National Institutes of Health (NIH): Researchers Discover Gene Crucial for Nerve Cell Insulation
4/16/2007 12:47:03 PM
Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have discovered how a defect in a single master gene disrupts the process by which several genes interact to create myelin, a fatty coating that covers nerve cells and increases the speed and reliability of their electrical signals.
The discovery has implications for understanding disorders of myelin production. These disorders can affect the peripheral nervous system—the nerves outside the brain and spine. These disorders are known collectively as peripheral neuropathies. Peripheral neuropathies can result in numbness, weakness, pain, and impaired movement. They include one of the most common genetically inherited disorders, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which causes progressive muscle weakening.
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