Publications by authors named "Laurent Servais"

116 Publications

Three years pilot of spinal muscular atrophy newborn screening turned into official program in Southern Belgium.

Sci Rep 2021 Oct 7;11(1):19922. Epub 2021 Oct 7.

Division of Child Neurology, Reference Center for Neuromuscular Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, CHR Citadelle, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.

Three new therapies for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) have been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency since 2016. Although these new therapies improve the quality of life of patients who are symptomatic at first treatment, administration before the onset of symptoms is significantly more effective. As a consequence, newborn screening programs have been initiated in several countries. In 2018, we launched a 3-year pilot program to screen newborns for SMA in the Belgian region of Liège. This program was rapidly expanding to all of Southern Belgium, a region of approximately 55,000 births annually. During the pilot program, 136,339 neonates were tested for deletion of exon 7 of SMN1, the most common cause of SMA. Nine SMA cases with homozygous deletion were identified through this screen. Another patient was identified after presenting with symptoms and was shown to be heterozygous for the SMN1 exon 7 deletion and a point mutation on the opposite allele. These ten patients were treated. The pilot program has now successfully transitioned into the official neonatal screening program in Southern Belgium. The lessons learned during implementation of this pilot program are reported.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-99496-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8497564PMC
October 2021

Newborn screening of neuromuscular diseases.

Neuromuscul Disord 2021 Jul 28. Epub 2021 Jul 28.

Division of Child Neurology, Reference Center for Neuromuscular Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital Liège & University of Liège, Belgium; MDUK Neuromuscular Centre, Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford, UK. Electronic address:

Neuromuscular diseases represent an heterogenous group of more than 400 diseases, with a very broad phenotypic spectrum. Given their rarity and complexity, neuromuscular diseases are often diagnosed with a very significant delay after which irreversible muscle damage may limit the efficacy of treatments when available. In this context, neonatal screening could constitute a solution for early detection and treatment. A systematic review of the literature in PubMed up to May 1, 2021, was conducted according to PRISMA guidelines, including classical neuromuscular diseases and diseases with a clear peripheral nervous system involvement (including central nervous system disease with severe neuropathy). We found seven diseases for which newborn screening data were reported: spinal muscular atrophy (9), Duchenne muscular dystrophy (9), Pompe disease (8), X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (5), Krabbe disease (4), myotonic dystrophy type 1 (1), metachromatic leukodystrophy (1). The future of newborn screening for neuromuscular disorders pass through a global technological switch, from a biochemical to a genetic-based approach. The rapid development of therapy also requires the possibility to quickly adapt the list of treated conditions, to allow innovative therapies to achieve their best efficacy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nmd.2021.07.008DOI Listing
July 2021

Genotype-related respiratory progression in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy - multicentre international study.

Muscle Nerve 2021 Oct 4. Epub 2021 Oct 4.

Dubowitz Neuromuscular Centre, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital, London.

Introduction/aims: Mutations amenable to skipping of specific exons have been associated with different motor progression in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Less is known about their association with long-term respiratory function. We aimed to investigate the features of respiratory progression in four DMD genotypes relevant for ongoing exon skipping therapeutic strategies.

Methods: This was a retrospective longitudinal study including DMD children followed by the UK North Star network and international AFM network centres (May 2003-October 2020). We included boys amenable to skip exons 44, 45, 51 or 53, older than 5 years and ambulant at first recorded visit. Subjects who were corticosteroid-naïve or enrolled in interventional clinical trials were excluded. The progression of respiratory function (absolute forced vital capacity, FVC, and calculated as percentage of predicted, FVC%) was compared across the four subgroups (skip44, skip45, skip51, skip53).

Results: We included 142 boys. Mean (SD) age at first visit was 8.6 (2.5) years. Median follow-up was 3(0.3-8.3) years. In skip45 and skip51 FVC% declined linearly from the first recorded visit. From the age of 9 years FVC% linearly declined in all genotypes. Skip44 had the slowest (2.7%/year) and skip51 the fastest (5.9%/year) annual FVC% decline. The absolute FVC progressively increased in skip44, skip45, skip51. In skip53 FVC started declining from 14 years of age.

Discussion: The progression of respiratory dysfunction follows different patterns for specific genotype categories. This information is valuable for prognosis and for the evaluation of exon skipping therapies. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mus.27427DOI Listing
October 2021

Onasemnogene abeparvovec gene therapy for symptomatic infantile-onset spinal muscular atrophy type 1 (STR1VE-EU): an open-label, single-arm, multicentre, phase 3 trial.

Lancet Neurol 2021 10;20(10):832-841

Novartis Gene Therapies, Cambridge, UK.

Background: Spinal muscular atrophy is a rare, autosomal recessive, neuromuscular disease caused by biallelic loss of the survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1) gene, resulting in motor neuron dysfunction. In this STR1VE-EU study, we aimed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of onasemnogene abeparvovec gene replacement therapy in infants with spinal muscular atrophy type 1, using broader eligibility criteria than those used in STR1VE-US.

Methods: STR1VE-EU was a multicentre, single-arm, single-dose, open-label phase 3 trial done at nine sites (hospitals and universities) in Italy (n=4), the UK (n=2), Belgium (n=2), and France (n=1). We enrolled patients younger than 6 months (180 days) with spinal muscular atrophy type 1 and the common biallelic pathogenic SMN1 exon 7-8 deletion or point mutations, and one or two copies of SMN2. Patients received a one-time intravenous infusion of onasemnogene abeparvovec (1·1 × 10 vector genomes [vg]/kg). The outpatient follow-up consisted of assessments once per week starting at day 7 post-infusion for 4 weeks and then once per month until the end of the study (at age 18 months or early termination). The primary outcome was independent sitting for at least 10 s, as defined by the WHO Multicentre Growth Reference Study, at any visit up to the 18 months of age study visit, measured in the intention-to-treat population. Efficacy was compared with the Pediatric Neuromuscular Clinical Research (PNCR) natural history cohort. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03461289 (completed).

