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The long-term interest of the Ratner research laboratory is to define the interactions between glial cells and axons during nervous system development and how those interactions go awry in disease, with the goal of providing novel therapies to patients with nervous system diseases. Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is an inherited autosomal dominant disorder (1:3,500 humans) that involves the formation of many nerve-associated tumors and other non-tumor related problems. Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) involves the development of schwannomas, benign tumors composed of Schwann cells (peripheral glial cells). Elucidating the mechanisms by which the nerve-associated tumors arise in both diseases can lead not only to the development of therapy for NF1 and NF2 patients, but also can prove useful in providing information about noninherited nervous system cancers.
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"In tests on mice, MEK inhibition significantly shrunk more than 80 percent of plexiform neurofibromas – the nerve tumors caused by NF1. The data were so compelling that researchers reported the study provided “strong rationale” for testing the drug in a clinical trial."
Read the entire article in Research Horizons.
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