The Muscular Dystrophy Association recently funded research that involved injecting genes into the leg muscles of monkeys and the results have left medical professionals and the MDA very hopeful. The trials proved that the injections helped the monkeys gain muscle size and strength without any side effects as of yet. Representatives of the MDA have said that with ongoing research of this nature, they hope that this can be the first step toward a more beneficial treatment for people who suffer from this muscular disease.
The researchers have found that by blocking the protein myostatin, an injection of the protein follistatin helped induce muscle growth in the monkeys. While this trial has proven successful in its earliest stages, the researchers still face a great deal of work and testing, as the monkeys did not actually have any muscular diseases. This is not a condemnation of the accomplishment, however it is still only a sign of the progress that can be made.
Dr. R. Rodney Howell, chairman of the MDA board, said in an organizational release on the accomplishment: “It's exciting to see profound improvement in muscle size and strength with no adverse effects on any organs or systems, including the heart. Improvement in treated thigh muscle is noteworthy because the large muscle is so important when people sit, rise from sitting and for mobility.”
Muscular dystrophy is a collective term for genetic muscle diseases that affect the body’s ability to move. There are currently more than 100 diseases that are either similar to or fall into the same category as muscular dystrophy, with the nine most recognized variations being Duchenne, Becker, limb girdle, congenital, facioscapulohumeral, myotonic, oculopharyngeal, distal, and Emery-Dreifuss.