Ryan Wuebbles, a postdoctoral fellow in pharmacology at the University of Nevada School of Medicine in Reno, was awarded an MDA development grant (DG) totaling $180,000 over three years to study the potential use of a protein called laminin-111 as the basis of therapies for Duchenne (DMD) and Becker (BMD) muscular dystrophies.
MDA development grants are awarded to exceptional postdoctoral candidates who have the best chance of becoming independent researchers and future leaders of neuromuscular disease research.
In a research mouse model with a disease resembling DMD, treatment with laminin-111 has been shown to prevent muscle damage and improve resistance to exercise-induced muscle injury. The proteins' large size, however, makes it difficult to manufacture, so Wuebbles and colleagues are working to determine whether a small part of the protein is capable of producing the same effects.
Wuebbles plans to test different parts of laminin-111 in cells cultured from DMD research mice and from people with the disease. The most promising of these will be tested in a DMD research mouse model, where any effects can be compared to those generated by the full-length protein.
"Protein therapeutics are emerging as some of the strongest Duchenne muscular dystrophy therapeutic candidates," Wuebbles says. "Exciting new protein treatments such as laminin-111 offer a directed natural approach compared to traditional small chemical compounds."
Funding for this MDA grant began Aug. 1, 2012.