What is SPG47?
Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia, type 47, otherwise known as "SPG47", is an ultra-rare neurodegenerative disease. Children afflicted with this genetic disorder generally present with symptoms including global developmental delay, microcephaly, seizures, malformation of the brain, and hypotonia (low-muscle tone). They often learn to walk between the ages of 2-2½. They tend to lose that ability a few months or a few years later as they develop hypertonia (high-muscle tone) and muscle spasticity. Of the 14 confirmed cases of SPG47 in the world at this time, the first 9 patients have progressed to loss of mobility in some or all extremities, and are severely intellectually challenged.
Because of the extreme rarity of SPG47, very little research has been conducted to date, and there is no known cure. SPG47 is caused by a mutation in the AP4B1 gene. It is an autosomal recessive disease, which means that both parents have contributed a defective recessive gene to the child. The result is that the child is unable to correctly produce a protein which is required for proper functioning of the AP-4 adaptor complex in the central motor neurons in the brain.
The Cure SPG47 non-profit organization was founded in 2016 by families of two of the known patients. We refuse to accept the bleak prognosis which our children face. We have decided to fight. The purpose of this organization is to study and seek a cure for SPG47. We aim to improve the quality of life for children impacted by SPG47 by accelerating the research for a cure or treatment and providing financial support for patient therapies critical to their well-being and rehabilitation.
UPDATE: A handful of new cases of SPG47 have been diagnosed in the United States since the launch of Cure SPG47 in November 2016. We are aware of 14 diagnosed cases worldwide at this time.
Resources for information about SPG47:
» What is spastic paraplegia (SPG47)? Boston Children's Hospital
» Case report of known SPG47 patients: European Journal of Human Genetics
» Additional PMC case report: National Institutes of Health
» OMIM overview of SPG47: Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM)
» Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia Information Page: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
» Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia Overview: Medscape
» Research on Motor Neuron Disorders: PLS, HSP/SP, and ALS: Facebook
» Spastic Paraplegia Parents: Facebook
A virus could be engineered which "infects" the brain with good, working copies of the defective AP4B1 gene.
This gene repair technology has potential to eradicate nearly all genetic diseases in the coming decades.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cells created from the patient's own tissues could be used to grow genetically repaired cells.
Protein therapy, nanomedicine and drug development all offer potential for treating SPG47 as well.