A clinical trial is a test in humans of an experimental medication or therapy. Clinical trials are experiments, not treatments, and participation requires careful consideration.
Although it's possible to benefit from participating in a clinical trial, it's also possible that no benefit — or even harm — may occur. Keep your MDA clinic doctor informed about any clinical trial participation. (Note that MDA has no ability to influence who is chosen to participate in a clinical trial.)
In 1986, MDA-supported scientists identified the gene that, when defective, causes Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Since then, researchers have forged ahead to isolate and characterize genes involved in almost all the neuromuscular disorders in MDA’s program, including those responsible for oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD). These discoveries have enabled scientists to understand variations among different forms of the diseases and have helped doctors to provide more accurate diagnoses.
The gene that’s defective in oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) was discovered in 1998. It carries instructions for a polyadenylate binding protein (PABPN1) that’s normally present in the cell nucleus.
Researchers suspect that in OPMD, the presence of extra amino acids in the protein made from a defective PABPN1 gene causes the PABPN1 protein to clump together in the muscle cell nuclei, perhaps interfering with cell function.
In diagnosing any form of muscular dystrophy, a doctor usually begins by taking a patient and family history and performing a physical examination. Much can be learned from these, including the pattern of weakness. The history and physical go a long way toward making the diagnosis, even before any complicated diagnostic tests are done.
Symptoms of oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) usually do not begin until the mid-40s or 50s, but can occur earlier. A person with OPMD may first notice drooping eyelids (a condition known as ptosis), which gradually lead to tipping the head backward to see properly.
MDA leads the search for treatments and therapies for oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD). The Association also provides comprehensive supports and expert clinical care for those living with OPMD.
In this section, you’ll find up-to-date information about oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy, as well as many helpful resources. This information has been compiled with input from researchers, physicians and people affected by the disease.