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Novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is caused by mutations in the DMD gene leading to loss of the cytoskeletal protein dystrophin. A significant consequence of this loss is the disruption of the dystrophin-associated protein complex, a group of transmembrane proteins that serve to stabilise the muscle fibre membrane by making regular-spaced connections between the extracellular matrix and the actin cytoskeleton. An essential part of this complex is the transmembrane adhesion receptor dystroglycan. We have shown that in DMD there is increased phosphorylation of dystroglycan, and that dystroglycan phosphorylation contributes to the disruption of the dystrophin-associated protein complex. We have shown using chemical inhibitors, that preventing dystroglycan phosphorylation improves the muscle pathology in zebrafish and mouse models of DMD, and that the same inhibitors also block dystroglycan phosphorylation in muscle cells from DMD patients. This project will investigate further the actions of various inhibitors in the treatment of DMD using both animal models and in vitro cell culture approaches. In animal models we will use tests of muscle function, assessment of serum biomarkers and histopathology to determine efficacy, whilst in tissue culture we will use quantitative SDS-PAGE and western blotting to identify and measure the levels of important signalling molecules. In vitro studies will also be complemented by immunofluorescence microscopy where relevant.

Science Graduate School
As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you’ll be part of the Science Graduate School. You’ll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You’ll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience the breadth of technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit to learn more.

Funding Notes

Entry requirements
First class or upper second 2(i) in a relevant subject. To formally apply for a PhD, you must complete the University's application form using the following link: View Website
*All applicants should ensure that both references are uploaded onto their application as a decision will be unable to be made without this information*.

Miller et al. (2012) Hum Mol Genet 21, 4508-4512. Preventing dystroglycan tyrosine phosphorylation ameliorates the dystrophic phenotype in mdx mouse.
Lipscomb, et al. (2016) Hum Mol Genet 25: 266-274. Dasatinib as a treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
G Marston and SJ Winder (2018) PLoS Curr. MD. Are soy products effective in DMD?

How good is research at University of Sheffield in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.90

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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