Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is a fatal muscle disease affecting 1 in every 3500 male births. DMD results from mutations in the gene encoding the dystrophin, a 427 kDa scaffolding protein responsible for providing a mechanical link between the muscle fiber actin cytoskeleton and a transmembrane protein complex called the dystrophin-associated glycoprotein complex (DGC). Although life expectancy for DMD patients has gone up in recent years, the only currently approved treatment remains corticosteroids, which have limited positive effects including inflammation inhibition and counterproductive side effects. Recent research studies have focused on using virally mediated gene replacement, direct gene repair, myoblast cell transfer, small molecule protein enhancement, exon skipping small molecules, and protein therapeutics. The Burkin lab has recently shown that recombinant mouse Galectin-1 is capable of stabilizing and restoring the normal protein levels of dystrophin-associated proteins normally in DMD. Galectin-1 treatment also leads to elevated levels of both utrophin and ?7?1 integrin in skeletal muscle, critical modifying proteins that act to protect the fragile sarcolemmal from damage in the absence of dystrophin. The enhanced sarcolemmal stability leads to a decreased myofiber regeneration and damage. Galectin-1 also functions in muscle to limit inflammation and thereby fibrosis. Finally, Galectin-1 treated mdx mice displayed elevated strength and activity levels relative to controls. Strykagen plans to further develop Galectin-1 protein therapy towards an IND application by producing purified human Galectin-1 protein capable of getting FDA approval for phase I clinical trials. In collaboration with our academic partner the purified recombinant galectin-1 will be used in preclinical studies in the mdx mice to demonstrate muscle protecting properties. Results from this study should lead directly into a phase II STTR grant for preclinical studies in the GRMD dog model of DMD. Together these studies will lead to an IND application with the FDA and clinical trials to develop Galectin-1 protein as a novel treatment for DMD.

Public Health Relevance

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is a fatal muscle disease that currently has no cure and limited treatment options. Several studies have demonstrated utrophin and the 7 1 integrin are major modifiers of disease progression in DMD and targets for drug-based therapeutics. Dr. Dean Burkin has identified that mouse galectin-1, a small 14 kDa protein, increases both utrophin and ?7?1 integrin to therapeutic levels in the mdx mouse model of DMD. This study aims to produce recombinant human galectin-1 protein and determine if this therapeutic can prevent muscle disease in the mdx mouse model of DMD.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Grants - Phase I (R41)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
Program Officer
Wang, Xibin
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Strykagen Corporation
United States
Zip Code
Sarathy, Apurva; Wuebbles, Ryan D; Fontelonga, Tatiana M et al. (2017) SU9516 Increases ?7?1 Integrin and Ameliorates Disease Progression in the mdx Mouse Model of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Mol Ther 25:1395-1407
Van Ry, Pam M; Wuebbles, Ryan D; Key, Megan et al. (2015) Galectin-1 Protein Therapy Prevents Pathology and Improves Muscle Function in the mdx Mouse Model of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Mol Ther 23:1285-1297