Research overview

The MyoLab’s research focusses primarily on skeletal muscle. Our current research interests can be divided into four overlapping categories.

 

Are you born great or made great?

This research area focusses on establishing when genetics cease to play a role in determining exercise performance. The models we use include the various ethnicities of the world, as well as wild and domestic animals of the African continent.

Obesity and type II diabetes

Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are the two major contributors to insulin resistance and type II diabetes in the world. Unfortunately, this epidemic has also infiltrated the animal kingdom. Many animals, especially domestic pets, have been diagnosed with insulin resistance and type II diabetes. Additionally, as the natural habitats of wild animals are shrinking, many are forced to be housed in captivity for their conservation. This research aims to better understand the dietary needs of domestic and wild animals, how insulin resistance can be prevented and potentially reversed in these animals. Ultimately, the findings from these species would greatly help us to better understand insulin resistance in humans. 

Muscle weakness in acquired and congenital myopathies

The mechanisms by which muscle weakness comes about from various diseases, are poorly studied. This component of our research focusses on using single fibre technology to investigate what exactly is affected by diseases such as McArdle’s disease and inflammatory myopathies (cardiac and skeletal muscle). We are also developing novel methodologies to accurately diagnose malignant hyperthermia in South Africa. 

Exercise-induced pathophysiology

Extreme muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis) from strenuous muscle activity may cause severe strain on the kidneys, potentially leading to kidney damage, organ failure and death. Although many causes have been identified (inherent, external or drug induced), the exact mechanisms are unknown. Our research is currently using various wild and domestic animal models to elucidate these mechanisms, in order to design future treatments and preventative measures.