Combination small molecule PPT1 mimetic and CNS-directed gene therapy as a treatment for infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis.
Infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (INCL) is a profoundly neurodegenerative disease of children caused by a deficiency in the lysosomal enzyme palmitoyl protein thioesterase-1 (PPT1). There is currently no effective therapy for this invariably fatal disease. To date, preclinical experiments using single treatments have resulted in incremental clinical improvements. Therefore, we determined the efficacy of CNS-directed AAV2/5-mediated gene therapy alone and in combination with the systemic delivery of the lysosomotropic PPT1 mimetic phosphocysteamine. Since CNS-directed gene therapy provides relatively high levels of PPT1 activity to specific regions of the brain, we hypothesized that phosphocysteamine would complement that activity in regions expressing subtherapeutic levels of the enzyme. Results indicate that CNS-directed gene therapy alone provided the greatest improvements in biochemical and histological measures as well as motor function and life span. Phosphocysteamine alone resulted in only minor improvements in motor function and no increase in lifespan. Interestingly, phosphocysteamine did not increase the biochemical and histological response when combined with AAV2/5-mediated gene therapy, but it did result in an additional improvement in motor function. These data suggest that a CNS-directed gene therapy approach provides significant clinical benefit, and the addition of the small molecule PPT1 mimetic can further increase that response.