Our Partnership

We are co-funding a project called 'Discovering biomarkers for Duchenne muscular dystrophy' headed by Professor Matthew Wood, University of Oxford.

The study aims to discover molecules which could be used as biomarkers for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. These biomarkers are signals measured by a blood test that can show what is happening in the disease, its progress, how drugs are working and also help with original diagnosis. 

This project is being funded for 4 years and started in 2014.

What Are MicroRNAs?

Professor Wood will be examining three microRNAs that are involved in the formation of muscle tissue to see if they might be biomarkers for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

MicroRNAs are small pieces of RNA (a genetic element similar to DNA) that can sometimes be found and measured in the blood. Professor Wood believes that these three microRNAs are released from muscle fibres and are involved in repairing damaged muscle. This will be investigated using muscle cells grown in the laboratory and animal models of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. 

Professor Wood's team are also developing a way of detecting these microRNAs in the lab, which could eventually make tests easier and more available in a clinical setting.

What Is Happening With Clinical Trials?

This project is in the preclinical stage. It will show how the three microRNAs influence muscle function and if they can be used as biomarkers. If so, these biomarkers could be used to improve diagnosis of DMD, measure its progression and also measure the benfift of drugs used in clinical trials, without the use of muscle biopsies.

The project was funded through the Duchenne Forum. The other members of the Duchenne Forum are MDUK, The Duchenne Research Fund, Harrison's Fund and Alex's Wish.