Researchers at Columbia University Medical Centre say that a new class of experimental drugs for heart failure may be effective against fatal muscular disorder.
During a study, the research team identified a "leak" that weakens skeletal muscle in Duchenne, a disorder that affects boys usually before the age of 6, destroying their muscle cells and cardiac muscle in heart failure.
This leak allows the calcium to slowly seep into the skeletal muscle cells and excess calcium ultimately cause damage.
Similarly in heart failure patients, the calcium leak weakens the force produced by the heart, and turns on a protein-digesting enzyme that damages its muscle fibres.
Lead researcher Dr. Andrew Marks believes that a new class of experimental drugs developed at CUMC, designed to plug the leak in the heart might be effective against Duchenne.
While experimenting on mice with Duchenne, the researchers found these drugs to dramatically improve muscle strength and reduce the number of damaged muscle cells.
"This was extremely exciting to us," Nature magazine quoted Dr. Marks, chair of the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics and Clyde and Helen Wu Professor of Molecular Cardiology, as saying.
"If it works in people, our drug won't be a cure, but it could slow the pace of muscle degeneration and extend the lives of people with Duchenne," he added.
The study appears in the journal Nature Medicine.