Findings: From Aug 16, 2018, to Sept 11, 2020, 41 patients with spinal muscular atrophy were assessed for eligibility. The median age at onasemnogene abeparvovec dosing was 4·1 months (IQR 3·0-5·2). 32 (97%) of 33 patients completed the study and were included in the ITT population (one patient was excluded despite completing the study because of dosing at 181 days). 14 (44%, 97·5% CI 26-100) of 32 patients achieved the primary endpoint of functional independent sitting for at least 10 s at any visit up to the 18 months of age study visit (vs 0 of 23 untreated patients in the PNCR cohort; p<0·0001). 31 (97%, 95% CI 91-100) of 32 patients in the ITT population survived free from permanent ventilatory support at 14 months compared with six (26%, 8-44) of 23 patients in the PNCR natural history cohort (p<0·0001). 32 (97%) of 33 patients had at least one adverse event and six (18%) had adverse events that were considered serious and related to onasemnogene abeparvovec. The most common adverse events were pyrexia (22 [67%] of 33), upper respiratory infection (11 [33%]), and increased alanine aminotransferase (nine [27%]). One death, unrelated to the study drug, occurred from hypoxic-ischaemic brain damage because of a respiratory tract infection during the study.

Interpretation: STR1VE-EU showed efficacy of onasemnogene abeparvovec in infants with symptomatic spinal muscular atrophy type 1. No new safety signals were identified, but further studies are needed to show long-term safety. The benefit-risk profile of onasemnogene abeparvovec seems favourable for this patient population, including those with severe disease at baseline.

Funding: Novartis Gene Therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(21)00251-9DOI Listing
October 2021

Crowdfunding for neuromuscular disease treatment: the ethical implications.

Lancet Neurol 2021 10;20(10):788-789

Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; Newborn Care Unit, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford OX1 1PT, UK; Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Electronic address:

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(21)00266-0DOI Listing
October 2021

Upper limb disease evolution in exon 53 skipping eligible patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Ann Clin Transl Neurol 2021 Aug 28. Epub 2021 Aug 28.

Institut de Myologie, Paris, France.

Objective: To understand the natural disease upper limb progression over 3 years of ambulatory and non-ambulatory patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) using functional assessments and quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and to exploratively identify prognostic factors.

Methods: Forty boys with DMD (22 non-ambulatory and 18 ambulatory) with deletions in dystrophin that make them eligible for exon 53-skipping therapy were included. Clinical assessments, including Brooke score, motor function measure (MFM), hand grip and key pinch strength, and upper limb distal coordination and endurance (MoviPlate), were performed every 6 months and quantitative MRI of fat fraction (FF) and lean muscle cross sectional area (flexor and extensor muscles) were performed yearly.

Results: In the whole population, there were strong nonlinear correlations between outcome measures. In non-ambulatory patients, annual changes over the course of 3 years were detected with high sensitivity standard response mean (|SRM| ≥0.8) for quantitative MRI-based FF, hand grip and key pinch, and MFM. Boys who presented with a FF<20% and a grip strength >27% were able to bring a glass to their mouth and retained this ability in the following 3 years. Ambulatory patients with grip strength >35% of predicted value and FF <10% retained ambulation 3 years later.

Interpretation: We demonstrate that continuous decline in upper limb strength, function, and MRI measured muscle structure can be reliably measured in ambulatory and non-ambulatory boys with DMD with high SRM and strong correlations between outcomes. Our results suggest that a combination of grip strength and FF can be used to predict important motor milestones.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/acn3.51417DOI Listing
August 2021

Risdiplam-Treated Infants with Type 1 Spinal Muscular Atrophy versus Historical Controls.

N Engl J Med 2021 07;385(5):427-435

From the Department of Neurology, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston (B.T.D.); the Developmental Neurology Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Milan (R.M., G.B.), and the Center of Translational and Experimental Myology, IRCCS Istituto Giannina Gaslini, Genoa (C.B.) - both in Italy; the Department of Developmental Neurology, Medical University of Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Poland (M.M.-B.); the Paediatric Gait Analysis Service of New South Wales, the Children's Hospital at Westmead and the University of Sydney, Sydney (K.R.); the Department of Pediatrics, Peking University First Hospital, Beijing (H.X.), and Children's Hospital of Fudan University, Shanghai (Y.W.) - both in China; the Department of Neurology, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo (E.Z.); the Dubowitz Neuromuscular Centre, National Institute for Health Research Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre, University College London Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust, London (G.B.), Roche Products, Welwyn Garden City (M.E.-K.), and the Muscular Dystrophy UK Oxford Neuromuscular Centre, the Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford, Oxford (L.S.) - all in the United Kingdom; Russian Children Neuromuscular Center, Veltischev Clinical Pediatric Research Institute, Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University, Moscow (D.V.); Pharma Development, Safety (M.G.), Product Development Medical Affairs - Neuroscience and Rare Disease (K.G., P.F.), and Pharma Development Neurology (R.S.S.), F. Hoffmann-La Roche, and Roche Pharmaceutical Research and Early Development, Roche Innovation Center Basel (O.K., H.K.) - both in Basel, Switzerland; the Division of Child Neurology, Centre de Références des Maladies Neuromusculaires, the Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital Liege, University of Liege, Liege, Belgium (L.S.); and I-Motion, Institut de Myologie, Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris, Hôpital Armand Trousseau, Paris (L.S.).

Background: Type 1 spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a progressive neuromuscular disease characterized by an onset at 6 months of age or younger, an inability to sit without support, and deficient levels of survival of motor neuron (SMN) protein. Risdiplam is an orally administered small molecule that modifies pre-messenger RNA splicing and increases levels of functional SMN protein in blood.

Methods: We conducted an open-label study of risdiplam in infants with type 1 SMA who were 1 to 7 months of age at enrollment. Part 1 of the study (published previously) determined the dose to be used in part 2 (reported here), which assessed the efficacy and safety of daily risdiplam as compared with no treatment in historical controls. The primary end point was the ability to sit without support for at least 5 seconds after 12 months of treatment. Key secondary end points were a score of 40 or higher on the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Infant Test of Neuromuscular Disorders (CHOP-INTEND; range, 0 to 64, with higher scores indicating better motor function), an increase of at least 4 points from baseline in the CHOP-INTEND score, a motor-milestone response as measured by Section 2 of the Hammersmith Infant Neurological Examination (HINE-2), and survival without permanent ventilation. For the secondary end points, comparisons were made with the upper boundary of 90% confidence intervals for natural-history data from 40 infants with type 1 SMA.

