Clinical Translation of Novel Drugs for Rare Paediatric Neurological Diseases

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Embargoed until 2021-03-22
Copyright: Chen, Kerrie-Anne
This thesis examines the clinical translation of two novel therapeutic drugs in rare paediatric neurological disease via expanded access programs (EAP). Patients with rare diseases commonly encounter barriers to care and lack of disease-modifying treatments. EAPs help address this need by providing access to therapeutic drugs before commercial availability, however, there is usually limited knowledge regarding the safety and full impact of the drug. Two drugs were recently made available via an EAP for children in New South Wales: cannabidiol for paediatric drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE) and nusinersen for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). In a time when there was no evidence regarding the use of cannabidiol in paediatric DRE, an EAP was established due to unprecedented patient demand. Our study analysed the safety, adverse effects and preliminary efficacy of cannabidiol in patients with DRE. Cannabidiol was well tolerated, with sedation commonly reported (37.5%). Elevated transaminases were seen in 5% and demonstrated the necessity of medical monitoring. Although many patients reported improved overall health, indirect measures of seizure control did not show improvement, thus signifying the need for larger, randomised-controlled trials. In children with SMA type 1 (SMA1) treated with nusinersen, respiratory, bulbar and nutritional outcomes were analysed, as previous studies had demonstrated increased survival and motor function but had not assessed the broader impact on the burden of disease. Our study demonstrated substantial ongoing comorbidities due to respiratory and bulbar weakness, with the need for ongoing nocturnal noninvasive ventilation, gastrostomy feeding and recurrent acute hospitalisations. Greater burden of disease was seen more in patients with two SMN2 copies. Most children showed improvement in motor outcome assessments, a stark change in the natural history of SMA. These findings show the impact of nusinersen in modifying the phenotype of children with SMA1, yet ongoing significant morbidities and requirement for multidisciplinary supportive medical care. In conclusion, these studies provide additional real-world clinical data on the implementation and extent of efficacy of two novel drugs for rare neurological diseases. EAPs serves to address an unmet clinical need and facilitate the translation of research into practice to advance future health practice and research in rare diseases.
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Chen, Kerrie-Anne
Lawson, John
Farrar, Michelle
Cardamone, Michael
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Masters Thesis
UNSW Faculty
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