JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Therapeutic strategies for Duchenne and Becker dystrophies

Vincent Voisin, Sabine de la Porte
International Review of Cytology 2004, 240: 1-30
15548414
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a severe X-linked genetic disease affecting one in 3500 boys, is the most common myopathy in children. DMD is due to a lack of dystrophin, a submembrane protein of the cytoskeleton, which leads to the progressive degeneration of skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscle tissue. A milder form of the disease, Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD), is characterized by the presence of a semifunctional truncated dystrophin, or reduced levels of full-length dystrophin. DMD is the focus of three different supportive or therapeutic approaches: gene therapy, cell therapy, and drug therapy. Here we consider these approaches in terms of three potential goals: improvement of dystrophic phenotype, expression of dystrophin, and overexpression of utrophin. Utrophin exhibits 80% homology with dystrophin and is able to perform similar functions. Pharmacological strategies designed to overexpress utrophin appear promising and may circumvent many obstacles to gene and cell-based therapies.

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