Gene and splicing therapies for neuromuscular diseases

Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2015 Jun 1;20(8):1190-233. doi: 10.2741/4367.


Neuromuscular disorders (NMD) are heterogeneous group of genetic diseases characterized by muscle weakness and wasting. Duchenne Muscular dystrophy (DMD) and Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) are two of the most common and severe forms in humans and although the molecular mechanisms of these diseases have been extensively investigated, there is currently no effective treatment. However, new gene-based therapies have recently emerged with particular noted advances in using conventional gene replacement strategies and RNA-based technology. Whilst proof of principle have been demonstrated in animal models, several clinical trials have recently been undertaken to investigate the feasibility of these strategies in patients. In particular, antisense mediated exon skipping has shown encouraging results and hold promise for the treatment of dystrophic muscle. In this review, we summarize the recent progress of therapeutic approaches to neuromuscular diseases, with an emphasis on gene therapy and splicing modulation for DMD and SMA, focusing on the advantages offered by these technologies but also their challenges.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / genetics
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Genetic Therapy / trends
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Humans
  • Lentivirus / genetics
  • Models, Genetic
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / genetics*
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / pathology
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / therapy
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / therapeutic use
  • RNA Splicing
  • Transgenes


  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense