MDA has awarded a research development grant totaling $179,912 over three years to Jianming Liu in the department of cell and tissue biology at the University of California, San Francisco. The new funds will help support Liu’s study of the disease process in Duchenne (DMD) and Becker (BMD) muscular dystrophies. Using research mouse models for DMD and BMD, Liu and colleagues plan to investigate a potential stem-cell-based therapy for the two diseases using engineered stem cells designed to help regenerate healthy skeletal muscle tissues.
One of the hallmarks of muscular dystrophy is the rapid depletion of immature muscle cells due to repeated cycles of muscle degeneration and regeneration, Liu noted. Therefore, using normal, healthy stem cells to promote muscle regeneration represents a possible therapeutic approach.
Liu and colleagues will investigate the potential of cell-based therapy for muscular dystrophy using engineered stem cells with modified cell signaling capabilities designed to prompt regeneration of healthy skeletal muscle tissues. Findings from Liu’s work are expected to help increase understanding of the potential for muscle regeneration in the muscular dystrophies as well as provide testing data for potential therapeutics.
"I'm currently a postdoc but am in the process of transitioning into an independent researcher able to lead my own research team and tackle the challenges of finding cures for devastating muscle diseases; for that reason, MDA support at this time is essential and pivotal for my career development and for making fast progress in my research," Liu said. "I am greatly appreciative of the opportunity and the support MDA has provided me.
Funding for this MDA grant began February 1, 2011.