Muscular Dystrophies

Utrophin Gets In

MDA grantee James Ervasti and colleagues at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in Minneapolis have found that a protein known as utrophin, injected into mice lacking the dystrophin protein and showing a disease resembling Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), conferred significant benefits.

The experiments Ervasti and colleagues describe online May 26, 2009, in PLoS Medicine, are the first to show benefit from the direct injection into DMD mice of utrophin protein, rather than utrophin genes or gene modifiers.

Fighting the Fire

A protein called osteopontin has been implicated as a cause of some of the detrimental inflammation and scarring ("fibrosis") of muscle tissue that takes place in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Eliminating osteopontin was beneficial to mice with a DMD-like disease, and the researchers concluded that reducing osteopontin should be investigated as a possible therapy for DMD.

DMD, MG Research: Spotlight on Prednisone

Some interesting findings about prednisone’s effect on behavior in DMD, and on drugs that may alter its usage in myasthenia gravis, were part of the 61st annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), held recently in Seattle.

DMD STUDY

Daily prednisone led to better behavior than weekly, high-dose prednisone

Biology Prize

On May 3, 2009, molecular biologist Louis Kunkel at Children's Hospital in Boston and Harvard University, and biophysicist Kevin Campbell at the University of Iowa, received the prestigious March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology. The prize includes a $250,000 cash award.

DMD: Restarting Muscle Development?

A protein called laminin 111 had a marked therapeutic effect in mice that lack the dystrophin protein and have a muscle disease resembling human Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), say researchers at the University of Nevada School of Medicine.

Patching the Membrane

Scientists in the United States and Japan say they've identified a previously unknown but crucial step in a natural muscle-cell repair process that could have implications for the treatment of muscular dystrophies, particularly those in which membrane defects are implicated.

Silencing Toxic Genes

A new gene therapy approach to "silencing" disease-causing genetic information has been developed by researchers at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., and Integrated DNA Technologies in Coralville, Ia.

Plugging a Leak

Investigators conducting experiments in mice with a disease resembling Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) believe they’ve uncovered a new strategy to protect against muscle damage and improve strength in this disease.

Andrew Marks at Columbia University in New York coordinated the team, which included researchers from Montpellier (France) University and other institutions in Montpellier. They published their findings in the March issue of Nature Medicine.

DMD Research: Doubts About EKGs

Kid getting EKG
An electrocardiogram (EKG) transmits information about heart rhythms, in the form of electrical signals, to a computer. Researchers warn that the test “should not serve as a basis for decisions regarding treatment” in people with DMD.

Possible New Therapy for OPMD?

Scientists in France and the Netherlands recently announced they've identified a promising new strategy that could potentially become a therapy for oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD), a form of MD that primarily weakens the eyelid and throat muscles and also can affect muscles in the limbs.

The strategy involves using an antibody (immune-system protein) derived from llamas. The antibody sticks to abnormally formed protein molecules in muscle cells and keeps them from forming large, damaging clumps.

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