Results: A total of 41 infants were enrolled. After 12 months of treatment, 12 infants (29%) were able to sit without support for at least 5 seconds, a milestone not attained in this disorder. The percentages of infants in whom the key secondary end points were met as compared with the upper boundary of confidence intervals from historical controls were 56% as compared with 17% for a CHOP-INTEND score of 40 or higher, 90% as compared with 17% for an increase of at least 4 points from baseline in the CHOP-INTEND score, 78% as compared with 12% for a HINE-2 motor-milestone response, and 85% as compared with 42% for survival without permanent ventilation (P<0.001 for all comparisons). The most common serious adverse events were pneumonia, bronchiolitis, hypotonia, and respiratory failure.

Conclusions: In this study involving infants with type 1 SMA, risdiplam resulted in higher percentages of infants who met motor milestones and who showed improvements in motor function than the percentages observed in historical cohorts. Longer and larger trials are required to determine the long-term safety and efficacy of risdiplam in infants with type 1 SMA. (Funded by F. Hoffmann-La Roche; FIREFISH ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02913482.).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa2102047DOI Listing
July 2021

Normative data on spontaneous stride velocity, stride length, and walking activity in a non-controlled environment.

Orphanet J Rare Dis 2021 07 19;16(1):318. Epub 2021 Jul 19.

Centre de Référence des Maladies Neuromusculaires, Centre Hospitalier Régional de la Citadelle, Boulevard du 12eme de Ligne 1, 4000, Liège, Belgium.

Background: Normative data are necessary for validation of new outcome measures. Recently, the 95th centile of stride speed was qualified by the European Medicines Agency as a valid secondary outcome for clinical trials in subjects with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. This study aims to obtain normative data on spontaneous stride velocity and length in a non-controlled environment and their evolution after 12 months.

Method: Ninety-one healthy volunteers (50 females, 41 males), with a mean age of 16 years and 2 months, were recruited and assessed at baseline and 12 months later. The 4-stair climb, 6-min walk test, 10-m walk test and rise from floor assessments were performed. Stride length, stride velocity, and the distance walked per hour were studied in an everyday setting for one month after each evaluation.

Results: Of the 91 subjects assessed, 82 provided more than 50 h of recordings at baseline; and 73 subjects provided the same at the end of the year. We observed significant positive correlations of the stride length with age and height of participants, and a significant increase of the median stride length in children after the period. In this group, the 95th centile stride velocity was not correlated with age and was stable after one year. All measures but the 10MWT were stable in adults after a one-year period.

Conclusion: This study provides with data on the influence of age, height, and gender on stride velocity and length as well as accounting for natural changes after one year in controls.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13023-021-01956-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8287788PMC
July 2021

North Star Ambulatory Assessment changes in ambulant Duchenne boys amenable to skip exons 44, 45, 51, and 53: A 3 year follow up.

PLoS One 2021 25;16(6):e0253882. Epub 2021 Jun 25.

Department of Neurosciences, Unit of Neuromuscular and Neurodegenerative Disorders, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, Rome, Italy.

Introduction: The aim of this study was to report 36-month longitudinal changes using the North Star Ambulatory Assessment (NSAA) in ambulant patients affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy amenable to skip exons 44, 45, 51 or 53.

Materials And Methods: We included 101 patients, 34 had deletions amenable to skip exon 44, 25 exon 45, 19 exon 51, and 28 exon 53, not recruited in any ongoing clinical trials. Five patients were counted to skip exon 51 and 53 since they had a single deletion of exon 52.

Results: The difference between subgroups (skip 44, 45, 51 and 53) was significant at 12 (p = 0.043), 24 (p = 0.005) and 36 months (p≤0.001).

Discussion: Mutations amenable to skip exons 53 and 51 had lower baseline values and more negative changes than the other subgroups while those amenable to skip exon 44 had higher scores both at baseline and at follow up.

Conclusion: Our results confirm different progression of disease in subgroups of patients with deletions amenable to skip different exons. This information is relevant as current long term clinical trials are using the NSAA in these subgroups of mutations.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0253882PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8232423PMC
June 2021

Therapies in preclinical and clinical development for Angelman syndrome.

Expert Opin Investig Drugs 2021 Jul 28;30(7):709-720. Epub 2021 Jun 28.

MDUK Oxford Neuromuscular Center, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

: Angelman syndrome is a rare genetic neurodevelopmental disorder, caused by deficiency or abnormal function of the maternal ubiquitin protein-ligase E3A, known as UBE3A, in the central nervous system. There is no disease-modifying treatment available, but the therapeutic pipeline of Angelman syndrome includes at least 15 different approaches at preclinical or clinical development. In the coming years, several clinical trials will be enrolling patients, which prompted this comprehensive review.: We summarize and critically review the different therapeutic approaches. Some approaches attempt to restore the missing or nonfunctional UBE3A protein in the neurons via gene replacement or enzyme replacement therapies. Other therapies aim to induce expression of the normal paternal copy of the  gene by targeting a long non-coding RNA, the , which interferes with its own expression. Another therapeutic category includes compounds that target molecular pathways and effector proteins known to be involved in Angelman syndrome pathophysiology.: We believe that by 2022-2023, more than five disease-modifying treatments will be simultaneously at clinical testing. However, the are several challenges with regards to safety and efficacy, which need to be addressed. Additionally, there is still a significant unmet need for clinical trial readiness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13543784.2021.1939674DOI Listing
July 2021

Cholesterol metabolism is a potential therapeutic target in Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle 2021 06 26;12(3):677-693. Epub 2021 May 26.

Généthon, Evry, France.

Background: Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a lethal muscle disease detected in approximately 1:5000 male births. DMD is caused by mutations in the DMD gene, encoding a critical protein that links the cytoskeleton and the extracellular matrix in skeletal and cardiac muscles. The primary consequence of the disrupted link between the extracellular matrix and the myofibre actin cytoskeleton is thought to involve sarcolemma destabilization, perturbation of Ca homeostasis, activation of proteases, mitochondrial damage, and tissue degeneration. A recently emphasized secondary aspect of the dystrophic process is a progressive metabolic change of the dystrophic tissue; however, the mechanism and nature of the metabolic dysregulation are yet poorly understood. In this study, we characterized a molecular mechanism of metabolic perturbation in DMD.

Methods: We sequenced plasma miRNA in a DMD cohort, comprising 54 DMD patients treated or not by glucocorticoid, compared with 27 healthy controls, in three groups of the ages of 4-8, 8-12, and 12-20 years. We developed an original approach for the biological interpretation of miRNA dysregulation and produced a novel hypothesis concerning metabolic perturbation in DMD. We used the mdx mouse model for DMD for the investigation of this hypothesis.

