Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pioneering Treatment of Muscle Wasting Diseases

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pioneering Treatment of Muscle Wasting Diseases

Article excerpt

ADDING 10 years onto a person's life is no mean feat.

But one of the less-known areas of research undertaken at Life, in the Newcastle Muscle Centre, has done just that for that for sufferers of a type of muscular dystrophy.

This muscle disease is one of the most common genetic diseases and is currently incurable.

Professor Kate Bushby, and colleagues Prof Volker Straub and Hanns Lochmller, head the centre.

Prof Bushby says: "There's been a very strong interest in muscular dystrophy research in Newcastle since 1950.

"It is important because muscular dystrophy is incurable and debilitating.

"Its a disease which people get at a very young age, and which often results in a premature death."

New genetic technology, pioneered at Life, has made a real difference in the field.

A breakthrough earlier this year at Life saw the successful transfer of DNA between two human eggs.

The technique has the potential to help prevent the transmission of serious inherited disorders known as mitochondrial diseases, of which muscular dystrophy is one. Prof Bushby adds: "This could have a huge impact on the field.

"Potentially, we could be able to stop parents transferring muscular dystrophy to their children."

It is not just the cutting edge of research that the team is involved with.

Care for patients who have Duchenne muscular dystrophy has been transformed thanks to the centre.

This type affects boys only and is caused by a defect in a single protein in muscle fibres called dystrophin. It is a very serious condition which sees most sufferers wheelchair-bound by the age of 11.

"Basic medical care makes a huge difference," Prof Bushby adds.

"What we've been able to do here is bring together people from across the region, country and internationally and look at a bigger picture of care. …

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