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The Neuropathy Association's Scientific Research Grants Focus: Autoimmune and Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathies
Date:11/10/2008

NEW YORK, Nov. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Neuropathy Association has announced two awardees for its annual Scientific Research Grants Program.

Every year, The Neuropathy Association--a national patient-based non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for neuropathy--awards two scientific research grants, each for $80,000 over a two-year period.

This year's grant recipients--Gary J. Bennett, Ph.D. of McGill University (Quebec, Canada) and Helene Bour-Jordan, Ph.D. and co-principal investigator, Mark S. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D. of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Diabetes Center--were chosen from eleven applicants involved in neuropathy research at medical institutions across North America.

Dr. Bennett's proposal, Mechanism of Paclitaxel-Evoked Peripheral Neuropathy, is based on data suggesting that paclitaxel (Taxol(R)) causes neuropathy by a novel and previously unrecognized mechanism. Paclitaxel is used by tens of thousands of patients as a first-line drug in the treatment of ovarian, breast and non-small cell lung cancer. The neuropathy, a serious side-effect of paclitaxel, can be severe---and often painful---thus preventing or limiting the use of the drug as an effective chemotherapeutic and leading to a decline in the patient's quality of life.

Dr. Bennett adds, "Preventing and controlling the neuropathy resulting from paclitaxel will, in turn, allow us to administer larger doses to more effectively kill cancer cells and save lives."

With their proposal, Identification of Neural Autoantigens in Autoimmune Peripheral Neuropathy, Drs. Bour-Jordan and Anderson hope to identify proteins of the peripheral nervous system that are targeted by the immune system in autoimmune neuropathy.

Dr. Bour-Jordan explains, "Autoantibodies in tissue-specific autoimmune diseases are excellent indicators of disease and are instrumental in identifying major autoantigens that are now used in clinical trials for several autoimmune disorders, including type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis."

Ronnie Chalif, the Association's president affirms, "Finding a cure for neuropathy requires that we continue building upon our strategic research initiatives by making targeted investments in neuropathy research."

About Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is one of the most common diseases affecting approximately 20 million Americans.

Neuropathy results from injury to the peripheral nerves---the motor, sensory and autonomic nerves connecting the spinal cord to the muscles, skin, blood vessels and internal organs. It usually affects the hands and feet, causing weakness, numbness, lack of coordination or pain.

Approximately 30% of neuropathies are "idiopathic," meaning of an unknown cause; 30% are caused by diabetes. Other causes include autoimmune disorders, tumors, heredity, nutritional deficiencies, infections, trauma, and drugs or toxins.

About The Neuropathy Association

The Neuropathy Association(R), the leading national patient-based nonprofit organization, was established in 1995 by people with neuropathy and their families and friends to help those who suffer from disorders of the peripheral nerves. Now a national organization with over 50,000 members and supporters, 12 Association-designated neuropathy centers and 130 support groups, the Association's mission is to provide patient support and education, advocate for patients' interests, and find a cure for neuropathy.

For more information about peripheral neuropathy and The Neuropathy Association, visit http://www.neuropathy.org.


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SOURCE The Neuropathy Association
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