Results: We identified 96 dysregulated miRNAs (adjusted P-value <0.1), of which 74 were up-regulated and 22 were down-regulated in DMD. We confirmed the dysregulation in DMD of Dystro-miRs, Cardio-miRs, and a large number of the DLK1-DIO3 miRNAs. We also identified numerous dysregulated miRNAs yet unreported in DMD. Bioinformatics analysis of both target and host genes for dysregulated miRNAs predicted that lipid metabolism might be a critical metabolic perturbation in DMD. Investigation of skeletal muscles of the mdx mouse uncovered dysregulation of transcription factors of cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism (SREBP-1 and SREBP-2), perturbation of the mevalonate pathway, and the accumulation of cholesterol in the dystrophic muscles. Elevated cholesterol level was also found in muscle biopsies of DMD patients. Treatment of mdx mice with Simvastatin, a cholesterol-reducing agent, normalized these perturbations and partially restored the dystrophic parameters.

Conclusions: This investigation supports that cholesterol metabolism and the mevalonate pathway are potential therapeutic targets in DMD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jcsm.12708DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8200436PMC
June 2021

Newborn screening programs for spinal muscular atrophy worldwide: Where we stand and where to go.

Neuromuscul Disord 2021 06 7;31(6):574-582. Epub 2021 Apr 7.

Department of Pediatric Neurology, University Children's Hospital, University Medical Centre Ljubljana, Bohoričeva 20, 1525 Ljubljana, Slovenia; Medical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Electronic address:

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a rare and devastating disease. New disease-modifying treatments have recently been approved and early treatment has been related to a better outcome. In this context, several newborn screening (NBS) programs have been implemented. The aim of the study was to obtain a global overview on the current situation and perspectives on SMA NBS. We conducted a survey and contacted experts from 152 countries, from which we gathered 87 responses. We identified 9 SMA NBS programs that have so far detected 288 newborns with SMA out of 3,674,277 newborns screened. Funding, screening methods, organisation, and consent process were variable between SMA NBS programs. Many respondents pointed the lack of cost/benefit data as a major obstacle to SMA NBS implementation. In the next four years, our data suggest a 24% coverage of newborns from countries where a disease-modifying drug is available and 8,5% coverage in countries with no diseases-modifying drugs. The annual proportion of newborns to be screened in the coming years is expected to increase steadily. The experts expressed a strong need for the implementation of SMA NBS as means to improve care for patients with SMA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nmd.2021.03.007DOI Listing
June 2021

E-Health & Innovation to Overcome Barriers in Neuromuscular Diseases. Report from the 1st eNMD Congress: Nice, France, March 22-23, 2019.

J Neuromuscul Dis 2021 ;8(4):743-754

Université Côte d'Azur (UCA), Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice, Peripheral Nervous System and Muscle Department, Rare Neuromuscular Disease Reference Center, ERN-Euro-NMD, Nice, France.

By definition, neuromuscular diseases are rare and fluctuating in terms of symptoms; patients are often lately diagnosed, do not have enough information to understand their condition and be proactive in their management. Usually, insufficient resources or services are available, leading to patients' social burden. From a medical perspective, the rarity of such diseases leads to the unfamiliarity of the medical staff and caregiver and an absence of consensus in disease assessment, treatment, and management. Innovations have to be developed in response to patients' and physicians' unmet needs.It is vital to improve several aspects of patients' quality of life with a better comprehension of their disease, simplify their management and follow-up, help their caregiver, and reduce the social and economic burden for living with a rare debilitating disease. Database construction regrouping patients' data and symptoms according to specific country registration on data privacy will be critical in establishing a clear consensus on neuromuscular disease treatment.Clinicians also need technological innovations to help them recognize neuromuscular diseases, find the best therapeutic approach based on medical consensus, and tools to follow patients' states regularly. Diagnosis also has to be improved by implementing automated systems to analyze a considerable amount of data, representing a significant step forward to accelerate the diagnosis and the patients' follow up. Further, the development of new tools able to precisely measure specific outcomes reliably is of the matter of importance in clinical trials to assess the efficacy of a newly developed compound.In this context, creation of an expert community is essential to communicate and share ideas. To this end, 97 clinicians, healthcare professionals, researchers, and representatives of private companies from 9 different countries met to discuss the new perspective and challenges to develop and implement innovative tools in the field of neuromuscular diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JND-210655DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8385527PMC
January 2021

Prognostic Factors and Treatment-Effect Modifiers in Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

Clin Pharmacol Ther 2021 Mar 31. Epub 2021 Mar 31.

Division of Child Neurology Reference Center for Neuromuscular Disease, Department of Pediatrics, Centre Hospitalier Régional de Références des Maladies Neuromusculaires, University Hospital Liège & University of La Citadelle, Liège, Belgium.

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a rare, progressive neuromuscular disease characterized by loss of motor neurons and muscle atrophy. Untreated infants with type 1 SMA do not achieve major motor milestones, and death from respiratory failure typically occurs before 2 years of age. Individuals with types 2 and 3 SMA exhibit milder phenotypes and have better functional and survival outcomes. Herein, a systematic literature review was conducted to identify factors that influence the prognosis of types 1, 2, and 3 SMA. In untreated infants with type 1 SMA, absence of symptoms at birth, a later symptom onset, and a higher survival of motor neuron 2 (SMN2) copy number are all associated with increased survival. Disease duration, age at treatment initiation, and, to a lesser extent, baseline function were identified as potential treatment-modifying factors for survival, emphasizing that early treatment with disease-modifying therapies (DMT) is essential in type 1 SMA. In patients with types 2 and 3 SMA, factors considered prognostic of changes in motor function were SMN2 copy number, age, and ambulatory status. Individuals aged 6-15 years were particularly vulnerable to developing complications (scoliosis and progressive joint contractures) which negatively influence functional outcomes and may also affect the therapeutic response in patients. Age at the time of treatment initiation emerged as a treatment-effect modifier on the outcome of DMTs. Factors identified in this review should be considered prior to designing or analyzing studies in an SMA population, conducting population matching, or summarizing results from different studies on the treatments for SMA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cpt.2247DOI Listing
March 2021

Therapeutic interventions for spinal muscular atrophy: preclinical and early clinical development opportunities.

