Limb-Girdle and Congenital Muscular Dystrophies: Current Diagnostics, Management, and Emerging Technologies

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The muscular dystrophies show muscle degeneration and regeneration (necrotizing myopathy) on muscle biopsy, typically associated with elevated serum creatine kinase, and muscle weakness. In 1986, the first causative gene was identified for the most prevalent and best-characterized form of muscular dystrophy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Over the past 25 years, the number of other genes determined to cause different subtypes has grown rapidly. This review gives a synopsis of the 45 genetically defined types of muscular dystrophies and describes the clinical, pathologic, and molecular aspects of each disease. DNA diagnosis remains the most sensitive and specific method for differential diagnosis, but molecular diagnostics can be expensive and complex (because of multiple genes at multiple testing facilities) and reimbursement may be challenging to obtain. However, emerging DNA sequencing technologies (eg, single-molecule third-generation sequencing units) promise to dramatically reduce the complexity and costs of DNA diagnostics. Treatment for nearly all forms remains supportive and is aimed at preventing complications. However, several promising approaches have entered clinical trials, providing tangible hope that quality of life will improve for many patients in the near future.

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