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BACKGROUND: Type 1 spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a progressive neuromuscular disease characterized by an onset at 6 months of age or younger, an inability to sit without support, and deficient levels of survival of motor neuron (SMN) protein. Risdiplam is an orally administered small molecule that modifies SMN2 pre-messenger RNA splicing and increases levels of functional SMN protein in blood. METHODS: We conducted an open-label study of risdiplam in infants with type 1 SMA who were 1 to 7 months of age at enrollment. Part 1 of the study (published previously) determined the dose to be used in part 2 (reported here), which assessed the efficacy and safety of daily risdiplam as compared with no treatment in historical controls. The primary end point was the ability to sit without support for at least 5 seconds after 12 months of treatment. Key secondary end points were a score of 40 or higher on the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Infant Test of Neuromuscular Disorders (CHOP-INTEND; range, 0 to 64, with higher scores indicating better motor function), an increase of at least 4 points from baseline in the CHOP-INTEND score, a motor-milestone response as measured by Section 2 of the Hammersmith Infant Neurological Examination (HINE-2), and survival without permanent ventilation. For the secondary end points, comparisons were made with the upper boundary of 90% confidence intervals for natural-history data from 40 infants with type 1 SMA. RESULTS: A total of 41 infants were enrolled. After 12 months of treatment, 12 infants (29%) were able to sit without support for at least 5 seconds, a milestone not attained in this disorder. The percentages of infants in whom the key secondary end points were met as compared with the upper boundary of confidence intervals from historical controls were 56% as compared with 17% for a CHOP-INTEND score of 40 or higher, 90% as compared with 17% for an increase of at least 4 points from baseline in the CHOP-INTEND score, 78% as compared with 12% for a HINE-2 motor-milestone response, and 85% as compared with 42% for survival without permanent ventilation (P<0.001 for all comparisons). The most common serious adverse events were pneumonia, bronchiolitis, hypotonia, and respiratory failure. CONCLUSIONS: In this study involving infants with type 1 SMA, risdiplam resulted in higher percentages of infants who met motor milestones and who showed improvements in motor function than the percentages observed in historical cohorts. Longer and larger trials are required to determine the long-term safety and efficacy of risdiplam in infants with type 1 SMA. (Funded by F. Hoffmann-La Roche; FIREFISH number, NCT02913482.).

Original publication




Journal article


N Engl J Med

Publication Date





427 - 435