Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New therapy substitutes missing protein in those with muscular dystrophy

Researchers were able to repair muscle tissue in mouse model

Researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School have discovered a new therapy that shows potential to treat people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a fatal disease and the most common form of muscular dystrophy in children.

In the mouse model, researchers were able to substitute for the missing protein – dystrophin, which forms a key part of the framework that holds muscle tissue together – that results in the disease, effectively repairing weakened muscle tissue.

Researchers injected dystrophic mice with a protein called utrophin – a very close relative of dystrophin – that was modified with a cell-penetrating tag, called TAT.

The study is the first to establish the efficacy and feasibility of the TAT-utrophin-based protein as a viable therapy for the treatment of muscular dystrophy as well as cardiac muscle diseases caused by loss of dystrophin.

The research is published in the May 26, 2009 issue of PLoS Medicine.

"This unique approach can replace the missing protein without the complexities of gene replacement or stem cell approaches," said James Ervasti, Ph.D., principal investigator of the study and a professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology & Biophysics.

Muscular dystrophy causes the muscles in the body to progressively weaken. Duchenne is the most common and severe form of childhood muscular dystrophy. About one of 3,500 boys are born with the crippling disease. Symptoms usually begin in children who are 2 to 3 years-old, most are in a wheelchair by age 12, and many who have the disease pass away by their late teens to early 20s. Current treatment, limited to corticosteroids, are minimally effective and can cause serious side effects.

Research underway to battle muscular dystrophy with gene therapy and stem cell treatment shows promise, but major hurdles must be overcome before these approaches are viable in human patients, Ervasti said.

Delivering treatment to every muscle cell via gene therapy or stem cells is difficult because muscle tissue makes up such a large portion of the human body. Furthermore, the immune system may reject the cell or gene treatment because patients would treat the newly introduced cells or genes as a foreign substance.

Ervasti's method may conquer both of those problems. Upon injection, the TAT-utrophin combination spreads around the entire body efficiently and is able to penetrate the muscle cell wall to substitute for missing dystrophin. Because every cell in the body makes utrophin naturally, TAT-utrophin circumvents immunity issues associated with other therapeutic approaches.

"Our protein replacement approach most directly and simply addresses the cause of Duchenne muscular dystrophy," Ervasti said.

This new method is not a cure for muscular dystrophy. Rather, it would be a therapy most likely administered on a regular basis. If the treatment works in larger animal models and humans, it's most likely researchers would develop a drug for patients. Ervasti is hopeful the therapy can move into human clinical trials within 3 years.

The research was funded by the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Nash Avery Foundation, Charley's Fund and the Foundation to Eradicate Duchenne.

Nick Hanson | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>