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Concept: Fabry disease


BACKGROUND: Fabry disease is an X-linked lysosomal storage disorder caused by alpha-galactosidase A deficiency leading to renal, cardiac, cerebrovascular disease and premature death. Treatment with alpha-galactosidase A (enzyme replacement therapy, ERT) stabilises disease in some patients, but long term effectiveness is unclear. METHODS: Renal, cardiac, and cerebral outcomes were prospectively studied in males and females with Fabry disease treated with ERT. Additionally, the occurrence of major cardiac events, stroke, end-stage renal disease and death was compared to a natural history (NH) cohort meeting treatment criteria. RESULTS: Of 75 patients on ERT (median treatment duration 5.2 years, range 0.05-11.0), prospective follow-up was available for 57 adult patients (30 males) and 6 adolescents. Renal function declined in males (-3.4 ml/min/1.73 m2 per year, SE 0.2; p < 0.001) despite ERT, but followed the normal course in females (-0.8 ml/min/1.73 m2 per year, SE 0.3; p = 0.001). Cardiac mass increased during ERT in males (+ 1.2 gram/m2.7, SE 0.3; p < 0.001), but remained stable in females (-0.3 gram/m2.7 per year, SE 0.4; p = 0.52). ERT did not prevent the occurrence of cerebral white matter lesions. Comparison of ERT treated to untreated patients revealed that the odds to develop a first complication increased with age (OR 1.05 (95% CI: 1.0-1.1) per year, p = 0.012). For development of a first or second complication the odds declined with longer treatment duration (OR 0.81 (95% CI: 0.68-0.96) per year of ERT, p = 0.015;OR 0.52 (0.31-0.88), p = 0.014 respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Long term ERT does not prevent disease progression, but the risk of developing a first or second complication declines with increasing treatment duration. ERT in advanced Fabry disease seems of doubtful benefit.

Concepts: Renal failure, Chronic kidney disease, Kidney, Nephrology, Death, Lysosomal storage disease, Enzyme replacement therapy, Fabry disease


Fabry disease is an X-linked lysosomal storage disorder caused by GLA mutations, resulting in α-galactosidase (α-Gal) deficiency and accumulation of lysosomal substrates. Migalastat, an oral pharmacological chaperone being developed as an alternative to intravenous enzyme replacement therapy (ERT), stabilises specific mutant (amenable) forms of α-Gal to facilitate normal lysosomal trafficking.

Concepts: Medicine, Enzyme, Lysosomal storage disease, Therapy, Enzyme replacement therapy, Fabry disease


Fabry disease (FD) is an X-linked lysosomal storage disorder caused by the deficiency of the enzyme α-galactosidase. It exhibits a wide clinical spectrum that may lead to a delayed or even missed diagnosis and the real incidence can be underestimated. We report the cases of two unrelated Italian families in whom Fabry disease was incidentally diagnosed in two females. In both families, the risk for other lysosomal disorders was known about other members affected respectively by fucosidosis or Mucopolysaccharidosis I (MPSI) Hurler/Scheie. Some subjects were simultaneously heterozygous for Fabry and the other lysosomal deficiency. Our study demonstrates that the risk for more than one lysosomal storage disorder can occur in a family pedigree. The diagnosis of Fabry in female probands represents a diagnostic challenge, as symptoms and signs can be variably present due to the random X-chromosome inactivation.

Concepts: Lysosomal storage disease, Fabry disease, Mucopolysaccharidosis, Lysosomal storage diseases, Hunter syndrome, Sanfilippo syndrome, Mucolipidosis, X-inactivation


The lysosomal storage diseases (LSDs) are a group of inherited metabolic disorders caused by the deficiency of any of the lysosomal functions, in most cases of lysosomal hydrolases. LSDs are typically characterized by storage of a variety of substrates in multiple tissues and organs and by the variable association of unusual clinical manifestations that are often responsible for physical and neurological handicaps. During the past two decades, research in the field of LSDs has made marked progress, particularly with the development of a variety of innovative therapeutic approaches. These include several strategies aimed at increasing the residual activity of the missing enzyme, such as hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, enzyme replacement therapy, pharmacological chaperone therapy and gene therapy. An alternative approach is based on reducing the synthesis of the stored substrate. More recently, the improved knowledge on LSD pathophysiology has indicated additional targets of therapy. The recent progress made in the treatment of LSDs represents a good model that may be extended to other genetic disorders.

