Identifying factors that improve gastrointestinal function in Duchenne's muscular dystrophy

Project Details

Gastrointestinal (GI) issues such as constipation, bloating, and feelings of fullness are common among patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and are associated with significant discomfort, pain and reduced quality of life. Until recently, these complaints were thought to result from patient immobility and nutritional issues associated with skeletal and cardiac muscle atrophy, but our understanding needs to take into account the fact that dystrophin is expressed in both the neural and smooth muscle tissue of the gut.

Our preliminary studies, in conjunction with previously published studies demonstrate that the mdx mouse, the most commonly studied mouse model of DMD, displays significant gastrointestinal dysfunction demonstrated by altered motor patterns in the small intestine and colon. Together these data reveal that GI dysfunction in DMD is likely due to the underlying loss of dystrophin and not simply to patient immobility and poor nutrition.

Successfully addressing these significant gastrointestinal issues will dramatically improve quality of life for patients.


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

Biomedical Neuroscience, 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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