In this section you will find news on clinical trials for drugs, drug approvals, Unit Certifications and useful information and articles for Neuromuscular Diseases.

7/1/2021
COVID-19 and neuromuscular disorders: Advices of World Muscle Society and vaccines pdf

WMS-vaccines-document

 
21/12/2020

MDA Hellas’ s proposal to the Ministry of Health in relation to the addition of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) in the Newborn Screening Program and the Prenatal Testing

In the context of its statutory purpose, MDA Hellas, having previously made a proposal to the Ministry of Health regarding the prevention of SMA and taking into account the frequency, knowledge of the natural progression of the disease, as well as the fact that there is a diagnostic, precise and specific examination, has sent a new proposal, requesting:

  1. The inclusion of SMA in the newborn screening program in accordance with the program of prevention of health risks “Spiros Doxiadis” , which provides “the extension of the National Program of Preventive Neonatal Screening (NPPNS), so that early diagnosis concerns all the rare but serious diseases, which can be treated and can be controlled”. In this way, immediate diagnosis at birth and treatment of patients will be achieved, which will result in their better prognosis. According to rough data from MDA Hellas, the average time of diagnosis in type I SMAs in 2020 is 5 months and the average time medication begins is 6.5 months.
    2. The inclusion of this specific disease in the prenatal test performed in each pregnancy. Knowing and appreciating the intention and initiatives of the Ministry to shield the prevention of this disease, we hope to complete the necessary actions to include Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) in the Neonatal Screening and Prenatal Program.
30/11/2020

Eurordis has carried out a reaseach on the preferences of patients with rare diseases in relation to data sharing and protection! Following the link below you will find the published results of the research: 

https://www.eu-patient.eu/news/latest-epf-news/2019/new-results-of-the-eurordis-rare-barometer-survey-on-patients-preference-on-rare-disease-data-sharing-and-protection-published/

2/11/2020
The Neuromuscular Unit of General University Hospital of Patras and the director, Professor of Neurology, Mrs Elizabeth Chroni, MD, organises a webinar on 14/11 with issue and title  “Diagnostic approach and longterm management of patients with hereditary myopathy”.
All related information and programme available: 20201114_UoP-Neurolgy_Program-web_F_Final (1)
All speeches are available: https://youtu.be/UTEuFWDjG0M
 
26/10/2020
MDA Hellas – member of SMA Europe

We are delighted to announce that MDA Hellas is officially an Associate Member of SMA Europe. 

SMA Europe is a non profit Umbrella of over than 19 SMA Patient Organizations all across Europe. 

11/9/2020

7th World Duchenne Awareness Day 

MDA Hellas organised and hosted a webinar for the celebration of the 7th World Duchenne Awareness Day (WDAD) dedicated to “Duchenne and the Brain”.  

Watch the webinar through MDA’s youtube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7EJzcwFFVc&t=2s

World Duchenne Organisation (WDO) held also a webinar that you could watch the Organisation’s site: 

https://www.worldduchenneday.org/

2/9/2020

Press release

Announcing the launch of the European Alliance for Newborn Screening for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA NBS Alliance)

13/8/2020

NS Pharma –FDA’s approval for VILTEPSO™ (viltolarsen) – exon skipping 53 

NS Pharma announced FDA’s approval for VILTEPSO™ (viltolarsen) yesterday for people living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy amenable for exon skipping 53. 

Read NS Pharma’s press release: https://nspharma.com/pdfs/Viltepso_Approval_Press_Release.pdf

7/8/2020

FDA approved Evrysdi (risdiplam) – Genetech (Roche member) for adults and children over 2 months with Spinal Muscular Atrophy – SMA 

In two clinical trials Evrysdi improved mobility of people living with SMA in a broad spectrum of ages and stages of severity, including types I, II and III of SMA. 

Evrysdi contributed to the survival of newborns without permanent respiratory support and achieving sitting without support, which is a very important milestone, which is not expected according to the natural history of the disease.

Evrysdi is the first and only oral drug for SMA.  

For further information, in the link following is the Company’s press release: https://www.gene.com/media/press-releases/14866/2020-08-07/fda-approves-genentechs-evrysdi-risdipla

30/6/2020

CHMP Recommends Translarna Label Update That Enables Treating DMD Patients Unable to Walk

The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), an arm of the European Medicines Agency, has recommended a label update for Translarna (ataluren) to enable its use in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients who lost their ability to walk.

