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Review Article

Enzyme Replacement Therapy for Genetic Disorders Associated with Enzyme Deficiency

[ Vol. 29 , Issue. 3 ]


Marialaura Marchetti, Serena Faggiano and Andrea Mozzarelli*   Pages 489 - 525 ( 37 )


Mutations in human genes might lead to the loss of functional proteins, causing diseases. Among these genetic disorders, a large class is associated with the deficiency in metabolic enzymes, resulting in both an increase in the concentration of substrates and a loss in the metabolites produced by the catalyzed reactions. The identification of therapeutic actions based on small molecules represents a challenge to medicinal chemists because the target is missing. Alternative approaches are biology-based, ranging from gene and stem cell therapy, CRISPR/Cas9 technology, distinct types of RNAs, and enzyme replacement therapy (ERT). This review will focus on the latter approach that since the 1990s has been successfully applied to cure many rare diseases, most of them being lysosomal storage diseases or metabolic diseases. So far, a dozen enzymes have been approved by FDA/EMA for lysosome storage disorders and only a few for metabolic diseases. Enzymes for replacement therapy are mainly produced in mammalian cells and some in plant cells and yeasts and are further processed to obtain active, highly bioavailable, less degradable products. Issues still under investigation for the increase in ERT efficacy are the optimization of the interaction of the enzymes with cell membrane and internalization, the reduction in immunogenicity, and the overcoming of blood-brain barrier limitations when neuronal cells need to be targeted. Overall, ERT has demonstrated its efficacy and safety in the treatment of many genetic rare diseases, both saving newborn lives and improving patients’ life quality, and represents a very successful example of targeted biologics.


Enzyme deficiency, genetic disease, recombinant proteins, cell internalization, mannose 6-phosphate, lysosomal storage disorders, metabolic diseases, biologics


Biopharmanet-TEC Interdepartmental Center, University of Parma, Parco Area delle Scienze, Bldg 33., 43124, Parma, Department of Food and Drug, University of Parma, Parco Area delle Scienze 23/A, 43124, Parma, Institute of Biophysics, National Research Council, Via Moruzzi 1, 56124, Pisa

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