Gillian Butler-Browne began working on muscle at the Pasteur Institute in 1978.
She worked on characterizing the expression profile of different myosin isoforms during both human and rodent development and has published over 280 articles covering different aspects of muscle biology. Gillian also demonstrated the impact of the limit in proliferation of the precursor cells on the regenerative capacity of human skeletal muscle.
In addition to this, Gillian’s group developed models to evaluate the regenerative potential of skeletal muscle in vitro by calculating the proliferative life span. This was done by measuring the telomeric erosion that accompanies cell divisions, and therefore identified the involvement of a stress pathway in the proliferative arrest of muscle progenitors. A platform to produce immortalized muscle cell lines was the successful result of these findings and the in vivo regenerative potential of human muscle cells was evaluated by injection into muscles of immuno-deficient mice. Gillian also developed a new dystrophic immunodeficient mouse model RAG/Dys to do this as well as a novel human muscle xenograft model.
More recently her group in collaboration with the clinical team of Prof Jean-Lacau-St Guily and Prof Sophie Perié completed a successful autologous myoblast transplantation clinical trial for Oculo-pharyngeal muscular dystrophy. A successful preclinical gene therapy approach for OPMD has been validated in her team. All of this work would not have been possible without the continuous support in particular from the AFM-Telethon as well as other patients associations.
Gillian Butler-Browne retired in august 2018 from being director of the newly created Centre of Research in Myology situated within the Myology Institute in the GH Pitié-Salpetrière and is now an emeritus scientific director within the myology research centre.