Brain; Discovery

New Progress Against Muscular Dystrophy

Brain; Discovery

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Drs. Olson and Schneider

Scientists at UT Southwestern’s O’Donnell Brain Institute have halted muscular dystrophy in the lab.

Dr. Eric Olson, Director of UT Southwestern’s Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine, leads the lab that made the breakthrough. His team used a technique called CRISPR to find a mutated gene responsible for Duchenne muscular dystrophy in laboratory animals, cut it out, and replace it with a healthy version of the gene.

Within weeks, all signs of Duchenne muscular dystrophy had disappeared.

“Children with DMD often die, either because their heart loses the strength to pump or their diaphragm becomes too weak to breathe,” Dr. Olson says. “This … would hopefully prevent that from happening.”

“Our strategy is different from other therapeutic approaches for DMD because it edits the mutation that causes the disease and restores normal expression,” adds Dr. Leonela Amoasii, lead author of the published study resulting from the work and Assistant Instructor of Molecular Biology in Dr. Olson’s lab. “But we have more to do before we can use this clinically.”

Read the full article on this breakthrough

The cutting edge of CRISPR

When Ben Dupree looks through the microscope at his beating heart cells, he sees the future. Using a gene editing technology called CRISPR, Dr. Eric Olson and his lab at UT Southwestern were able to correct a genetic flaw in Ben's cells that had caused him to face the muscle deterioration since childhood associated with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. “It’s unbelievable,” Ben says. "This could save so many lives one day.”

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