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Clin Genet. 2004 Feb;65(2):77-86.

Gaucher's disease: a paradigm for interventional genetics.

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Clinical Genetics Unit, Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou, Paris, France.


Gaucher's disease (GD) is one of the most prevalent lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) and a rare genetic disease for which specific therapy is now available. GD is an autosomal, recessive, inborn error of glycosphingolipid metabolism, due to a deficiency in the enzyme acid beta-glucosidase. Partial deficiency of acid beta-glucosidase is associated with parenchymal disease of the liver, spleen, and bone marrow with concomitant anemia and thrombocytopenia in non-neuronopathic, type 1 GD. Severe deficiency of glucocerebrosidase caused by severe mutations is additionally associated with neurological manifestations in the less common type 2 and type 3 GD subtypes. Outside of the Ashkenazi Jewish community, a high molecular diversity is observed. Clarification of genotype/phenotype relationship and the identification of modifier loci that impact on GD phenotypes remains a critical area for research. Enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) is proven to be safe and effective in the treatment of type 1 GD, establishing imiglucerase as the current standard of care. Amelioration of hepatosplenomegaly and of hematological manifestations is usually apparent within 6-12 months, whereas the bone disease responds more slowly. ERT cannot reverse the neurological deficits in type 2 or type 3 GD. Small molecule inhibitors of glucosylceramide synthase are being developed for substrate reduction therapy. Other potential therapeutic options such as chaperon-mediated enzyme enhancement therapy and gene therapy are being explored.

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