The National Institutes of Health awarded George Washington University and Children’s National Hospital a grant to study two maternally inherited mitochondrial diseases. Andrea Gropman, M.D., division chief of Neurodevelopmental Pediatrics and Neurogenetics at Children’s National, along with her co-investigator, Anne Chiaramello, M.D., from the George Washington University School of Medicine, will lead the study.
The proposed studies focus on two ultra-rare maternally inherited mitochondrial diseases:
- Mitochondrial Encephalopathy, Lactic Acidosis and Stroke-like episodes (MELAS); and
- Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy-Plus (LHON-Plus).
Both diseases are among those studied by the Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network.
“We are really pleased to be able to change the landscape for MELAS and LHON, two mitochondrial disorders with relentless progression and no treatment,” Dr. Gropman said. “This grant represents the fruition of an eight-year collaboration with my colleague Dr. Chiaramello and we are fortunate to be able to deliver this at Children’s National and serve our patients and community.”
Because patients currently do not have access to effective therapeutic intervention, this results in significant disability, morbidity and premature death. The UG3 phase of the study will focus on translational MELAS and LHON-Plus studies and submission of an IND protocol to the Food and Drug Administration. The UH3 phase will focus on a basket clinical trial with MELAS and LHON-Plus to:
- Provide proof-of-concept that the basket design can be applied to divergent ultra-rare diseases.
- Advance the dataset for safety and pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics of our lead compound for a larger number of patients than in a conventional clinical trial setting.
- Gather outcomes and practical information for optimizing the design of future basket clinical trial.
“Dr. Gropman is dedicated to giving children with MELAS the very best care,” said Elizabeth Wells, M.D., vice president of Neuroscience and Behavioral Medicine Center at Children’s National. “This new research funding is exciting and means more patients can benefit from the expertise she has developed at Children’s National.”