ENDOSTEM project aims to identify an agent capable of ‘boosting’ stem cells already present in muscle tissue for a more efficient tissue repair to tackle degenerative muscle disease.
Muscular dystrophy is a type of degenerative muscle disease. One of its most known forms, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, affects 1 over 3 500 boys worldwide. It affects patients progressively, they have their muscle mass and function decreased and they eventually lose the ability to walk. There is no cure, and available treatments are only able to slow down the degeneration process.
Normally, when a muscle fibre is damaged, the stem cells communicate through a chemical signal, change themselves into muscle fibre and create copies of themselves until the muscle is healed. But since muscular dystrophy inflicts constant damage to the muscles, the repair burden placed on these cells is so big that they become exhausted and they eventually loose their ability to copy themselves. Degeneration overcomes regeneration, and damaged muscle fibres are replaced by fat cells and scar tissue.