Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a rare genetic and progressively debilitating neuromuscular disease. It is the leading genetic cause of death among infants. In SMA, low levels of survival of motor neuron (SMN) protein lead to motor neuron death and muscle atrophy as the SMN protein is critical to motor neuron survival. SMA is caused by mutations in, or deletion of, the SMN1 gene. A second SMN gene, SMN2, produces only low levels of functional SMN protein due to alternative splicing which excludes exon 7 from most transcripts, generating truncated, rapidly degraded SMN protein. Patients with SMA rely on limited expression of functional SMN full-length protein from the SMN2 gene, but insufficient levels are generated. RG7800 is an oral, selective SMN2 splicing modifier designed to modulate alternative splicing of SMN2 to increase the levels of functional SMN protein. In two trials, oral administration of RG7800 increased in blood full-length SMN2 mRNA expression in healthy adults and SMN protein levels in SMA patients by up to two-fold, which is expected to provide clinical benefit.
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Neuromuscular disease; SMN protein; SMN2 splicing modifier; Spinal muscular atrophy; Survival of motor neuron