The Tapscott lab focuses on gene transcription in a chromatin context in normal development and disease. The lab uses the myogenic transcription factor MyoD to study how complex programs of gene expression unfold during cell differentiation. In addition, the lab studies gene expression in rhabdomysarcomas (cancers with characteristics of skeletal muscle) and human muscular dystrophies. Other areas of research in the lab include the formation of palindromes in the human cancer genome, gene and cell therapies for muscular dystrophy, and the biology of triplet repeats and their associated diseases.
Dr. Stephen Tapscott’s team broke a decades-long stalemate with a common form of muscular dystrophy when they identified the mechanisms that cause it. This opens the door for future treatments for the disease and, potentially, some cancers.
Hope for patients with a common muscular dystrophy - FSHD and other muscular dystrophies have proven to be extremely confounding for biomedical researchers, yielding so little information that the very idea of coming up with drugs to treat them has seemed like a dream. For more than two decadees, researchers have known that FSHD is caused by a genetic mutation, but no one understood the mechanics of the disease and exactly what was causing the muscles to deteriorate. Then, after several years of intensive research, a team led by Hutchinson Center neurologist and molecular geneticist Dr. Stephen Tapscott broke through the decades-long stalemate with FSHD. Read the full article here
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center partners with GlaxoSmithKline to develop muscular dystrophy therapeutics - The partnership with GSK is a first of its kind for Fred Hutch, which is also the first U.S.-based institution to sign on with GSK’s “Discovery Partnership with Academia” (DPAc) program. GSK launched the program to combine the insight and creativity of the academic world with GSK’s drug-discovery expertise to turn innovative research into medicines that benefit patients.The goal of the new agreement is to develop a small-molecule-based medicine to potentially reverse facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy, or FSHD, by inhibiting the activity of a protein that is incorrectly expressed by the DUX4 gene in people with the disease. Read the full article here.