Pitt’s Stephen D. Meriney has received one of 26 The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) grants for rare neuromuscular disease research.
Meriney, a professor of neuroscience and psychiatry, focuses on studying the mechanisms that control peripheral nervous system plasticity, including mechanisms that underlie neuromuscular diseases. The MDA awarded him more than $300,000 in critical funding to support the development of a new therapeutic approach for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). This novel therapy is based on a new small molecule that was developed in a collaboration between the Meriney lab and Distinguished University Professor Peter Wipf from the Department of Chemistry.
Meriney’s lab focuses on regulating and modulating presynaptic ion channels — essentially looking at how one neuron “talks” to another by releasing neurotransmitters across both healthy and diseased synapses. He will use the grant to address current gaps in the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic condition that destroys motor neurons which control essential voluntary muscle movements such as speaking, walking and swallowing.