Evaluation of tafamidis as first-line therapeutic agent for transthyretin familial amyloidotic polyneuropathy
Joel N Buxbaum
Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA
Abstract: Almost 100 mutations in the human transthyretin (TTR) gene cause the autosomal dominant disorders of familial amyloidotic polyneuropathy (FAP) and familial amyloidotic cardiomyopathy. While these have been clinically classified as separate disorders, the peripheral and autonomic nervous systems and the heart are frequently involved in the same patient. Deposition of amyloid derived from a kinetically or thermodynamically unstable mutant TTR precursor produces an ascending sensorimotor polyneuropathy with marked autonomic involvement. Since 1990, treatment has been liver transplantation from a donor carrying two wild-type TTR genes, providing a crude form of gene therapy. Multiple studies have shown that small molecules fitting in the T4-binding pocket of TTR can stabilize the molecule, reducing its capacity to release the fibril precursor. Tafamidis is the first molecule to be tested in a placebo-controlled trial in patients with TTR-associated FAP. While the trial did not achieve its primary endpoints, it did stabilize TTR in vivo and had a favorable effect on some aspects of disease progression, particularly when administered early in the course. It may represent an alternative to liver transplantation, particularly in patients with early disease related to the V30M mutation. Longer-term studies are required to determine whether it represents a stabilizing or remittive form of treatment.
Keywords: tafamidis, transthyretin, polyneuropathy, treatment
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