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Orphan drugs in development for long-chain fatty acid oxidation disorders: challenges and progress

Authors Sun A, Merritt II JL

Received 21 January 2015

Accepted for publication 24 February 2015

Published 28 April 2015 Volume 2015:5 Pages 33—41


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Lise Aagaard

Angela Sun, J Lawrence Merritt II

Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

Abstract: Fatty acid oxidation disorders are inborn errors of metabolism resulting in failure of ß-oxidation within or transport of fatty acids into the mitochondria. The long-chain fatty acid oxidation disorders are characterized by variable presentations ranging from newborn cardiomyopathy, to infantile hypoketotic hypoglycemia resulting from liver involvement, to skeletal myopathy often resulting in rhabdomyolysis in adolescents and adults. Treatments for these long-chain fatty acid oxidation disorders have typically focused upon avoidance of fasting with dietary fat restriction and medium-chain triglyceride supplementation. These treatments have resulted in only a partial response with improvements in hypoglycemia, reduction in frequency of rhabdomyolysis, and improvement in cardiomyopathy with early therapy, but significant risk remains. Recent advances in therapies for long-chain fatty acid oxidation disorders are reviewed in this article. These include sodium D,L-3-hydroxybutyrate, triheptanoin, gene therapy, and bezafibrates. Sodium D,L-3-hydroxybutyrate has shown clinical effect, with improvements in muscle tone, neurological abnormalities, and some cases of cardiomyopathy and leukodystrophy. Triheptanoin has been used as an alternative medium-chain triglyceride in a number of fatty acid oxidation disorders and has shown promising findings in the treatment of cardiomyopathy and hypoglycemia. However, it does not significantly reduce episodes of rhabdomyolysis. Gene therapy has been shown to improve acylcarnitine levels in very-long-chain acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase deficiency mouse models, with preservation of glucose levels. Bezafibrates have shown improvements in acylcarnitine concentrations in fibroblast studies, but clinical observations have not demonstrated consistent effects. Together, these treatments have shown some improvements in individual case reports, but there is still a significant need for randomized controlled trials to investigate these therapies, given the ongoing need for improved treatments in these disorders.

Keywords: fatty acid oxidation disorders, 3-hydroxybutyrate, triheptanoin, gene therapy, bezafibrate

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