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Advances in Newborn Screening and Presymptomatic Diagnosis of Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Authors Jędrzejowska M

Received 14 October 2020

Accepted for publication 30 November 2020

Published 15 December 2020 Volume 2020:10 Pages 39—47

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/DNND.S246907

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Thomas Müller


Maria Jędrzejowska

Rare Diseases Research Platform, Mossakowski Medical Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland

Correspondence: Maria Jędrzejowska
Rare Diseases Research Platform, Mossakowski Medical Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
Email mjedrzejowska@imdik.pan.pl

Abstract: Spinal muscular atrophy 5q (SMA5q) is one of the most severe and common genetic diseases. In the natural course, the disease leads to premature death (in acute forms) or severe motor disability (in chronic forms). As the genetic basis of SMA is very homogenous, the diagnostics are based entirely on simple and sensitive genetic testing. In the last few years, innovative methods of therapy have been developed based on SMN2 gene modification, such as splicing, or replacement of the damaged SMN1 gene (gene therapy). Although these approaches have shown high efficacy, results depend on the age/disease stage at which therapy is initiated. The best results have been obtained in presymptomatic patients. Indeed, introduction of therapy in the pre- or early symptomatic stage of the disease seems to be crucial for maximizing effects. Thus, all the criteria for the implementation of neonatal screening for SMA have been met, and many countries, ie, the USA, Germany, Belgium, and Australia, have started NBS national/pilot programs for SMA. The initial results of these programs indicate a high frequency of the disease, reaching 1 per 7 thousand live births in Europe, as well as early symptomatology (first weeks of life in severe cases) and a high frequency of patients with 4 SMN2 copies. Overall, the time for therapy inclusion in patients with 4 SMN2 copies remain under discussion. More precise predictors/biomarkers of the clinical course are needed. At the same time, it seems advisable to offer other solutions, such as population carrier screening. As the long-term effects of different treatments on the natural history of SMA are unknown, the natural history of the disease needs to be re-evaluated.

Keywords: spinal muscular atrophy, SMA, newborn screening, NBS, presymptomatic treatment, SMN1, SMN2

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