Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT)

 

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is one of the most common inherited neurological disorders, affecting approximately 1 in 2,500 people in the United States. The disease is named for the three physicians who first identified it in 1886 – Jean-Martin Charcot and Pierre Marie in Paris, France, and Howard Henry Tooth in Cambridge, England. CMT, also known as hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy (HMSN) or peroneal muscular atrophy, comprises a group of disorders that affect peripheral nerves. The peripheral nerves lie outside the brain and spinal cord and supply the muscles and sensory organs in the limbs. Disorders that affect the peripheral nerves are called peripheral neuropathies.

There is no cure for CMT, but physical therapy, occupational therapy, braces and other orthopedic devices, and even orthopedic surgery can help individuals cope with the disabling symptoms of the disease. In addition, pain-killing drugs can be prescribed for individuals who have severe pain.

 

 

Recent Advancements & Initiatives

The NINDS supports research on CMT and other peripheral neuropathies in an effort to learn how to better treat, prevent, and even cure these disorders. Ongoing research includes efforts to identify more of the mutant genes and proteins that cause the various disease subtypes, efforts to discover the mechanisms of nerve degeneration and muscle atrophy with the hope of developing interventions to stop or slow down these debilitating processes, and efforts to find therapies to reverse nerve degeneration and muscle atrophy.

One promising area of research involves gene therapy experiments. Research with cell cultures and animal models has shown that it is possible to deliver genes to Schwann cells and muscle. Another area of research involves the use of trophic factors or nerve growth factors, such as the hormone androgen, to prevent nerve degeneration.

 

Source: NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health Bethesda, MD 20892