DMD tech

Duchenne UK joins forces with SRI International on the SMART Suit

Duchenne UK is thrilled to announce it has signed a licencing agreement with SRI International, a non-profit independent research institute based in Menlo Park, California, to make use of their patented twisted string actuator technology in the SMART Suit.

The SMART Suit is an unprecedented innovation in wearable technology, designed specifically to help people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy to maintain the use of their arms.

Duchenne UK has formed a collaboration with the charity Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK and the University of Liverpool to bring the SMART suit concept to life. Design consultancy and wearable tech specialists, PA Consulting have been engaged as the design and development partner on the project. The SMART suit project was awarded £1.25 million earlier this year from the Dream Fund, a charitable fund operated by People’s Postcode Lottery in the UK.

Emily Reuben is the CEO and co-founder of Duchenne UK:

“The technological revolution in hardware has ignored the disabled. We have mobile phones, electric cars, drones – but nothing to help disabled people move their arms. We are delighted to be able to employ the state-of-the-art technology developed by SRI International in a product that will meet this unmet need.

We are also incredibly grateful to players of People’s Postcode Lottery and the Dream Fund, alongside our longstanding charity partner Alex’s Wish, for their financial support of the project.”

Alexander Kernbaum Robotics at SRI International:

“Our mission at SRI is to create and deliver technological solutions to address some of the world’s most important challenges, and we are grateful that through this technology, we are able to help improve the lives of individuals with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

“We are excited to see our lightweight and flexible twisted string actuation technology have a real impact in the world. It is particularly rewarding to support the DMD community, an area where exosuits can provide real benefits to the user.”

Published on 4 January 2023

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Note for editors

What is Duchenne muscular dystrophy?

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a genetic disease diagnosed in childhood; it is the most common and severe form of muscular dystrophy. Children born with DMD cannot produce the protein dystrophin which is vital for muscle strength and function. Muscle weakness starts in early childhood. Many use a wheelchair by around the age of 12. As deterioration continues it leads to paralysis and a shortened life expectancy. It almost exclusively affects boys. In the UK there are around 2,500 boys affected and around 300,000 worldwide.

Who is Duchenne UK?

As the leading Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) charity in the UK, Duchenne UK aims to end Duchenne's devastating impact. We connect scientists, the pharmaceutical industry, the NHS and families to advance and accelerate medical research, while bringing everyone affected by DMD the care and support they need.

Our president is HRH the former Duchess of Cornwall. Our patrons include the broadcasters Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Mary Nightingale, and the sports stars Owen Farrell, Kris Radlinski and Andy Farrell. 

How to donate

COVID-19 has caused a funding crisis in medical research. But we cannot, and will not, let it slow us down in our mission to find new and effective treatments for DMD. Because this generation of boys cannot wait. Donate now, and together we will end Duchenne

Duchenne UK is entirely reliant on donations. This can be done via:

Direct debit

Individual donation

If you are a family or friend affected by DMD you can set up your own fund with Duchenne UK

Take part in one of our fundraising events

Text  DUCHENNE to 70085 to donate £5. This costs £5 plus a std rate msg.