Continuing to See Hope for IRD Treatments
At three o’clock Thursday afternoon, Beth Chiarella and I had a very public moment of tears and hugs at Baltimore–Washington International Airport as we received news that after a day of hearing testimony, the Federal Drug Administration’s Advisory Committee unanimously recommended approval of a gene therapy that could reverse or reduce vision loss due to an inherited retinal disease (IRD).
The committee listened to Spark Therapeutics present their research and findings on LUXTURNA™ (voretigene neparvovec), an investigational, potential one-time gene therapy, and heard testimonies from families whose lives have been changed dramatically by the therapy. Members then voted 16-0 without comment to endorse approval of the therapy for the treatment of patients with vision loss due to confirmed biallelic RPE65-mediated inherited retinal disease (IRD).
Alongside the brave individuals and their family members who were part of the clinical trials and traveled to Washington, D.C., to share their personal stories in support of this therapy, I played a small part in what is no doubt an historic moment for all LCA families. I’m grateful to Tami, the oldest participant in the RPE65 trial, who allowed me to share her experience with the panel, reinforcing that this treatment is life-changing at any age, and for any length of time. I’m also grateful to all of those who have made it possible for Sofia Sees Hope to play a role through their continued advice, support and enthusiastic cheerleading.
While this first treatment does not address the dozens of other genetic mutations that cause blindness for LCA and IRD individuals, we can hope that this endorsement will be followed by a potential FDA approval, in turn paving the way for continued research and treatment for my daughter and our entire LCA community. Thursday marked a positive step forward on the path to changing the lives for many people.
Read Laura’s full statement to the Advisory Committee here.