Roadmap for C9ORF72 in Frontotemporal Dementia and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: Report on the C9ORF72 FTD/ALS Summit.
Sattler R., Traynor BJ., Robertson J., Van Den Bosch L., Barmada SJ., Svendsen CN., Disney MD., Gendron TF., Wong PC., Turner MR., Boxer A., Babu S., Benatar M., Kurnellas M., Rohrer JD., Donnelly CJ., Bustos LM., Van Keuren-Jensen K., Dacks PA., Sabbagh MN., Attendees of the inaugural C9ORF72 FTD/ALS Summit None.
A summit held March 2023 in Scottsdale, Arizona (USA) focused on the intronic hexanucleotide expansion in the C9ORF72 gene and its relevance in frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; C9ORF72-FTD/ALS). The goal of this summit was to connect basic scientists, clinical researchers, drug developers, and individuals affected by C9ORF72-FTD/ALS to evaluate how collaborative efforts across the FTD-ALS disease spectrum might break down existing disease silos. Presentations and discussions covered recent discoveries in C9ORF72-FTD/ALS disease mechanisms, availability of disease biomarkers and recent advances in therapeutic development, and clinical trial design for prevention and treatment for individuals affected by C9ORF72-FTD/ALS and asymptomatic pathological expansion carriers. The C9ORF72-associated hexanucleotide repeat expansion is an important locus for both ALS and FTD. C9ORF72-FTD/ALS may be characterized by loss of function of the C9ORF72 protein and toxic gain of functions caused by both dipeptide repeat (DPR) proteins and hexanucleotide repeat RNA. C9ORF72-FTD/ALS therapeutic strategies discussed at the summit included the use of antisense oligonucleotides, adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated gene silencing and gene delivery, and engineered small molecules targeting RNA structures associated with the C9ORF72 expansion. Neurofilament light chain, DPR proteins, and transactive response (TAR) DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43)-associated molecular changes were presented as biomarker candidates. Similarly, brain imaging modalities (i.e., magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] and positron emission tomography [PET]) measuring structural, functional, and metabolic changes were discussed as important tools to monitor individuals affected with C9ORF72-FTD/ALS, at both pre-symptomatic and symptomatic disease stages. Finally, summit attendees evaluated current clinical trial designs available for FTD or ALS patients and concluded that therapeutics relevant to FTD/ALS patients, such as those specifically targeting C9ORF72, may need to be tested with composite endpoints covering clinical symptoms of both FTD and ALS. The latter will require novel clinical trial designs to be inclusive of all patient subgroups spanning the FTD/ALS spectrum.