The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) has awarded a total of $9.9 million to 34 pioneering and innovative projects worldwide in its continuing efforts to support groundbreaking research for more than 40 neuromuscular diseases.
“This latest round of grants is impressive in terms of total funding, number of grants awarded and the diverse impact these grants will have in furthering neuromuscular disease research,” Lynn O’Connor Vos, president and CEO of MDA said, in a press release.
Grants awarded by MDA are given to established scientists, as well as providing support for those at the beginning of their careers, for a variety of projects, from one looking at ways to ease expenses for patients and their families who travel to participate in clinical studies, to another that will go toward a scholarship for an early-career physician who wants to work in the field of clinical neuromuscular research.
Some of the scientists and notable research projects related to muscular dystrophy in this summer funding cycle include:
- Francis Sverdrup, PhD, an associate professor at St. Louis University, to study treatments targeting the skeletal muscle protein (DUX4) responsible for muscle degeneration in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD).
- Francesco Muntoni, MD, the chair of pediatric neurology at UCL GOS Institute of Child Health in London, to identify new genetic mutations causing congenital myopathy (CMY) and congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD).
- Melissa Spencer, PhD, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, to find an alternate drug delivery approach for neuromuscular diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) using nanoparticles.
- Samya Chakravorty, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at Emory University in Atlanta, to assess old cases of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD) to better understand the cause of the condition by potentially identifying multiple gene mutations instead of just one defect.
In addition to these research projects, MDA also awarded funding for initiatives aimed at developing the tools and infrastructure necessary for clinical research.
“This latest round of grants is a testament to the advances in technology and drug discovery that have taken place in the last few years,” said Grace Pavlath, PhD, senior vice president and scientific director of MDA. “The opportunity to fund groundbreaking research has never been greater, and MDA remains committed to achieving our ultimate goal of providing treatments and cures for our community.”
Since it was founded in 1950, MDA has raised more than $1 billion to support global neuromuscular disease research. Its support has helped scientists better understand these disease states and develop safe, effective therapies.
Currently, 177 different projects are sponsored by MDA around the world totaling $47.3 million in funding.
“With each grant cycle we are getting closer to unlocking the mysteries of so many of these neuromuscular diseases and identifying therapeutic targets that will lead to life-changing treatments, which is very exciting,” O’Connor Vos said.
MDA is supported by several organizations that raise funds through community programs, including Harley-Davidson Motor company, Casey’s General Stores, Acosta, The Kroger Company, Albertsons Companies, the International Association of Fire Fighters, Circle K, National Association of Letter Carriers, Dutch Bros. Coffee, and CITGO petroleum company.