Recent advances in the genetic neuropathies

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease (CMT) is one of the commonest inherited neuromuscular diseases with a population prevalence of 1 in 2500. This review will cover recent advances in the genetics and pathomechanisms of CMT and how these are leading to the development of rational therapies.

Recent findings

Pathomechanistic and therapeutic target advances in CMT include the identification of the ErbB receptor signalling pathway as a therapeutic target in CMT1A and pharmacological modification of the unfolded protein response in CMT1B. In CMT2D, due to mutations in glycyl-tRNA synthetase, vascular endothelial growth factor-mediated stimulation of the Nrp1 receptor has been identified as a therapeutic target. Preclinical advances have been accompanied by the publication of large natural history cohorts and the identification of a sensitive biomarker of disease (muscle MRI) that is able to detect disease progression in CMT1A over 1 year.

Summary

Advances in next-generation sequencing technology, cell biology and animal models of CMT are paving the way for rational treatments. The combination of robust natural history data and the identification of sensitive biomarkers mean that we are now entering an exciting therapeutic era in the field of the genetic neuropathies.

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