Pharmacological approaches to tackle NCLs

Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis. 2020 Sep 1;1866(9):165553. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2019.165553. Epub 2019 Sep 12.


Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses, also collectively known as Batten disease, are a group of rare monogenic disorders caused by mutations in at least 13 different genes. They are characterized by the accumulation of lysosomal storage material and progressive neurological deterioration with dementia, epilepsy, retinopathy, motor disturbances, and early death [1]. Although the identification of disease-causing genes provides an important step for understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses, compared to other diseases, obstacles to the development of therapies for these rare diseases include less extensive physiopathology knowledge, limited number of patients to test treatments, and poor commercial interest from the industry. Current therapeutic strategies include enzyme replacement therapies, gene therapies targeting the brain and the eye, cell therapies, and pharmacological drugs that could modulate defective molecular pathways. In this review, we will focus in the emerging therapies based in the identification of small-molecules. Recent advances in high- throughput and high-content screening (HTS and HCS) using relevant cell-based assays and applying automation and imaging analysis algorithms, will allow the screening of a large number of compounds in lesser time. These approaches are particularly useful for drug repurposing for Batten disease, that takes the advantage to search for compounds that have already been tested in humans, thereby reducing significantly the resources needed for translation to clinics.

Keywords: Batten disease; Drug discovery; High content imaging; NCLs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Lysosomes / metabolism
  • Lysosomes / pathology
  • Mutation
  • Neuronal Ceroid-Lipofuscinoses / drug therapy*
  • Neuronal Ceroid-Lipofuscinoses / genetics
  • Small Molecule Libraries / chemistry
  • Small Molecule Libraries / therapeutic use*


  • Small Molecule Libraries