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news News Thursday, May 28, 2020 Thursday, May 28, 2020 9:50 AM - Thursday, May 28, 2020 9:50 AM

Study shows gene therapy enhances muscle strength and could help children with joint conditions

Study shows gene therapy enhances muscle strength and could help children with joint conditions

The researchers at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis and Washington University School of Medicine recently discovered that gene therapy can help build strength and muscle mass quickly and reduce the severity of osteoarthritis. This type of therapy would be particularly useful to children who suffer from extreme obesity, or severe conditions that involve muscle loss such as spinal muscular atrophy or muscular dystrophy. Studies show that receiving one injection of gene therapy doubled the test subject’s muscle size and burned off all the fat from a high-fat diet, even without exercise.

Building muscle mass and strength can be difficult for those who suffer from osteoarthritis. This study, published in the journal Science Advances, gives hope that gene therapy can offer help to speed up the process. Read the original article.

Gene therapy takes the genes inside your body’s cells and alters them to help treat a disease or condition. In the case of osteoarthritis, patients need to build strength and muscle mass through exercise, but gene therapy can help reduce the severity of the disease even without exercise. This approach is particularly helpful for conditions where regular exercise may not be possible, such as with children with nerve damage, extreme obesity or degenerative muscle conditions.

“Obesity is the most common risk factor for osteoarthritis,” said senior investigator Farshid Guilak, Ph.D., director of research at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis. “Being overweight can hinder a person’s ability to exercise and benefit fully from physical therapy. We’ve identified here a way to use gene therapy to build muscle quickly. It had a profound effect in the mice and kept their weight in check, suggesting a similar approach may be effective against post-traumatic arthritis, which inordinately affects children.”