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Virginia Tech research could lead to better treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a rare form of muscular dystrophy that primarily affects boys, is uncurable. Although treatment that has revolved around symptom management has proved difficult, Virginia Tech researchers have found a way to potentially improve the available methods.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is one of the most serious genetic diseases in children and more than 90 percent are in wheelchairs by age 11, with the average age of initial diagnosis at 5 years old. The ability to provide new, groundbreaking treatment methods based on mathematical models of dystrophic mouse muscles can test potential treatments for success rates with the potential to extend usable muscle function.

“Our approach provides a greater sensitivity for the assessment of disease progression, and our novel protocol could lead to better treatments for Duchenne muscular dystrophy,” said Robert Grange, an associate professor of human nutrition, foods, and exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and affiliate faculty member in the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences and the Virginia Tech Center for Emerging, Zoonotic, and Arthropod-borne Pathogens.

The findings were published in a recent issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology, which is published by the American Physiological Society.

Human muscle function from dystrophic patients can be mimicked in a dystrophic mouse muscle in the lab. Muscle function during normal human walking, or gait, can be mathematically modeled, and these models can be used to mimic human muscle function in dystrophic mouse muscle. These models can test potential treatment methods through submersion in a bath with a special solution to keep the dystrophic mouse muscle alive that enables muscle contraction.

To learn more, check out the whole article below.