SOLVE FSHD, the venture-philanthropy organization founded by entrepreneur Chip Wilson, announces its financial support to the FSHD Canada Foundation’s strategic investment of US$1.2M in biomarker grant funding to facilitate biomarker research in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). The FSHD Canada Foundation acknowledges the generous support of SOLVE FSHD towards funding these grants.

The biomarker grants have been awarded to the following projects: Circulating biomarkers of disease activity in FSHD: Skeletal muscle exosomes (Professor Enzo Ricci and Dr. Giorgio Tasca, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy); IMPROVE FSHD: Artificial intelligence analysis to validate new serum biomarkers and therapeutic target for FSHD and UNDERSTAND FSHD2: An 18-month prospective natural history study to gain insight FSHD2 pathophysiology and disease progression (Dr. Sabrina Sacconi, Nice University Hospital Center); and Investigation of circulating biomarkers in FSHD (Dr. Yi-Wen Chen, Children’s National Hospital, Washington, DC).

These biomarker grant projects were prioritized by SOLVE FSHD based on their proposed potential to impact clinical trial outcomes and accelerate timelines for the development of FSHD therapeutics. Biological markers are either molecules that circulate in the blood (proteins, microRNA, metabolites) or structural features that can be imaged by MRI or ultrasound. Identifying disease-specific biomarkers are critically important because they can confirm an FSHD-related change, can reliably track disease progression and can be an early predictor of the effects of new therapies, resulting in more efficient and shorter clinical trials.

“For diseases such as FSHD, there is a tremendous challenge for transforming scientific discoveries into new drug treatments due to the slow-progressing nature of the disease. The goal is to identify a biomarker that changes early and predicts disease progression,” says Dr. Eva Chin, SOLVE FSHD Executive Director. “Funding the development of appropriate biomarkers will help to accelerate the development of new therapies by reducing the duration of clinical trials, potentially reducing the overall cost of developing innovative treatments, and ultimately the discovery of a cure for FSHD.”

Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is a type of muscular dystrophy in which there is progressive muscle degeneration and muscle weakness that leads to an inability to lift objects, groom oneself and walk.

[Source(s): SOLVE FSHD, GlobeNewswire]