Mechanisms of Cell Death in Spinal Muscular Atrophy
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ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01754441
Verified August 2015 by Matthew E. R. Butchbach, Ph.D., Nemours Children's Clinic. Recruitment status was: Enrolling by invitation
: December 21, 2012
Last Update Posted
: August 24, 2015
Nemours Children's Clinic
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Matthew E. R. Butchbach, Ph.D., Nemours Children's Clinic
Spinal muscular atrophy is a genetically based disease that affects motor neurons in the spinal cord and leads to muscle wasting and weakness. The gene found to be responsible for the underlying disease is called the SMN or survival motor neuron gene. Individuals with SMA are either missing a copy of the gene or have a mutation in the gene. Although the gene has been identified, how it actually causes the motor neurons to die and leads to muscle wasting and weakness is not completely understood. The investigators have found that skin cells from children with SMA tend to be more susceptible to cell death when exposed to cell death inducing agents. In this protocol, The investigators wish to study the mechanisms by which these cells die when exposed to these agents and how this may be related to the gene defect and the disease.
Condition or disease
Spinal Muscular Atrophy
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a neuromuscular disease characterized by degeneration of motor neurons and progressive muscle atrophy. The disease is one of the most common genetic causes of infant death. The gene responsible for SMA, survival motor neuron (SMN), exists in humans as two nearly identical copies (SMN1 and SMN2). Only deletion or mutation(s) of the telomeric copy of the gene (SMN1) causes the disease. The SMN protein has been known to function in assembly of the RNA splicing complex, however, the mechanism(s) by which SMN-deficiency causes cell death in SMA are not clear. The long-term goal is to understand the mechanism(s) of motor neuron death in SMA and develop a means of prevention. SMN protein has been reported to have some survival promoting functions in cultured cells. Preliminary studies show that skin fibroblasts from SMA patients are more sensitive to certain death promoting stimuli than control fibroblasts. The investigators hypothesize that the SMN protein is directly involved in cell survival and that loss of this survival function of SMA results in motor neuron death in SMA. The investigators will use fibroblasts from SMA patients, fibroblasts from controls without SMA, motor neuron-like cell lines (such as NSC-34) and rodent primary motor neuron cultures as model systems to test our hypothesis. The investigators will determine the effect of expression of SMN protein in regulating cell death of SMA fibroblasts. The investigators will further investigate the role of SMN in neuronal cell survival. Finally, the investigators will determine biological pathway(s) of SMN-mediated cell protection. Results from the proposed studies will provide insight into the mechanism(s) by which SMN protects cells from death and how a decrease in SMN function leads to the SMA phenotype. Ultimately, the obtained information could lead to develop therapeutic strategies for SMA.
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Ages Eligible for Study:
up to 21 Years (Child, Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:
This study will enroll Children with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)
Diagnosis of SMA confirmed by neurologist
Not seen as a patient at a participating Nemours facility