Foundation to Fight H-ABC, University of Massachusetts Medical School and Yale University Initiate Gene Therapy Study Targeting Cure for Rare Disease

ROCKVILLE, Md., Oct. 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Foundation to Fight H-ABC, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness and driving development of a cure for the degenerative children’s disease, H-ABC, today announced a sponsored research agreement with the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Yale University to advance a targeted gene therapy for H-ABC.

“We have high hopes to quickly prove efficacy with this approach to move research forward and find a permanent cure for this devastating disease,” said Michele Sloan, Co-Founder, Foundation to Fight H-ABC.

H-ABC (hypomyelination with atrophy of the basal ganglia and cerebellum) belongs to a group of conditions called leukodystrophies, diseases that affect the white matter of the brain. These diseases disrupt the growth or maintenance of the myelin sheath, a protective layer that insulates nerve cells and allows for the transmission of messages between cells.

Caused by a mutation in the TUBB4A gene, H-ABC is a rare genetic disorder that affects certain parts of the brain—specifically the basal ganglia and the cerebellum, which control movement. H-ABC targets these important structures, reducing both their size and function. As a result, children who suffer from H-ABC often experience motor problems, cannot walk, talk, or sit on their own. Currently, there is no known cure for this disabling and life-threatening condition.

The teams of Dr. Guangping Gao (University of Massachusetts Medical School) and Dr. Karel Liem (Yale School of Medicine) will combine extensive expertise in the fields of Adeno-associated virus (AAV), a platform for gene delivery for the treatment of a variety of human diseases and H-ABC disease models, to develop AAV vectors to silence or outcompete the mutated TUBB4A gene.

“To date, AAV-based gene delivery system is the vector of choice for in vivo gene therapy of many currently untreatable rare diseases including H-ABC,” said Guangping Gao, Ph.D. “We are very excited for starting close collaborations with Dr. Liem’s team at Yale and the Foundation to Fight H-ABC to develop potential gene therapeutics for this devastating disease.”

“With the support from the Foundation to Fight H-ABC, we are excited to build upon our mechanistic studies of the disease and to collaborate with Dr. Gao of the University of Massachusetts to develop and test AAV approaches to H-ABC,” said Karel F Liem Jr., M.D., Ph.D.

For more information, please visit https://www.h-abc.org/donate.

CONTACT: Sawyer Lipari, slipari@lambert.com

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SOURCE Foundation to Fight H-ABC

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