We are all born with a definite pool of stem cells in our muscles known as the “satellite cells” which are present in a dormant form or quiescent state. During childhood, they are activated to form new muscle fibers while in adulthood they are mainly involved in repair and maintenance of the muscle tissues. In a healthy muscle, they stay in a quiescent state until activated by a muscle injury or trauma to facilitates repair and regrowth. By the third decade of life, the native stem cell pool of muscles gradually declines leading to muscle weakness. A muscular dystrophy is a group of degenerative muscle disorders that results in progressive depletion of muscle stem cells causing increased vulnerability to muscle injury and damage. Due to exhaustion of the stem cell pool, muscle aging is accelerated and muscles are constantly depleted. Gradually, fat and scar tissue replaces the muscles until the damage is irreversible and the muscles can no longer work. Since muscles are present throughout the body, including the respiratory system and the heart, muscular dystrophy could manifest as a life-threatening condition. The most common form of Muscular dystrophy is Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy resulting in excessive muscle wasting.
How long do the patients of Muscular Dystrophy live?
Most patients die from cardiac complications during their early 20s severely affecting the life expectancies of the patients. With better advancements in medical technologies and management, people are now living up to their 30s and 40s.
Can girls get Muscular Dystrophy?
The probability of girls getting Muscular Dystrophy is extremely rare as it is a genetic condition affecting the dystrophin gene on X chromo some. Since females have 2 copies of X chromosomes, so even if there is a defective gene on one chromosome, the healthy gene on the second X chromosome will compensate for the muscle loss. Only 1 in 50 million women have the complete development of the disease. Males have only one copy of the X chromosome and thus will always show full symptoms of the disease.
Can you grow your own muscles?
Recent studies have shown that stem cells could be infused into dystrophy patients to enable repair and regeneration of the muscles. Most of the clinical trials have focused on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy which has no cure through conventional treatments. The transplanted stem cells help in replenishing the lost muscles and substantially improved the motor function. They also form a reservoir of healthy stem cells that could be re-activated in case of injury. Not only is the motor function regained, but the cardiac output is also drastically improved. Much research is now being focused to enhance the regenerative effect by considering different kinds of stem cells and their doses. Considering the accumulated knowledge of the restorative capabilities, Stem cell therapy is a very promising approach for this fatal disease.
At Advancells, patients of Muscular dystrophy have been successfully treated with improved muscle strength and no progression of the disease. There is a significant betterment of quality of life of patients. Along with physiotherapy, muscle coordination, mass, and range of activities are increased making patients less dependent on wheelchairs.