Discovery of Small Molecule Splicing Modulators of Survival Motor Neuron-2 (SMN2) for the Treatment of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)

Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
Atwood K CheungNatalie A Dales


Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a rare neuromuscular disorder, is the leading genetic cause of death in infants and toddlers. SMA is caused by the deletion or a loss of function mutation of the survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1) gene. In humans, a second closely related gene SMN2 exists; however it codes for a less stable SMN protein. In recent years, significant progress has been made toward disease modifying treatments for SMA by modulating SMN2 pre-mRNA splicing. Herein, we describe the discovery of LMI070/branaplam, a small molecule that stabilizes the interaction between the spliceosome and SMN2 pre-mRNA. Branaplam (1) originated from a high-throughput phenotypic screening hit, pyridazine 2, and evolved via multiparameter lead optimization. In a severe mouse SMA model, branaplam treatment increased full-length SMN RNA and protein levels, and extended survival. Currently, branaplam is in clinical studies for SMA.


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