Foundation sets ambitious plan for next three years: 5 clinical trials, 100 children

Cure Sanfilippo Foundation has an ambitious plan for the next three years:

5 clinical trials, treating 100 children, to prove at least 1 effective treatment

Amazing things have happened in the six years since the Foundation was created because of the generosity of tens of thousands of people and the hard work of families and friends of children with Sanfilippo around the world. 

So much progress toward a cure has been made. But there still isn’t an approved treatment or cure at this time. Yet.

We have an ambitious plan to bring more clinical trials to children in the next three years. AND YOU CAN HELP MAKE IT HAPPEN.

The Three-Year Plan:

By driving the pace of science, we will find a cure in this lifetime.

The remarkable support, progress, and need inspired the Foundation to create an audacious plan for the next three years. Because the supporters and families have proven that achieving bold goals is possible.

Clinical trials are where the rubber meets the road, scientifically. It’s the crucial step of determining
whether earlier research is able to show the same therapeutic benefits in people.

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There are no shortcuts in science.

A cure requires significant resources. The daring price tag for this initiative is $10 million.

It’s a big goal. But it can happen with support.

Despite these dramatic costs, Cure Sanfilippo Foundation is finding
innovative and collaborative ways to support and conduct clinical trials, as
well as research.

These strategies make your donations go further. It makes $10 million help even more children, and with an effective treatment, potentially thousands.

The Future You Give Back

With a cure, families like these can dream of the future again.

The Burroughs Family The O'Neill Family

How You Can Help

Your support, now and tomorrow, gives children the chance at life.

Every donation is deeply appreciated. And a multi-year commitment ensure the Foundation can achieve this plan to bring about these clinical trials in three years.

Donate Now button

About the Foundation

Cure Sanfilippo Foundation leads in driving research to accelerate discovery of a cure for Sanfilippo Syndrome.
In just six years, generous donors like you have enabled Cure Sanfilippo to generate more than $8 million through grassroots and viral fundraising to support and/or architect 20+ research projects globally, including several clinical trials.
The Foundation’s exceptional thought-leadership enables us to chart a progressive course to find a cure.

Foundation-supported Anakinra clinical trial listed as “recruiting”

As a collaborator on this study, Cure Sanfilippo Foundation is thrilled to announce the MPSIII (Sanfilippo) Anakinra clinical trial is now listed as “recruiting” on

This is an option for any Type of Sanfilippo (A, B, C, D).

Read the full listing at

Study Description

Inflammation has been connected with disease pathogenesis in the MPS disorders. Therapies aimed at decreasing inflammation are currently being studied in many MPS disorders and benefits in both brain and other parts of the body have been reported.

Decreasing interleukin-1 (IL-1) in an animal model of MPS III showed benefits in brain disease and behavior. Thus, we think that Anakinra (Kineret), which decreases IL-1 levels in the body, will improve behavioral and other problems in children with MPS III.

The expected potential direct benefits include, but are not limited to, improved behavior, sleep, stooling, communication, mood, and gait; as well as decreased seizure frequency, disordered movement, and fatigue.

However, there is no guarantee that participants will get any benefit from being in this study.

Study Contact Information

If interested, please contact the Clinical Trial site, Lundquist Institute (formerly LA Biomed). All contact details can be found at link below.

If you have any questions for the study collaborator, Cure Sanfilippo Foundation, e-mail

Drug Re-Purposing & Re-Positioning Studies Funded by Cure Sanfilippo Presented At International Conference

Last month, the research institute TIGEM presented preliminary results of two studies funded by Cure Sanfilippo Foundation at the Conference of Telethon Fundamental Associations in Italy.

Cure Sanfilippo partnered with TIGEM (Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine) on research projects to explore re-positioning and re-purposing FDA-approved compounds to determine if identify they can activate the clearance of pathologic lysosomal accumulation in MSD cellular models independently of the missing enzyme in each particular disease.

Posters were presented by TIGEM at the conference for both projects. 

