FAST update on the impact of Covid-19
While the world as we know it has changed, abruptly and dramatically, we at FAST want you to know that we are here and we continue to move forward in our mission to cure Angelman syndrome.
What COVID-19 precautions should parents of children with Angelman syndrome be taking?Although individuals with Angelman syndrome are not known to be in the Center for Disease Control defined higher risk categories, the concerns about infection are always heightened in our community. In addition to the preventive measures we are all now very much aware of (washing hands, social distancing, disinfecting, etc.), here are a few resources you may find helpful:
How do school closures affect our children with Angelman syndrome?We realize that as a community, our kids being home from school is more complicated than it is for their neurotypical peers. Most of our children with Angelman syndrome have IEPs (Individualized Educational Plans) which makes distance learning much more challenging. Without any formal training, we are now acting as educators, para-educators, therapists, social workers, and behaviorists. If you haven’t already done so, reach out to your child’s educational team to request a tele-consult for guidance on your child’s unique needs. FAST advises all of us to take a deep breath, be kind to ourselves, be patient, and check out some of these helpful resources:
- Wrightslaw’s guidance on Coronavirus and Your Child’s Special Education
- FAST’s Educational Summit Videos
- FAST board member Kelly David has compiled this awesome list of homeschooling resources.
What local resources are available for support?FAST has complied a list of potential resources for families within the United States that may be faced with hardship or are searching for local resources.
What is happening with FAST-funded research?FAST has recently approved funding for three novel research projects and have several additional research contracts in process. We realize that the state mandated closures will most likely delay progress in the labs; however, as soon as restrictions are lifted, our researchers are ready, excited, and anxious to get back to the work of developing therapeutics to treat all individuals with Angelman syndrome. FAST will be sharing summaries of our exciting new research projects and our new caregiver support initiatives soon, so stay tuned!
What is happening with the GeneTx Biotherapeutics’ clinical trial?
Scott Stromatt, M.D., CMO of GeneTx Biotherapeutics provided the following update, “The first group of patients in the clinical trial of GTX-102 have received their first dose. The clinical trial is proceeding as planned and we are closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and how it might impact this clinical study. Patient safety is paramount and we are making adjustments as necessary to continue the required monitoring while reducing the burden to families where possible. The FDA has also recognized the need for flexibility for patients in clinical trials and issued a document to help companies implement changes to studies in-tended to help protect patients during this difficult time. One site is activated and treating patients, while the other six sites are in various stages of the activation process. The pandemic has slowed down the site activation process as each institution is addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in their region.”
What is happening with Ovid Therapeutic’s Angelman Trials?
Ovid clinical trials are continuing. We are closely monitoring COVID-19 and the evolving impact on families in our clinical trials. Every location where our clinical trials are being conducted faces different challenges and disruptions, so it is crucial that families and site study teams remain in close contact. Ovid is in regular contact with each site to provide guidance. In the event you lose contact with your study team, please contact Ovid and we will provide immediate support. Currently, Ovid has two ongoing clinical trials in Angelman syndrome: The Phase 3 NEPTUNE study, and the Open-Label ELARA study. Both of these clinical trials are proceeding. The safety of every member of the Angelman community is the core focus for Ovid during this global crisis, and we plan to proceed with empathy, integrity and responsibility. Read More
What is happening with the Angelman Natural History Trial?
As you are probably aware, all of the institutions that are involved in the ongoing Angelman Syndrome Natural History study have suspended non-urgent clinical operations, including all elective surgeries, clinic visits, and research visits, until the pandemic is under control and the physical distancing recommendations are lifted. While we hope that research visits can be conducted again from May-June 2020 onwards, no one knows when normal operations will resume at each institution. We greatly appreciate your ongoing support of our study. The health and safety of our families is paramount, so we will not be having in-person visits until it is safe to do so again. We plan to continue with the Angelman Syndrome Natural History study by completing the questionnaires and standardized assessments that can be performed remotely via telephone calls, Skype, Zoom, or other means. Read More
What is happening with the Freesias Study?
