Developing treatment for spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy

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Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy is unique among the polyglutamine diseases in that the toxicity of the mutant protein, the androgen receptor, is ligand-dependent. In cell culture and animal models the mutant androgen receptor causes protein aggregation and alterations in transcriptional regulation, axonal transport, and mitochondrial function. Various therapeutic approaches have shown efficacy in mouse models, including androgen reduction and agents that alter the processing and degradation of the mutant androgen receptor protein, such as HSP90 inhibitors, IGF-1, and ASC-J9. Clinical trials of androgen-reducing agents have shown indications of efficacy but not proof of clinically meaningful benefit to date. This trial experience has set the stage for future clinical studies of other agents that have been found to be beneficial in transgenic animal models.

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