Newport Beach, Calif., October 3, 2012: CureDuchenne, a nonprofit that raises awareness and funds research to find a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, is pleased by today’s announcement by Sarepta Therapeutics (formerly AVI BioPharma) that its exon-skipping compound, eteplirsen, achieved significant clinical benefit after 48 weeks of treatment in a Phase IIb study in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. CureDuchenne, along with Children National Medical Center in Washington, DC and the Foundation to Eradicate Duchenne, provided funding in 2010 for this research to progress into human clinical trials.
The eteplirsen drug helped increase the production of dystrophin, which is lacking due to a defect on the dystrophin gene that causes Duchenne, and slowed the progression of the disease, as measured by the 6-minute walk test. This is a milestone for the company and patients alike. The result will pave the way for an end of phase II meeting between the company and the FDA to discuss and agree to the plan for a phase III registration trial. Sarepta will scale up the manufacturing to accommodate a larger trial.
“This is an important day for Duchenne,” said Chris Garabedian, CEO of Sarepta Therapeutics. “We are grateful to CureDuchenne, and other organizations, for their support and funding that allowed us to proceed this far in the clinical trial process and move a step closer to finding a treatment for Duchenne.”
“We have personally seen the positive impact this drug has had on our son,” said Jenn McNary who has two sons with Duchenne. Ten-year-old Max is one of the boys enrolled in the Sarepta trial but his 13-year-old brother Austin was not eligible for the trial. “Max has shown significant improvement and is stronger while Austin is getting weaker. We’re hoping these results will allow Sarepta to get approval quicker so other those impacted with Duchenne can benefit from this treatment that helps slow the progression of the disease.”
As the most common and lethal form of muscular dystrophy, Duchenne impacts 1 in 3,500 boys. Boys with Duchenne are usually diagnosed before the age of 5, in a wheelchair by age 12 and most don’t survive their mid-20s.
“This is very encouraging news for the Duchenne community that a treatment is within our reach,” said Debra Miller, founder and CEO of CureDuchenne. “CureDuchenne is committed to continuing to fund research, like we did for the Sarepta trial, until a cure is found that helps all those impacted with Duchenne. We are hopeful, but also must remain cautious until treatments are FDA-approved.”
CureDuchenne is a national nonprofit organization located in Newport Beach, Calif., dedicated to finding a cure for Duchenne, the most common and most lethal form of muscular dystrophy. As the leading genetic killer of young boys, Duchenne affects more than 300,000 boys worldwide.
CureDuchenne has garnered international attention for its efforts to raise funds and awareness for Duchenne. With the help of CureDuchenne’s distinguished international panel of Scientific Advisors, funds raised by CureDuchenne support the most promising research aimed at treating and curing Duchenne. To date, seven CureDuchenne research projects have made their way into human clinical trials – a unique accomplishment as few health-related nonprofits have been successful in being a catalyst for human clinical trials.