Expert Opin Investig Drugs 2021 May 13;30(5):519-527. Epub 2021 Apr 13.

Departments of Pediatrics and Neurology & Neurosurgery, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.

Introduction: Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive neurodegenerative neuromuscular disease that presents primarily in children. Abnormalities in the gene cause reduced levels of the survival motor neuron (SMN) protein, while a second gene, , produces low levels of functional SMN protein. Currently available drugs do not cure, so a significant unmet need remains for patients treated after symptom onset.

Areas Covered: Drugs available in the clinic, investigational agents and key questions for researchers are discussed. A pragmatic search of the literature was performed to identify therapies in late stages of preclinical, or in early stages of clinical development. This list was compared to the CureSMA pipeline for completeness. Drugs approved for indications that have potential for impact for SMA were included. These drugs target the primary deficiency in SMN protein or other pathways involved in SMA pathophysiology that are not SMN-protein dependent.

Expert Opinion: Children treated after the onset of symptoms continue to have significant disability. Given the heterogeneity of the population phenotype evidenced by variable response to initial therapy, age at treatment onset and the need to demonstrate added value beyond approved therapeutics, the clinical development of new drugs will be challenging.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13543784.2021.1904889DOI Listing
May 2021

Improving Care and Empowering Adults Living with SMA: A Call to Action in the New Treatment Era.

J Neuromuscul Dis 2021 ;8(4):543-551

MDUK Neuromuscular Center, Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

While Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) has historically been managed with supportive measures, the emergence of innovative medicines has given those living with SMA hope for improved quality of life and has revolutionized care. Despite these advances, the use of therapies and changes in disease management strategies have focused on pediatric populations, leaving adults living with SMA, and those transitioning into adulthood, relatively neglected. Through a multi-faceted approach that gathered unbiased perspectives from clinical experts, validated insights from individuals with lived experiences, and substantiated findings with evidence from the literature, we have exposed unmet needs that are hindering the field and, ultimately, impacting care and quality of life for adults living with SMA. Here, we set new aspirations and calls to action to inspire continued research in this field, stimulate dialogue across the SMA community and inform policies that deliver effective management and care throughout an adult's journey living with SMA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JND-200611DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8385518PMC
January 2021

Response to letter: A decision for life - Treatment decisions in newly diagnosed families with spinal muscular atrophy.

Eur J Paediatr Neurol 2021 Jan 14;30:103-104. Epub 2020 Dec 14.

Dubowitz Neuromuscular Centre, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, And NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, UK. Electronic address:

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejpn.2020.12.005DOI Listing
January 2021

Risdiplam in Type 1 Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

N Engl J Med 2021 03 24;384(10):915-923. Epub 2021 Feb 24.

From the Dubowitz Neuromuscular Centre, National Institute for Health Research Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre, Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health University College London, and Great Ormond Street Hospital Trust, London (G.B.), Roche Products, Welwyn Garden City (M.E.-K.), and the Muscular Dystrophy UK Oxford Neuromuscular Centre, Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford, Oxford (L.S.) - all in the United Kingdom; the Developmental Neurology Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Milan (G.B., R.M.), and the Pediatric Neurology Institution, Catholic University and Nemo Pediatrico, Fondazione Policlinico Gemelli IRCCS, Rome (E.M.); the Department of Neurology, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston (B.T.D.); the Department of Neurology, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA (J.W.D.); Centre de Référence des Maladies Neuromusculaires, Queen Fabiola Children's University Hospital, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels (N.D.), the Neuromuscular Reference Center, Universitair Ziekenhuis Gent, Ghent (N.D.), and the Division of Child Neurology, Centre de Références des Maladies Neuromusculaires, Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital Liege and University of Liege, Liege (L.S.) - all in Belgium; the Division of Pediatric Neurology, University Children's Hospital Basel (A.K.), Pharma Development Safety (M.G.), Product Development Medical Affairs-Neuroscience and Rare Disease (K.G., P.F.), and Pharma Development Neurology (R.S.S.), F. Hoffmann-La Roche, and Roche Pharmaceutical Research and Early Development, Roche Innovation Center Basel (O.K., H.K., T.S.), Basel, and Pediatric Neurology, Inselspital, University of Bern, Bern (A.K.) - both in Switzerland; the Discipline of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, Sydney (K.R.); and I-Motion, Hôpital Armand Trousseau, Paris (L.S.).

Background: Type 1 spinal muscular atrophy is a rare, progressive neuromuscular disease that is caused by low levels of functional survival of motor neuron (SMN) protein. Risdiplam is an orally administered, small molecule that modifies pre-messenger RNA splicing and increases levels of functional SMN protein.

Methods: We report the results of part 1 of a two-part, phase 2-3, open-label study of risdiplam in infants 1 to 7 months of age who had type 1 spinal muscular atrophy, which is characterized by the infant not attaining the ability to sit without support. Primary outcomes were safety, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics (including the blood SMN protein concentration), and the selection of the risdiplam dose for part 2 of the study. Exploratory outcomes included the ability to sit without support for at least 5 seconds.

Results: A total of 21 infants were enrolled. Four infants were in a low-dose cohort and were treated with a final dose at month 12 of 0.08 mg of risdiplam per kilogram of body weight per day, and 17 were in a high-dose cohort and were treated with a final dose at month 12 of 0.2 mg per kilogram per day. The baseline median SMN protein concentrations in blood were 1.31 ng per milliliter in the low-dose cohort and 2.54 ng per milliliter in the high-dose cohort; at 12 months, the median values increased to 3.05 ng per milliliter and 5.66 ng per milliliter, respectively, which represented a median of 3.0 times and 1.9 times the baseline values in the low-dose and high-dose cohorts, respectively. Serious adverse events included pneumonia, respiratory tract infection, and acute respiratory failure. At the time of this publication, 4 infants had died of respiratory complications. Seven infants in the high-dose cohort and no infants in the low-dose cohort were able to sit without support for at least 5 seconds. The higher dose of risdiplam (0.2 mg per kilogram per day) was selected for part 2 of the study.

Conclusions: In infants with type 1 spinal muscular atrophy, treatment with oral risdiplam led to an increased expression of functional SMN protein in the blood. (Funded by F. Hoffmann-La Roche; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02913482.).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa2009965DOI Listing
March 2021

Newborn screening of duchenne muscular dystrophy specifically targeting deletions amenable to exon-skipping therapy.

