Investigation of new morpholino oligomers to increase survival motor neuron protein levels in spinal muscular atrophy

Agnese Ramirez, Sebastiano G. Crisafulli, Mafalda Rizzuti, Nereo Bresolin, Giacomo P. Comi, Stefania Corti, Monica Nizzardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal-recessive childhood motor neuron disease and the main genetic cause of infant mortality. SMA is caused by deletions or mutations in the survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1) gene, which results in SMN protein deficiency. Only one approved drug has recently become available and allows for the correction of aberrant splicing of the paralogous SMN2 gene by antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs), leading to production of full-length SMN protein. We have already demonstrated that a sequence of an ASO variant, Morpholino (MO), is particularly suitable because of its safety and efficacy profile and is both able to increase SMN levels and rescue the murine SMA phenotype. Here, we optimized this strategy by testing the efficacy of four new MO sequences targeting SMN2. Two out of the four new MO sequences showed better efficacy in terms of SMN protein production both in SMA induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and SMAΔ7 mice. Further, the effect was enhanced when different MO sequences were administered in combination. Our data provide an important insight for MO-based treatment for SMA. Optimization of the target sequence and validation of a treatment based on a combination of different MO sequences could support further pre-clinical studies and the progression toward future clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number167
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 6 2018


  • Morpholino
  • Spinal muscular atrophy
  • Therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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