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Nucleic Acids Res. 2019 Nov 20. pii: gkz976. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkz976. [Epub ahead of print]

Potent and sustained huntingtin lowering via AAV5 encoding miRNA preserves striatal volume and cognitive function in a humanized mouse model of Huntington disease.

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Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Department of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
BC Children's Hospital Research Institute, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA.
Department of Research & Development, uniQure biopharma B.V., Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


Huntington disease (HD) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease caused by a pathogenic expansion of a CAG repeat in the huntingtin (HTT) gene. There are no disease-modifying therapies for HD. Artificial microRNAs targeting HTT transcripts for degradation have shown preclinical promise and will soon enter human clinical trials. Here, we examine the tolerability and efficacy of non-selective HTT lowering with an AAV5 encoded miRNA targeting human HTT (AAV5-miHTT) in the humanized Hu128/21 mouse model of HD. We show that intrastriatal administration of AAV5-miHTT results in potent and sustained HTT suppression for at least 7 months post-injection. Importantly, non-selective suppression of huntingtin was generally tolerated, however high dose AAV5-miHTT did induce astrogliosis. We observed an improvement of select behavioural and modest neuropathological HD-like phenotypes in Hu128/21 mice, suggesting a potential therapeutic benefit of miRNA-mediated non-selective HTT lowering. Finally, we also observed that potent reduction of wild type HTT (wtHTT) in Hu21 control mice was tolerated up to 7 months post-injection but may induce impairment of motor coordination and striatal atrophy. Taken together, our data suggests that in the context of HD, the therapeutic benefits of mHTT reduction may outweigh the potentially detrimental effects of wtHTT loss following non-selective HTT lowering.


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