Researchers discover chemical that may protect hearts of muscular dystrophy patients

By administering a chemical called a 'molecular band-aid,' U of M researchers were able to prevent heart injury in dystrophic canines

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (March 15, 2010) Researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School have discovered a chemical that may, over the long term, protect the hearts
of Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients – a fatal and most common form
of muscular dystrophy in children.

The chemical, which Medical School scientists have termed a "molecular band-aid," seeks out tiny cuts in diseased heart muscle. When injected into the bloodstream, the molecular band-aid finds these
microscopic cuts and protects them from harmful substances so the heart
muscle cells can survive and function normally. In order to be
effective the chemical must be repeatedly injected, much in the same
way a diabetic patient requires regular injections of insulin,

In the March 15 edition of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Joseph Metzger, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology, DeWayne Townsend, D.V.M., Ph.D.,
assistant professor in the Department of Integrative Biology and
Physiology, and colleagues showed the first ever effective long-term
treatment for preventing cardiac injury and progressive heart chamber
remodeling in a severely affected canine model of muscular dystrophy.

In the study, dystrophic dogs were given the molecular band-aid continuously for two months. The treatment completely blocked cardiac injury and heart disease remodeling compared to the control
group of dystrophic canines receiving a placebo.

"The advance in this study is demonstrating that molecular band-aid therapy is a safe and effective approach in preventing heart damage in severely affected large animals with muscular dystrophy,"
Metzger said.

The hopeful next major step is to determine whether children with muscular dystrophy can be helped by applying the molecular band-aid, first over short periods, then if successful, over the long
term with the ultimate goal of enhancing the health and quality of life
of muscular dystrophy patients.

Muscular dystrophy causes the muscles in the body to progressively weaken. Duchenne is the most common and severe form of childhood muscular dystrophy. About one of 3,500 boys are born with the
crippling disease. Symptoms usually begin in children who are 4-5
years-old, most are in a wheelchair by age 12, and many who have the
disease pass away by their late teens to early 20s. The primary causes
of death are respiratory failure and heart failure. Current treatments,
largely limited to corticosteroids, are minimally effective and can
cause serious side effects.

The potential for the molecular band-aid discovery is yet to be fully realized – and may be stretched even beyond those who are impacted by muscular dystrophy. Metzger and Townsend believe the
molecular band-aid may be applicable in elderly patients who simply
have weakened heart muscle. If that is the case, the molecular Band-Aid
could be used as a therapy for millions.

"We speculate that certain types of heart damage that occur when we age or when the heart is failing may also someday benefit from molecular band-aid therapy," Townsend said.

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Wow, sounds great, I hope this moves toward clinical trials soon. Michelle
Great news. Hope this will move to clinical trials ASAP.
I have one question though. If this chemical can help heart(muscles) than it can surely help other body muscles. Has this been tried for other body muscles?Any feedback on this.

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