Dr. Jeffrey Chamberlain is a professor in the Departments of Neurology, Medicine, and Biochemistry, the McCaw Endowed Chair in Muscular Dystrophy at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and Director of the Senator Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Center of Seattle. The main focus of our research is on the muscular dystrophies with two major goals: to develop a better understanding of the molecular basis of the pathophysiology of the diseases, and to develop gene and cell therapies that will correct and treat the muscular dystrophies. Major targets for therapy include Duchenne muscular dystrophy and LGMD2I.
Currently, the laboratory includes ~15 scientists conducting cutting edge studies that we hope to translate into clinical trials in the near future. We are working with some of the best doctors and scientists at Children's Hospital, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Rochester, and Harborview Medical Center to most effectively tackle the challenge ahead: to find a treatment for muscular dystrophy.
The Chamberlain laboratory is focused on understanding and developing treatments for the muscular dystrophies and other disorders of muscle. These studies center on the Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) gene (dystrophin) and exploring the expression and function of these genes and the LGMD2I gene (FKRP).
A major area of focus involves the development of vectors to deliver dystrophin or other genes to muscle for gene therapy. These vectors are being tested for safety and for their ability to halt and/or reverse the dystrophic phenotype. The primary vector being studied is derived from adeno-associated virus (AAV), which efficiently transfers genes to skeletal muscle and heart. Methods are being developed for whole body systemic delivery, and a human clinical trial is being planned.
An additional area of study is an investigation of muscle stems cells and their potential use in ex vivo gene therapy following transduction of cells with lentiviral vectors, or by direct gene correction using AAV.
Our efforts to transfer genes to muscle are also being adapted for genetic and non-genetic muscle wasting disorders.