MDA has awarded a research development grant totaling $180,000 over three years to Chi Wai Lee, postdoctoral fellow in the department of cell biology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. The grant will help support Lee’s research into therapeutic strategies to ameliorate the symptoms in myasthenia gravis (MG).
In MG, the immune system attacks the acetylcholine receptors responsible for nerve-to-muscle communication, leading to muscle weakness due to the loss of nerve signals. Lee’s team plans to uncover the mechanisms underlying the attack and subsequent loss of acetylcholine receptors.
Using frog and mouse MG research models, Lee and colleagues plan to examine the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying proper functioning of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), the place where nerve meets muscle and where acetylcholine receptors do their job.
Results from Lee's work are expected to provide increased understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying degradation and loss of acetylcholine receptors in the NMJ. In addition, data analysis may point the way to new therapies designed to ameliorate MG symptoms by targeting the mechanisms underlying acetylcholine receptor loss.
"I am very grateful to receive this MDA development grant at the early stage of my scientific career," Lee said. "The support from MDA will allow me to extend my current research and training to become an independent researcher focusing on the study of neuromuscular diseases."
Funding for this MDA grant began February 1, 2011.