Treatment of infantile-onset spinal muscular atrophy with nusinersen: final report of a phase 2, open-label, multicentre, dose-escalation study

Lancet Child Adolesc Health. 2021 Jul;5(7):491-500. doi: 10.1016/S2352-4642(21)00100-0. Epub 2021 Jun 3.


Background: Nusinersen showed a favourable benefit-risk profile in participants with infantile-onset spinal muscular atrophy at the interim analysis of a phase 2 clinical study. We present the study's final analysis, assessing the efficacy and safety of nusinersen over 3 years.

Methods: This phase 2, open-label, multicentre, dose-escalation study was done in three university hospital sites in the USA and one in Canada. Infants aged between 3 weeks and 6 months with two or three SMN2 gene copies and infantile-onset spinal muscular atrophy were eligible for inclusion. Eligible participants received multiple intrathecal loading doses of 6 mg equivalent nusinersen (cohort 1) or 12 mg dose equivalent (cohort 2), followed by maintenance doses of 12 mg equivalent nusinersen. The protocol amendment on Jan 25, 2016, changed the primary efficacy endpoint from safety and tolerability to reaching motor milestones, assessed using the Hammersmith Infant Neurological Examination section 2 (HINE-2) at the last study visit, in all participants who successfully completed the loading dose period and day 92 assessment. The statistical analysis plan was amended on Feb 10, 2016, to include additional analyses of the subgroup of participants with two SMN2 copies. Adverse events were assessed in all participants who received at least one dose of study treatment. The study is registered at (NCT01839656).

Findings: Between May 3, 2013, and July 9, 2014, 20 symptomatic participants with infantile-onset spinal muscular atrophy (12 boys and 8 girls; median age at diagnosis 78 days [range 0-154]) were enrolled. Median time on study was 36·2 months (IQR 20·6-41·3). The primary endpoint of an incremental improvement in HINE-2 developmental motor milestones was reached by 12 (63%) of 19 evaluable participants. In the 13 participants with two SMN2 copies treated with 12 mg nusinersen, the HINE-2 motor milestone total score increased steadily from a baseline mean of 1·46 (SD 0·52) to 11·86 (6·18) at day 1135, representing a clinically significant change of 10·43 (6·05). At study closure (Aug 21, 2017), 15 (75%) of 20 participants were alive. 101 serious adverse events were reported in 16 (80%) of 20 participants; all five deaths (one in cohort 1 and four in cohort 2) were likely to be related to spinal muscular atrophy disease progression.

Interpretation: Our findings are consistent with other trials of nusinersen and show improved survival and attainment of motor milestones over 3 years in patients with infantile-onset spinal muscular atrophy, with a favourable safety profile.

Funding: Biogen and Ionis Pharmaceuticals.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal / drug therapy*
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal / pathology
  • Oligonucleotides / administration & dosage
  • Oligonucleotides / therapeutic use*
  • Ontario
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States


  • Oligonucleotides
  • nusinersen

Associated data