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For Profit Approach

Parents whose child is afflicted with a rare, often genetic, disease and want to do something to bring attention to the condition or encourage drug development for it typically establish a foundation. But, as the Wall Street Journal reports, a small portion of parents has instead been founding for-profit companies.

"Greed works better than fear or altruism," MIT's Andrew Lo, who develops business models for such groups, tells the Journal. "The amount of money needed to develop a single drug is so much more than what pure altruism can fund."

Ilan Ganot left his job at J.P. Morgan Chase to found Solid Ventures after his son Eytani was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. His company, which has raised some $17million, is focusing on a variety of approaches, including a handful of drugs and an exoskeleton suit.

But, the emotions of being the parent of a child who needs new treatments can collide with cold business decisions, the Journal notes. Ganot, it says, excuses himself from meetings when it starts to feel too personal and another executive takes over.

And the timetable may still be too slow for their children. Brad Margus, whose sons have ataxia-telangiectasia, has established both a foundation and a company to find an effective drug for the disease. Most A-T patients live to their mid-20s, but his sons are 24 and 25.

The Journal writes that Jarrett Margus meets his father to discuss his work, but he says, "I'm not sure it will be fast enough."

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.