The committee has specifically voted to remove the statement “efficacy has not been demonstrated in non-ambulatory patients” from the therapy’s label. If accepted by the European Commission, which makes the final decision based on CHMP’s recommendation, the change is also expected to support continued reimbursement and access to the medication in patients who become non-ambulatory over the course of treatment.

Translarna is approved — with conditions — in the European Union for DMD patients 2 years and older who carry nonsense mutations in the DMD gene and are able to walk. But clinical trials and real-world evidence have demonstrated it is also able to improve walking ability and patient outcomes beyond the loss of walking ability.

Long-term data from Study 019 (NCT01557400), an open-label extension study, found that Translarna preserves lung function in non-ambulatory (unable to walk without assistance) DMD patients for an additional four years, compared to an historical group of patients receiving standard treatment in the Duchenne Natural History Study (DNHS; NCT00468832).

The DNHS, conducted by the Cooperative International Neuromuscular Research Group, is the largest observational, longitudinal study assessing the natural course of the disease.

Results from the ongoing STRIDE registry (NCT02369731) — an observational study across more than 50 care centers in Europe and Israel — also demonstrated that boys receiving Translarna plus standard treatment retained their ability to walk independently for an additional 3.5 years compared to those receiving standard care alone in the DNHS.

Translarna also preserved lung function in boys receiving it in the STRIDE trial. Compared to their counterparts in the natural history study, these boys gained healthy lung function for longer periods. Respiratory failure is a leading cause of death among DMD patients, so preserving lung function is a key therapeutic priority.

For more information:

https://musculardystrophynews.com/2020/06/30/chmp-recommends-translarna-label-update-that-enables-treating-dmd-patients-unable-to-walk/?utm_source=Muscular+Dystrophy&utm_campaign=2fa1fd62fb-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_NON-US&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ea166dad7b-2fa1fd62fb-73745310

PTC’s Press Release:

https://ir.ptcbio.com/news-releases/news-release-details/ptc-therapeutics-announces-chmp-recommendation-translarnatm

https://ir.ptcbio.com/node/12976/pdf

20/6/2020

 

Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy – FSHD

It is the second most common muscular dystrophy with frequency 1:8.333 patients globally. Symptoms’ onset are often during adolescence, but they can appear from infancy to adulthood, affecting both sexes. There are two subcategories depending on the type of mutation, type 1 FSHD1 – 95% of patients and type 2 FSHD2 – 5%.

There is no cure yet, but management of symptoms in order to improve independence and quality of life.

Follow the links for important and more information:

https://mdahellas.gr/prosopo-omo-vrahionios-myiki-dystrofia/

https://www.fshdsociety.org/about-us/our-history/

 

11/6/2020

Federation of European Myotonic Dystrophy Associations – Euro-DYMA

 

Federation of European Myotonic Dystrophy association for Myotonic Dystrophies type 1 (Steinert) and type 2 (PROMM) is now a fact! It was recently funded by the participation of patient advocates and MDA Hellas is one of the funding members. In Federation’s site you will find updated information on the diseases and the Federation, and of course, you shall visit all update library. Furthermore, you will find every update information about the research on Myotonic Dystrophies.  Follow the link: http://euro-dyma.eu/

14/5/2020

Positive result announcement from HOPE – 2 clinical trial for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy by Capricor Pharmaceuticals

 

One year results show improved function of upper limbs.

Company’s intention is to meet with FDA for approval discussion.

For detailed information in the Press Release:

http://www.irdirect.net/prviewer/release/id/4322252

 

14/5/2020

Recent report by CatabasisUpdate letter for Edasalonexent

 

  • Boys with DMD demonstrate swallowing capsule abilities.
  • Phase IIΙ PolarisDMD clinical trial enrolled expected patient population.
  • Age growth and normal adrenal function observed with edasalonexent

 

For further information: https://www.catabasis.com/Catabasis%20Newsletter%20May%202020%20.pdf

 

1/5/2020

Pulmonary Support for Myotonic Dystrophy Patients during COVID – 19 Pandemic

 

Follow the link for detailed advice on pulmonary care for myotonic patients:

 

https://mdahellas.gr/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Pulmonary-Support-for-Myotonic-Dystrophy-Patients-During-COVID-19-Pandemic-20200-3-23.pdf

 

30/4/2020

Result Announcement of clinical trial EPYDIS, phase III, for Givinostat, Italfarmaco Group

