The Muscular Dystrophy Association, said Thursday it has given $1 million to Tivorsan Pharmaceuticals to help speed pre-clinical work on a drug the organization believes could be a promising treatment for muscular dystrophy.

The project is focused on treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) by up-regulating the utrophin protein that's been shown to provide some compensation for disease-causing dystrophin deficiency in animals with DMD-like muscular dystrophy.

The experimental drug, TVN-102 is based on a naturally occurring protein found on the membrane surrounding each muscle fiber called biglycan.

Biglycan was found to reduce muscle damage, muscle degeneration and improve muscle function in the standard mouse model of DMD.

"MDA is excited about enabling Tivorsan to complete vital pre-clinical activities," said Valerie Cwik, M.D. Executive Vice President Research and Medical Director for MDA.

"Tivorsan's biglycan drug has the potential to effectively attract the utrophin protein to where it could have a clinically beneficial effect in muscle cells."