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Foot feat: transplant treats dystrophy.

Foot feat: Transplant treats dystrophy

Nine-year-old Sam Looper still has difficulty walking. But in April, he began wiggling the four biggest toes of his left foot more vigorously, giving new hope to the boy and thousands like him with Duchenne's muscular dystrophy, a genetic disease characterized by defective muscle cells that cannot produce a protein called dystrophin (SN: 1/2/88, p.4).

In February, researchers injected Looper's big-toe muscle with clones of immature muscle cells, or myoblasts, from his father. The healthy myoblasts fused with some of the boy's defective cells, enabling the resulting hybrid to make dystrophin. Peter K. Law of the University of Tennessee in Memphis says his research team's results are the first to show that such cell transplants can treat the effects of muscular dystrophy. But he cautions that investigators must demonstrate that the transplants can fuse with cells in larger muscle groups, such as those of the chest, in order to significantly benefit people with the ailment and perhaps those with other genetic defects of muscle cells. Law reported the work earlier this month at the annual meeting of the Muscular Dystrophy Association in Tucson, Ariz. He told SCIENCE NEWS his group recently had similar success in treating two other boys with the illness.
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Title Annotation:Duchenne's muscular dystrophy
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 16, 1990
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