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Muscle Mosaic

Blocking fatty molecules called sphingolipids reduces the effects of Duchenne muscular dystrophy

20 February 2022

Muscle Mosaic

Mysterious enough to be named after The Great Sphinx, sphingolipids are odd-shaped fatty molecules important in development and sending signals between our cells – but they also have a dark side. Sphingolipids, or rather problems controlling them, can cause nasty conditions called sphingolipidoses. Here researchers find the enigmatic molecules also play a role in muscular dystrophies – where muscle progressively weakens. Looking at the effects on this mosaic-like muscle tissue in a young mouse (with different muscle types highlighted in different colours), researchers blocked new sphingolipids forming with a chemical called myriocin. This reduced the effects of Duchenne muscular dystrophy – lowering inflammation and preventing damage – suggesting new drugs may help in solving the riddle of the sphingolipids.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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