A team of researchers from King’s College London and University College London have discovered that the cancer drug Sunitinib can help to reduce the weakness in muscles caused by muscular dystrophy.
Facioscapulohumeral Dystrophy (FSHD) is a progressive skeletal muscle disorder that leads to weakness in muscles of the face, shoulders and upper arms. Affecting around 1 in around 9000 of the UK population, there is no cure for this debilitating condition. Despite extensive research, it is still not clear what causes muscle weakness in those affected.
Dr Robert Knight from King’s College London’s Dental Institute explains: “Muscle dystrophies are an untreatable collection of diseases that result in progressive loss of mobility and often premature death, and affect millions of people worldwide. The discovery that an approved anti-cancer treatment may prove useful for enhancing the ability of stem cells to repair muscle in a type of muscle dystrophy affecting face and shoulder muscles, offers a new route for putative therapies for many patients.”
The team are now collaborating to explore how Sunitinib can improve the ability of muscle stem cells from patients to form muscle.
The full paper is available at: https://elifesciences.org/content/5/e11405