U researchers find possible treatment for Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy

U researchers helped identify a major source of origin for two groups of adult cells that contribute to muscle repair, which could lead to a treatment for Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy.

DMD is a condition caused by a defective or absent dystrophin gene, a protein that keeps muscle cells intact.

The muscle repair cells, or satellite and side population cells, come from various places in the body, but the actual origin was previously disputed. U Researchers found that some portion of those cells comes from somites and that those cells may be effective in a therapy setting, said Gabrielle Kardon, assistant professor of human genetics.

A somite is an embryonic cell mass occurring in pairs and forming into muscles and vertebrae.

“We are currently doing basic research, but people are interested in side population cells because you can inject them into the circulatory system and they will repair muscles,” Kardon said.

The researchers tested whether satellite or side population cells originate from somites in mice and chickens and found that chick and mice embryos gave rise to satellite and side population cells, which were injected into the adult.

Side population cells currently only produce a small percentage of effectiveness for treating muscular dystrophy, but this new research may “potentially enhance that percentage,” Kardon said.

Somite cells have a better chance of making good muscles, Kardon said, and that could lead to a better chance of curing muscular dystrophy.

The study was published Jan. 23 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Morgan Ratcliffe