Cancer Drug Could Help FSHD Patients to Gain Muscle Strength

Could an existing drug to treat some forms of cancer also benefit patients with a certain type of muscular dystrophy?

That’s the theory being suggested after cancer drug sunitinib was tested on patients with facioscapulohumeral (FSHD) muscular dystrophy, which often presents in teens and children.

Symptoms of FSHD muscular dystrophy include general muscle weakness of the eyes, mouth, shoulders, upper arms and lower legs, according to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. As time goes on, weakness can also affect abdominal and hip muscles. Due to muscle groups impacted, FSHD muscular dystrophy can lead to decreased mobility.

A study by researchers at King’s College London and other European universities suggested that sunitinib could reduce damage to muscle cells, leading to increased muscle strength in patients with FSHD muscular dystrophy.

Sunitinib is already used in the United States to treat some forms of cancer, including kidney cancer, gastrointestinal tumors and pancreatic tumors.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at

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