ScienceDaily (July 16, 2012) — While Spider-Man is capturing the imagination of theatergoers, real-life spider men in Upstate New York are working intently to save a young boy's life.
It all began in 2009, when Jeff Harvey, a stockbroker from the Buffalo suburbs, discovered that his grandson, JB, had Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The disease is fatal. It strikes only boys, causing their muscles to waste away.
Hoping to help his grandson, Harvey searched Google for promising muscular dystrophy treatments and, in a moment of serendipity, stumbled upon University at Buffalo scientist Frederick Sachs, PhD.
Sachs was a professor of physiology and biophysics who had been studying the medical benefits of venom. In the venom of the Chilean rose tarantula, he and his colleagues discovered a protein that held promise for keeping muscular dystrophy at bay. Specifically, the protein helped stop muscle cells from deteriorating.
Within months of getting in touch, Harvey and Sachs co-founded Tonus Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company devoted to developing the protein as a drug. Though the treatment has yet to be tested in humans, it has helped dystrophic mice gain strength in preliminary experiments.
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