Assistant Professor, MDI Biological Laboratory
Dr. Sandra Rieger is an Assistant Professor at MDI Biological Laboratory, where she studies sensory nerve de- and regeneration mechanisms following skin injury and under disease conditions. She is particularly interested in the communication between skin cells and sensory nerve endings that innervate the skin. Sandra’s research identified that nerve-skin communication is perturbed under treatment with the chemotherapeutic agent paclitaxel, which causes nerve degeneration (neuropathy) in ~60-70 % of chemotherapy patients. Her lab has established a zebrafish model to study paclitaxel-induced peripheral neuropathy for which the causes are still unknown in humans. These studies led to the discovery that nerve degeneration is caused by skin damage induced by paclitaxel treatment. Two candidate compounds that prevent nerve degeneration in fish were identified and are currently tested in mammalian models. The hope is that these compounds can be developed into therapies to prevent neuropathy in humans.
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