Expansions of a G4C2 repeat in the C9ORF72 gene are the most common genetic cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), two devastating adult-onset neurodegenerative disorders. Using C9-ALS/FTD patient-derived cells and C9ORF72 BAC transgenic mice, we generated and optimized antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) that selectively blunt expression of G4C2 repeat-containing transcripts and effectively suppress tissue levels of poly(GP) dipeptides. ASOs with reduced phosphorothioate content showed improved tolerability without sacrificing efficacy. In a single patient harboring mutant C9ORF72 with the G4C2 repeat expansion, repeated dosing by intrathecal delivery of the optimal ASO was well tolerated, leading to significant reductions in levels of cerebrospinal fluid poly(GP). This report provides insight into the effect of nucleic acid chemistry on toxicity and, to our knowledge, for the first time demonstrates the feasibility of clinical suppression of the C9ORF72 gene. Additional clinical trials will be required to demonstrate safety and efficacy of this therapy in patients with C9ORF72 gene mutations.
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