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1.  Sustained therapeutic reversal of Huntington’s disease by transient repression of huntingtin synthesis 
Neuron  2012;74(6):1031-1044.
The primary cause of Huntington’s disease (HD) is expression of huntingtin with a polyglutamine expansion. Despite an absence of consensus on the mechanism(s) of toxicity, diminishing the synthesis of mutant huntingtin will abate toxicity if delivered to the key affected cells. With antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) that catalyze RNase H-mediated degradation of huntingtin mRNA, we demonstrate that transient infusion into the cerebral spinal fluid of symptomatic HD mouse models not only delays disease progression, but mediates a sustained reversal of disease phenotype that persists longer than the huntingtin knockdown. Reduction of wild type huntingtin, along with mutant huntingtin, produces the same sustained disease reversal. Similar ASO infusion into non-human primates is shown to effectively lower huntingtin in many brain regions targeted by HD pathology. Rather than requiring continuous treatment, our findings establish a therapeutic strategy for sustained HD disease reversal produced by transient ASO-mediated diminution of huntingtin synthesis.
PMCID: PMC3383626  PMID: 22726834
2.  Neural Stem Cell Transplantation as a Therapeutic Approach for Treating Lysosomal Storage Diseases 
Neurotherapeutics  2011;8(4):659-667.
Treating the central nervous system manifestations of subjects with neuropathic lysosomal storage diseases remains a major technical challenge. This is because of the low efficiency by which lysosomal enzymes in systemic circulation are able to traverse the blood brain barrier into the central nervous system. Intracranial transplantation of neural stems cells genetically modified to overexpress the respective deficient enzymes represents a potential approach to addressing this group of diseases. The unique properties of neural stem cells and progenitor cells, such as their ability to migrate to distal sites, differentiate into various cell types and integrate within the host brain without disrupting normal function, making them particularly attractive therapeutic agents. In addition, neural stem cells are amenable to ex vivo propagation and modification by gene transfer vectors. In this regard, transplanted cells can serve not only as a source of lysosomal enzymes but also as a means to potentially repair the injured brain by replenishing the organ with healthy cells and effecting the release of neuroprotective factors. This review discusses some of the well-characterized neural stem cell types and their possible use in treating neuropathic lysosomal storage diseases such as the Niemann Pick A disease.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13311-011-0067-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3250293  PMID: 21904790
Neural stem cells; Neural progenitor cells; Cell transplantation; Lysosomal storage diseases; Niemann Pick A disease
3.  Antisense Oligonucleotides Delivered to the Mouse CNS Ameliorate Symptoms of Severe Spinal Muscular Atrophy 
Science translational medicine  2011;3(72):72ra18.
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive neuromuscular disorder caused by mutations in the SMN1 gene that result in a deficiency of SMN protein. One approach to treat SMA is to use antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) to redirect the splicing of a paralogous gene, SMN2, to boost production of functional SMN. Injection of a 2′-O-2-methoxyethyl–modified ASO (ASO-10-27) into the cerebral lateral ventricles of mice with a severe form of SMA resulted in splice-mediated increases in SMN protein and in the number of motor neurons in the spinal cord, which led to improvements in muscle physiology, motor function and survival. Intrathecal infusion of ASO-10-27 into cynomolgus monkeys delivered putative therapeutic levels of the oligonucleotide to all regions of the spinal cord. These data demonstrate that central nervous system–directed ASO therapy is efficacious and that intrathecal infusion may represent a practical route for delivering this therapeutic in the clinic.
PMCID: PMC3140425  PMID: 21368223
4.  Comparative Analysis of Acid Sphingomyelinase Distribution in the CNS of Rats and Mice Following Intracerebroventricular Delivery 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e16313.
Niemann-Pick A (NPA) disease is a lysosomal storage disorder (LSD) caused by a deficiency in acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) activity. Previously, we reported that biochemical and functional abnormalities observed in ASM knockout (ASMKO) mice could be partially alleviated by intracerebroventricular (ICV) infusion of hASM. We now show that this route of delivery also results in widespread enzyme distribution throughout the rat brain and spinal cord. However, enzyme diffusion into CNS parenchyma did not occur in a linear dose-dependent fashion. Moreover, although the levels of hASM detected in the rat CNS were determined to be within the range shown to be therapeutic in ASMKO mice, the absolute amounts represented less than 1% of the total dose administered. Finally, our results also showed that similar levels of enzyme distribution are achieved across rodent species when the dose is normalized to CNS weight as opposed to whole body weight. Collectively, these data suggest that the efficacy observed following ICV delivery of hASM in ASMKO mice could be scaled to CNS of the rat.
