COVID-19 and Muscular Dystrophies, and R&D for Rare Disorders: Sharon Hesterlee, PhD


The executive vice president and chief research officer of the MDA offered her perspective on the ongoing conversations about and impact of the pandemic on the care of patients with muscular dystrophies.

“It’s made such a huge impact on everyone’s lives from beginning to end that I think you can’t really avoid it. Talking about success stories and lessons learned will be a big aspect of this.”

As has been the case for likely every medical meeting in the past 12 months, the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) 2021 Clinical and Scientific Meeting featured a number of sessions centered around the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic had on neuromuscular disease care as well as clinical trial enrollment and implementation. Much of these are focused on ways to improve care despite the challenges that have surfaced.

Sharon Hesterlee, PhD executive vice president and chief research officer, MDA, is no stranger to these ongoing conversations. In this interview with NeurologyLive, she discussed how the meeting offered attendees access to hear the latest in data collection and clinical trial investigations, many of which managed to stay relatively on track, setting the scene for the sharing of successes.

In that same vein, she also spoke to the current state of research and development for muscular dystrophies and the rare disorders that still require more attention. Hesterlee described the challenge of driving industry to these diseases with small patient populations, and the convergence of that challenge with the difficulty of conducting large-scale studies, which has compounded the struggle to develop therapies in these areas.

For the conference agenda, click here. Abstracts are currently available on the conference website. For more coverage of MDA 2021, click here.

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