Top of poster presentation at Telethon scientific meeting Oct 2019 about re-positioning FDA-approved compounds for MPS III

Bottom of poster presentation at Telethon scientific meeting Oct 2019 about re-positioning FDA-approved compounds for MPS III

The team developed a new high-content screening assay to determine lysosomal activity. They have identified similar primary “hit compound” in MSD and MPS IIIA. The same compound in the screening reduces cellular heparan sulfate GAGs in cell models for MSD and MPS IIIA.

Poster presentation at Telethon scientific meeting Oct 2019 about disease mechanisms and pharmacological targeting of MPS III

Read more about each specific research project:

Further work to determine efficacy and proper concentration doses and delivery is ongoing in animal models and efficacy.

Fellow Sanfilippo Advocate Katia Moletta (mother to Francesco, MPS IIIA) was able to be attend the scientific meeting and connect with the presenters from TIGEM.

Katia Moletta at Telethon scientific meeting Oct 2019   Katia Moletta and Sandro Montefusco of TIGEMat Telethon scientific meeting Oct 2019

Adam Shaywitz, MD, PhD, joins Cure Sanfilippo Foundation board

Adam Shaywitz, Cure Sanfilippo Foundation board memberAdam Shaywitz, MD, PhD, has joined the board for Cure Sanfilippo Foundation, bringing additional scientific and treatment development expertise to the organization.

“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Adam to the board and are grateful for his support of the Sanfilippo community over the years,” said Cure Sanfilippo Board member Valerie Byers, PhD. “His extensive experience in the drug development process for devastating rare pediatric conditions will provide the Foundation with unique and invaluable guidance as we aim to accelerate our impact in the space for children with Sanfilippo Syndrome.”

Adam received his degrees from Harvard Medical School and trained in adult medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. He subsequently pursued a fellowship in endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism jointly at the Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center and Joslin Diabetes Center where he concurrently pursued postdoctoral studies in molecular physiology.

Adam is Chief Medical Officer (CMO)-in-Residence at BridgeBio Pharma, where he currently serves as CMO for three subsidiary companies: CoA Therapeutics, Aspa Therapeutics, and Adrenas Therapeutics. 

Prior to BridgeBio, he spent five years at BioMarin Pharmaceutical as an Executive Director in the Clinical Sciences group. While at BioMarin, Adam developed, designed and led natural history and clinical studies for Sanfilippo Syndrome. Additionally, he played a key role in developing a number of programs aimed at treating a broad range of diseases, including other lysosomal storage disorders. During his tenure at BioMarin, Adam also worked closely with the research and business development teams to develop and broaden the pre-clinical and clinical pipeline.

“I am honored and excited to continue working with the Sanfilippo community in their mission to identify therapies that could make a meaningful impact to patients and families suffering from this devastating disease,” said Adam Shaywitz. “In addition to the urgency and drive that Cure Sanfilippo Foundation brings to their mission, they also possess a sophisticated understanding of what it takes to deliver novel therapies to patients and a willingness to dive in and participate in this process. I am looking forward to being a part of this dynamic and passionate team.”

International Honor of 2020 “Patient Advocate Leader” Given To Dr. Cara O’Neill

Chief Science Officer Cara O'NeillThe thought leadership of Dr. Cara O’Neill, Chief Science Officer at Cure Sanfilippo Foundation, a pediatrician, and mother to a daughter with the rare disease Sanfilippo Syndrome (MPS III), in the rare disease space is being recognized at an international level.

Each year, WORLDSymposium recognizes one individual for their patient advocacy leadership in the field of lysosomal disease. Dr. O’Neill is the recipient of the 2020 Patient Advocate Leader Award, which will be presented WORLDSymposium 2020 on Feb. 12, 2020.

