MDA Awards $7M in Grants for 29 Disease-Targeting Research Projects

Margarida Azevedo, MSc avatar

by Margarida Azevedo, MSc |

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The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) has awarded $7 million in grants to 29 top researchers for projects it says will potentially make a big impact on muscular dystrophy and other life-threatening diseases.

The investment reflects the nonprofit organization’s plan to double spending on drug development and clinical trials by 2020.

Each year, the MDA finances about 250 research grants aimed at developing treatments for at least 40 neuromuscular diseases. This year, the Chicago-based organization is funding more than 150 research projects around the world with a combined investment of nearly $50 million — money that was raised by MDA’s partners and supporters.

“MDA is excited to fund 29 new research projects at this time of unprecedented progress, with three drugs having been approved in the last six months for neuromuscular diseases — all developed with critical MDA support via grants like those we’re announcing today,” MDA Executive Vice-President Valerie A. Cwik, MD, said in a news release. “Each of the new projects underway now could lay the foundation for the next life-changing medical and scientific advances that will save and improve the lives of kids and adults fighting neuromuscular disease.”

The latest round of 29 grants were selected from 187 applications and approved by MDA’s board of directors following meticulous review by MDA’s Research Advisory Committee. They include $180,000 to study the effects of glucocorticoids on muscle repair in Duchenne muscular dystrophy; $330,000 to develop blood or urine biomarkers to measure disease progression and drug effectiveness in myotonic dystrophy; and $367,000 over three years to test a therapeutic strategy in cell and rat models of myasthenia gravis (MG) and eventually move to human clinical trials.

The money was raised through MDA’s funding initiatives such as Fill The Boot drives run by the International Association of Fire Fighters; retail promotions, such as the ones found in Lowe’s, Casey’s General Stores and Citgo Petroleum, and events promoted by Harley-Davidson ; as well as fundraising events promoted by Harley-Davidson motorcycle enthusiasts.

“MDA remains steadfast in our commitment to help make therapy options available to treat all the diseases under our umbrella as quickly as possible. Thanks to generous partners and donors who champion our work and our cause, we are moving more quickly than ever toward achieving that goal,” Cwik said. “We’re funding the most promising science in the neuromuscular disease space as we search for the solutions that will help MDA families live longer and grow stronger.”