Neuromuscular disorders (NMDs) affect an estimated 300.000 people in Europe and no therapies are available for these highly incapacitating and lethal disorders. In the last few years, this status quo has shifted dramatically with the appearance of new RNA therapies targeting several of these disorders. Several clinical trials are currently underway but future development is being slowed due to several motives, mainly related to the requirement of personalised approaches for rarer mutations and to technical difficulties to evaluate the effects of these new therapies on relevant biological outcome measures.
I have been awarded a fellowship to develop a platform to streamline drug development for NMDs by combining several resources: immortalized control and patients’ cells, specific antibodies and new imaging techniques to be able to measure immunostained cultured cells directly in plate format. Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) will be the first NMD that will benefit from this approach. Several therapeutic approaches aim to restore dystrophin expression in DMD: gene therapy, stem cell therapy, nonsense mutation read-through and redirection of splicing with antisense oligonucleotides (AOs). A reliable quantitative method to measure dystrophin in cell culture is not yet available and this project will develop such system, which will not only speed up development of new AOs targeting less common mutations, but also be the stepping stone that we will use to expand the platform not only to find treatments to other NMDs, but also possibly as a diagnostic tool for some of them.
Fields of science
- medical and health sciencesbasic medicinepharmacology and pharmacydrug discovery
- medical and health sciencesmedical biotechnologygenetic engineeringgene therapy
- medical and health sciencesmedical biotechnologycells technologiesstem cells
- medical and health sciencesbasic medicineneurologymuscular dystrophiesduchenne muscular dystrophy
- natural sciencesbiological sciencesgeneticsmutation
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