What is peripheral neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is damage to the nerves that communicate between the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the rest of the body. Neuropathies in sensory nerves can lead to painful conditions (burning, tingling, numbness) and extreme sensitivity to temperature or pressure, whereas neuropathies in motor nerves can lead to problems controlling muscles and movement.
The limb extremities are typically the most severely affected areas. Damage to autonomic nerves can lead to problems with regulating involuntary functions of the body such as blood pressure, gut function and temperature regulation.
Ongoing research in the Coleman lab
Our lab is trying to find a way of preventing pain from developing in cancer patients that receive chemotherapy. We discovered a protein that blocks axon degeneration after injury (Wallerian degeneration) and recently collaborated with a leading US fly group to identify another protein that is required for this degeneration.
These same changes block axon loss in some cell culture and mouse models of peripheral neuropathy. We are asking whether it also prevents pain symptoms and how widely it preserves axons in different models. Methods that we have developed for studying axonal transport in nerves also enable us to test whether changes in transport precede or follow axon degeneration and pain.
By identifying what changes first we can better target drug development against the initial step and block the whole process.
For more information on peripheral neuropathy see: