MDA awarded $179,327 to scientific researcher Sean Forbes at the University of Florida in Gainesville for research into impaired blood flow to muscles lacking the dystrophin protein in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
Forbes plans to study an enzyme called neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) that contributes to blood flow and delivery of oxygen to muscles in the mdx research mouse model of DMD and another mouse model lacking nNOS. He’ll test the hypothesis that impaired blood flow during and following muscle use leads to inadequate delivery of oxygen to the muscles in DMD, contributing to muscle damage and accelerating the loss of healthy muscle tissue.
Forbes and his team will attempt to improve muscle blood flow via administration of the drug sildenafil citrate (brand name Viagra) and observe whether it lessens damage in DMD muscles. The group will use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and another type of imaging called spectroscopy (MRS) to measure changes in muscle blood flow, energy production and damage in mice. These noninvasive techniques may prove to be sensitive tools to monitor and visualize disease progression and effectiveness of treatment in DMD.
"This MDA Development Grant provides a valuable opportunity to pursue this exciting and important area of research. The funding will enable us to perform studies to examine muscle metabolism and blood flow in dystrophy, and will examine the effects of a prospective treatment for DMD," Forbes said. "These studies have the potential to set the foundation for future studies in children with DMD."
Funding for this MDA grant began August 1, 2010.