Healthy Living

College Student with Muscular Dystrophy Sparks Inspiration for New Therapy

College Student with Muscular Dystrophy Sparks Inspiration for New Therapy

Hawken Miller, a journalism student and a reporter at the University of Southern California (USC)'s newspaper, the Daily Trojan was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy just after he was born. For almost all of his life, he avoided school activities and other outdoor activities that were strenuous to his heart and body.

He was not able to enjoy his early childhood and play outdoors like most kids. He was advised not to participate during gym class, and he couldn’t join his friends on their out-of-town road trips. Having been diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, he was unable to do what other kids could and he was often sad. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a neuromuscular disease that mainly affects males during their childhood. 

Despite muscular dystrophy, Hawken made room for extra-curricular activities

Hawken said that he felt isolated because of his illness while in high school. So, he decided to make a change when he started college. Once he became a college student, Hawken started to join different clubs and participate in his school's events. 

He joined USC’s Campus Ministry, called Christian Challenge, as well as the College’s Photography club and College Publication, the Daily Trojan. He also had an internship with the Sacramento Bee Newspaper where he worked and experienced being in a real publication house.

Now, he considers himself a different man. He is more confident and active, and flourishes in both school activities and academics. He truly made a better version of himself, which earned him respect from students, teachers, colleagues and co-workers. 

USC School of Pharmacy gets inspired by Hawken

The College of Pharmacy was one of the many who were inspired by Hawken’s story. Fueled by their motivation to help him and others suffering from the same illness, the researchers spent hundreds of hours and sacrificed sleepless nights to develop a solution that would benefit Mr. Hawken. Their research is called RASRx1902 and the results of the experiment were impressive. Models showed an increase in muscle strength and their muscular structure showed a decrease in inflammation and muscle degeneration. Another positive effect includes the healthy regeneration of the muscles after being subjected to the drug.

The U.S Food and Drug Administration awarded RASRX the prestigious Orphan Drug Designation award. This award is presented to treatment whose purpose is to treat rare and grave diseases.

Now, the researchers are continuing to improve and develop RASRx with the help of government grants, donations, and the partnership of CureDuchenne Foundation.

Photo source: Hawken Miller/The Trojan (USC News)