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International research into muscle loss and disease

Released: 22.03.17

Associate Professor Christina Karatzaferi is the Coordinator of a Horizon2020 MSCAS-RISE grant awarded to a consortium of 15 international academic and industry organisations at the forefront of basic and translational myology.  The Marjon team, also including G. K. Sakkas, G. Shum, A. Edwards and B. Noble, will contribute to research and innovation through collaborations with organisations from Germany, Greece, S. Africa and the USA. The consortium includes small and medium enterprises (SMEs) at the forefront of technological innovation, among them the local enterprise Knight Scientific. 

This 1.45M Euro international collaborative project entitled “Muscle Stress Relief: An integrated research program linking together basic research on secondary myopathies in stress states to innovative translation in applied myology"  focuses on the effects of chronic disease on muscle contractility and the ‘communication’ between different organs and muscles. Moreover, the project aims to support the development of novel detection methods for the early diagnosis and the efficacious monitoring of muscle stress that eventually leads to muscle wasting. 

The lead Marjon researchers contribute their expertise on the effects of chronic renal disease on skeletal muscle and on optimising muscle imaging and functional assessments. The team will use a combination of single muscle fibre mechanics, biochemical and other biomedical assessments at the state-of-the- art new Biosciences facilities.   

Why is this research important? 

Skeletal muscle loss and dysfunction, including weakness, is increasingly becoming an unmet health issue with far reaching consequences: chronic renal, or cardio-metabolic disease, as well as ageing and unhealthy lifestyles, even among the young, all lead to muscle mass loss and functional deficits. Sufferers then restrict their mobility, increase their risk for a fall, and acquire further comorbidities. All of these result in a low quality of life, increased societal and health care costs, disability and premature death. 

Understanding how systemic stress affects skeletal muscle function at the cellular level will guide the design of new biomarkers, pharmaceuticals and other interventions. 

Through exchanges of senior staff and young researchers, the next generation of muscle experts will acquire crucial interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral skills to enhance their career prospects in academia, biotechnology and business.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme ‘H2020 MSCAS-RISE- Muscle Stress Relief’ under grant agreement No 645648.

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