Behavioral Development/Disorders

An open-label, single-arm, multicenter study of intracerebral administration of adeno-associated viral vectors serotype rh10 carrying the human N-sulfoglucosamine sulfohydrolase (SGSH) cDNA for the treatment of mucopolysaccharidosis type IIIA

Principal Investigator:

Julie Eisengart, PhD, LP (Department of Pediatrics)

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Collaborators:

Chester B. Whitley PhD, MD (Department of Pediatrics), Amy Esler, PhD (Department of Pediatrics)

Abstract:

Mucopolysaccharidosis IIIA (MPS IIIA), also known as Sanfilippo Syndrome Type A, is a rare pediatric disease that is a uniformly fatal childhood disease. This autosomal recessive lysosomal storage disease is caused by a missing or dysfunctional catabolic protein, leading to the subsequent accumulation of substrates in the cell, resulting in very severe cellular and organ dysfunctions, particularly prominent in the central nervous system. Severe behavior dysregulation, sleep disturbance, and cognitive decline are the phenotypic hallmarks of MPS IIIA.

MPS IIIA has an incidence of 0.44-1.16 per 100,000 births and is caused by autosomal recessive genetic defects of the N-sulfoglucosamine sulfohydrolase (SGSH) gene localized to 17q25.3. SGSH is a secreted enzyme involved in the stepwise degradation of heparan sulfate (HS). A  deficiency in SGSH leads to an accumulation of HS in cells and affects cellular functioning  including lysosomal clearance. Currently, there ae no disease-modifying treatment(s) available or MPS IIIA.

The treatment proposed here, using Lysogene's in-vivo gene therapy LYS-SAF302 product (adeno-associated viral vector serotype rh.10 canying the human N-sulfoglucosamine sulfohydrolase cDNA)  consists of an intracerebral multi-injection site administration performed in a single operation.  It is hoped that treated patients would maintain existing cognitive and neurodevelopmental capabilities and possibly would acquire new skills.

Choline supplementation as a neurodevelopmental intervention in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

Principal Investigator:

Jeffrey R. Wozniak, Ph.D., L.P. (Department of Psychiatry)

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Collaborators:

Michael K. Georgieff, M.D. (Department of Pediatrics), Stephanie Carlson, Ph.D. (Institute of Child Development)

Abstract:

Recent data indicate that 2-5% of the U.S. population has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) – a set of physical anomalies and neurodevelopmental deficits caused by prenatal alcohol exposure (May, Fiorentino et al. 2011). Despite the profound public health burden posed by FASD, there have been very few treatment studies of any sort in this population and no clinical trials that have attempted to directly address the neurodevelopmental deficits that are so debilitating for these individuals. There is, however, a promising line of translational research that suggests a potential role for micronutrient interventions. At the top of the list is choline, an essential nutrient for humans that is critical for normal brain development during gestation and early childhood. Although the human body produces choline, the demand cannot be met entirely endogenously and thus, some choline must be consumed in food. Extensive pre-clinical work has provided evidence that choline supplementation is effective in attenuating the neurodevelopmental deficits caused by prenatal alcohol exposure in animal models (Thomas, Biane et al. 2007, Ryan, Williams et al. 2008). Our group has taken the initial steps toward translating this work to humans. We first conducted a two-year pilot study to ensure the feasibility, tolerability, and safety of choline supplementation in 20 children with FASD (Wozniak, Fuglestad et al. 2013). Next, we completed a three-year pilot study of 40 additional children with the goals of establishing a target dosage for young children and testing efficacy in the domain of memory (Wozniak, Fuglestad et al. under review). Together, data from these two studies demonstrate that choline supplementation in 2-3 year old children with FASD improves explicit memory – a core function that is essential for normal cognitive development. Based on the time periods in which choline is effective in pre-clinical models of FASD and on the fact that the first years of human life represent a period of intense brain development, choline supplementation in young children appears to have significant potential as an intervention for neurodevelopmental disorders including FASD.

Neurobehavioral mechanisms in tic suppression

Principal Investigator:

Christine Conelea, PhD (Department of Psychiatry)

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Collaborators:

Kathryn Cullen, MD (Department of Psychiatry), Kelvin Lim, MD (Department of Psychiatry)

Abstract:

The overall research objective of this project is to examine neurobehavioral mechanisms underlying tic suppression using an innovative methodology that integrates repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) with an established behavioral tic suppression paradigm. TMS is a non-invasive procedure that temporarily increases or decreases cortical activity, which allows researchers to make inferences about the neurobiological underpinnings of a disorder. TMS has been used to examine the pathophysiology of tics by targeting the motor cortex node of the CSTC, which is involved in voluntary suppression of movement (primary motor cortex, M1) and involuntary urges to move (supplementary motor cortex, SMA). This work has primarily compared M1 and SMA functioning across discrete diagnostic categories (e.g., Tourette Syndrome (TS) vs. controls; TS vs. TS+ADHD) but has yet to focus on the relationship between motor cortex functioning and tics themselves. Direct examination of tics and urges after rTMS can be accomplished using an established behavioral paradigm developed to study the effects of context on tic suppression. The proposed study will examine the effect of 1hz active versus sham rTMS over SMA on tic frequency, suppressability, and urges in youth with chronic tics. Research linking this behavioral tic suppression paradigm with targeted examination of SMA activation will help clarify the neurobehavioral mechanisms underlying tic suppression.