Italfarmaco Group announced the recommendation received for continuation of the clinical trial EPYDIS phase III for Givinostat in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Phase II analysis results showed that the administration of Givinostat in combination with corticosteroids show the progression of the disease. For further information follow the link of the Press release:

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200427005274/en/Italfarmaco-Update-Advanced-Stage-Clinical-Development-Program-Givinostat

29/4/2020

1 year data presentation from FIREFISH clinical trial of Risdiplam in neonates with SMA I, Roche Pharmaceuticals

– 29% of infants sitting without support

– 43.9% were able to hold their head upright

– 31.7% were able to roll to the side

– 4.9% were able to stand with support

 

For further information, click here to read the official press release:

https://www.roche.com/media/releases/med-cor-2020-04-28.htm

2/4/2020

Rare diseases and COVID-19

Rare disease community raises alert over discrimination in critical care guidelines during COVID-19 pandemic and urges immediate action proposing concrete solutions.

Eurordis announcement

https://download2.eurordis.org/pressreleases/EURORDISstatement_COVID19Triage.pdf

 

1/4/2020

First two Webinar from WDO held on 14th and 21st of March 2020 respectively, already posted in our website, with information and advice on  COVID-19, drugs and use of corticosteroids in Duchenne and Becker muscular Dystrophies, are now available in greek and you shall find them:

 

Webinar 1: Prof. Mercuri, Muntoni, Finder and Goemans about what to do in case of a possible COVID-19 infection and how to protect yourself

 

Webinar 2: Dr. Wong and Prof. De Luca about steroid use, supplements, and possible treatments

 

 

31/3/2020

The two webinars that took place on the 14th and 21st March 2020 respectively, already uploaded in our website, related to information and advice for COVID-19 and drug administration and use of corticosteroids in Duchenne and Becker Muscular Dystrophy, are now available in Greek also:

Follow the links:

30/3/2020

Coronavirus Precautions for Ataxia Patients

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting communities worldwide. The health and safety of the Ataxia community is a priority at NAF. We have consulted with our Medical Research Advisory Board, infectious disease specialists, the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn about the best ways that a person with Ataxia can protect themselves during this public health event.

As a result, NAF has taken preventative measures such as cancelling our 2020 Annual Ataxia Conference and recommending cancellation of in-person support group meetings until this situation is under control. We’d also like to help you understand what you can do to decrease your risk of contracting COVID-19.

Coronavirus Precautions for Ataxia Patients

____________________________________________________________________ 

COVID-19 Recommendations for the Neuromuscular Community

Current guidelines for COVID-19 exposure have focused on specific communities related to risk to travelers, the elderly and those with conditions that affect respiratory health. In order to inform the neuromuscular community of specific information which is relevant to COVID-19, MDA has prepared the following information which expands on the CDC recommendations for the general population in order to keep the neuromuscular community up to date on best practices for managing the global spread of SARS-CoV-2.

A few general points will help patients and families to have a better understanding of the current situation:

  • About COVID-19
    The new virus is called SARS-CoV-2, which is part of the family of betacoronaviruses that are common in people and various animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. The original spread from live animal markets in China has now continued with person to person transmission leading to global spread which is evolving rapidly. The disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 is now known as COVID-19.
    The virus is spread from
    1) person-to-person exposure (principal means of transmission) and
    2) surfaces exposed to the virus.
    Exposure is by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes leading to transmission to others in close proximity. A challenge is that some transmission can occur before an infected individual becomes ill making it hard to isolate that individual. The highest risk of spreading is from those that have symptoms of fever and respiratory illness. Late in the illness there is the potential for gastrointestinal infection and exposure from stool. Spreading from infected surfaces can be managed by careful handwashing (see below).
  • Symptoms
    Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Findings compatible with SARS-CoV-2 infection include fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing.
  • What to do if you are sick?
    For neuromuscular disease patients, it is important that you seek prompt medical attention if you or anyone in your household is identified with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or for documented exposure to an individual who has tested positive. Before seeking care, you should contact your healthcare provider and tell them that you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has or is being evaluated for COVID-19. It is important to notify your healthcare provider of your symptoms and potential exposure prior to entering a healthcare provider’s office to ensure proper precautions can be taken to help keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected or exposed.
    Contact your healthcare provider or health department to see if you should be tested. Your healthcare provider will provide guidance for having your symptoms evaluated and monitored.
    If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you or a member of your household has, or is being evaluated for SARS-CoV-2. You should go to an Emergency Room or Urgent Care facility if you are having shortness of breath or experiencing worsening symptoms. It is important that you call ahead to the facility and notify them if you or a member of your household has or is being evaluated for SARS-CoV-2.
    The CDC has developed guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick.
  • Prevention and Management
    There is currently no preventative vaccine or specific treatment for COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
  • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to  others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workersand people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing

For information specific to healthcare, see CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings.

