Neurobiologically-based treatments in Rett syndrome: opportunities and challenges

Walter E. Kaufmann, Jennifer L. Stallworth, David B. Everman, Steven A. Skinner

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    21 Scopus citations


    Introduction: Rett syndrome (RTT) is an X-linked neurodevelopmental disorder that primarily affects females, typically resulting in a period of developmental regression in early childhood followed by stabilization and severe chronic cognitive, behavioral, and physical disability. No known treatment exists beyond symptomatic management, and while insights into the genetic cause, pathophysiology, neurobiology, and natural history of RTT have been gained, many challenges remain. Areas covered: Based on a comprehensive survey of the primary literature on RTT, this article describes and comments upon the general and unique features of the disorder, genetic and neurobiological bases of drug development, and the history of clinical trials in RTT, with an emphasis on drug trial design, outcome measures, and implementation. Expert opinion: Neurobiologically based drug trials are the ultimate goal in RTT, and due to the complexity and global nature of the disorder, drugs targeting both general mechanisms (e.g., growth factors) and specific systems (e.g., glutamate modulators) could be effective. Trial design should optimize data on safety and efficacy, but selection of outcome measures with adequate measurement properties, as well as innovative strategies, such as those enhancing synaptic plasticity and use of biomarkers, are essential for progress in RTT and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1043-1055
    Number of pages13
    JournalExpert Opinion on Orphan Drugs
    Issue number10
    StatePublished - Oct 2 2016


    • MECP2
    • Rett syndrome (RTT)
    • fragile X syndrome (FXS)
    • outcome measure

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (miscellaneous)
    • Health Policy
    • Pharmacology (medical)


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