suits you.
The Newsroom is the source for media looking for information about UHN or trying to connect with one
of our experts for an interview. It's also the place to find UHN media policies and catch up on our news stories, videos, media releases,
podcasts and more.
Toronto (June 13, 2017) – A research team at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre in Toronto has published a paper that suggests seal oil has the potential to help promote nerve regeneration in patients with Type 1 diabetes.
The study found that patients who ingested an omega-3 supplement derived from seal oil twice a day over a 12-month period reported an increase in corneal nerve fibre length. The paper entitled, "The effects of omega-3 supplementation on neuropathy in Type 1 diabetes," was published in the June, 2017 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
"Nothing like this has been attempted in humans before," says Dr. Evan Lewis, a neurologist and one of the study's authors. "Results from this trial are a very important step towards a clinical therapy for people with diabetic neuropathy."
Diabetic neuropathy is a form of nerve damage caused by diabetes. Symptoms vary from patient to patient, but can include tingling, numbness, loss of sensation, a feeling of burning in the hands and feet, constant pain and difficulty walking. There are currently no therapies available for patients that stop or reverse its effects.
"This study is the first to show that targeted nutritional invention can stop and reverse small fibre damage," says Dr. Vera Bril, head of the division of Neurology in the Department of Medicine, and Medical Director of the Ellen Prosserman Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases at UHN, and the study's principal investigator. Other members of the research team included Dr. Bruce Perkins of the Leadership Sinai Centre for Diabetes as well as Dr. Thomas Wolever and Dr. Richard Bazinet, both of the University of Toronto's Department of Nutritional Sciences.
The study involved 40 patients and focused primarily on corneal nerve fibre length. Located at the front of the eye, the cornea has the highest density of nerves in the body. Damage to these nerves, or loss of corneal nerve fibre length, is considered a biomarker for the progression of Type 1 diabetes. The study did not measure vision recovery.
Researchers investigated the effects of the omega-3 seal oil supplement on nerve structure and found that patients on average experienced a 29 per cent increase in corneal nerve fibre length, which is considered to be representative of small nerve fibre regeneration in other parts of the body.
"These findings suggest that use of this supplement may have the potential to have a regenerative effect," says Dr Lewis. "Our goal was to collect enough data to power a randomized clinical trial and we believe this study lays the groundwork for that to happen."
The next step for the research team will be to conduct a phase three randomized controlled trial involving a larger group of participants.
Funding for this study was provided by Diabetes Canada and the Banting and Best Diabetes Centre.
"The initial results of this research are very promising and Diabetes Canada looks forward to continued study on the impact of omega-3s on nerve regeneration," said Dr. Jan Hux, Chief Science Officer at Diabetes Canada.
University Health Network consists of Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospitals, the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, and The Michener Institute of Education at UHN. The scope of research and complexity of cases at University Health Network has made it a national and international source for discovery, education and patient care. It has the largest hospital-based research program in Canada, with major research in cardiology, transplantation, neurosciences, oncology, surgical innovation, infectious diseases, genomic medicine and rehabilitation medicine. University Health Network is a research hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto.
Phone: 416 340 4636