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.

  • Caregivers and Household Members

It is important that caregivers and household members take all necessary precautions to avoid the risk of contracting COVID-19 and spreading the illness to someone with a neuromuscular disease. We recommend that neuromuscular patients and caregivers work together to identify a backup caregiver who will be able to provide care for the neuromuscular patient in the event that the caregiver gets sick. In addition to the preventative measures listed above, caregivers should also wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before and after providing care (such as feeding, bathing, and dressing) to help decrease the risk of exposure for the patient.

The CDC website lists additional precautions for People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19.

Additional Resources

https://www.mda.org/covid19

27/3/2020

On 26 March 2020, the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) adopted a positive opinion, recommending the granting of a marketing authorisation for the medicinal product Zolgensma1, intended for the treatment of babies and young children who have a rare, serious inherited condition called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

As Zolgensma is an advanced therapy medicinal product, the CHMP positive opinion is based on an assessment by the Committee for Advanced Therapies. The applicant for this medicinal product is AveXis EU Limited.

Zolgensma will be available as a solution for infusion (2 x 10¹³ vector genomes/ml). Zolgensma is a type of medicine called a ‘gene therapy’.  It contains the active ingredient onasemnogene abeparvovec which contains human genetic material.

Patients with SMA lack a functioning gene needed to make a protein essential for nerves that control muscles (Survival Motor Neuron or SMN). Zolgensma supplies a fully functioning copy of the human SMN gene enabling the body to produce enough SMN protein. The gene is delivered into the cells where it is needed using a modified virus that does not cause disease in humans. The most common side effects are increases in liver enzymes (transaminases) seen in blood tests.

The full indication is:

Zolgensma is indicated for the treatment of:

  • patients with 5q spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) with a bi-allelic mutation in the SMN1 gene and a clinical diagnosis of SMA Type 1, or
  • patients with 5q SMA with a bi-allelic mutation in the SMN1 gene and up to 3 copies of the SMN2 gene.

Zolgensma is for single treatment only and should be administered in suitable clinical centres under the supervision of a physician experienced in the management of patients with SMA.

Detailed recommendations for the use of this product will be described in the summary of product characteristics (SmPC), which will be published in the European public assessment report (EPAR) and made available in all official European Union languages after the marketing authorisation has been granted by the European Commission.

https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/medicines/human/summaries-opinion/zolgensma?fbclid=IwAR1NcH4PK61FyFLhmByzj0GWQV6OIGr7XtIXWvELEsFHa-OeeAbjKC2JCm0xor;hg

27/3/2020

Coronavirus & Myotonic Dystrophy
Myotonic is concerned that the new coronavirus (COVID-19) may have a disproportionate impact on people and families affected by myotonic dystrophy so we are reaching out to share resources and ensure you are informed.

At the present time, the coronavirus in the U.S. is concentrated in specific areas and communities. Due to regional differences, and because myotonic dystrophy is variable from one person to the next, it is difficult to make recommendations across the board for everyone. However, we do know that many individuals affected by myotonic dystrophy fall within the category of “People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19”, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). For example, those with heart problems, weakness of breathing muscles, weak cough, or diabetes are considered at higher risk of illness from this virus.

Find the rest of the article in the official website of MYOTONIC DYSTROPHY Foundation, USA.

https://www.myotonic.org/coronavirus-myotonic-dystrophy

 

26/3/2020

Guidelines for Myasthenia Gravis and LEMS patients against COVID-19

MG-COVID19-guidelines-FINAL-3_23_20_1

from the International MG/COVID Working Group  https://myasthenia.org/Community-Resources/News

 

24/3/2020

2ο Webinar of WDO with updated advice and information rearding the pandemic: https://youtu.be/jBXFSi6jJrE 

 

Following this link you will find details discussed in the 2nd webimar of WDO covid-19-webinar-2-script-english in relation with the drugs and use of corticosteroids for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, COVID-19 and immune system.

 

20/3/2020

1st Webinar of WDO – World Duchenne Organisation) https://youtu.be/3DKEeRV8alA.

