Vera Fridman, at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, was awarded an MDA clinical research training grant totaling $180,000 over a period of two years to the effects of Serine in people with a form of Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease called hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy type 1 (HSAN1).
CMT is the most commonly inherited neurological disorder, affecting 1 in 2,500 people worldwide. It is a slowly progressive disorder, causing degeneration of the peripheral nerves that control sensory information coming from the limbs. HSAN is a rare genetic neuropathy that causes severe numbness, weakness and ulceration of the feet and hands.
Two abnormal lipids (fat-like substances) have been identified in the blood of both humans and mice with HSAN1. It has been shown that levels of these lipids can be reduced by administering the amino acid serine, and that mice treated with serine have better motor and sensory function.
Fridman’s goal is to determine the effect of serine on symptoms of people with HSAN1 in order to assess whether serine supplementation may be an effective therapy for the disease.
Funding for this MDA grant is effective July 1, 2013.