Kay Davies group’s research programme has two major strands. The first is focussed on the development of an effective treatment for the muscle wasting disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). The second strand is focussed on using the mouse as a model to determine the molecular basis of psychiatric, neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental diseases.
DMD is a progressive muscle wasting disease caused by the absence of the large protein, dystrophin in all muscle cells of patients. At present there is no effective treatment for the disorder although there are various promising approaches. Some strategies can only be used for certain mutatons and the challenge of many therapeutic approaches is the targeting of all muscles including the heart. The Davies group has focused their efforts on the development of an effective therapy which would be applicable to all patients and potentially target all muscles. They are working out a way to increase levels of a protein which will compensate for the missing one. One drug has entered into a Phase I trial.
The group also works on the identification and characterisation of new models of human neurological disease. In particular, they have shown that in a mouse model as in patients, schizophrenia symptoms are associated with sleep disturbances. They are investigating the underlying mechanism in order to design better treatments. They are also investigating sleep patterns in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimers, where sleep abnormalities are well documented.
Further details of Kay Davies’s research can be found on her webpage at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics.