Breaking News
More () »

UC Davis Health helps find 'genuine breakthrough' through clinical trial for muscular dystrophy patients

UC Davis is participating in a clinical trial which has found 'tremendous benefits' from stem cell therapy in improving heart function and arm strength.

DAVIS, Calif. — The Muscular Dystrophy Association Center at UC Davis has helped find promising results in a new clinical trial for patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy [DMD].

DMD is a rare disorder causing muscle loss and physical impairments. Its typically found in young boys and causes them to get progressively weaker in the arms, legs and even heart tissue, which can lead to heart failure. 

Many of these patients don't live past their 20s and 30s. 

The new clinical trail is helping improve some of the signs and symptoms of DMD. UC Davis serves as the lead center for the trials, treating more patients than any other participating facility. It uses stem cell therapy to fight the impacts, yielding some positive results. 

"These boys and young men actually had IV infusions of the stem cells every three months. They actually had really tremendous benefits from this therapy in terms of improvement in heart function and also a delay in the progressive loss of arm strength," Dr. Craig McDonald, Lead Researcher and UC Davis Health, said. "It's really, I think, a game changer for patients with muscular dystrophy. The types of benefits we saw in this trial, I think, really have a direct impact on quality of life."

McDonald went on to say some of the successes they saw were patients being able to feed themselves, operate a wheelchair and use computers. 

Erik Barthell has DMD. He's spent more than 30 years getting treatment at UC Davis' MDA care center. He said its "super exciting" to hear about these findings. 

"The progression is always changing, so there's always new challenges that I have to adapt to," Barthell said. "It's taken a lot of years and money being raised to finally get to this point that we're at."

Phase three of the trial, "Hope III" is set to begin in a few weeks. McDonald hopes this could help the thousands of DMD patients add to their quality of life. 

Watch more from ABC10

'Country In The Park' wraps up with Cole Swindell tribute to El Dorado deputy

Before You Leave, Check This Out