Repurposing small molecules for nephronophthisis and related renal ciliopathies.

Benmerah A, Briseño-Roa L, Annereau JP, Saunier S.

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Kidney Int

2023 Aug 1

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Nephronophthisis is an autosomal recessive tubulointerstitial nephropathy, belonging to the ciliopathy disorders, characterized by fibrosis and/or cysts. It is the most common genetic cause of kidney failure in children and young adults. Clinically and genetically heterogeneous, it is caused by variants in ciliary genes, resulting in either an isolated kidney disease or syndromic forms in association with other manifestations of ciliopathy disorders. No curative treatment is currently available. Over the past 2 decades, advances in understanding disease mechanisms have identified several dysregulated signaling pathways, some shared with other cystic kidney diseases. Notably, molecules previously developed to target these pathways have shown promising beneficial effects in orthologous mouse models. In addition to these knowledge-based repurposing approaches, unbiased "in cellulo" phenotypic screens of "repurposing" libraries identified small molecules able to rescue the ciliogenesis defects observed in nephronophthisis conditions. Those compounds appeared to act on relevant pathways and, when tested, showed beneficial nephronophthisis-associated kidney and/or extrarenal defects in mice. In this review, we have summarized those studies that highlight the drug repurposing strategies in the context of a rare disorders, such as nephronophthisis-related ciliopathies, with broad genetic heterogeneity and systemic manifestations but with shared disease mechanisms.

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