Approximately 600 boys are born Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy every year. Muscular dystrophy causes the muscles of affected children to tear and the body is unable to repair these torn muscles. As the diseases progresses it can eventually affect the child’s diaphragm and heart. This disease is severely debilitating and significantly reduces the life of people with the disease.
Dean Burkin Ph.D., of the UNR School of Medicine, has been developing a simple and effective treatment for Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy through the use of a protein known as Laminin-111. Laminin-111 can be injected in the affected patient and the protein is absorbed in the muscles through out the body. The protein surounds the muscles to create and promotes the creation of inagren which repairs the muscle.
Dean began his research related to muscular dystrophy while conducting post doctorate work at the University of Illinois with Steven Kaufman. In 2003 Dean moved to the University of Nevada Reno to start and direct the new Transgenic Center. Steven Kaufman retired soon after Dean moved to UNR and Dean ended up taking over Steven’s research. Since taking over Steven’s research, Dean has utilized the UNR Transgenic Center in-order to make large strides towards bringing Laminin-111 to market.
In tests on lab mice with Duchene and Becker muscular dystrophy, Dean has seen positive signs the Laminin-111 is affective in both preventing the affects of the disease and repairing muscle that has already been damaged from the disease. As explained in The American Journal of Pathology, mice with the disease that go untreated show weight loss, loss of grooming, joint contractures, and peripheral neuropathy after 10 weeks. Mice with the disease treated with laminin-111 lived 3.5 times longer, were still groomed, maintained their weight, and showed little signs of peripheral neuropathy after 60 weeks.
As Dean has continued seeing positive results from his testing of the protein he started working with pharmaceutical companies to continue research and eventually bring the treatment to market. Dean is also currently working on a number of the compounds that may help laminin-111 work more effectively.
Dean’s biggest challenges currently is finding a way to create a dosage large enough to be used on human patients. Dean believes this will be challenge that he along with industry collaborators will be able to overcome. In-order to produce the larger dosage of Laminin-111 to treat humans Dean is looking for additional financial backing.
The patent for Laminin-111 was issued in June 2012.