Research

The Neuropathy Center at Weill Cornell Medicine is committed to translational and clinical research designed to improve our understanding of the underlying pathogenic mechanisms and develop more effective therapies for peripheral neuropathies.

A major focus of research at the center has been the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory neuropathies. Dr. Latov’s laboratory is credited with the discovery of anti-MAG and GM1 antibodies in neuropathy, and the development of diagnostic tests for detecting these antibodies in patients with neuropathy. A current project is the development and potential use of therapeutic anti-macrophage receptor CD204 antibodies for treatment of inflammatory and diabetic neuropathies in experimental animal models of these diseases. Dr. Latov also served on the steering committees of several international therapeutic trials, including the ICE trial which led to FDA approval of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) for CIDP, and was a founding Board Member, and Medical and Research Director of the Neuropathy Association, which subsequently merged with the Foundation for Neuropathy. He has over 100 publications in peer review journals, chapters and books.

Dr. Russell Chin recently discovered that nerve conduction studies, which have traditionally been used to diagnose CIDP, can also be used to detect ongoing disease activity or predict the chances of relapse in patients that are undergoing treatment with IVIG. These data suggest that many such patients may be under treated, in which case they could benefit from dose escalation. Dr. Mary Vo recently reported that testing nerve conductions in 3 limbs, instead of the standard 2, increases the chances of diagnosing CIDP, and that gait parameters are more sensitive than other clinical outcome measures for determining the response to therapy. Incorporation of these findings into routine clinical care improves our ability to diagnose CIDP and to optimize treatment.

Another focus of interest has been the neuropathies associated with nutritional anomalies. Dr. Chin has made major contributions to our understanding of the neuropathies associated with celiac disease, and we recently reported on our findings that a significant number of patients with neuropathy have highly elevated levels of mercury or vitamin B6, both of which can be toxic to nerves. Mercury toxicity is usually a result of excess consumption of sea food that is high in mercury, and B6 toxicity results from excess amounts of vitamin supplements. The normal requirement of B6 is approximately 2 mg daily, but many daily supplements contain as much as 50 or 100 mg of B6. These anomalies can be treated by dietary modifications. Many patients also had more than one cause for neuropathy, emphasizing the importance of comprehensive testing.

Other areas of research interest are the neuropathies associated with metabolic syndrome or diabetes, Ehlers Danlos syndrome, and whole genome sequencing for idiopathic small fiber neuropathy.

Research is hope. As long as there is ongoing research into the mechanisms and treatments of the peripheral neuropathies, there is hope that we will find a cure. Your help could make the difference.

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