A summary of the advice and updated information related to the pandemic of the new coronavirus: wdo_covid19_15-things-english 

3/2/2020

Pharmaceutical Company PTC Therapeutics published data from the analysis of STRIDE world registry of non sense mutations in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and administration of TranslarnaTM (Ataluren).

Follow the link below for the official announcement:

http://ir.ptcbio.com/node/12541/pdf?fbclid=IwAR1NKPLKcdAxMBfXx3Y2n895s-KNo_-wkkzxiarL0DyhgjcY5_mCgrgGJRw

and the related article with all the data analysis: https://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/pdf/10.2217/cer-2019-0171

 

January 2020

  1. Vamorolone (VBP15) is a steroid under clinical trial for children 5 to 7 years old with Duchenne Muscular. The Multidisciplinary Neuromuscular Unit of Children’s Hospital “Aghia Sofia” in Athens is now recruiting. For more information regarding your recruitment, call 2107482334 and 2132013656 (Unit Secretary), Monday – Thursday, 9:00 – 14:00.
  2. We announce the beginning of the first international research program with the collaboration of 19 Research Centers and Organizations studying dystrophin in the brain of people with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. For more read the related press release: https://worldduchenne.org/bind-kickoff/

December 2019 

  1. Food and Drug Organization of America (FDA) has granted the acceleration approval of the drug Vyondys 53 (Golodirsen) for people with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy with mutations related to exon skipping 53.

Follow the link to read the press release by FDA: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-grants-accelerated-approval-first-targeted-treatment-rare-duchenne-muscular-dystrophy-mutation?

 

  1. Sarepta Therapeutics announced the opening of phase ½ clinical trial for b-sarcoglycanopathy (Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy LGMD2E) in USA Centers. For more information: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ and NCT no: NCT03652259.

 

Νovember 2019

Certification of Special Neuromuscular Unit in Rio, Patras as Center of Expertise for Rare and Complicated Disorders

With the publication of Gov Β’ 4039/5.11.2019, Neuromuscular Unit of University Regional Hospital in Patras is recognized as Center of Expertise for rare and complicated disorders mainly in the theme of “Rare Neurological Disorders” and more specifically in the subcategories of:

  1. Spinal Muscular Atrophy and related syndromes – Poluneuropathies – Disorders of neuromuscular junction and muscles
  2. Spinal Muscular Atrophy
  3. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/ other motor neuron disorders
  4. Inherited neuropathies
  5. Chronic infectious polyneuropathy
  6. Muscular dystrophies
  7. Μyotonic disorders
  8. Mitochrondrial myopathies
  9. Myopathies by metabolic disorder, congenital and other
  10. Myasthenia

This is the third Special Neuromuscular Unit of MDA Hellas (Muscular Dystrophy Association) created by the exclusive sponsorship of Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center. From 23/9/2009 has been in full operation working with cases from the other two Units in Athens and Thessaloniki, and cases from the Neurological Clinic of the Hospital, belonging to this specific group of disorders. The Units covers all needs of Western Greece, Ionian Islands, Peloponnese, and other.

Many patients are being served weekly by a large doctor’s team with scientific manager the director of the Neurological Clinic, Professor Mrs. Elisabeth Chroni, MD, PhD, by the multidisciplinary and full monitoring of their condition.

With this recognition of the Neuromuscular Unit as a center of expertise there is the possibility of participating in the European Reference Centers (ERN), so patients could have access to every information. Common registries of clinical trials and information will be created; there will be a chance of collaboration in matters of education of health staff and a unified patient’s registry.

 

11/11/2019

Roche has announced positive results of SUNFISH clinical trial assessing Risdiplam for SMA II or III patients aged 2-25 years old. For more information, here is the press release of the Company: https://www.roche.com/media/releases/med-cor-2019-11-11.htm?fbclid=IwAR3SVZWgrIiwV7sNO17tCBPEeftQ4kaeeu_BjP8VeX7Lyi_fpwOdR3sUr-k

8/11/2019

It is now available kit for prenatal screening of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) in four European Countries, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

6/11/2019

Roche has terminated clinical trials SPITFIRE and THUNDERJET of RG6206 – an anti-myostatin drug for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. For more details, you shall find the related press release from WDO: https://worldduchenne.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Roche-Community-Letter.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2TARQXrToRnGA_kQCkcMIH3WA4bPponYag0w6W3wih89OjgnAm9s31-Ls.