Effect of cyclic, low dose pyrimethamine treatment in patients with Late Onset Tay Sachs: An open label, extended pilot study

Etty Osher, Aviva Fattal-Valevski, Liora Sagie, Nataly Urshanski, Nadav Sagiv, Leah Peleg, Tally Lerman-Sagie, Ari Zimran, Deborah Elstein, Ruth Navon, Aviva Fattal Valevski, Naftali Stern*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Late Onset Tay- Sachs disease (LOTS) is a rare neurodegenerative lysosomal storage disease which results from mutations in the gene encoding the α subunit (HEXA) of β-hexosaminidase enzyme (HexA). At the present time, no effective treatment exists for LOTS and other neurodegenerative diseases involving the central nerve system (CNS). Pyrimethamine (PMT) was previously shown to act as a HexA chaperone in human fibroblasts in vitro carrying some (e.g., αG269S), but not all LOTS-related mutations. The present study assessed the effect of cyclic, low dose and long term pyrimethamine treatment on HexA in subjects with LOTS. Methods: In an open label trial in 4 LOTS patients, PMT was initiated at an average daily dose of ~2.7 mg and administered cyclically guided by blood lymphocyte HexA activity for a mean duration of 82.8 (±22.5; SD) weeks (~1.5 year). Results: HexA activity rose in all subjects, with a mean peak increase of 2.24 folds (±0.52; SD) over baseline activity (range 1.87-3). The mean treatment time required to attain this peak was of 15.7 (±4.8; SD) weeks. Following increase in activity, HexA gradually declined with the continued use of PMT, which was then stopped, resulting in the return of HexA activity to baseline. A second cycle of PMT treatment was then initiated, resulting again in an increase in HexA activity. Three of the patients experienced a measurable neuropsychiatric deterioration whereas one subject remained entirely stable. Conclusions: Cyclic low dose of PMT can increase HexA activity in LOTS patients. However, the observed increase is repeatedly transient and not associated with discernible beneficial neurological or psychiatric effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number45
JournalOrphanet Journal of Rare Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - 17 Apr 2015


  • Late Onset Tay Sachs
  • Pyrimethamine
  • β hexosaminidase A


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of cyclic, low dose pyrimethamine treatment in patients with Late Onset Tay Sachs: An open label, extended pilot study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this