Recently, Dr. Jason White, lead researcher at the National Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre (NDMRC) at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, returned from six months of research in Vancouver, Canada. The purpose of this trip was to learn new techniques for research into Muscular Dystrophy and ensure Australia is up-to-date with all research developments and breakthroughs happening internationally.
Jason’s trip was about making new research links, learning new techniques and having a reprieve from the duties of teaching, meaning more time to focus on research. The specific technique Jason focused on was developed by Dr. Chris Overall, who has been using it in the cancer biology lab to see how cells in the body process proteins.
Jason and his team had previously tried to use this technique at the NMDRC, however without specialised knowledge, it proved too difficult and hence Jason’s research trip came about. The technique works to give a deeper understanding of regulating inflammation. Canadian researchers have used the technique in the context of cancer and arthritis, however no work has been done with muscle. Jason’s aim was to get a deeper understanding of inflammation and how it’s regulated and bring this technique and knowledge back to research in Muscular Dystrophy at the NMDRC.
Inflammation helps the regeneration of the muscle E.G if you get an injury it helps to heal the muscle. In Muscular Dystrophy, there is constant damage to the muscles and chronic/uncontrolled inflammation doing even more damage. Therefore, you can see the link between this technique that can identify how to regulate inflammation and treatments for Muscular Dystrophy.
This technique is very much in the beginning phase, however it has the potential to unlock treatment options for a range of Muscular Dystrophies including FSH, DMD and LGMD. What researchers are aiming to do is replace corticosteroids as the front line therapy, to avoid the side effects that come with this treatment option.
Now that Jason has returned from Canada, he will be working with this technique into Muscular Dystrophy research at the NMDRC. The next step is to work with injured muscles to identify what is happening within the injury. There could also potentially be a use for the medications already developed using this technique, for cancer and arthritis, in patients with Muscular Dystrophy.
Jason’s time spent away, during which he also attended conferences and seminars all across the United States, allowed him to interact with top researchers internationally to get the best results for research in Muscular Dystrophy in Australia.