Development of idursulfase therapy for mucopolysaccharidosis type II (Hunter syndrome): the past, the present and the future

Drug Des Devel Ther. 2017 Aug 23;11:2467-2480. doi: 10.2147/DDDT.S139601. eCollection 2017.


Mucopolysaccharidosis type II (MPS II; Hunter syndrome; OMIM 309900) is a rare, multisystemic, progressive lysosomal storage disease caused by deficient activity of the iduronate-2-sulfatase (I2S) enzyme. Accumulation of the glycosaminoglycans dermatan sulfate and heparan sulfate results in a broad range of disease manifestations that are highly variable in presentation and severity; notably, approximately two-thirds of individuals are affected by progressive central nervous system involvement. Historically, management of this disease was palliative; however, during the 1990s, I2S was purified to homogeneity for the first time, leading to cloning of the corresponding gene and offering a means of addressing the underlying cause of MPS II using enzyme replacement therapy (ERT). Recombinant I2S (idursulfase) was produced for ERT using a human cell line and was shown to be indistinguishable from endogenous I2S. Preclinical studies utilizing the intravenous route of administration provided valuable insights that informed the design of the subsequent clinical studies. The pivotal Phase II/III clinical trial of intravenous idursulfase (Elaprase®; Shire, Lexington, MA, USA) demonstrated improvements in a range of clinical parameters; based on these findings, intravenous idursulfase was approved for use in patients with MPS II in the USA in 2006 and in Europe and Japan in 2007. Evidence gained from post-approval programs has helped to improve our knowledge and understanding of management of patients with the disease; as a result, idursulfase is now available to young pediatric patients, and in some countries patients have the option to receive their infusions at home. Although ERT with idursulfase has been shown to improve somatic signs and symptoms of MPS II, the drug does not cross the blood-brain barrier and so treatment of neurological aspects of the disease remains challenging. A number of novel approaches are being investigated, and these may help to improve the care of patients with MPS II in the future.

Keywords: Elaprase; enzyme replacement therapy; idursulfase.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism
  • Dermatan Sulfate / metabolism
  • Enzyme Replacement Therapy / methods*
  • Heparitin Sulfate / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Iduronate Sulfatase / pharmacokinetics
  • Iduronate Sulfatase / therapeutic use*
  • Mucopolysaccharidosis II / drug therapy*
  • Mucopolysaccharidosis II / physiopathology


  • Dermatan Sulfate
  • Heparitin Sulfate
  • Iduronate Sulfatase
  • idursulfase