Published Date: August 26, 2023Full Text Article
Advancing Epidemiology and Genetic Approaches for the Treatment of Spinal and Bulbar Muscular Atrophy: Focus on Prevalence in the Indigenous Population of Western Canada
Authors: Harry Wilton-Clark, Ammar Al-Aghbari, Jessica Yang, Toshifumi Yokota
Genes (Basel). 2023 Aug 17;14(8):1634. doi: 10.3390/genes14081634.
Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), also known as Kennedy's disease, is a debilitating neuromuscular disease characterized by progressive muscular weakness and neuronal degeneration, affecting 1-2 individuals per 100,000 globally. While SBMA is relatively rare, recent studies have shown a significantly higher prevalence of the disease among the indigenous population of Western Canada compared to the general population. The disease is caused by a pathogenic expansion of polyglutamine residues in the androgen receptor protein, which acts as a key transcriptional regulator for numerous genes. SBMA has no cure, and current treatments are primarily supportive and focused on symptom management. Recently, a form of precision medicine known as antisense therapy has gained traction as a promising therapeutic option for numerous neuromuscular diseases. Antisense therapy uses small synthetic oligonucleotides to confer therapeutic benefit by acting on pathogenic mRNA molecules, serving to either degrade pathogenic mRNA transcripts or helping to modulate splicing. Recent studies have explored the suitability of antisense therapy for the treatment of SBMA, primarily focused on gene therapy and antisense-mediated mRNA knockdown approaches. Advancements in understanding the pathogenesis of SBMA and the development of targeted therapies offer hope for improved quality of life for individuals affected by this debilitating condition. Continued research is essential to optimize these genetic approaches, ensuring their safety and efficacy.