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A research team led by the University of Oxford has found a promising treatment for degenerative disease spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a leading genetic cause of child death.

Illustration of a nerve cell © Andrej Vodolazhskyi/ Shutterstock

SMA occurs when people lack a gene called survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1). It can affect children in the womb or adults. This makes them unable to produce enough SMN protein, resulting in motor neurone degeneration and increasing muscle weakness. However, people have an almost identical gene called SMN2.

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