What do zebrafish have to do with peripheral neuropathy research?
In September 2017, we reported that Dr. Sandra Rieger had received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) research grant to continue her study of nerve regeneration and peripheral neuropathy. (See MDI Biological Laboratory Scientist Receives Grant to Study Peripheral Neuropathy.) In this study, she noticed a connection between nerve degeneration and an increase in a certain enzyme in zebrafish when they were administered a common chemotherapy agent. This nerve degeneration is similar to what happens with peripheral neuropathy. Her further study led to her discovering two compounds that seemed to prevent or reverse the activity of this enzyme. This discovery gave hope for treatment and prevention of peripheral neuropathy in the future.
New Research, New Hope for Prevention of Peripheral Neuropathy
Dr. Rieger’s current study (reported in our February 2018 eNews (MDI Biological Laboratory Discovery Could Lead to New Therapies for Diabetics) takes the previous research to a new realm. The same enzyme activity present with nerve degeneration due to the chemical agent is also present in diabetic neuropathy. One of the compounds which tested positively in preventing nerve damage in zebrafish also tested positively in preventing nerve damage in mice. While more study is needed, Dr. Rieger believes this research could translate to better understanding of the causes and prevention of peripheral neuropathy in humans.
At the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy, we have been following the work of this award-winning researcher since she attended our Scientific Symposium in September 2016. We will continue to watch Dr. Rieger’s research, and hope for the progress it can mean to peripheral neuropathy patients.
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We highlighted Dr. Rieger’s zebrafish work in our support group in 2016. In this fight, Hope is so rare and precious a commodity. Her research is one of the most exciting nuggets of news we have seen. It may or may not pan out. But just the hope it sparks is worth a great deal.
We will win this thing. We owe it to our children and grandchildren.