New Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Centers announced

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), a part of the National Institutes of Health, have funded three new Senator Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Centers focusing on this group of genetic muscle-wasting diseases. The late Senator Wellstone was a major champion of muscular dystrophy issues in the Congress.

The center at the University of Pennsylvania, co-directed by the university's H. Lee Sweeney, Ph.D., and Kathryn R. Wagner, M.D., Ph.D., of The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, will explore new strategies for treating a variety of muscular dystrophies (MD). Two laboratory projects are focused on ways to increase muscle growth, and another on examining compounds that may be able to inhibit enzymes involved in breaking down muscle tissue. Clinical trials will determine the safety and feasibility of a potential drug treatment for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). The core facility--a muscle physiology lab--will analyze MD mouse models. Other sites involved with this center are the University of Florida, Gainesville, and the NINDS Intramural Research Program.

Center scientists at Washington, D.C.'s Children's National Medical Center, under the direction of Eric P. Hoffman, Ph.D., and Diana M. Escolar, M.D., will study biochemical pathways that contribute to DMD. A clinical project aims to identify genetic modifiers of the disease, and two laboratory studies focus on muscle cell damage and muscle growth and remodeling in mice. The center also has a bioinformatics and computing core, as well as a clinical core to help support the Cooperative International Neuromuscular Research Group, an existing consortium of MD clinical investigators. Collaborating with the center is the University of Padova in Italy.

The center at the Univers

Contact: Ray Fleming
NIH/National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

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