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New grant strengthens research into curing muscular dystrophy

Associate Professor Yonglun Luo from Aarhus University receives DKK 2.7 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation to study whether muscular dystrophy can be cured with the help of gene editing and stem cell technologies. The research is of particular benefit to patients with a rare muscular dystrophy disease.

2022.01.20 | Lene Halgaard

Yonglun Luo is heading a research project which can potentially improve the treatment of patients with the rare disease Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Photo: Simon Byrial Fischel

One in 5,000 boys worldwide suffers from the rare muscle-wasting disease Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). The disease can already be detected from the age of two when the children experience reduced strength in the hips and legs. Later on, the lung and heart functions will also be weakened.

There are few treatment options for patients with DMD, but Associate Professor Yonglun Luo from the Department of Biomedicine aims to change this. With DKK 2.7 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation, his goal is to develop a CRISPR gene editing and stem cell treatment that can cure DMD.

The research project – named EXOCURE – will correct the DMD mutation in skin cells so they produce muscle stem cells instead of mutating cells with muscular dystrophy and will do this through the use of CRISPR gene technology. If successful, the treatment will restore muscle functions in DMD patients and in this way cure them. Yonglun Luo expects the new gene- and cell therapy to also benefit other types of degenerative diseases such as diabetes and other diseases with non-voluntary muscle contractions.


Associate Professor & PhD Yonglun Luo
Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University and
Steno Diabetes Center Aarhus, Aarhus University Hospital
Mobile: (+45) 2241 1944
Email: alun@biomed.au.dk

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