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Condition

Mucopolysaccharidosis Type 3A

Symptoms, Doctors, Treatments, Research & More

Condition 101

What is the definition of Mucopolysaccharidosis Type 3A?

Mucopolysaccharidosis type IIIA (MPS IIIA) is a severe, progressive disorder that affects the central nervous system. In people with MPS IIIA, the body cannot break down a large sugar molecule called heparin sulfate. Signs and symptoms usually begin in early childhood and include severe neurological symptoms such as progressive dementia, aggressive behavior, hyperactivity, seizures, deafness, loss of vision, and an inability to sleep for more than a few hours at a time. MPS IIIA is caused by mutations in the SGSH gene and is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. There is currently no specific treatment for MPS IIIA; affected people usually do not survive past the second decade of life.

What are the alternative names for Mucopolysaccharidosis Type 3A?

  • Mucopoly-saccharidosis type 3A
  • Sanfilippo syndrome A
  • Heparan sulfate sulfatase deficiency
  • MPS IIIA
  • MPS 3A
  • Heparan sulfamidase deficiency
  • MPS3A
  • MPSIIIA
  • Mucopolysaccharidosis type 3A
  • Sanfilippo syndrome type A

What are the current treatments for Mucopolysaccharidosis Type 3A?

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure or standard treatment for people with mucopolysaccharidosis type IIIA (MPS IIIA). Affected people and their families should consult with a medical genetics team for information about the diagnosis, counseling, up-to-date treatment options, and referrals to support groups and organizations. Treatment requires ongoing care with trained pediatric specialists in various medical fields. A consultation with a developmental pediatrician is especially helpful in addressing behavioral concerns and to assist parents and caregivers in establishing a sleep routine.

Currently, drug therapy is not part of the standard of care for MPS IIIA. Medications are used to relieve symptoms (such as anticonvulsants for seizures) and improve quality of life. Sedatives and melatonin have been used to improve the quality of sleep along with establishing a bedtime routine. Specific therapies such as bone marrow transplantation and enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) are currently not options for patients with MPS IIIA. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation has shown mixed results and an unclear neurocognitive benefit. Recombinant enzymes for the deficiencies in MPS III are available, but trials in ERT have not been favorable in improving prognosis because the enzymes are not able to enter the central nervous system. Changes to the diet do not prevent disease progression, but limiting milk, sugar, and dairy products has helped some people who have excessive mucus.