Concepts: Protein, Medicine, Cell, Enzyme, Lysosomal storage disease, Therapy, Hematopoietic stem cell, Fabry disease


Mucopolysaccharidosis type II (MPS II) is a lysosomal storage disorder that is progressive and involves multiple organs and tissues. While enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) with idursulfase has been shown to improve many somatic features of the disease, some such as dysostosis multiplex and cardiac valve disease appear irreversible once established, and little is known about the preventative effects of ERT in pre-symptomatic patients. We report on two siblings with severe MPS II caused by an inversion mutation with recombination breakpoints located within the IDS gene and its adjacent pseudogene, IDS-2. The siblings initiated treatment with idursulfase at 3.0years (older brother) and 4months (younger brother) of age, and we compared their outcomes following 2years of treatment. At the start of treatment, the older brother showed typical features of MPS II, including intellectual disability. After 34months of ERT, his somatic disease was stable or improved, but he continued to decline cognitively. By comparison, after 32months of ERT his younger brother remained free from most of the somatic features that had already appeared in his brother at the same age, manifesting only exudative otitis media. Skeletal X-rays revealed characteristic signs of dysostosis multiplex in the older brother at the initiation of treatment that were unchanged two years later, whereas the younger brother showed only slight findings of dysostosis multiplex throughout the treatment period. The younger brother’s developmental quotient trended downward over time to just below the normal range. These findings suggest that pre-symptomatic initiation of ERT may prevent or attenuate progression of the somatic features of MPS II. Follow-up in a larger number of patients is required to confirm the additive long-term benefits of ERT in pre-symptomatic patients.

Concepts: DNA, Lysosomal storage disease, Therapy, Initiation, Fabry disease, TheStart, Mucopolysaccharidosis, Hunter syndrome


Fabry disease is an X-linked lysosomal storage disorder caused by the impairment of α-galactosidase A. Enzyme replacement therapy is available to treat patients, who often experience delayed diagnosis. A newborn screening for Fabry disease was performed to study the prevalence of the pathology and to evaluate the possibility to implement the test in systematic screenings. We collected 14,600 dried blood spot samples (7575 males and 7025 females) and carried out a diagnostic study by fluorometric measurement of α-galactosidase A enzymatic activity and GLA gene sequencing. We detected one patient with a mutation in GLA associated with classical Fabry Disease (M290I), ten subjects carrying genetic variants of uncertain diagnosis (S126G, R118C, A143T), and a girl with the non-characterized variant F18Y, which was not previously described. Additional 25 samples presented nucleotide substitutions described as polymorphisms (D313Y, rs2071225, and rs2071397). The estimated prevalence for Fabry disease in north-western Spanish males is of 0.013%.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Cell, Cancer, Lysosomal storage disease, Therapy, Enzyme replacement therapy, Fabry disease


BACKGROUND: The cost-effectiveness of enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) compared to standard medical care was evaluated in the Dutch cohort of patients with Fabry disease. METHODS: Cost-effectiveness analysis was performed using a life-time state-transition model. Transition probabilities, effectiveness data and costs were derived from retrospective data and prospective follow-up of the Dutch study cohort consisting of males and females aged 5–78 years. Intervention with ERT (either agalsidase alfa or agalsidase beta) was compared to the standard medical care. The main outcome measures were years without end organ damage (renal, cardiac en cerebrovascular complications), quality adjusted life years (QALYs), and costs. RESULTS: Over a 70 year lifetime, an untreated Fabry patient will generate 55.0 years free of end-organ damage (53.5 years in males, 56.9 years in females) and 48.6 QALYs (47.8 in males, 49.7 in females). Starting ERT in a symptomatic patient increases the number of years free of end-organ damage by 1.5 year (1.6 in males, 1.3 in females), while the number of QALYs gained increases by a similar amount (1.7 in males, 1.4 in females). The costs of ERT starting in the symptomatic stage are between [euro sign]9 - [euro sign]10 million ([lira sign] 7.9 - [lira sign] 8.8 million, $13.0- $14.5 million) during a patient’s lifetime. Consequently, the extra costs per additional year free of end-organ damage and the extra costs per additional QALY range from [euro sign]5.5 - [euro sign]7.5 million ([lira sign] 4.8 – [lira sign] 6.6 million, $ 8.0 – $ 10.8 million), undiscounted. CONCLUSIONS: In symptomatic patients with Fabry disease, ERT has limited effect on quality of life and progression to end organ damage. The pharmaco-economic evaluation shows that this modest effectiveness drives the costs per QALY and the costs per year free of end-organ damage to millions of euros. Differentiation of patients who may benefit from ERT should be improved to enhance cost-effectiveness.

