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New approach to protect the hearts of patients with muscular dystrophy
Date:5/12/2008

to cell death.

One of these approaches involved the use of sildenafil, which increased cGMP concentration by preventing its degradation by the phosphodiesterase 5 enzyme, explains Dr. Petrof, who works at the MUHCs Meakins-Christie Laboratories. Our work had shown for many years the benefits of cGMP on the heart and the present study confirms the therapeutic potential of this molecule, adds Dr. Deschepper.

About muscular dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy is characterized by weakness and progressive degeneration of the muscles, including the heart muscle. It is caused by a genetic mutation of dystrophin, a protein that acts as the backbone of muscular cells. This disease, whose most common forms are those of Duchenne and Becker, has an incidence of one in 6,000 births and a prevalence of roughly one in 3,600 boys.

The first signs of muscular weakness appear at roughly age 5, leading to a progressive loss in the ability to walk by the age of 13. Cardiac problems can occur at the age of 10 and progress very quickly, affecting the majority of patients by the age of 20. They are also an important cause of death among patients with muscular dystrophy.

Research on this disease used to focus on the degeneration of skeletal muscles, says Dr. Des Rosiers, but it is important to take into account all muscular problems, including cardiac problems, when treating these patients so that we can improve their quality of life.

The researchers point to another study showing the beneficial effects of a medication similar to sildenafil on the other muscles of dystrophic mice. Thus, the benefits of this approach may not be limited to the heart. Sildenafil is already prescribed for erectile dysfunction and pulmonary hypertension. However, Dr. Petrof mentions that further clinical studies will be required before Viagra is prescribed to dystrophic young children.

These experimental results give us hope that one day it w
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Contact: Doris Prince
doris.prince@icm-mhi.org
51-437-633-303-074
University of Montreal
Source:Eurekalert

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