CMT is an inherited neurological disease characterized by a slowly progressive degeneration of the muscles in the foot, lower leg, hand, and forearm, and a mild loss of sensation in the limbs, fingers, and toes. The first sign of CMT is generally a high arched foot or gait disturbances.
CMT disease can be divided into two classes, depending on where the dysfunction occurs in the peripheral nerves:
Other symptoms of the disorder may include foot-bone abnormalities such as
People with CMT disease usually begin to experience symptoms in adolescence or early adulthood.
There is no cure for the disease, but there are treatment options, including physical therapy and bracing. Life expectancy is usually normal.
The newly discovered GARS gene is implicated in CMT type 2D, a form of CMT that primarily affects the hands and the forearms. CMT type 2D is inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion.
Even though the GARS gene is implicated in only two specific types of CMT, this discovery will guide researchers in studying other forms of these diseases, as well as other neurological disorders.
Because carpal tunnel syndrome affects the hands and the forearms, scientists may now investigate whether the GARS gene plays some role in this disorder. And two defective forms of the gene implicated in Lou Gehrig’s disease are known to interact with a GARS family member.
Ultimately, the GARS gene and its family may provide a rich new resource for scientists investigating inherited and non-inherited neurological diseases.