MDA awarded $375,000 to Gordon Lynch, professor of physiology at the University of Melbourne, Australia, for research into strategies aimed at improving muscle function in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
Lynch's research builds on previous studies conducted by his group and others that have demonstrated the potential of proteins called "growth factors" to preserve muscle fibers. These growth factors are regulated by a family of proteins called insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs).
Lynch's team has uncovered evidence that a particular IGF binding protein called IGFBP-2 may play a key role in the cycles of muscle fiber damage and repair that occur in DMD.
Using a mouse model genetically altered to exhibit either increased or decreased IGFBP-2 activity, the team will seek to determine whether the protein aggravates or improves the DMD disease process. The researchers also will study the effects of IGFBP-2 and other IGF binding proteins on muscle development and muscle repair.
"The MDA has generously supported my laboratory’s research for over a decade, allowing my team to make consistent and significant contributions to the field, including demonstrating the exciting potential of growth factors for improving muscle function in muscular dystrophy," Lynch said. "Support from the MDA has been critical in facilitating my mentorship of some very talented young doctoral students and postdoctoral scientists who have each made important contributions to muscular dystrophy research and become successful independent investigators in their own right."
Lynch's new research will generate important new information about the functional roles of IGF binding proteins in muscular dystrophy, and contribute to the development of therapies designed to improve the quality of life for those with muscle disease.
Funding for this MDA grant began August 1, 2010.