A new interdisciplinary muscle research center celebrates its opening at its central location at University of Washington (UW) Medicine South Lake Union. The Center for Translational Muscle Research will encompass a myriad of muscle science and disease investigations. Studies will range from the basics of muscle-related proteins, genes, and cell biology to the design of potential treatments for devastating muscle diseases. Currently the only treatments for most of these conditions is symptom management and supportive care.
Latest Muscle Disease Research
The latest advances in such areas as gene therapy and stem cell biology put medical science closer to finding options for people with what are today incurable muscle conditions that cause disability and shorten lives. Some of these neuromuscular breathing weaknesses or failure requiring mechanical ventilation. Some approaches to these types of muscle diseases have entered experimental clinical trials, offering encouragement that these will be fruitful and other promising clinical applications will follow.
Disease Investigation Areas
The Center for Translational Muscle Research will focus on the following areas for research:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, whose cause is unknown and which leads to progressive muscle weakness and eventually to breathing and swallowing problems.
- The muscular dystrophies, a group of genetically inherited, progressively debilitating disorders in which a muscle protein is missing or not made correctly. This work will be done in partnership with related disease-research programs, such as the UW Medicine Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center.
- Myotubular myopathy, a congenital disease of varying severity that causes problems with the tone and contraction of muscles.
- Other muscle disorders whose symptoms are present starting at birth.
The range of disorders under investigation will expand to include work on a wide spectrum of skeletal and cardiac muscle diseases. The center will have facilities and expertise in three core areas: mechanics and devices, metabolism (life-sustaining chemical reactions, such as energy production), and quantitative analysis.
Center funding originates from a five-year, $4.3 million center award from the National Institute for Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH funding has also enabled Regnier and colleagues to become part of a National Institute for General Medicine Science’s five-year, $10 million collaborative grant with Stanford University, University of California Santa Barbara and the Curie Institute of Paris.
Michael Regnier, professor of bioengineering and center director
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