David Richman, professor of neurology at the University of California, Davis, was awarded an MDA research grant totaling $412,500 over a period of three years to study the anti-MuSK myasthenia (AMM) form of myasthenia gravis (MG).
In most people with MG, an autoimmune disease of muscle, individuals make antibodies that react against a part of the muscle called the acetylcholine receptor. But, Richman says, in the AMM form of the disease, antibodies are made against a second protein, muscle-specific kinase (MuSK), also located on the muscle surface. Many of the usual MG treatments are not effective against the AMM form of the disease.
Richman has developed a rat model of AMM, and will use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure muscle loss in the rats. He also will conduct microscopic and biochemical tests to characterize the affected muscles, and experiments on cells in culture to test various chemical treatments that could have therapeutic potential.
Funding for this MDA grant began Feb. 1, 2013.