Planning Future Clinical Trials for Machado-Joseph Disease

  • Jonas Alex Morales Saute
  • Laura Bannach Jardim
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1049)


Spinocerebellar ataxia type 3/Machado-Joseph disease (SCA3/MJD) is an autosomal dominant multiple neurological systems degenerative disorder caused by a CAG repeat expansion at ATXN3 gene. Only a few treatments were evaluated in randomized clinical trials (RCT) in SCA3/MJD patients, with a lack of evidence for both disease-modifying and symptomatic therapies. The present chapter discuss in detail major methodological issues for planning future RCT for SCA3/MJD. There are several potential therapies for SCA3/MJD with encouraging preclinical results. Route of treatment, dosage titration and potential therapy biomarkers might differ among candidate drugs; however, the core study design and protocol will be mostly the same. RCT against placebo group is the best study design to test a disease-modifying therapy; the same cannot be stated for some symptomatic treatments. Main outcomes for future RCT are clinical scales: the Scale for the Assessment and Rating of ataxia (SARA) is currently the instrument of choice to prove efficacy of disease-modifying or symptomatic treatments against ataxia, the most important disease feature. Ataxia quantitative scales or its composite scores can be used as primary outcomes to provide preliminary evidence of efficacy in phase 2 RCT, due to a greater sensitivity to change. Details regarding eligibility criteria, randomization, sample size estimation, duration and type of analysis for both disease modifying and symptomatic treatment trials, were also discussed. Finally, a section anticipates the methodological issues for testing novel drugs when an effective treatment is already available. We conclude emphasizing four points, the first being the need of RCT for a number of different aims in the care of SCA3/MJD. Due to large sample sizes needed to warrant power, RCT for disease-modifying therapies should be multicenter enterprises. There is an urge need for surrogate markers validated for several drug classes. Finally, engagement of at risk or presymptomatic individuals in future trials will enable major advances on treatment research for SCA3/MJD.


SCA3 Machado-Joseph disease Clinical trials Treatment Study design 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonas Alex Morales Saute
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Laura Bannach Jardim
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Serviço de Genética MédicaHospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre (HCPA)Porto AlegreBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratório de Identificação GenéticaCentro de Pesquisa Experimental, HCPAPorto AlegreBrazil
  3. 3.Programa de Pós-Gradução em MedicinaCiências Médicas Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil
  4. 4.Departamento de Medicina InternaUFRGSPorto AlegreBrazil
  5. 5.Instituto Nacional de Genética Médica Populacional (INAGEMP)Rio de JaneiroBrazil

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