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August 18, 2010

MDA Provides $14.1M in 34 Grants to Advance Muscle and Nerve Disease Research

Largest award of $525,000 goes to Emory University.

  • The Muscular Dystrophy Association has award $14.1 million in new grants to 34 research leaders. During its July meeting, the MDA board of directors unanimously approved this funding round, which will be spread across universities in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Israel, The Netherlands, the U.K., and the U.S.

    It includes nearly $600,000 in underwriting support for two collaborative research initiatives to speed therapeutic development for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and Friedreich's ataxia. Ten investigations, representing a $3.4 million investment, will focus on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The research may yield additional insights into treating other neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer, Parkinson, and Huntington diseases, spinal muscular atrophy, and fragile X, MDA notes.

    More than $6.9 million in funding will advance muscular dystrophy research initiatives, including a $5.3 million infusion primarily for work that could lead to clinical trials in Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies. One such grant is for a two-year project at Children's Hospital Boston that will test 4,000 FDA-approved compounds in zebrafish and mouse models to determine if some approved drugs could be fast-tracked as new treatments for muscular dystrophy.

    A University of Western Australia program hopes to translate early successes in using antisense oligomers to spur the flawed gene responsible for both Duchenne and Becker dystrophies to express dystrophin, the protein that is absent or lacking in these diseases. "The same qualities that make dystrophin expression a difficult target for gene therapy make it the best candidate for therapeutic success using genetic band aids," according to Steve Wilton, Ph.D., the University of Western Australia investigator who is working on this therapeutic strategy with MDA funding.

    MDA reports that previously this year it invested almost $39 million in worldwide research seeking treatments and cures for muscle diseases. The details for the most recent round of $14.1 million in funding are as follows:

      University of New Mexico: $340,000
      Emory University: $525,000
      Emory University: $359,000
      Johns Hopkins University: $348,000
      Beth Israel Deaconess: $352,000
      UMass Medical School: $330,000
      Children's Hospital: $375,000
      UC Irvine: $372,000
      Stanford University: $200,000
      UC San Diego: $330,000
      UC San Diego 2: $330,000
      Loyola University: $405,000
      University of Missouri: $160,000
      University of Colorado: $303,000
      University of Florida: $179,000
      University of Miami: $364,000
      Methodist Neuro. Institute: $330,000
      University Texas, Houston: $302,000
      Baylor College of Medicine: $411,000
      University of Louisville: $360,000
      St. Jude's Children's Hospital: $180,000
      Columbia University (SY): $180,000
      Columbia University (HO): $375,000
      Columbia University (WH): $311,000
      Thomas Jefferson University: $180,000
      Sfida Biologic, Inc.: $79,000
      University of Washington: $313,000
      University of Arizona: $375,000
      University of Melbourne: $375,000
      Univ. of Western Australia: $368,000
      University of Ottawa: $180,000
      University of Ottawa B: $360,000
      Quebec, Universite Laval: $345,000
      Tel-Aviv University: $360,000

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