Common amino acid used by body builders could be the key to beating common form of muscular dystrophy
A health supplement used by bodybuilders could be the key to treating a life-threatening muscular dystrophy affecting hundreds of Australian children, new research shows.
The amino acid L-tyrosine had a "rapid and dramatic impact" on Nemaline Myopathy (NM) in laboratory tests on mice, significantly improving symptoms of the muscle-wasting disease, medical researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) found.
Trials showed that consuming L-tyrosine could significantly improve muscle strength and mobility in NM, raising the possibility it also could be effective in a range of other muscle-wasting diseases. L-tyrosine is readily available in health food shops for less than $30 and is used as a body building supplement and as a memory booster.
There is currently no cure for NM (or Rod Myopathy) - the most common congenital muscle disease - which causes muscle weakness of varying severity in an estimated 500 Australian children.
Children with NM experience delayed motor development and weakness in the arms and legs, trunk, throat and face muscles. The condition can lead to difficulties breathing and moving and, in its severest form, can cause death.
A team of scientists led by Professor Edna Hardeman, from UNSW's Neuromuscular and Regenerative Medicine Unit, were able to test the efficacy of the supplement after creating - for the first time - a genetically modified mouse which display the same genetic changes found in children with NM.
"These mice and have a remarkably similar disease profile to the children, with many of the animals dying young," Professor Hardeman said.