World Duchenne Awareness Day 2023

September 7 marks World Duchenne Awareness Day (WDAD) and each year, researchers within the University’s Centre for Muscle Research (CMR) in the Department of Anatomy and Physiology, reflect on the impact of DMD on patients and their families.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a rare disorder affecting approximately 1 in every 5,000 boys, causing muscles to progressively become weaker. There is currently no cure. Patients have difficulty walking during their toddler years and most lose the ability to walk before their teens. The disease also affects the muscles of breathing as well as the heart, causing patients to die prematurely.

In addition to being a central theme of funded research for over two decades, DMD has special significance for the CMR, with one of its most talented and cherished Ph.D. students and graduates, Savant Thakur, succumbing to the disease in 2019.

The theme for WDAD this year is ‘Breaking Barriers’. Fortunately, the CMR was honoured to host Mrs. Puneeta Thakur (mother of Dr. Savant Thakur), who described her own current Ph.D. research which is examining the barriers facing the disabled population. Boys and men living with DMD face physical, healthcare and social barriers that severely impact on their ability to participate fully in community and life activities. The key message is that together, we can break these barriers to create a more inclusive and supportive community.

As red is the colour associated with WDAD, the CMR’s researchers were suitably attired for the occasion and celebrated the day with many red-coloured treats.

CMR Director, Prof Gordon Lynch, said the Centre’s teams were studying ways to enhance the effectiveness of genetic therapies for DMD and other forms of muscular dystrophy, including how to better protect muscles by making them stronger, improving their metabolism, and promoting the healing of damaged muscle fibres. “The research is very exciting”, he said, “and we’re making important progress that we hope will eventually benefit all patients with muscular dystrophy.”

The School of Biomedical Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, sponsors the Savant S. Thakur Memorial Scholarship in honour of the late Dr. Thakur, who continues to be a major inspiration to students and staff.

Remembering Savant Thakur