University of Pittsburgh named cooperative research center for muscular dystrophy

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 14 The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is among three medical schools nationwide to be named as a cooperative center for muscular dystrophy research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The centers, also at the University of Washington, Seattle and the University of Rochester School of Medicine, New York, are each being funded for five years at up to $1 million a year. The Muscular Dystrophy Association is expected to issue an announcement of available supplements to provide up to $500,000 a year for three years at each center for additional projects.

A group of some 20 congenital muscle-wasting illnesses, muscular dystrophies are caused by genetic errors in a number of muscle genes. For example, the absence of a key muscle protein called dystrophin is the reason for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), the most common, debilitating and lethal childhood muscle disease, which affects about one in every 3,000 boys, according to the advocacy group Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy.

"We will develop strategies to treat these terrible diseases that threaten children's lives and make their lives miserable," said Joseph C. Glorioso III, Ph.D., chairman of the department of molecular genetics and biochemistry and director of the Molecular Medicine Institute at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, principal investigator and director of the Pittsburgh center. "We also are working to find out more about the biology of these diseases."

Specific projects undertaken by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh involve preclinical and clinical studies of gene and stem cell therapies to treat muscle diseases DMD in particular.

Gene therapy will be the focus of two Pittsburgh projects. Scientists led by Xiao Xiao, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular genetics and biochemistry, will be working in collaboration with University of Missouri and Ohio State University scientists on preclinical a

Contact: Michele Baum
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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