A drug that can boost muscle strength in mice shows promise as a possible treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, research suggests.
The work could one day lead to a daily pill to treat all patients with the muscle-wasting disease, say Oxford University scientists.
About 100 boys are born with the condition in the UK each year.
It causes progressive muscle weakness, with most patients having to use a wheelchair by the age of 12.
The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, was led by Professor Dame Kay Davies, of Oxford University.
She said: "We've shown that the drug can dramatically reduce muscle weakness in mice.
"These results give us everything we need to go forward into initial clinical trials in humans."
There is no effective treatment for the inherited disease - steroid and growth hormones help manage the symptoms but cannot protect muscles from decline.