12 golden labradors who, as a result of being naturally affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy were not expected to live more than six months, have been given a new lease of life after scientists successfully fixed their faulty genes. The dogs were first treated for the condition when they were puppies and two years on are all still alive, running, jumping and walking, as all young pooches do. The living miracles are all down to the scientists who, by using a harmless virus, infected defective genes with fully functioning DNA to alter the genetic code. Once infected, the repaired genes are then able to produce a protein which is vital for muscles to function properly, allowing the puppies to lead a normal dog’s life. The therapy was carried out by researchers from Royal Holloway in London and France as part of a study led by a Professor George Dickson who said, “This is tremendously exciting progress towards a gene therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The studies in dogs have been spectacular and exceeded our expectations.” And it is not just dogs who should be getting excited. As humans also suffer from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a hereditary condition that progressively weakens and wastes away muscle, the hope is the therapy can be used on the 2,500 boys who at any one time live with the disease in the UK, the majority of whom sadly won’t survive past their 30s. Prof Darren Griffin, Professor of Genetics at University of Kent, is excited: “This is really a very exciting study indeed. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a horrible, wasting, life-ending disease of young people. By making use of the canine model and showing genuine improvement in the animals treated, then real hope is present for the prospect for disease treatment in humans.” And all thanks to the 12 brave labrador puppies.