Dean Burkin, associate professor of pharmacology at the University of Nevada School of Medicine in Reno, was awarded an MDA research grant totaling $308,028 over three years to study laminin-111 protein therapy for Duchenne (DMD) and Becker (BMD) muscular dystrophies.
Burkin and colleagues have shown in previous work that systemic delivery of the laminin-111 protein works as a potent therapeutic in a mouse model of DMD. Laminin-111 treatment in these mice results in stabilization of the muscle membrane and a reduction in levels of an enzyme called creatine kinase, or CK, which is a sign of muscle damage.
It remains unclear, however, whether laminin-111 protein therapy in people with DMD may be able to prevent muscle damage, or reverse it after it's already started.
Burkin is working to test the hypothesis that laminin-111 protein therapy can prevent muscle damage after DMD disease onset in mouse models of DMD and in dogs that have the disease.
To do this, Burkin and colleagues first plan to determine if laminin-111 prevents muscle damage after disease onset in the two animal models. Next, the team will test to see whether laminin-111 prevents heart muscle deterioration (cardiomyopathy) in mouse models of DMD, and finally the group will study whether laminin-111 prevents muscle disease in dogs with DMD.
Favorable results could pave the way for development of laminin-111 as a therapeutic for DMD and BMD.
Funding for this MDA grant began Aug. 1, 2012.