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Med Sci (Paris). 2020 Feb;36(2):141-146. doi: 10.1051/medsci/2020011. Epub 2020 Mar 4.

[Gene-based therapies of spinal muscular atrophy: a piece of history of medicine].

[Article in French; Abstract available in French from the publisher]

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AFM-Téléthon, 1 rue de l'Internationale, BP59, 91002 Évry, France.


in English, French

It is worth stating that a generation is needed to bring about a new family of drugs. After the deciphering of the genetic cause in 1995, two innovative classes of therapeutics are now available for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA): the repeated administration of antisens oligonucleotides and the one-shot administration of a scAAV9-SMN as a gene therapy. By addressing the genetic mechanisms of the disease, these drugs fundamentally change its course. These major advances in an extremely severe disease, often fatal before the age of 18 months in the type 1 form (50% of patients), pave the way for the treatment of other serious pathologies of the nervous or neuromuscular system, and provide unambiguous evidence of the effectiveness of these new classes of drugs called to address a number of genetic or acquired diseases. These breakthroughs raise also new scientific and technological questions (limited production yields of gene therapy drugs) but also ethical issues (access of patients to these innovative therapies) that resonate beyond this disease alone.


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