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Nurturing the next wave of muscular dystrophy researchers

Institute News
Monday, July 18, 2016 - 2:45pm
Melbourne-based charity Muscular Dystrophy Australia (MDA) is helping nurture a new wave of scientists at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute with its latest donation of funds.

Muscular Dystrophy Australia Executive Director Boris Struk on Friday 15th July presented a cheque to the Institute’s director, Professor Kathryn North to support MCRI’s team of muscular dystrophy researchers.

MDA has now donated more than $1.3 million to the Institute, placing them in the top 15 philanthropic donors.

The funds have supported a number of scholarship positions at MCRI, ensuring a new generation of muscular dystrophy researchers are trained.

Muscular dystrophy is a hereditary condition marked by progressive weakening and wasting of the muscles. There are about 30 different variations of the disorder affecting one in 600 Australians. The most severe form, Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), affects mostly males and is caused by a lack of the protein dystrophin.

For those diagnosed with muscular dystrophy there is currently no cure, only medications and therapy that can slow the process.

Muscular dystrophy research has been one of Institute director Professor North’s key areas of investigation throughout her career.

In the US, she worked in the lab of Dr Louis Kunkel, who identified the dystrophin gene.

Muscular dystrophy researchers at MCRI are trialling a new compound to prevent progressive muscle weakness and wasting in kids with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Led by Dr Shireen Lamande, researchers are building on research showing that replacing the missing muscle protein with a similar protein normally found in only small amounts in muscle can offer therapeutic benefits.

Mr Struk founded Muscular Dystrophy Australia more than 30 years ago after his son, Ryan, now 36, was diagnosed with DMD.