The study, to be published online this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by Iris Eisenberg, PhD, of the Program in Genomics at Children’s Hospital Boston. Louis Kunkel, PhD, director of the Program in Genomics and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, was senior investigator.
The disorders include the muscular dystrophies (Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Becker muscular dystrophy, limb girdle muscular dystrophies, Miyoshi myopathy, and fascioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy); the congenital myopathies (nemaline myopathy); and the inflammatory myopathies (polymyositis, dermatomyositis, and inclusion body myositis). While past studies have linked them with an increasing number of genes, it's still largely unknown how these genes cause muscle weakness and wasting, and, more importantly, how to translate the discoveries into treatments.
For instance, most muscular dystrophies begin with a known mutation in a “master gene,” leading to damaged or absent proteins in muscle cells. In Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies, the absent protein is dystrophin, as Kunkel himself discovered in 1987. Its absence causes muscle tissue to weaken and rupture, and the tissue becomes progressively nonfunctional through inflammatory attacks and other damaging events that aren’t fully understood.
“The initial mutations do not explain why patients are losing their muscle so fast,” says Eisenberg. “There are still many unknown genes involved in these processes, as well as in the inflammatory processes taking place in the damaged muscle tissue.”
She and Kunkel believe microRNAs may help provide the missing genetic links. Their team analyzed muscle tissue from patients with each of the ten muscular disorders, discovering that 185 microRNAs are either too abundant or too scarce in wasting muscle, compared with healthy muscle.
Discovered in humans only in the past decade, microRNAs are already known to regulate major processes in the body. Therefore, Eisenberg believes microRNAs may be involved in orchestrating the tissue death, inflammatory response and other major degenerative processes in the affected muscle tissue. The researchers used bioinformatics to uncover a list of genes the microRNAs may act on, and now plan to find which microRNAs and genes actually underlie these processes.
The findings raise the possibility of slowing muscle loss by targeting the microRNAs that control these “cascades” of damaging events. This approach is more efficient than targeting individual genes.
The team also defined the abnormal microRNA “signatures” that correspond to each of the ten wasting diseases. They hope these will shed light on the genes and disease mechanisms involved in the most poorly understood and least treatable of the degenerative disorders, such as inclusion body myositis.
“At this point, it’s very theoretical, but it’s possible,” says Eisenberg.
James Newton | EurekAlert!
3D images of cancer cells in the body: Medical physicists from Halle present new method
16.05.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Better equipped in the fight against lung cancer
16.05.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.
Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...
A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.
Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.05.2018 | Information Technology
18.05.2018 | Information Technology