Scientist working on innovative treatment for muscle disorder
HOUSTON – (Aug. 20, 2010) – Vihang Narkar, Ph.D., has a passion for “making fundamental biomedical discoveries." It is a reason why he is a researcher at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), and he is convinced that boosting fatigue-resistant aerobic muscle could be a potential therapeutic pathway for treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
Noting that DMD is a progressive neuromuscular disorder caused by a defective gene that fails to produce the structural protein known as dystrophin, Narkar explains that while fixing or replacing a defective gene is a difficult proposition, it is critical to explore how “fundamental muscle remodeling pathways can be used to bypass the genetic defect and combat pathology.”
Narkar will be able to explore this DMD research direction with the help of a new, three-year Muscular Dystrophy Association grant of $302,326. Narkar is an assistant professor in the Center for Diabetes and Obesity Research at the UTHealth Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases.
"What we have on our hands is a genetic pathway which can make a muscle resistant to fatigue," Narkar said. “We have found that over-expression of an orphan estrogen-related nuclear receptor in healthy mouse skeletal muscle activates genes that encode a highly aerobic and fatigue-resistant muscle." Now, his laboratory is investigating whether this nuclear receptor pathway can be activated to engineer the aerobic “muscle of choice” in DMD to reverse the dystrophic pathology.
Narkar is one of 38 research leaders receiving new multi-year awards from MDA. His three-year project is part of the $14.1 million in research funding approved during the association’s July Board meeting. This is his first grant through MDA.
“Dr. Narkar’s research is innovative and important," said R. Rodney Howell, M.D., chairman of the MDA Board of Directors. “We’re delighted that he’s joining the MDA family of investigators who are collectively focused on speeding treatments to help children and adults affected by progressive muscle diseases."
Visit Narkar’s laboratory for information.
Media Hotline: 713-500-3030