Around 1,000 baby boys are born every year in the UK with Duchenne muscular dystrophy – a genetic condition that causes their muscles to break down gradually. Sadly, most sufferers will die by the age of 25 and at the moment there is no cure, but steroid drugs can help to slow the disease. Yet these drugs come with potentially serious side effects, so it's important that patients only take the lowest dose that they need. In order to monitor how people are responding to treatment, doctors need to measure the relative amounts of fat (the white blobs in this image) versus muscle (the deep red-stained cells). Researchers are developing a hand-held smartphone-based gadget that uses ultrasound to measure fat and muscle levels. This could give a fast, simple readout, enabling patients to tweak their dose of steroids so they get the most benefit with the fewest side effects..
Written by Kat Arney
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