Tag Archives: Gene Replacement Therapy

What You Need to Know About Muscular Dystrophy.

muscular dystrophy is common on disabilitymatch.co.uk

Muscles are protected by proteins. These proteins protect your muscles from damage. The genes in your body are bundled DNA used to make proteins that help keep your muscles from damage. More than thirty genetic diseases have been identified to impact the genes and cause damage to muscles.

The genes that make up the DNA are crucial to the entire body and specifically to the muscles. Those who suffer from Muscular Dystrophy (MD) have one or more of these genes that are faulty. Due to these damaged genes, the proteins that would normally create protective fibers malfunction and may even be missing. When this crucial protection is missing from the body, muscles get weaker and will have an impending impact on those who suffer from MD.

There are many types of Muscular Dystrophy and the particular type one has determines much of the factors the person will deal with as they battle this disease. The particular group of muscles in the body that are affected and when the problem is detected is really determined by the type of MD the person suffers from. Many of these factors differ from person to person and it’s not easy to categorize the responses.

One example is a condition termed autosomal recessive titan myopathy, which is an uncommon form of muscular dystrophy. This particular condition is the cause of progressive degeneration of muscles and causes lots of pain in the joints and muscles, atrophy, hyper mobile joints, and even heart problems.

Because titan myopathy is mostly misunderstood, it will take quite a long time for people to research and study how it impacts people. Dealing with a rare disease is quite a challenge, but there are ways to offset the pain and discomfort when people are sad or down. It is beneficial for people to raise pets, enjoy music, and engage in various hobbies that will lift up the person’s spirit.

Although there is much research going on dealing with the treatment of Muscular Dystrophy, more is needed and more awareness is crucial. This is one area where we all can get involved. Increasing the awareness and learning more about the disease goes a long way. Here are a few important factors you need to know about Muscular Dystrophy.

1. Understanding the symptoms

doctor explains muscular dystrophy symptoms

To get a clear grasp of the symptoms, we’ll look at the common indications for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which is the most common form of this illness. For those who suffer from Becker muscular dystrophy, the symptoms are similar and may start in their twenties or later.

 

Here are some of the earlier symptoms:

  • Wading gait
  • Muscle stiffness and pain
  • Running and jumping with difficulty
  • Walking on toes
  • Problem standing or sitting
  • Late speech development coupled with learning disabilities
  • Falling frequently

As the conditions worsen:

  • Unable to walk
  • Shrinking of muscles and tendons
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Spine curvature
  • Cardiac problems due to weakened heart muscles
  • Eating and swallowing becomes difficult

These are the most common symptoms that need to be followed up with a doctor’s care. Proper testing and diagnosis will assist health professionals to begin treatment and help the person live a better life and a long life.

2. This disease gets passed down through the generations, but not always.

genetics for muscular dystrophy

Alterations in the genes which cause muscular dystrophy are commonly passed down through the family. So when someone is suspected to have MD, doctors will closely examine the family medical history of the patient to see if this condition can be traced. But some people get MD even without any family history, thus being the first in their family line to have this disease.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is undoubtedly the most common form of the disease. It mostly affects young boys. But there are many forms of MD and it affects males and females. Here are some of the more common types:

Becker MD

Congenital MD

Distal MD

Emery-Dreifuss MD

Oculopharyngeal MD

Facioscapulohumeral MD

Limb-girdle MD

3. Some with muscular dystrophy never see their first birthday, but others live long lives.

wheelchair woman

Of course, the type of muscular dystrophy one has determines the symptoms. Whichever type of the disease a person has, there will be weakness and deterioration of the muscles and this continues to get worse as time goes on. Other symptoms are difficulty walking, respiratory problems, and curvature of the spine. There are even more symptoms such as heart problems, behavioral issues, swallowing difficulty, differences in the foot and contractors which are the shortening of muscles or tendons surrounding the joints. Some even suffer hearing loss and changes in facial appearance.

There is no type of muscular dystrophy that can be considered as common or classic. Some people begin to experience the symptoms as late as their middle age, and some suffer from it from birth. There are some who continue to walk throughout their lives, but most are not able to continue walking. Then there are those who are able to live a long life as well. Children often begin to suffer during their teen years and some babies cannot survive their first year.

4. Reaching a diagnosis requires several tests.

This rare condition shares its presentation with a host of other diseases. If a doctor begins to suspect that a patient has MD, a certain number of tests are required to rule out other factors. This doctor will also investigate your medical history and inquire about your family history as well.

Young patient is getting a diagnose from doctor

The doctor will search for markers of the disease in the bloodstream through blood and urine tests. A more thorough screening may be conducted through genetic testing to reveal any gene changes that might have caused the condition. Exercise tests will help to assess the patient’s muscular strength. Using a thin needle, muscle biopsies will help the doctor assess how the condition is progressing. Heart tests will measure the strength and the condition of the heart. There are even neurological tests that look for contractions and test reflexes. Along with this, an MRI can reveal additional information that helps the doctor to come to a better conclusion.

5. The treatment is to slow down MD, as it cannot be cured.

Health professionals work hard to help sufferers of Muscular Dystrophy to live comfortably and slow its growth. Unfortunately, there is no cure for muscular dystrophy and the attempt is to maintain a comfortable and functional life.

child rehab

A regular regimen of physical therapy helps to maintain muscles lissome and healthy. Those who have weakened face and throat muscles are helped through speech therapy. Some even opt for alternatives such as voice synthesizers to help them to speak clearly. Therapy on the respiratory system helps those with breathing trouble caused by MD. But if the person has late stage muscular dystrophy, they will need assisted ventilation.

Some patients require the help of a pacemaker for weakening heart muscles, and others require corrective surgery to repair contracture. Scoliosis sufferers can opt for the attachment of a metal rod to their spine when the pain from their curving spine becomes unbearable. Some drugs have been identified to help slow the progress of several types of muscular dystrophy and some amount of occupational therapy will help patients to move around their home and workplaces.

To make their condition more manageable and bearable, there are several additional things that can be done. Investing in a good bed or additional padding helps patients who are unable to find a good comfortable position to sleep. This improved comfort will help them to get better sleep. For those who can, swimming and some low intensity exercises will help with muscle strength.

6. Continuing research must be encouraged.

Genetic engineering

Muscular Dystrophy has been a daunting condition for many. It has caused disability, making it difficult to perform even their daily tasks. And for some, it has been fatal. There is a positive outlook due to the development of new therapies. These approaches help people to improve their lives as they live with MD.

A cutting edge therapy called Gene Replacement Therapy has the possibility of helping doctors to give new genetic materials to the cells. This would allow for the replacement of missing proteins that protect the muscle cells. This will result in restoring muscles that have been damaged as a result of MD.

There are two types of gene modification therapy that are being explored. One would help the defective gene to produce the protein that it previously could not produce. The other attempts to alter the production process of protein and change the patient’s Duchenne muscular dystrophy to Becker muscular dystrophy, which is easier to manage. Up to 80% of those who suffer from this condition could benefit from these new therapies.

Such cell-based therapy could be the answer to treat all the different types of muscular dystrophy. The result of this shows up as new healthy muscle stem cells allowing the person’s body to produce healthy muscle for better living.

Although muscular dystrophy is a very difficult disability many sufferers lad full and vibrant lives and use our site to find love and fulfilment.