Muscular Dystrophies

Silencing Toxic Genes

A new gene therapy approach to "silencing" disease-causing genetic information has been developed by researchers at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., and Integrated DNA Technologies in Coralville, Ia.

Plugging a Leak

Investigators conducting experiments in mice with a disease resembling Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) believe they’ve uncovered a new strategy to protect against muscle damage and improve strength in this disease.

Andrew Marks at Columbia University in New York coordinated the team, which included researchers from Montpellier (France) University and other institutions in Montpellier. They published their findings in the March issue of Nature Medicine.

DMD Research: Doubts About EKGs

Kid getting EKG
An electrocardiogram (EKG) transmits information about heart rhythms, in the form of electrical signals, to a computer. Researchers warn that the test “should not serve as a basis for decisions regarding treatment” in people with DMD.

Possible New Therapy for OPMD?

Scientists in France and the Netherlands recently announced they've identified a promising new strategy that could potentially become a therapy for oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD), a form of MD that primarily weakens the eyelid and throat muscles and also can affect muscles in the limbs.

The strategy involves using an antibody (immune-system protein) derived from llamas. The antibody sticks to abnormally formed protein molecules in muscle cells and keeps them from forming large, damaging clumps.

MDA's Voice for Change

Palliative care for kids, transition services for young adults, and genetic discrimination are just some of the projects being worked on by MDA’s Advocacy program, under the energetic direction of MDA Vice President Annie Kennedy.

Following are some highlights of these projects.

Palliative care in pediatrics

DMD: Gene-Changing 'Cocktail'

Scientists at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., and the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry in Tokyo, have successfully treated dogs with a disease closely resembling Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) , using a molecular treatment strategy called "exon skipping." The strategy is simultaneously under development in human patients.

Building a Better Gene

Displacement of a protein called neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) from the membrane that surrounds each skeletal muscle fiber appears to be a much more important contributor to exercise intolerance and even cardiac degeneration in some forms of muscular dystrophy than previously recognized.

DMD Research: Exon Skipping

On Jan. 21, AVI BioPharma of Portland, Ore., announced its experimental compound AVI4658 for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) yielded promising results in a phase 1 clinical trial in the United Kingdom.

DMD Research: Exon Skipping Goes Systemic

AVI BioPharma of Portland, Ore., has started the systemic (through the blood) delivery phase of its clinical trial of AVI4658 in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). The trial is being conducted in the United Kingdom.

George Karpati: "He Was a Giant"

Neurologist and neuroscientist George Karpati, a longtime MDA research grantee at the Montreal Neurological Institute, passed away suddenly on Feb. 6, 2009. He was 74.

Karpati was one of the world's leading authorities on the diagnosis and treatment of muscular dystrophy. He held the I.W. Killam Chair and was a professor of neurology and neurosurgery at McGill University in Montreal (the Montreal Neurological Institute is part of McGill).