Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)

SMA Research: Bolstering Backup SMN

Scientists have identified a chemical cousin of the commonly used antibiotic tetracycline that has the potential to be refined and modified into a therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

PTK-SMA1 works by correcting an error in a cellular process called RNA splicing, and leads to increased production of a critical protein that is deficient in this disease.

SMA Research: A Helpful Mutation

Scientists have uncovered a variant (mutation) in the SMN2 gene that leads to production of more full-length SMN protein molecules and a milder version of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). The finding, a naturally occurring point mutation (a single letter change in the DNA code) in this gene, has immediate implications for genetic testing and possible long-term implications for therapy development.

SMA Research: Gene Mutation Improves Disease Course

Scientists have uncovered a variant (mutation) in the SMN2 gene that leads to production of more full-length SMN protein molecules and a milder version of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). The finding, a naturally occurring point mutation (a single letter change in the DNA code) in this gene, has immediate implications for genetic testing and possible long-term implications for therapy development.

SMA: Masking Unwanted Instructions

Scientists at three U.S. institutions have used a very small synthetic molecule to correct the genetic defect in cells taken from a person with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a disease in which muscle-controlling nerve cells in the spinal cord are lost.

Kids’ Respiratory Needs

The proceedings of a symposium titled "Pulmonary Management of Pediatric Patients with Neuromuscular Disorders" have been published as a supplement to the May 2009 issue of the journal Pediatrics.

The symposium was held Feb. 20, 2008, at Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas, and was sponsored by MDA, as well as Respironics and Hill-Rom Services.

Topics, all of which pertain specifically to children with neuromuscular disorders, include

MDA's Voice for Change

Palliative care for kids, transition services for young adults, and genetic discrimination are just some of the projects being worked on by MDA’s Advocacy program, under the energetic direction of MDA Vice President Annie Kennedy.

Following are some highlights of these projects.

Palliative care in pediatrics

Stem Cell Research: Major Step

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said yes to a small safety trial of nervous-system stem cells in people with recently sustained injuries to the middle (thoracic) part of the spinal cord, the biopharmaceutical company Geron Corporation of Menlo Park, Calif., announced Jan. 23, 2009.

Valproic Acid in SMA

Preliminary results in the phase 2 study of valproic acid and carnitine in children with types 2 and 3 spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) suggest the treatment may have improved function in children younger than age 3 who were not walking at study entry. However, there was no benefit of the drug treatment when a larger group that included children ages 2 to 8 who were not walking was compared with a placebo (inactive substance) group.

SMA Research: Back to the Beginning

In a development that could lead to better screening of drugs for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), skin cells from a child with SMA1 have been "reprogrammed" back to a stemlike state and then coaxed to develop into SMA-affected motor neurons, the nerve cells that normally control muscle movement but malfunction and die in this disease.

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