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The University of Minnesota is a powerhouse in muscular dystrophy research

University of Minnesota faculty received 3 national grants awarded by the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) on August 1, 2012.

The recipient faculty members are:

  • Dr. Atsushi Asakura, assistant professor of Neurology, investigating how blood vessels affect muscle stem cells and regeneration in muscular dystrophy.
  • Dr. Joseph Metzger, professor and chair of integrative biology and physiology, developing membrane sealants as therapeutics for Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies.
  • Dr. Rita Perlingeiro, associate professor of Medicine, investigating genetic correction and muscle regeneration in Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies.

These new grants combine with 3 additional recent grants from the MDA, for a total of over $2 million in current research support.

Other MDA-funded investigators affiliated with the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center include Drs. Michael Kyba of the Department of Pediatrics as well as James Ervasti and David Thomas, both in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology & Biophysics.

The MDA also sponsors a Muscular Dystrophy Clinic at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, Gillette Lifetime clinic and Gillette Pediatric Specialty Care Clinic. These sites serve 1,000 patients annually throughout the 5 state areas.

The Paul and Sheila Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center is currently the site for three ongoing clinical trials, two ongoing clinical studies, and a newly established neuromuscular cardiomyopathy clinic providing subspecialty care focused on heart failure.

Because current treatments do little more than delay the inevitable, a cure will require totally new approaches that will emerge from basic research into muscle damage and regeneration associated with muscular dystrophy.  The new MDA grants to University of Minnesota scientists should facilitate the development of effective new therapies.

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