The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) announces the awarding of 29 new research and development grants, totaling more than $7 million.

These grants are targeted toward the development of treatments for muscular dystrophy, ALS, and related life-threatening diseases, according to the MDA.

“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,” says MDA Executive Vice President and Chief Medical & Scientific Officer Valerie A. Cwik, MD, in a media release from the MDA.

“Each of the new projects under way 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,” she adds.

The grant awards include the following, per the release:

Mattia Quattrocelli, at the Center for Genetic Medicine, Northwestern University – Chicago, was awarded an MDA development grant totaling $180,000 over 3 years to study the effects of glucocorticoids on muscle repair and regeneration in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

James Novak, postdoctoral associate at Children’s Research Institute, Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., was awarded an MDA development grant totaling $180,000 over 3 years to examine why exon skipping drugs are most effective at getting to muscles that are actively undergoing repair.

Kleopas Kleopa, professor and senior consulting neurologist at the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics, Cyprus School of Molecular Medicine, in Nicosia, Cyprus, was awarded an MDA research grant totaling $119,999 over a period of 2 years to test whether gene therapy treatment after disease onset could lead to functional improvements in CMT1X, the second most common form of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT).

Henry Kaminski, Meta A. Neumann Professor and Chair of the department of neurology at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., was awarded an MDA research grant totaling $367,187 over 3 years to test a therapeutic strategy in cell and rat models of myasthenia gravis (MG), with the intent to demonstrate the feasibility of the approach and then move to human clinical trials.

Thurman Wheeler, at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, was awarded an MDA research grant totaling $330,000 over 3 years to develop biomarkers in blood or urine that will reduce the need for muscle biopsies to measure disease progression and drug effectiveness in myotonic dystrophy (DM) and other neuromuscular disorders.

[Source(s): Muscular Dystrophy Association, PR Newswire]