Concepts: Health economics, Diseases and disorders, Costs, Therapy, Cost-utility analysis, Enzyme replacement therapy, Fabry disease, End organ damage


Fabry disease results from deficient α-galactosidase A activity and globotriaosylceramide accumulation causing renal insufficiency, strokes, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and early demise. We assessed the 10-year outcome of recombinant α-galactosidase A therapy.

Concepts: Renal failure, Kidney, Cardiomyopathy, Therapy, Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, Enzyme replacement therapy, Fabry disease


An orphan disease is defined in the EU as a disorder affecting less than 1 in 2 000 individuals. The concept of ultra-orphan has been proposed for diseases with a prevalence of less than 1:50 000. Drugs for ultra-orphan diseases are amongst the most expensive medicines on a cost-per-patient basis. The extremely high prices have prompted initiatives to evaluate cost-effectiveness and cost-utility in EU-member states. The objective of this review was to evaluate the quality of cost-effectiveness and cost-utility studies on ultra-orphan drugs. We searched 2 databases and the reference lists of relevant systematic reviews. Studies reporting on full economic evaluations, or at least aiming at such evaluation, were eligible for inclusion. Quality was assessed with the use of the Consensus on Health Economic Criteria (CHEC)-list. Two-hundred-fifty-one studies were identified. Of these, 16 fitted our inclusion criteria. A study on enzyme replacement and substrate reduction therapies for lysosomal storage disorders did not perform a full economic evaluation due to the high drug costs and the lack of a measurable effect on either clinical or health-related quality of life outcomes. Likewise, a cost-effectiveness analysis of laronidase for mucopolysaccharidosis type 1 was considered unfeasible due to lack of clinical effectiveness data, while in the same study a crude model was used to estimate cost-utility of enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) for Fabry disease. Three additional studies, one on ERT for Fabry disease, one on ERT for Gaucher disease and one on eculizumab for paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria, used an approach that was too simplistic to lead to a realistic estimate of the incremental cost-effectiveness (ICER) or cost-utility ratio (ICUR). In all other studies (N = 11) more sophisticated pharmacoeconomic models were used to estimate cost-effectiveness and cost-utility of the specific drug, mostly ERT or drugs indicated for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Seven studies used a Markov-state-transition model. Other models used were patient-level simulation models (N = 3) and decision trees (N = 1). Only 4 studies adopted a societal perspective. All but 2 studies discounted costs and effects appropriately. Drugs for metabolic diseases appeared to be significantly less cost-effective than drugs indicated for PAH, with ICERs ranging from €43 532 (Gaucher disease) to €3 282 252 (Fabry disease). Quality of studies using a Markov-state-transition or patient-level simulation model is in general good with 14-19 points on the CHEC-list. We therefore conclude that economic evaluations of ultra-orphan drugs are feasible if pharmacoeconomic modelling is used. Considering the need for modelling of several disease states and the small patient groups, a Markov-state-transition model seems to be most suitable type of model. However, it should be realised that ultra-orphan drugs will usually not meet the conventional criteria for cost-effectiveness. Nevertheless, ultra-orphan drugs are often reimbursed. Further discussion on the use of economic evaluations and their consequences in case of ultra-orphan drugs is therefore warranted.

Concepts: Health economics, Medicine, Costs, Lysosomal storage disease, Cost-effectiveness analysis, Fabry disease, Incremental cost-effectiveness ratio, Rare diseases


Enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) is an effective treatment for several lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs). Intravenously infused enzymes are taken up by tissues through either the mannose 6-phosphate receptor (M6PR) or the mannose receptor (MR). It is generally believed that M6PR-mediated endocytosis is a key mechanism for ERT in treating LSDs that affect the non-macrophage cells of visceral organs. However, the therapeutic efficacy of MR-mediated delivery of mannose-terminated enzymes in these diseases has not been fully evaluated. We tested the effectiveness of a non-phosphorylated α-galactosidase A produced from moss (referred to as moss-aGal) in vitro and in a mouse model of Fabry disease. Endocytosis of moss-aGal was MR-dependent. Compared to agalsidase alfa, a phosphorylated form of α-galactosidase A, moss-aGal was more preferentially targeted to the kidney. Cellular localization of moss-aGal and agalsidase alfa in the heart and kidney was essentially identical. A single injection of moss-aGal led to clearance of accumulated substrate in the heart and kidney to an extent comparable to that achieved by agalsidase alfa. This study suggested that mannose-terminated enzymes may be sufficiently effective for some LSDs in which non-macrophage cells are affected, and that M6P residues may not always be a prerequisite for ERT as previously considered.

Concepts: Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme, Glucose, Lysosomal storage disease, Therapy, Organ, Efficacy, Fabry disease