New Dystonia Paper in Science Translational Medicine

Link to paper


Dystonias are a group of chronic movement–disabling disorders for which highly effective oral medications or disease-modifying therapies are lacking. The most effective treatments require invasive procedures such as deep brain stimulation. In this study, we used a high-throughput assay based on a monogenic form of dystonia, DYT1 (DYT-TOR1A), to screen a library of compounds approved for use in humans, the NCATS Pharmaceutical Collection (NPC; 2816 compounds), and identify drugs able to correct mislocalization of the disease-causing protein variant, ∆E302/3 hTorsinA. The HIV protease inhibitor, ritonavir, was among 18 compounds found to normalize hTorsinA mislocalization. Using a DYT1 knock-in mouse model to test efficacy on brain pathologies, we found that ritonavir restored multiple brain abnormalities across development. Ritonavir acutely corrected striatal cholinergic interneuron physiology in the mature brain and yielded sustained correction of diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging signals when delivered during a discrete early developmental window. Mechanistically, we found that, across the family of HIV protease inhibitors, efficacy correlated with integrated stress response activation. These preclinical results identify ritonavir as a drug candidate for dystonia with disease-modifying potential.