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Steadman Philippon Research Institute Awarded First NIH Award

Project To Research Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a lethal genetic disease

Vail, Colorado – August 19, 2019 – Steadman Philippon Research Institute (SPRI) has received a research award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to investigate bone abnormalities and healing defects in connection with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). The announcement was made today by Dr. Marc Philippon, managing partner of The Steadman Clinic and co-chair of SPRI and Dan Drawbaugh, CEO of The Steadman Clinic and SPRI.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy affects approximately one of every 7,200 males between the ages of 5-24 in the United States.

“We are honored that NIH leadership has placed their trust in the team at Steadman Philippon Research Institute with this important research award,” said Drawbaugh. “Through this award, our entire team of researchers, scientists and physicians is dedicated to the fight against DMD, a lethal genetic disease. SPRI is at the forefront of so many breakthroughs and I have no doubt that Dr. Johnny Huard and his team, through the use of our world-class lab, will drive new discoveries.”

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. It is caused by an absence of dystrophin, a protein that helps keep muscles intact. The lack of protein causes skeletal muscle degeneration and eventually leads to the patient becoming wheelchair bound in their early teens due to severe muscle weakness. The disease ultimately leads to death, often in the mid-20s due to cardiac or respiratory failure.

“In addition to skeletal muscle abnormalities, DMD patients also acquire osteopenia, fragility fractures and scoliosis, which indicates deficiency in the skeletal system which we believe may be a secondary consequence to muscle loss,” said Dr. Johnny Huard, Chief Scientific Officer and Director of the Center for Regenerative Sports Medicine at SPRI and Principal Investigator on the NIH award.

“We still don’t know if that could be due to a direct intrinsic skeletal defect. Our goal is to determine the nature of these defects using a mouse model of DMD. We will investigate if the abnormalities are primarily driven by stem cells or if there are other factors.”

“We are confident our research here at SPRI could make a significant difference for patients suffering from DMD,” said Dr. Huard. “Through the latest research, some DMD patients are now living into their 30s and in some cases even longer. We hope our research will help to make extending life expectancies possible.”

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