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SMA breakthrough 'could have implications for a number of conditions'

SMA breakthrough 'could have implications for a number of conditions'
27th September 2011

The debilitating and terminal disease spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) can leave patients in need of assisted living.

A team of scientists from the University of Missouri have now got a further insight into the disease, potentially helping those with the condition.

The study identified a communication breakdown between nerves and muscles in mice.

Critical communication occurs where nerves and muscles 'talk' to each other, explained associate professor Michael Garcia.

If this communication does not happen, muscles cannot work properly.

"In this study, we found that delivery of 'the words' a nerve uses to communicate with muscles was disrupted before they arrived at the nerve ending," said Mr Garcia.

SMA is caused by a protein deficiency in all cells, including motor neurons.

Study authors believe this discovery could also help give scientists further information on other conditions which involve motor neurons, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and dysfunctions of the synapses, including Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

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