We understand those living with Angelman Syndrome and their loved ones may be facing a high level of uncertainty during this serious health situation. Patient safety is Roche/Genentech’s highest priority. As a company, we are taking COVID-19 seriously and are committed to keeping the communities we serve updated with any new information we learn that could help inform health decisions related to our medicines and clinical trials. Roche/Genentech are taking the necessary cautionary measures and working to keep specific home based FREESIAS activities on-going for patients and families. However, site visits and home visits are all paused at the time.
Any questions that you have around FREESIAS or how Covid-19 impacts the timeline, can be directed to your specific study site coordinator. Please stay well and healthy and we will continue to update the community and FREESIAS sites as information around Covid-19 evolves.
- What activities can continue:
- Sleep mat
- Sleep diary
- Seizure diary
- What activities have paused:
- Site visits
- Home visits (EEG/PSG)
- Actigraphy around home visits
What is happening with the IONIS trial?
As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, our main concerns are you and your health. While we continue to focus on advancing our programs which includes planning for the phase 1/2 study in Angelman Syndrome patients, we are cognizant of the strain this pandemic puts on our healthcare systems. Ionis is carefully monitoring the situation and focused on the safety of our study participants. For patients already enrolled in clinical trials, we advise patients and families participating in our clinical studies to follow the advice provided by their clinical trial site team and abide by any guidance issued by local authorities. For our upcoming clinical trial in AS, our priority is to keep the program on track and maintain our current timeline to start the study in the fall, while maintaining the safety of everyone involved. Read More
What about fundraising events?Our community members that are holding grassroots fundraising events in the immediate future are evaluating, on a case by case basis, whether their event needs to be postponed or cancelled. Although promoting your CAN page during these trying times meets the social distancing criteria, we understand that fundraising is difficult due to the economic uncertainty we all currently face. We do suggest keeping your network of supporters updated, via your CAN pages, on exciting developments in the Angelman community so that when these difficult times are behind us, we can once again count on their robust support to assist us in curing Angelman syndrome. FAST is thrilled to still be receiving donations daily and as al-ways, we are extremely grateful to our community who supports us in both good times and bad.
What about the 2020 FAST Summit & Gala?While we do not know what the future holds, we will continue to move forward with our plans to hold the 2020 FAST Summit & Gala and are praying that it is the grand celebration we will all desperately need by that time. FAST will roll out the 2020 FAST Summit & Gala Ticket Giveaway and Scholarship Applications as normally planned, making any modifications as necessary, and will keep our community up to date at every step along the way. We do not know how long or how vast the impact of COVID-19 will be; however, be certain, that we will continue to do our best to CureAngelmanNow! We at FAST are grateful to each one of you, for raising awareness, raising funds, being there for each other and truly, being One Committed CommUNITY! If you have additional questions that have not been addressed in this statement, please contact us at info@CureAngelman.org.
Local ResourcesFAST has complied a list of potential resources for families within the United States that may be faced with hardship or are searching for local resources. The following links may be useful for finding financial support, helping with food insecurity, and other needs at this time.
- NORD launched the Financial Assistance Program for Rare Disease Community Members that are affected by COVID-19. This program is meant to support members of the rare disease community with financial relief for critical non-medical needs. https://rarediseases.org/nord-launches-financial-assistance-program-for-rare-disease-community-members-impacted-by-covid-19/
- 211 provides individuals with locally curated social services within the United States and Canada. 211 can provide information as well as referrals. http://211.org
- Findhelp connects individuals seeking help with a network of verified (by Findhelp) social care providers. http://findhelp.org
- Grantspace provides a list of possible resources to assist with the financial hardships of COVID-19. https://grantspace.org/resources/knowledge-base/covid-19-emergency-financial-resources/#anchor1