The award, which began in 2016, recognizes an individual for their direct contribution to lives of patients and families dealing with a lysosomal disease through disease awareness and education, community mobilization, non-profit development and/or good governance activities, patient care, and support programs. Past recipients include remarkable leaders such as Barbara Wedehase, former Executive Director of the MPS Society (2016); Christine Lavery, Group Chief Executive for the UK Society for Mucopolysaccharide Diseases (2017); Jack Johnson, Executive Director of the Fabry Support & Information Group (2018), and Mark Dant, Chairman of the EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases and founder of The Ryan Foundation (2019).

“It is a great honor to receive this award, and I am humbled to be among past recipients of such high caliber and contribution,” said Dr. O’Neill. “Cure Sanfilippo Foundation has found many great partners interested in collaborating with us on new clinical strategies, improved patient input, and pathways for faster diagnosis, which benefits all families dealing with Sanfilippo Syndrome, as well as patient communities in other diseases.”

Dr. O’Neill’s uniquely-paired career and life experiences allow her to bridge gaps between scientists, clinicians, industry, and families, helping foster patient-centered research and future translational paths for rare disease treatments.

She leads patient-focused research efforts within Cure Sanfilippo and has presented at international conferences and authored peer-reviewed journal articles. In addition, she collaborates with other non-profit groups on mutual advocacy and research interests, as well as oversees the Foundation’s funding of external scientific programs.

Dr. O’Neill leads in developing innovative integration of patient perspective and technology into study design and pioneering support for pediatricians in diagnosing rare diseases early, such as:

  • Conducting the first-ever Sanfilippo Caregiver Preference Study;
  • Piloting The GAPP Project, using cutting-edge facial recognition technology in pediatric clinics to accelerate accurate diagnosis and access to specialized geneticist for a wide range of genetic conditions;
  • Collaborating with Sanfilippo Children’s Foundation (Australia) to create Global Clinical Management Guidelines for Sanfilippo, a crucial clinician tool as there is only scarce, fragmented management guidance currently available; and
  • Leveraging technology, such as wearable devices and video capture of disease symptoms (gait, motor skills, speech, social interaction), to improve the quantity and quality of date used to evaluate experimental therapies.

“Her work has broader application than just Sanfilippo Syndrome. Many of the clinical and scientific strategies that O’Neill leads could be applied to multiple diseases, even beyond rare diseases, making her contributions to the scientific community exceptional,” said Dan Fraley, Chair of Cure Sanfilippo Foundation.

This is fantastic news and a well-deserved honor for Dr. O’Neill. It has been a true inspiration to work with her on initiatives to improve the lives of patients with Sanfilippo Syndrome and their families,” said Wayne Pan, MD PhD MBA, Medical Director/Global Medical Affairs for BioMarin. “It is wonderful to see the lysosomal storage disease community recognizing her for all of your contributions.”

Created in 2014 by O’Neill and her husband Glenn, Cure Sanfilippo Foundation has already raised more than $8 million through grassroots and viral fundraising which has helped fund more than 20 research projects, including the first-ever gene therapy clinical trials for Sanfilippo Syndrome. A complete list of funded projects can be viewed at

Why and how to achieve novel outcomes in neurodegenerative gene therapy trials

Picking outcome measures for neurodegenerative gene therapy trials in rare disease is difficult. The conditions often have a lot of heterogeneity, relatively small sample sizes, and rarely disease-specific outcome measures. That is why “outside the box” thinking is necessary, and Cure Sanfilippo Foundation Chief Science Officer Cara O’Neill, MD FAAP, shared how novel outcomes could be used to expand and improve evaluation of gene therapy trials for neurodegenerative diseases at the Lysogene/Sarepta satellite symposium during SSIEM 2019 last week in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Cara O'Neill at SSIEM 2019Most of the measures used in childhood neurodegenerative conditions are drawn from more general measures based on normal neurodevelopment and behavior patterns, rather than hallmarks of particular disease. So rare diseases are always being compared to “Normal.” But is that a fair comparison knowing that these patients have had chronic ongoing brain injury to the immature developing brain? 

“We have to do a better job of matching endpoints with the patient’s needs across the spectrum of any given disease,” urged O’Neill.