PMCID: PMC3026829  PMID: 21283548
5.  CNS-targeted gene therapy improves survival and motor function in a mouse model of spinal muscular atrophy 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2010;120(4):1253-1264.
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a neuromuscular disease caused by a deficiency of survival motor neuron (SMN) due to mutations in the SMN1 gene. In this study, an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector expressing human SMN (AAV8-hSMN) was injected at birth into the CNS of mice modeling SMA. Western blot analysis showed that these injections resulted in widespread expression of SMN throughout the spinal cord, and this translated into robust improvement in skeletal muscle physiology, including increased myofiber size and improved neuromuscular junction architecture. Treated mice also displayed substantial improvements on behavioral tests of muscle strength, coordination, and locomotion, indicating that the neuromuscular junction was functional. Treatment with AAV8-hSMN increased the median life span of mice with SMA-like disease to 50 days compared with 15 days for untreated controls. Moreover, injecting mice with SMA-like disease with a human SMN–expressing self-complementary AAV vector — a vector that leads to earlier onset of gene expression compared with standard AAV vectors — led to improved efficacy of gene therapy, including a substantial extension in median survival to 157 days. These data indicate that CNS-directed, AAV-mediated SMN augmentation is highly efficacious in addressing both neuronal and muscular pathologies in a severe mouse model of SMA.
PMCID: PMC2846065  PMID: 20234094
6.  Temporal Neuropathological and Behavioral Phenotype of 6Neo/6Neo Pompe Disease Mice 
Pompe disease (glycogen storage disease II) is caused by mutations in the acid α-glucosidase gene. The most common form is rapidly progressive with glycogen storage, particularly in muscle, that leads to profound weakness, cardiac failure, and death by the age of two years. Although usually considered a muscle disease, glycogen storage also occurs in the CNS. We evaluated the progression of neuropathological and behavioral abnormalities in a Pompe disease mouse model (6neo/6neo) that displays many features of the human disease. Homozygous mutant mice store excess glycogen within large neurons of hindbrain, spinal cord, and sensory ganglia by the age of one month; accumulations then spread progressively within many CNS cell types. “Silver degeneration” and Fluoro-Jade C stains revealed severe degeneration in axon terminals of primary sensory neurons at three to nine months. These abnormalities were accompanied by progressive behavioral impairment on rotorod, wire hanging and foot fault tests. The extensive neuropathological alterations in this model suggest that therapy of skeletal and cardiac muscle disorders by systemic enzyme replacement therapy may not be sufficient to reverse functional deficits due to CNS glycogen storage, particularly early-onset, rapidly progressive disease. A better understanding of the basis for clinical manifestations is needed to correlate CNS pathology with Pompe disease manifestations.
PMCID: PMC2743262  PMID: 18648322
Axon terminal degeneration; Genetic disease; Glycogen storage in CNS; Lysosomal storage diseases; Neurobiology
7.  Delivery of AAV-IGF-1 to the CNS Extends Survival in ALS Mice Through Modification of Aberrant Glial Cell Activity 
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease of the motor system. Recent work in rodent models of ALS has shown that insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) slows disease progression when delivered at disease onset. However, IGF-1’s mechanism of action along the neuromuscular axis remains unclear. In this study, symptomatic ALS mice received IGF-1 through stereotaxic injection of an IGF-1-expressing viral vector to the deep cerebellar nuclei (DCN), a region of the cerebellum with extensive brain stem and spinal cord connections. We found that delivery of IGF-1 to the central nervous system (CNS) reduced ALS neuropathology, improved muscle strength, and significantly extended life span in ALS mice. To explore the mechanism of action of IGF-1, we used a newly developed in vitro model of ALS. We demonstrate that IGF-1 is potently neuroprotective and attenuates glial cell–mediated release of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and nitric oxide (NO). Our results show that delivering IGF-1 to the CNS is sufficient to delay disease progression in a mouse model of familial ALS and demonstrate for the first time that IGF-1 attenuates the pathological activity of non-neuronal cells that contribute to disease progression. Our findings highlight an innovative approach for delivering IGF-1 to the CNS.
PMCID: PMC2737251  PMID: 18388910

Results 1-7 (7)