MDA has awarded a research grant totaling $369,165 over three years to Bradley Olwin, professor of molecular, cellular & developmental biology at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The new funds will help support Olwin’s study of muscle regeneration in injured and diseased skeletal muscle — particularly in the muscular dystrophies, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
Olwin is a longtime MDA grantee, having received funding from the Association almost continuously since the early 1980s.
Diseases such as the muscular dystrophies that result in progressive loss of skeletal muscle tissue reflect disruption of the normal muscle regenerative processes. If the cells responsible for normal repair could be augmented by drug therapies or cell replacement therapies, regeneration might be enhanced, slowing or halting the loss of skeletal muscle function.
In previous studies, Olwin and colleagues identified a rare stem cell that they hypothesize is a primary source of skeletal muscle stem cells (also called "satellite" cells). The team plans to study the newly identified cells and uncover any contributions they may make to the regeneration process in injured and diseased skeletal muscle. Next, the team will transplant the cells into the muscles of a research mouse with a DMD-like disease in order to determine how well they restore muscle function, slow muscle scarring (called fibrosis), and produce the protein missing in DMD, dystrophin.
Findings from Olwin’s studies may result in new drug-based or cell-based strategies to enhance new muscle growth in progressive muscle diseases.
"I have been funded by the MDA for the majority of my career as a research scientist, beginning in the early 1980s," Olwin said. "Without MDA funding, I may not have continued in skeletal muscle research."
Funding for this MDA grant began February 1, 2011.