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Understanding changes in mitochondria in muscles of people with myotonic dystrophy type 1

This project explores changes in mitochondria in the muscles of people living with myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) following 12-weeks of weightlifting training. Understanding what happens to mitochondria in these muscles may help identify therapy goals for treating DM1.
Principal Investigator
Professor Grainne Gorman
Newcastle University
Official title
Mitochondrial characterisation of myotonic dystrophy type 1 skeletal muscle tissue
24 months
Total cost
Myotonic dystrophy

Project background

DM1 is a muscle-wasting condition caused by genetic changes in the DMPK gene. As these changes can be toxic for cells, research has focused on reducing these effects. Mitochondria are small structures in cells thought of as cellular batteries as they produce most of a cell’s energy. They have been found to have a role in the progression of DM1.

Professor Gorman’s research team has previously shown that mitochondria can produce more energy after a person with DM1 has exercised, regardless of how far their symptoms have progressed. By focusing on exercise, this research aims to relieve the symptoms of DM1 and improve the quality of life for people living with the condition.

Project aims

The researchers aim to understand and identify what happens to mitochondria before and after weightlifting training, and how differences, such as sex and genetic changes in the DMPK gene, affect these measurements.

Why this research is important

While exercise has a positive effect on health and wellbeing, people with DM1 ‒ and other muscle conditions ‒ should always get advice from their doctor and/or physiotherapist before starting any exercise. This research will provide guidance for recommended safe weightlifting exercises.

It’s hoped that in the long term, understanding what happens in mitochondria during exercise in people living with DM1 might allow for the identification of new treatments and therapies for the condition.

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