Andrew Brack, an assistant professor at the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, was awarded an MDA research grant totaling $353,259 over three years. The funds will help support Brack's research into the function of adult muscle stem cells called "satellite cells" in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and possibly in other muscular dystrophies as well.
Satellite cells are responsible for tissue maintenance and repair over a lifetime. It's widely accepted among scientists that these cells are sufficient to promote muscle repair; however, it is unknown what is required of them for regeneration of diseased skeletal muscle and whether the number and function of cells in the satellite cell pool can be manipulated as a means of slowing or ameliorating disease progression.
Brack and colleagues plan to use targeted genetic approaches to manipulate the number and function of adult satellite cells in a research mouse model of DMD. From this they hope to gain an understanding of the relative importance of both number and functionality of satellite cells needed for effective muscle repair.
Results from Brack's work may shed light on new therapeutic strategies for slowing disease progression that are based on retaining a functional pool of satellite cells in people with DMD and other muscular dystrophies.
"Without funding through MDA," Brack said, "this project would not have been realized."
Funding for this MDA grant began February 1, 2011.