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Future Med Chem. 2012 Oct;4(16):2067-84. doi: 10.4155/fmc.12.131.

SMN-inducing compounds for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy.

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Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Bond Life Sciences Center, Room 440C, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.


Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a leading genetic cause of infant mortality. A neurodegenerative disease, it is caused by loss of SMN1, although low, but essential, levels of SMN protein are produced by the nearly identical gene SMN2. While no effective treatment or therapy currently exists, a new wave of therapeutics has rapidly progressed from cell-based and preclinical animal models to the point where clinical trials have initiated for SMA-specific compounds. There are several reasons why SMA has moved relatively rapidly towards novel therapeutics, including: SMA is monogenic; the molecular understanding of SMN gene regulation has been building for nearly 20 years; and all SMA patients retain one or more copies of SMN2 that produces low levels of full-length, fully functional SMN protein. This review primarily focuses upon the biology behind the disease and examines SMN1- and SMN2-targeted therapeutics.

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