By Mili Jayadeep | Science Editor
Musculoskeletal diseases among other conditions can cause fatigue. Myotonic dystrophy type 1(DM1) is the most prevalent type of muscular dystrophy in adults and is a musculoskeletal disease that causes wasting of the muscle, resulting in progressive muscle weakness. People who have this condition also commonly report chronic fatigue as one of their symptoms, where the fatigue can be so severe to the point of interfering with one’s daily activities.
Researchers have been experimenting on animal models to reveal that a combination treatment of genetic treatment for DM1, complemented by exercise regime shows more improvement than genetic treatment alone. The study was conducted on mouse models by scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital and collaborating researchers. The findings were published in Molecular Therapy- Nucleic Acids. Doctor Thurman M. Wheeler, the senior author of this research, says:
“It’s encouraging that exercise makes a noticeable difference on its own and in combination with a genetic treatment specifically tailored for the disease,”
The scientist genetically engineered the mice used in their experiments to mimic the same gene mutations as that displayed in the disease. These mice were then treated with antisense oligonucleotide, used to create genetic repairs in the defective parts of the gene. The team decided to study four groups of mice; one group would have received only the genetic treatment, a second group would get the genetic treatment as well as exercise, another cohort would only exercise and the last group would act as the ‘control’, hence be given a placebo i.e. no form of treatment. A specialised enclosure was used to monitor and measure the mice’s movement and activity.
Reflecting on the findings, Wheeler says: “We were surprised that even on its own, exercise helped the mice recover from exertion more quickly. Exercise plus the antisense treatment had an even greater effect. But the antisense alone was of no measurable benefit.”
Researchers were uncertain of the effects that exercise may have on patients with musculoskeletal conditions. Some believed that it could only benefit their condition while others considered the latter.
However, according to the results of this study, exercise is shown to only be of benefit to these patients. Further trials and research is required on actual patients before conclusions can be finalised based on the results of these experiments but it highlights the importance of exercise and the many benefits of it.