Sci Rep 2021 02 4;11(1):3011. Epub 2021 Feb 4.

Biochemical Genetics Laboratory, Human Genetic Department, CHU de Liège, Université de Liège, CHU Sart-Tilman, Domaine Universitaire du Sart-Tilman, Avenue de l'Hôpital, 1, 4000, Liège, Belgium.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is a lethal progressive muscle-wasting disease. New treatment strategies relying on DMD gene exon-skipping therapy have recently been approved and about 30% of patients could be amenable to exon 51, 53 or 45 skipping. We evaluated the spectrum of deletions reported in DMD registries, and designed a method to screen newborns and identify DMD deletions amenable to exon 51, 53 and 45 skipping. We developed a multiplex qPCR assay identifying hemi(homo)-zygotic deletions of the flanking exons of these therapeutic targets in DMD exons (i.e. exons 44, 46, 50, 52 and 54). We conducted an evaluation of our new method in 51 male patients with a DMD phenotype, 50 female carriers of a DMD deletion and 19 controls. Studies were performed on dried blood spots with patient's consent. We analyzed qPCR amplification curves of controls, carriers, and DMD patients to discern the presence or the absence of the target exons. Analysis of the exons flanking the exon-skipping targets permitted the identification of patients that could benefit from exon-skipping. All samples were correctly genotyped, with either presence or absence of amplification of the target exon. This proof-of-concept study demonstrates that this new assay is a highly sensitive method to identify DMD patients carrying deletions that are rescuable by exon-skipping treatment. The method is easily scalable to population-based screening. This targeted screening approach could address the new management paradigm in DMD, and could help to optimize the beneficial therapeutic effect of DMD therapies by permitting pre-symptomatic care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-82725-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7862591PMC
February 2021

Systematic literature review of the economic burden of spinal muscular atrophy and economic evaluations of treatments.

Orphanet J Rare Dis 2021 01 23;16(1):47. Epub 2021 Jan 23.

Department of Health Services Research, CAPHRI Care and Public Health Research Institute, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, Maastricht, 6200 MD, The Netherlands.

Background: Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a rare and devastating condition for which new disease-modifying treatments have recently been approved. Given the increasing importance of economic considerations in healthcare decision-making, this review summarizes the studies assessing the cost of SMA and economic evaluations of treatments. A systematic review of the literature in PubMed and Scopus up to 15 September 2020 was conducted according to PRISMA guidelines.

Results: Nine studies reporting the annual cost of care of patients with SMA and six evaluations of the cost-effectiveness of SMA treatments were identified. The average annual cost of SMA1, the most frequent and severe form in which symptoms appear before the age of 6 months were similar according to the different studies, ranged from $75,047 to $196,429 per year. The yearly costs for the forms of the later-onset form, called SMA2, SMA3, and SMA4, which were usually pooled in estimates of healthcare costs, were more variable, ranging from $27,157 to $82,474. The evaluations of cost-effectiveness of treatment compared nusinersen treatment against standard of care (n = 3), two treatments (nusinersen and onasemnogene abeparvovec) against each other and no drug treatment (n = 1), nusinersen versus onasemnogene abeparvovec (n = 1), and standard of care versus nusinersen with and without newborn screening (n = 1). The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of nusinersen compared to standard of care in SMA1 ranged from $210,095 to $1,150,455 per quality-adjusted life years (QALY) gained and that for onasemnogene abeparvovec ranged from $32,464 to $251,403. For pre-symptomatic patients, the ICER value ranged from $206,409 to $735,519. The ICERs for later-onset forms of SMA (2, 3 and 4) were more diverse ranging from $275,943 to $8,438,049.

Conclusion: This review confirms the substantial cost burden of standard of care for SMA patients and the high cost-effectiveness ratios of the approved drugs at the current price when delivered in post-symptomatic patients. Since few studies have been conducted so far, there is a need for further prospective and independent economic studies in pre- and post-symptomatic patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13023-021-01695-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7824917PMC
January 2021

The administration of antisense oligonucleotide golodirsen reduces pathological regeneration in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Acta Neuropathol Commun 2021 01 6;9(1). Epub 2021 Jan 6.

Dubowitz Neuromuscular Centre, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford St, London, WC1N 1EH, UK.

During the last decade, multiple clinical trials for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) have focused on the induction of dystrophin expression using different strategies. Many of these trials have reported a clear increase in dystrophin protein following treatment. However, the low levels of the induced dystrophin protein have raised questions on its functionality. In our present study, using an unbiased, high-throughput digital image analysis platform, we assessed markers of regeneration and levels of dystrophin associated protein via immunofluorescent analysis of whole muscle sections in 25 DMD boys who received 48-weeks treatment with exon 53 skipping morpholino antisense oligonucleotide (PMO) golodirsen. We demonstrate that the de novo dystrophin induced by exon skipping with PMO golodirsen is capable of conferring a histological benefit in treated patients with an increase in dystrophin associated proteins at the dystrophin positive regions of the sarcolemma in post-treatment biopsies. Although 48 weeks treatment with golodirsen did not result in a significant change in the levels of fetal/developmental myosins for the entire cohort, there was a significant negative correlation between the amount of dystrophin and levels of regeneration observed in different biopsy samples. Our results provide, for the first time, evidence of functionality of induced dystrophin following successful therapeutic intervention in the human.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40478-020-01106-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7789286PMC
January 2021

Hierarchical Bayesian modelling of disease progression to inform clinical trial design in centronuclear myopathy.

Orphanet J Rare Dis 2021 01 6;16(1). Epub 2021 Jan 6.

Division of Child Neurology, Centre de Référence Des Maladies Neuromusculaires, Department of Paediatrics, University Hospital of Liège and University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.

Background: Centronuclear myopathies are severe rare congenital diseases. The clinical variability and genetic heterogeneity of these myopathies result in major challenges in clinical trial design. Alternative strategies to large placebo-controlled trials that have been used in other rare diseases (e.g., the use of surrogate markers or of historical controls) have limitations that Bayesian statistics may address. Here we present a Bayesian model that uses each patient's own natural history study data to predict progression in the absence of treatment. This prospective multicentre natural history evaluated 4-year follow-up data from 59 patients carrying mutations in the MTM1 or DNM2 genes.

