Michele Calos, professor in the department of genetics at Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif., received a $200,000 MDA research grant to develop a new stem cell-based therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
"Funding from MDA is critical for us to develop these new ideas that could lead to novel strategies to combat DMD," Calos said. "A prior MDA grant has allowed us to make progress in the studies, and we are now poised to perform the critical experiments."
The new work involves extraction of stem cells from DMD mice. A good copy of the dystrophin gene, necessary but missing in DMD, will be added to the cells, which will then be returned to the mouse where they are expected to home in on damaged muscle and help create new muscle fibers to replace those damaged by the disease. The investigative team will also conduct experiments using a type of adult human stem cell called "adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells," which are purified from fat tissue and have been shown to develop into muscle.
Successful results in these experiments eventually may lead to clinical trials and may indicate potential for use of a similar approach in other muscle diseases.
"Progress in the development of stem cell therapies offers major hope for regeneration of muscle mass and strength," Calos said, even for those in whom the disease has progressed.
Funding for this MDA grant began August 1, 2010.