New centers boost muscular dystrophy research

October 14, 2003

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), parts of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have funded three new cooperative research centers for the muscular dystrophies (MD), a group of genetic diseases that result in muscle weakness and wasting. The three institutes will fund the centers at up to $1 million in direct costs per center per year for 5 years. The NIH expects to fund up to two additional centers in future years.

The centers, principal investigators, funding agencies and planned research include: The new centers are mandated in the Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research and Education Amendments of 2001, or the MD-CARE Act (Public Law 107-84), passed by Congress. They will encompass basic, clinical and behavioral research projects. Centers will work individually and collaboratively, and will be overseen by a steering committee.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association is expected to issue an announcement of available supplements to provide up to $500,000 in total costs per center per year for 3 years for additional projects.

Muscular dystrophy is characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal muscles (voluntary muscles that control movement). It can also affect heart muscle, and in some muscular dystrophies can cause problems such as deafness, difficulty with thinking, and other systemic disturbances. Its major forms include myotonic, Duchenne, Becker, Emery-Dreifuss, congenital, limb-girdle and facioscapulohumeral. Duchenne is the most common form affecting children, and myotonic is the most common form affecting adults. MD can affect people of all ages. Although some forms first become apparent in infancy or childhood, others may not appear until middle age or later.
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The NIAMS, NICHD and NINDS are part of the Department of Health and Human Services' National Institutes of Health.

The mission of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) is to support research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases, the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research, and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases.

The mission of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development is to ensure that every person is born healthy and wanted, that women suffer no harmful effects from the reproductive process, and that all children have the chance to fulfill their potential for a healthy and productive life, free of disease or disability.

The mission of National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is to reduce the burden of neurological disease -- a burden borne by every age group, by every segment of society, by people all over the world.

NIH/National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

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