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INTRODUCTION: Over the last decade, the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) has become a paradigm of the importance of early and accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment. Three different therapeutic approaches that aims to increase SMN protein are approved now by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) for treatment of SMA; their efficacies have been demonstrated in pivotal trials. AREAS COVERED: The authors report on the two controlled studies and real-world evidence that have demonstrated that the treatment of patients pre-symptomatically ensures normal or only slightly sub-normal motor development in children who would otherwise develop a severe form of the disease. Furthermore, the authors highlight the several newborn screening (NBS) methods that are now available, all of which are based on real-time PCR, that reliably and robustly diagnose SMA except in subjects with disease caused by a point mutation. EXPERT OPINION: Pre-symptomatic treatment of SMA has been clearly demonstrated to prevent the most severe forms of the disease. NBS constitutes more than a simple test and should be considered as a global process to accelerate treatment access and provide global management of patients and parents. Even though the cost of NBS is low and health economics studies have clearly demonstrated its value, the fear of identifying more patients than the system can treat is often reported in large middle-income countries.

Original publication




Journal article


Expert Rev Neurother

Publication Date



1 - 8


SMN1, SMN2, Spinal muscular atrophy, Therapeutics, newborn screening