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Coleman Laboratory


Peripheral Neuropathies

Peripheral nerves communicate with nerves in our brain and spinal cord and are important for us to interact with the world around us. These nerves are needed for us to feel sensations (both good and bad), to move and respond, and to control our organs. When diseases affect nerves, which we call peripheral neuropathies, people can develop weakness, numbness and pain in their limbs. Nerve problems can be debilitating, leaving people struggling to carry out their daily activities and living in constant pain, particularly in their hands or feet at the ends of the longest nerves. Many things can cause peripheral neuropathies, including disorders like diabetes, toxic effects from drugs like chemotherapy treatments, and diseases with genetic causes like Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. There are some similarities between many of the peripheral neuropathies and the way nerves degenerate after injury, termed Wallerian degeneration. By studying the genes and molecules involved in controlling Wallerian degeneration, we also hope to understand the disease mechanisms in neuropathies such as chemotherapy induced neuropathy, which will hopefully lead to new treatments in the long-term.