Methods: Our approach focused on evaluation of forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) in 6- to 18-year-old children. A patient was defined as a responder if an improvement was observed after treatment and the predictive probability of such improvement in absence of intervention was less than 0.01. An FEV1 response was considered clinically relevant if it corresponded to an increase of more than 8%.

Results: The key endpoint of a clinical trial using this model is the rate of response. The power of the study is based on the posterior probability that the rate of response observed is greater than the rate of response that would be observed in the absence of treatment predicted based on the individual patient's previous natural history. In order to appropriately control for Type 1 error, the threshold probability by which the difference in response rates exceeds zero was adapted to 91%, ensuring a 5% overall Type 1 error rate for the trial.

Conclusions: Bayesian statistical analysis of natural history data allowed us to reliably simulate the evolution of symptoms for individual patients over time and to probabilistically compare these simulated trajectories to actual observed post-treatment outcomes. The proposed model adequately predicted the natural evolution of patients over the duration of the study and will facilitate a sufficiently powerful trial design that can cope with the disease's rarity. Further research and ongoing dialog with regulatory authorities are needed to allow for more applications of Bayesian statistics in orphan disease research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13023-020-01663-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7789189PMC
January 2021

Natural history of Type 2 and 3 spinal muscular atrophy: 2-year NatHis-SMA study.

Ann Clin Transl Neurol 2021 02 24;8(2):359-373. Epub 2020 Dec 24.

Institute of Myology, GH Pitié Salpêtrière, Paris, France.

Objective: To characterize the natural history of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) over 24 months using innovative measures such as wearable devices, and to provide evidence for the sensitivity of these measures to determine their suitability as endpoints in clinical trials.

Methods: Patients with Type 2 and 3 SMA (N = 81) with varied functional abilities (sitters, nonsitters, nonambulant, and ambulant) who were not receiving disease-modifying treatment were assessed over 24 months: motor function (Motor Function Measure [MFM]), upper limb strength (MyoGrip, MyoPinch), upper limb activity (ActiMyo ), quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (fat fraction [FF ] mapping and contractile cross-sectional area [C-CSA]), pulmonary function (forced vital capacity [FVC], peak cough flow, maximum expiratory pressure, maximum inspiratory pressure, and sniff nasal inspiratory pressure), and survival of motor neuron (SMN) protein levels.

Results: MFM32 scores declined significantly over 24 months, but not 12 months. Changes in upper limb activity could be detected over 6 months and continued to decrease significantly over 12 months, but not 24 months. Upper limb strength decreased significantly over 12 and 24 months. FVC declined significantly over 12 months, but not 24 months. FF increased over 12 and 24 months, although not with statistical significance. A significant increase in C-CSA was observed at 12 but not 24 months. Blood SMN protein levels were stable over 12 and 24 months.

Interpretation: These data demonstrate that the MFM32, MyoGrip, MyoPinch, and ActiMyo enable the detection of a significant decline in patients with Type 2 and 3 SMA over 12 or 24 months.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/acn3.51281DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7886049PMC
February 2021

Global versus individual muscle segmentation to assess quantitative MRI-based fat fraction changes in neuromuscular diseases.

Eur Radiol 2021 Jun 21;31(6):4264-4276. Epub 2020 Nov 21.

NMR Laboratory, Neuromuscular Investigation Center, Institute of Myology, Paris, France.

Objectives: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) constitutes a powerful outcome measure in neuromuscular disorders, yet there is a broad diversity of approaches in data acquisition and analysis. Since each neuromuscular disease presents a specific pattern of muscle involvement, the recommended analysis is assumed to be the muscle-by-muscle approach. We, therefore, performed a comparative analysis of different segmentation approaches, including global muscle segmentation, to determine the best strategy for evaluating disease progression.

Methods: In 102 patients (21 immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy/IMNM, 21 inclusion body myositis/IBM, 10 GNE myopathy/GNEM, 19 Duchenne muscular dystrophy/DMD, 12 dysferlinopathy/DYSF, 7 limb-girdle muscular dystrophy/LGMD2I, 7 Pompe disease, 5 spinal muscular atrophy/SMA), two MRI scans were obtained at a 1-year interval in thighs and lower legs. Regions of interest (ROIs) were drawn in individual muscles, muscle groups, and the global muscle segment. Standardized response means (SRMs) were determined to assess sensitivity to change in fat fraction (ΔFat%) in individual muscles, muscle groups, weighted combinations of muscles and muscle groups, and in the global muscle segment.

Results: Global muscle segmentation gave high SRMs for ΔFat% in thigh and lower leg for IMNM, DYSF, LGMD2I, DMD, SMA, and Pompe disease, and only in lower leg for GNEM and thigh for IBM.

Conclusions: Global muscle segment Fat% showed to be sensitive to change in most investigated neuromuscular disorders. As compared to individual muscle drawing, it is a faster and an easier approach to assess disease progression. The use of individual muscle ROIs, however, is still of interest for exploring selective muscle involvement.

Key Points: • MRI-based evaluation of fatty replacement in muscles is used as an outcome measure in the assessment of 1-year disease progression in 8 different neuromuscular diseases. • Different segmentation approaches, including global muscle segmentation, were evaluated for determining 1-year fat fraction changes in lower limb skeletal muscles. • Global muscle segment fat fraction has shown to be sensitive to change in lower leg and thigh in most of the investigated neuromuscular diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00330-020-07487-0DOI Listing
June 2021

Novel free-circulating and extracellular vesicle-derived miRNAs dysregulated in Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Epigenomics 2020 11 20;12(21):1899-1915. Epub 2020 Nov 20.

The Dubowitz Neuromuscular Centre, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, 30 Guildford Street, London, WC1N 1EH, United Kingdom.

To perform cross-sectional and longitudinal miRNA profiling in plasma from Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) subjects and find non-invasive biomarkers in DMD. Plasma was collected from 14 age and sex matched controls and 46 DMD subjects. Free-circulating and extracellular vesicle (EV)-derived miRNA expression was measured by RT-qPCR. Free-circulating and EVs derived miR-29c-3p and miR-133a-3p are dysregulated in DMD subjects. Free-circulating and EV-derived miR-29c-3p are reduced in DMD subjects undergoing daily corticosteroid treatment. Free-circulating miR-1-3p and miR-122-5p are longitudinally upregulated in ambulant DMD subjects. We detected novel free-circulating and EV-derived dysregulated miRNAs in plasma from DMD subjects and characterized the longitudinal profile of free-circulating miRNA on plasma from DMD subjects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2217/epi-2020-0052DOI Listing
November 2020

Diagnosing X-linked Myotubular Myopathy - A German 20-year Follow Up Experience.

