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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jul 5;103(27):10373-8. Epub 2006 Jun 26.

Effective gene therapy in an authentic model of Tay-Sachs-related diseases.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Level 5, Box 157, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, United Kingdom.


Tay-Sachs disease is a prototypic neurodegenerative disease. Lysosomal storage of GM2 ganglioside in Tay-Sachs and the related disorder, Sandhoff disease, is caused by deficiency of beta-hexosaminidase A, a heterodimeric protein. Tay-Sachs-related diseases (GM2 gangliosidoses) are incurable, but gene therapy has the potential for widespread correction of the underlying lysosomal defect by means of the secretion-recapture cellular pathway for enzymatic complementation. Sandhoff mice, lacking the beta-subunit of hexosaminidase, manifest many signs of classical human Tay-Sachs disease and, with an acute course, die before 20 weeks of age. We treated Sandhoff mice by stereotaxic intracranial inoculation of recombinant adeno-associated viral vectors encoding the complementing human beta-hexosaminidase alpha and beta subunit genes and elements, including an HIV tat sequence, to enhance protein expression and distribution. Animals survived for >1 year with sustained, widespread, and abundant enzyme delivery in the nervous system. Onset of the disease was delayed with preservation of motor function; inflammation and GM2 ganglioside storage in the brain and spinal cord was reduced. Gene delivery of beta-hexosaminidase A by using adeno-associated viral vectors has realistic potential for treating the human Tay-Sachs-related diseases.

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