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Rational Design of Novel Therapies for Pantothenate Kinase-Associated Neurodegeneration.

Mov Disord. 2021 May 18. doi: 10.1002/mds.28642. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34002881.

Authors/Editors: Thakur N, Klopstock T. Jackowski S, Kuscer E, Tricta F, Videnovic A, Jinnah HA.
Publication Date: 2021


Background: This review highlights the recent scientific advances that have enabled rational design of novel clinical trials for pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN), a rare autosomal recessive neurogenetic disorder associated with progressive neurodegenerative changes and functional impairment. PKAN is caused by genetic variants in the PANK2 gene that result in dysfunction in pantothenate kinase 2 (PANK2) enzyme activity, with consequent disruption of coenzyme A (CoA) synthesis, and subsequent accumulation of brain iron. The clinical phenotype is varied and may include dystonia, rigidity, bradykinesia, postural instability, spasticity, loss of ambulation and ability to communicate, feeding difficulties, psychiatric issues, and cognitive and visual impairment. There are several symptom-targeted treatments, but these do not provide sustained benefit as the disorder progresses.

Objectives: A detailed understanding of the molecular and biochemical pathogenesis of PKAN has opened the door for the design of novel rationally designed therapeutics that target the underlying mechanisms.

Methods: Two large double-blind phase 3 clinical trials have been completed for deferiprone (an iron chelation treatment) and fosmetpantotenate (precursor replacement therapy). A pilot open-label trial of pantethine as a potential precursor replacement strategy has also been completed, and a trial of 4-phosphopantetheine has begun enrollment. Several other compounds have been evaluated in pre-clinical studies, and additional clinical trials may be anticipated.

Conclusions: Experience with these trials has encouraged a critical evaluation of optimal trial designs, as well as the development of PKAN-specific measures to monitor outcomes. PKAN provides a valuable example for understanding targeted drug development and clinical trial design for rare disorders. © 2021 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

Keywords: clinical rating scale; neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation; pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration; translational therapy; treatment.

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