Mitochondrial Contributions to Muscle Weakness: Student Research from the MHRC

As part of our blog series with the Muscle Health Research Centre (MHRC), we interviewed three more students studying muscle physiology. These graduate students are working under the supervision of Christopher Perry, PhD, researching metabolic dysfunction, cardiomyopathies, and muscle wasting conditions.

Metabolic dysfunction with cancer-induced cachexia

We begin with Luca Delfinis, a second year PhD student investigating how cancerous tumors affect skeletal health and metabolic function, specifically within the diaphragm and the tibialis anterior. Using mouse models of cancer-induced cachexia, Luca studies muscle force production in situ and in vitro, and measures metabolic function to observe how mitochondria handle nutrients and substrates in these conditions. Luca aims to draw links between metabolic dysfunction and cancer cachexia with the goal of developing a treatment for this illness.

“What sets the MHRC apart from other institutions is the breadth of faculty we have here, you have all kinds of opportunities to collaborate in the field of diabetes, obesity, cancer, and more.”

Mitochondrial contribution to cardiomyopathies

We next speak with Shivam Gandhi, a third year PhD candidate investigating the mitochondrial contributions to cardiac fibrosis in cardiomyopathies like Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy (DMD), a rare genetic disorder that results in dysfunctional dystrophin. Dystrophin anchors the extracellular matrix to the actin cytoskeleton, and its absence in the heart is associated with cardiomyopathy. Shivam investigates these mitochondrial contributions in respiratory and cardiac muscles using a variety of instruments at the MHRC.

Muscle wasting conditions’ impact on the mitochondria

Our final interviewee is Catherine Bellissimo, a PhD candidate researching how muscle wasting conditions like DMD can impact the mitochondria, using pharmacological interventions to target either the mitochondria or other pathways that improve energy production. Catherine comprehensively examines mitochondrial function, muscle force, and muscle fatigue in a mouse model of DMD, as well as changes in muscle quality and whole body muscle function in the hopes of improving muscle function in individuals with DMD.

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MRHC Student Interviews_ISC #1 FI

In this blog, we summarize an interview with three students from the MHRC conducting fascinating research in the field of muscle physiology.

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