CMT, a serious disorder without a cure
CMT, the most common hereditary disorder of the peripheral nervous system, leads to debilitation of the muscles in the lower legs, feet and hands. The clinical picture is extremely variable, but older patients sometimes require a wheelchair. Today, only supportive treatment is available; there are still no effective therapies to retard or stop the progress of the disease. More insight into the molecular processes of this disease is essential for diagnosis and potential treatment. And exploration of the genes involved is a crucial step in this.
VIB research findings
Joy Irobi and her colleagues - under the direction of Vincent Timmerman and Peter De Jonghe of the Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Antwerp - are concentrating on the genetic and biological study of hereditary disorders of the peripheral nervous system. The largest cells in our body, our peripheral neurons can be 1 meter long in bundles of nerve fibers extending from the spinal cord to the feet.
Recently, the researchers in Antwerp have found mutations in the genetic code of two small 'heat shock' proteins (HSPs) in a number of people with CMT. In stress situations, cells produce HSPs that act as 'chaperones', stabilizing
Contact: Ann Van Gysel
VIB, Flanders Interuniversity Institute of Biotechnology