MDA awarded a research grant totaling $237,868 over two years to Joseph Metzger, professor and chair of integrative biology and physiology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. The funds will help support Metzger's work in development and testing of copolymer molecules, or "membrane sealants," for Duchenne (DMD), Becker (BMD) and other muscular dystrophies.
DMD and BMD are caused by an absence of dystrophin, a protein that helps keep muscle cells intact. Dystrophin deficiency causes muscle membranes to be fragile, with structural and functional abnormalities. These weakened cellular membranes make the muscle tissue highly susceptible to contraction-based injury and eventual destruction.
Metzger and colleagues are utilizing cutting-edge techniques in the fields of physiology (the study of chemical and physical processes involved in a living organism), chemistry, and chemical engineering to develop membrane-protective molecules as a therapeutic approach to treat muscular dystrophy.
"Molecular 'Band-Aids' for muscle membrane protection have the potential to spark a revolution in novel therapeutics for diseased striated muscles in muscle dystrophy," Metzger says.
Funding for this MDA grant began Aug. 1, 2012.