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Sensing Disease
23 June 2017

Sensing Disease

If you hold your hand over a flame, the temperature is sensed by receptors on sensory neurons in your skin. These neurons send electrical signals along their thread-like axons to your spine and brain. It’s here that your body makes a subconscious decision to respond, perhaps by moving your hand away. However, people with the genetic disease Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) type 2D can’t sense touch in their arms, hands, legs or feet. While scientists have identified genetic mutations associated with the disease, it wasn't clear how the mutations caused the symptoms. To find out more researchers compared the sensory neurons of healthy mice with mice that had CMT. Pictured (represented in four different colour combinations) is a cluster of normal mouse sensory neurons, including those that sense the body’s position in space (proprioception), touch and pain. The team found that these sensory neurons didn’t develop properly in mice with the disease.

Written by Charlotte Rose Davison

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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