Background: Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive motor neuron disease caused by mutations in the survival motor neuron gene (SMN1) and the leading genetic cause of infant mortality. Currently, there is no effective treatment other than supportive care.
Objective: This article provides a general overview of the main aspects that need to be taken into account to design a more efficient clinical trial and to summarize the most promising molecular trials that are currently in development or are being planned for the treatment of SMA.
Methods: A systematic review of the literature was performed, identifying key clinical trials involving novel molecular therapies in SMA. In addition, abstracts presented at the meetings of the Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy were searched and the Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy Web site was carefully analyzed. Finally, a selection of SMA clinical trials registered at clinical-trials.gov has been included in the article.
Results: The past decade has seen a marked advancement in the understanding of both SMA genetics and molecular mechanisms. New molecules targeting SMN have shown promise in preclinical studies, and various clinical trials have started to test the drugs that were discovered through basic research.
Conclusions: Both preclinical and early clinical trial results involving novel molecular therapies suggest that the clinical care paradigm in SMA will soon change.
Keywords: ISIS-SMN(Rx); clinical trials; gene therapy; olesoxime; oligonucleotides; small molecules; spinal muscular atrophy.
© 2014 Elsevier HS Journals, Inc. All rights reserved.