Andy Berglund, associate dean of the graduate school and professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, recently received a grant from the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) to continue research into Myotonic Dystrophy, one of the most common forms of muscular dystrophy in adults.
Berglund’s lab is examining the molecular interactions that cause Myotonic Dystrophy. This form of dystrophy is caused by the expression of a toxic form of RNA (ribonucleic acid) in muscle tissues that prevents the normal function of a protein known as muscleblind (MBNL1).
The new grant from the MDA will enable Berglund and his team to develop therapeutic strategies drawn from their fundamental research into RNA interactions. Berglund’s lab group will use a variety of approaches—including biochemical, cellular and zebrafish studies—to characterize possible RNA modifications that would allow the muscleblind protein to function normally.
In addition to funding research expenses, the three-year, $254,000 grant will also fund a graduate students and a postdoctoral fellow in Berglund’s lab to help with the project.
Myotonic Dystrophy affects about 1 in 8,000 adults and is characterized by progressive muscle wasting and weakness. People with the disorder often have prolonged muscle contractions, referred to as myotonia, that prevent them from relaxing certain muscles.