Therapeutic potential of skeletal muscle plasticity and slow muscle programming for muscular dystrophy

Project Details

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a devastating, life-limiting, muscle disease that causes progressive, severe muscle wasting in boys and young men. There is no cure.

A potential therapy may come from altering muscle phenotype based on the knowledge that slower, more oxidative muscle fibres are better protected from the dystrophic pathology than faster, more glycolytic muscle fibres.

Muscle plasticity can be achieved through exercise and/or through well described pharmacological approaches such as activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK).

Physical activity has many beneficial effects on muscle health but unfortunately many patients are simply unable to exercise, especially those with DMD who are usually confined to a wheelchair before their teens.

Modulating muscle activity patterns through low-frequency electrical stimulation (LFS) protocols could mimic the benefits of exercise and promote a slow muscle phenotype.

No studies evaluating the therapeutic merit of LFS protocols have been conducted on the accepted mouse models of DMD nor have they determined whether muscle wasting can be attenuated or reversed. Similarly, no studies have examined the therapeutic merit of LFS in conjunction with AMPK activators.

These studies are essential for enhancing the clinical translation to improve patient quality of life.

This project involves long-standing research collaboration with Professor Gregory Steinberg from Canada’s McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.


Dr Kate Murphy
, Senior Research Fellow

Dr James Ryall, Senior Research Fellow

Dr Kristy Swiderski, Senior Research Fellow

Dr Justin Hardee, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Marissa Caldow, Senior Research Fellow

Audrey Chan, Research Support Officer

Jennifer Trieu, Research Assistant

Timur Naim, Research Assistant

Dylan Chung, Research Support Officer

Alaina Lee, Senior Research Assistant

Suzannah Read, Research Assistant


Savant Thakur, PhD student

Francesca Alves, PhD student

John Nguyen, Masters student

Chloe Li, Masters student

Aundrea Quek, Masters student

Yichen Xue, Honours student


2019-2021 ARC Discovery Project. Mechanisms of age - related changes in amino acid signaling in skeletal muscle

2018-2021 NHMRC Project Grant. Rescuing the Dystrophin-Glycoprotein Complex to protect muscles from wasting conditions

2018-2020 Duchenne Parent Project. Evaluating a sulforaphane-based nutraceutical to alleviate gastrointestinal dysfunction in DMD

2017-2020 NHMRC Project Grant. Therapeutic potential of skeletal muscle plasticity and slow muscle programming for muscular dystrophy

2017-2020 NHMRC Project Grant. A simple method to improve stem cell transplant therapy

2017-2019 Cancer Council Victoria. Using novel Fn14 inhibitory antibodies to treat cardiac cachexia in cancer

2015-2019 ARC Discovery Project. Understanding the cellular cues that direct muscle stem cell specification

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD students, Masters by Research, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science, Post Doctor Researchers to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Group

Lynch laboratory: Basic and clinical myology

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Cancer in Biomedicine, Stem Cells, Molecular Mechanisms of Disease

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Anatomy and Physiology

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