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Sunitinib Cancer Drug Might Boost Muscle Strength in Patients with Muscular Dystrophy

Posted on November 23, 2016 by Disability Help Group

The medical community is focusing more on drug repurposing as a means of developing new treatments and potential cures without the extensive task of developing an entirely new medication. Sunitinib is the latest drug under the review of researchers hoping it can be a benefit to patients with facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD), a form of muscular dystrophy.

Doctors currently use sunitinib in the treatment of kidney and stomach cancers. However, researchers at King’s College London’s Dental Institute are looking at the drug as a treatment for muscle weakness in FSHD patients. Current FSHD treatments can only increase muscle mass, not strength. By using sunitinib, the research hopes to change the way modern medicine treats FSHD.

Using mouse models, the researchers overexpressed DUX4, a gene that contributes to the development of FSHD. The study, published in eLife, treated the mouse myoblasts that express DUX4 along with myoblasts taken from humans with FSHD.

In both cases, the sunitinib suppressed RET signaling, which reduced the expression of DUX4 and decreased damage to muscle cells.

These findings are encouraging researchers to investigate further the molecular pathology of the DUX4 gene. The team is also looking to complete more in-depth trials of the cancer drug as a muscle strengthening treatment for FSHD patients. Because the FDA already approved sunitinib, researchers may have an easier time gaining approval for use on FSHD patients.

Muscular Dystrophy Can Develop at Any Age: Know Your Rights to Disability Benefits

Whether  you or your child suffers from severe muscular dystrophy, you have the right to seek Social Security disability benefits. For help with either a child’s disability claim or your own, the Disability Help Group is here.

We can determine your eligibility and help you file a claim. We can also help you if you have begun the process and received a denial. Request your free consultation with our disability advocates by calling 800-800-2009.