Jones lab to host foundation's cyclists

News & Events

By Anne McMillin, APR

Peter Jones

Peter Jones, Ph.D., The Mick Hitchcock, Ph.D. Endowed Chair in Medical Biochemistry, explains his research at his welcome reception earlier this year. Photo by Theresa Danna-Douglas.

Peter Jones, Ph.D., The Mick Hitchcock, Ph.D. Endowed Chair in Medical Biochemistry at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, is giving back to the foundation that believed in his research enough to fund it several years ago.

Jones will host a cross country bicycle touring group, sponsored by the Chris Carrino Foundation, which is raising awareness and funding for facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy, or FSHD, research.

FSHD, the primary research focus of the Jones Lab, is the most prevalent muscular dystrophy that afflicts men, women, children, and adults.

The cycling tour group will come through Reno on June 6 and 7 on the first stage of a pedal-across-American excursion to benefit the foundation. Jones is arranging the two-night stay for the 10 riders in area homes and will entertain the riders with a drive to Lake Tahoe on June 7, their day off from cycling between tour stages.

Four years ago, the Chris Carrino Foundation agreed to fund the Jones lab to carry out a risky, but critically important project: the development of an animal model of FSHD that exhibits key aspects of the disease pathology.

"The field had been trying for more than 10 years to make a phenotypic FSHD-like mouse based on expression of the human DUX4 gene and had failed," Jones explained. "It was to the point that this was considered undoable, so no one could get funding for it. We thought that we had figured out the trick and the Chris Carrino Foundation had faith in us to do it and funded us. We were successful and this mouse, the FLExDUX4 mouse, is now freely available to FSHD researchers and pharmaceutical companies. It would not have happened without their support."

"As a research group, we feel an obligation to serve this patient community as best we can. They do so much for us. We are truly in this together," he said, further explaining his motivation to help the foundation's riders.

According to the Jones lab website, there are both genetic and epigenetic aspects that correlate with the highly variable levels of this disease's severity and progression. Currently, there is no cure and no treatments.

The Jones lab is developing novel therapeutics for FSHD including small molecule inhibition, ncRNAs, and CRISPR-based approaches. In addition, the lab uses FSHD as a model to investigate epigenetic mechanisms of gene regulation.

He noted his ongoing collaboration with Dean Burkin, Ph.D., a UNR Med professor of pharmacology, whose research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy and Merosin-Deficient Congenital Muscular Dystrophy has uncovered novel drug targets and led to the development of promising potential therapeutics.

Jones has been investigating epigenetic mechanisms of gene regulation for most of his career with the last 14 years being focused on pathogenic mechanisms in FSHD.


Contact

Anne McMillin, APR
Editor, News and Publications
Office: (775) 682-9254
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amcmillin@med.unr.edu

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine is a research-intensive, community-based, statewide medical school that has served Nevada for more than 47 years as its first public medical school. Our vision is a healthy Nevada, supported by our mission: establishing excellence in medical education, medical care, research and community engagement, while committing to a culture of respect, compassion and inclusion. Through targeted growth and investment in research, clinical services, education and outreach, we are a resource for improving health care regionally and across the country. For more information, visit: med.unr.edu.