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MDA supports Duchenne muscular dystrophy research by University of Nevada School of Medicine
Date:8/22/2012

RENO, Nev. A novel treatment in development at the University of Nevada School of Medicine for the most common form of muscular dystrophy is advancing towards human trials with a $308,000 boost from the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The grant will be used to expand successful research by Associate Professor of Pharmacology Dean Burkin that has shown his laminin-111 protein therapy prevents the onset of the devastating neuromuscular disease in mouse models.

"The early results for laminin-111 as a therapeutic agent for (Duchenne muscular dystrophy) are really exciting," Sanjay Bidichandani, MDA vice president of research, said. "We are eager to see this research go forward."

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a lethal genetic disease that affects one in 3,500 newborn boys and is caused by mutations in the gene encoding dystrophin. There is no effective treatment or cure.

At the time of diagnosis, DMD patients usually have developed significant muscle disease. The three-year grant will help determine if Burkin's therapy is effective at preventing or reversing disease progression after onset.

"What we aim to discover now is if this therapy is effective at preventing or reversing disease progression after it has already started," he said. "First we will determine if laminin-111 prevents muscle damage after disease onset, preserves muscle function and improves survival of mouse models of DMD. Second, we will determine if laminin-111 prevents cardiomyopathy in mouse models of DMD.

"Finally, in collaboration with researchers at Texas A&M, we will determine if a human version of the protein prevents muscle disease in other animals afflicted with the disease. Results from these studies will pave the way towards developing human recombinant laminin-111 protein as a novel therapeutic for DMD."

Demonstrating that the human version has efficacy in animals with DMD will move this therapy closer to a Food and
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Contact: Mike Wolterbeek
mwolterbeek@unr.edu
University of Nevada, Reno
Source:Eurekalert  

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