Category Archives: FSHD Research

From our CEO, a call to FSHD researchers

Dear Research Colleagues,

The late Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota

As you know, the FSH Society constantly encourages the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to increase the number of grants and the number of dollars it funds on one of the most common forms of muscular dystrophy–facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD)–while urging the FSHD research community to help the NIH to achieve higher levels of spending on FSHD by submitting grant applications. In fiscal year 2017, the NIH estimates funding $80 million on all forms of muscular dystrophy (source: NIH online Research, Condition, and Disease Categorization (RCDC) system). Continue reading

FSH Society grant award for myostatin study

Belgian Blue cattle are ripped, thanks to a mutation in their myostatin gene. Photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1702186

In April, the FSH Society awarded Julie Dumonceaux PhD, or University College London, Institute of Child Health. a grant of $9,659.43 for one year for a project aimed at better understanding patients’ response to a class of drugs called myostatin inhibitors.

These drugs, such as Acceleron’s ACE-083 which is currently in a clinical trial in FSH muscular dystrophy patients, target myostatin, a molecule that the body produces naturally to inhibit muscle growth. The rationale for blocking myostatin is to enable muscle to achieve greater mass than it otherwise would. In conditions such as FSHD, where muscle mass is lost, a myostatin inhibitor would in theory enable muscle to re-grow without having to fight an uphill battle against the growth-blocking effects of myostatin. Continue reading

aTyr Pharma releases results of early-onset FSHD trial

SAN DIEGO, April 24, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — aTyr Pharma, Inc. (Nasdaq:LIFE), a biotherapeutics company engaged in the discovery and development of Physiocrine-based therapeutics to address severe, rare diseases, today announced promising clinical results from its Phase 1b/2 003 trial assessing the safety and potential activity of Resolaris™ in patients with early onset facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD).

Read the full press release here.

Intriguing research on tyrosine kinase inhibition as a potential therapy for FSHD: Sunitinib rescues muscle cells’ ability to develop

Written by Jim Albert
Eldersburg, Maryland

 

A cancer drug has been shown to potentially rescue some of the damaging effects of DUX4, the gene implicated in FSH muscular dystrophy. The laboratory of Peter Zammit, PhD, Randall Division of Cell and Molecular Biophysics, King’s College London, United Kingdom, in collaboration with Robert Knight, PhD, of the Department of Craniofacial Development and Stem Cell Biology at King’s, has published the results of its research on the activity of an FDA-approved drug, sunitinib, as having potential therapeutic activity for FSH muscular dystrophy (FSHD). Continue reading

FSH Society Awards $541,133 in Funding for FSH Muscular Dystrophy Research

Boston-based Non-profit Awards New Grants to Facilitate Search for a Cure

BOSTON – April 5, 2017 – Today the FSH Society, a world leader in combating facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), announced it has committed $541,133 in funding to five research projects that aim to break new ground in the search for a treatment and cure for FSHD. These grants follow the Society’s record breaking $1.36 million awarded in total research funding in 2016.

“These grants are a testament to the dedication of researchers within the FSHD community committed to understanding and solving how FSHD works through high quality peer-reviewed research” said Daniel Perez, President and CEO of the FSH Society. “With these grants we look to build upon our record-breaking success in 2016, which would not have been possible without the generosity and sustained support of donors, Society management and staff, our Board members and volunteers.”

The following proposals submitted in August 2016 were approved: Continue reading

Update on Clinical Trial A083-02: a Phase 2 Clinical Study of ACE-083 in FSHD

The FSH Society has a long history of partnering with biotech and pharmaceutical companies to facilitate recruitment of patients and families for focus groups, provide patient input to clinical outcome measures, and participation in clinical trials. The Society also assists companies by providing connections, insights and scientific information in the research, therapeutic and clinical areas. For the ongoing trial of ACE-083, the FSH Society has worked with the drug’s developer, Acceleron Pharma, to better understand how FSHD affects patients through a survey (see story here) as well as to educate patients about the process of enrolling in the clinical trial. In response to the high degree of interest in the ACE-083 trial, Acceleron has worked with the FSH Society to provide the following update and FAQ. We thank Acceleron for the company’s commitment to patient education. Continue reading

FSHD patient survey results presented at MDA Conference

At the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s biennial scientific conference, held in Washington, DC, on March 19-22, 2017, researchers from Acceleron Pharma presented a poster about the most prominent symptoms and daily life impact of FSH muscular dystrophy, as reported by patients and caregivers. The report was based on results from a survey developed by Acceleron in collaboration with Dr. Jeffrey Statland of the University of Kansas Medical Center and June Kinoshita from the FSH Society. Researchers at aTyr Pharma also contributed comments on the survey design. Continue reading

Q &A on potential use of BET inhibitors for FSHD

On February 13, Canadian biotech, Reserverlogix announced that facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is one of two new indications it is pursuing involving its lead drug, apabetalone (RVX-208) which inhibits bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) epigenetic readers.  It mentioned research conducted at Saint Louis University demonstrating apabetalone mediated modulation of important targets in FSHD.  The FSH Society funded seminal seed-funds to Dr. Fran Sverdrup at Saint Louis University starting in 2014 to conduct pilot research to study BET proteins as therapeutic targets in FSHD.  It is still early days with respect to this research.  Dr. Fran Sverdrup in response to inquiries he has received following the Resverlogix press release, along with the desire to start managing patient expectations about the status of BET inhibitors as a potential therapy for FSHD and research required to validate a candidate drug as an effective treatment, has put together the following Q&A to inform our readers about the status of BET inhibitors.

What are BET inhibitors?  BET inhibitors are a class of drugs with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Although no BET inhibitors are yet approved for use in the US or internationally, there are several clinical trials ongoing in the areas of cancer and cardiovascular disease. These drugs bind to and inhibit Bromodomain and Extra-Terminal motif (BET) proteins BRD2, BRD3, BRD4, and BRDT. Since BET proteins generally bind to active or “open” chromatin and turn on nearby genes, BET inhibitors act to suppress (turn off) genes that are over-expressed in disease settings. Continue reading

Johns Hopkins Studies

Johns Hopkins and the Kennedy Krieger Institute are currently recruiting for two studies!  Volunteering for studies like this helps provide researchers with the information they need to provide better treatments, understand the mechanisms of the disease, and search for a cure.

For Family Members (no travel necessary!):

The Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Kennedy Krieger Institute are looking for first-degree relatives of FSHD patients ages 35 and older who do not currently show symptoms.  Volunteers will be asked to give a blood draw, which can be performed at any local lab.  The blood draw, the genetic test, and shipping will be covered by the study.

Interested individuals should contact Pegah Dehghan: dehghan@kennedykrieger.org.

Study Protocol Number: NA-00019985. 

For Patients: Continue reading

Imaging study shows positive effects of exercise and CBT on muscle degeneration

In 2014, a Dutch team reported that aerobic exercise training (AET) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) decreased fatigue and improved the quality of life significantly in FSHD patients. Now, the same group has published a study demonstrating that not only did patients given AET or CBT feel more energized and active, but that their muscles degenerated more slowly than in patients who received standard care.

Strikingly, the effect was largest in the CBT group. CBT often focuses on how your thoughts can influence your behaviors and the choices you make. It is often used to treat patients with chronic illness to improve their functioning in their daily life. Continue reading