J Neuromuscul Dis 2021 ;8(1):79-90

Department of Neuropediatrics and Neuromuscular Centre for Children and Adolescents, University Children's Hospital Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.

X-linked myotubular myopathy (XLMTM) is a life-threatening rare neuromuscular disease, which is caused by pathogenic variants in the MTM1 gene. It has a large phenotypic heterogeneity, ranging from patients, who are able to walk independently to immobile patients who are only able to bring hand to mouth and depend on a respirator 24 hours a day every day. This suggests that ventilator requirements may not illustrate the full clinical picture of patients with XLMTM. At present, there is no curative therapy available, despite first promising results from ongoing gene therapy studies.In this study, we evaluated in detail the data from 13 German XLMTM patients, which was collected over a period of up to 20 years in our university hospital. We compared it to the international prospective longitudinal natural history study (NHS) data from 45 patients (containing 11 German patients). To highlight the broad phenotypic spectrum of the disease, we additionally focused on the clinical presentation of three cases at a glance.Comparing our data with the above mentioned natural history study, it appears the patients of the present German cohort seem to be more often severely affected, with higher frequency of non-ambulatory patients and patients on ventilation (and for longer time) and a higher proportion of patients needing a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy. Another key finding is a potential gap in time between first clinical presentation and final diagnosis, showing a need for patients to be treated in a specialized center for neuromuscular diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JND-200539DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7902950PMC
January 2021

Very Low Residual Dystrophin Quantity Is Associated with Milder Dystrophinopathy.

Ann Neurol 2021 02 24;89(2):280-292. Epub 2020 Nov 24.

Paris-Saclay University, UVSQ, Inserm, END-ICAP, Versailles, France.

Objective: This study was undertaken to determine whether a low residual quantity of dystrophin protein is associated with delayed clinical milestones in patients with DMD mutations.

Methods: We performed a retrospective multicentric cohort study by using molecular and clinical data from patients with DMD mutations registered in the Universal Mutation Database-DMD France database. Patients with intronic, splice site, or nonsense DMD mutations, with available muscle biopsy Western blot data, were included irrespective of whether they presented with severe Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) or milder Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD). Patients were separated into 3 groups based on dystrophin protein levels. Clinical outcomes were ages at appearance of first symptoms; loss of ambulation; fall in vital capacity and left ventricular ejection fraction; interventions such as spinal fusion, tracheostomy, and noninvasive ventilation; and death.

Results: Of 3,880 patients with DMD mutations, 90 with mutations of interest were included. Forty-two patients expressed no dystrophin (group A), and 31 of 42 (74%) developed DMD. Thirty-four patients had dystrophin quantities < 5% (group B), and 21 of 34 (61%) developed BMD. Fourteen patients had dystrophin quantities ≥ 5% (group C), and all but 4 who lost ambulation beyond 24 years of age were ambulant. Dystrophin quantities of <5%, as low as <0.5%, were associated with milder phenotype for most of the evaluated clinical outcomes, including age at loss of ambulation (p < 0.001).

Interpretation: Very low residual dystrophin protein quantity can cause a shift in disease phenotype from DMD toward BMD. ANN NEUROL 2021;89:280-292.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.25951DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7894170PMC
February 2021

Use of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Infant Test of Neuromuscular Disorders (CHOP INTEND) in X-Linked Myotubular Myopathy: Content Validity and Psychometric Performance.

J Neuromuscul Dis 2021 ;8(1):63-77

University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.

X-linked myotubular myopathy (XLMTM) is a life-threatening, congenital myopathy characterized by extreme hypotonia, weakness, delayed motor milestones, and respiratory failure, often resulting in pediatric mortality. This study evaluated the content validity and psychometric performance of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Infant Test of Neuromuscular Disorders as a measure of neuromuscular functioning in children with X-linked myotubular myopathy. This study was conducted in two phases. Phase I assessed the content validity of the measure for use in an XLMTM pediatric population through: literature review, clinical expert interviews, caregiver interviews, and a modified-Delphi panel among clinicians. Phase II assessed psychometric performance based on the INCEPTUS observational clinical study and the ASPIRO interventional gene therapy study, including tests of reliability (internal consistency, test-retest, and interrater), validity (construct and criterion), and responsiveness based on observational and interventional clinical trial data analyses. Data established construct validity and reliability of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Infant Test of Neuromuscular Disorders among XLMTM patients before administration of resamirigene bilparvovec, and sensitivity to study drug administration as evidenced by the significant post-administration response in ASPIRO. Findings support the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Infant Test of Neuromuscular Disorders as an appropriate neuromuscular functioning assessment in a pediatric X-linked myotubular myopathy patient population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JND-200479DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7902972PMC
January 2021

250th ENMC International Workshop: Clinical trial readiness in nemaline myopathy 6-8 September 2019, Hoofdorp, the Netherlands.

Neuromuscul Disord 2020 10 15;30(10):866-875. Epub 2020 Aug 15.

Division of Child Neurology, Centre de Références des Maladies Neuromusculaires, Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital Liège & University of Liège, Liège, Belgium; MDUK Neuromuscular Centre, Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom. Electronic address:

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nmd.2020.08.356DOI Listing
October 2020

European ad-hoc consensus statement on gene replacement therapy for spinal muscular atrophy.

Eur J Paediatr Neurol 2020 Sep 9;28:38-43. Epub 2020 Jul 9.

Dubowitz Neuromuscular Centre, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, and NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, UK. Electronic address:

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) used to be one of the most common genetic causes of infant mortality. New disease modifying treatments have changed the disease trajectories and most impressive results are seen if treatment is initiated in the presymptomatic phase of the disease. Very recently, the European Medicine Agency approved Onasemnogene abeparvovec (Zolgensma®) for the treatment of patients with SMA with up to three copies of the SMN2 gene or the clinical presentation of SMA type 1. While this broad indication provides new opportunities, it also triggers discussions on the appropriate selection of patients in the context of limited available evidence. To aid the rational use of Onasemnogene abeparvovec for the treatment of SMA, a group of European neuromuscular experts presents in this paper eleven consensus statements covering qualification, patient selection, safety considerations and long-term monitoring.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejpn.2020.07.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7347351PMC
September 2020
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