The key is meeting the patient needs, not the clinician’s needs or fulfilling assumptions that have been made in the past about patients’ need.

“We must get as close as we can to discerning what is going to make their life better, for however long that is.”

Cara O'Neill at SSIEM 2019Sharing early data from the Foundation’s MPS III Caregiver Preference Study, O’Neill noted that the more than 160 Sanfilippo caregivers across 14 different countries listed pain, communication, mobility and hyperactivity among their treatment priorities. Additionally, what caregivers prioritize changes along the course of the disease. 

O’Neill detailed how the Foundation has partnered with Aparito, Casimir Trials, and Lysogene to conduct an exploratory study of
novel outcomes for MPS IIIA running in parallel to AAV10-SGSH intracranial gene therapy trial. The study uses frequent video capture by caregivers to monitors specific disease hallmarks and priorities identified by the Caregiver Preference Study in the child’s familiar environment  to capture the child’s best ability. 

The patient-reported outcome videos study has allowed detection of subtle, but meaningful, incremental changes and appears feasible for longer term monitoring of real-world functioning and patient status, reported O’Neill.

    ABO-102 Gene Therapy Preserves Cognitive Development in Young Sanfilippo Children

    Young children with Sanfilippo Syndrome who were treated with ABO-102 gene therapy in the high-dose cohort demonstrated preserved neurocognitive development 12-18 months post treatment. Additionally, the children continued to track within normal age-equivalent development.

    Abeona Therapeutics, which is conducting the ongoing Phase 1/2 clinical trial evaluating ABO-102 gene therapy, announced the positive data in late July. 

    In its statement, Abeona shared that, “Robust and sustained improvement observed in biomarkers confers additional evidence of a clear biological effect following ABO-102 administration. In addition, longer-term safety remained favorable eight months to two years after treatment.”

    Abeona is enrolling eligible patients at sites in the U.S., Spain, and Australia. Read more about the trial enrollment.

    Because of donors’ generous support, Cure Sanfilippo Foundation was an initial funder of Abeona’s gene therapy Type A and Type B clinical trials. 

    Read this article by for additional information about the clinical trial. 

    Insights to Help Clinicians Understand Caregiver Burden with Sanfilippo

    Caregivers for children with Sanfilippo Syndrome face a unique set of challenges because of the disease’s complex nature. There is little understanding among clinicians of the family experience of caring for patients with Sanfilippo and how a caregiver’s experiences change and evolve as patients age. The burden and impact on caregivers’ quality of life is poorly defined and best-practice guidance for clinicians is lacking.

    Chief Science Officer Cara O'NeillA group of international clinical advisors with expertise in the care of pediatric patients with Sanfilippo and lysosomal storage disorders met to begin filling this void of understanding and create best-practice guidance for clinicians. Cure Sanfilippo Foundation Chief Science Officer Cara O’Neill, MD FAAP, was among the advisors. As a mother of a child with Sanfilippo, Cara brought first-hand caregiver perspective to the collaboration in addition to scientific and medical expertise.

    The group reviewed key aspects of caregiver burden associated with Sanfilippo B by identifying and quantifying the nature and impact of the disease on patients and caregivers. They co-authored recommendations based on findings from qualitative and quantitative research, which were recently published in the Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases.

    The article’s authors report that:
    “Providing care for patients with Sanfilippo B impinges on all aspects of family life, evolving as the patient ages and the disease progresses. Important factors contributing toward caregiver burden include sleep disturbances, impulsive and hyperactive behavior, and communication difficulties.
    Caregiver burden remained high throughout the life of the patient and, coupled with the physical burden of daily care, had a cumulative impact that generated significant psychological stress.”

    Additionally, the authors call for changing the narrative associated with Sanfilippo:

    “The panel agreed that the perceived aggressive behavior of the child may be better described as ‘physical impulsiveness’ and is often misunderstood by the general public. Importantly, the lack of intentionality of the child’s behavior is recognized and shared by parents and panel members.

    Parents may seek to protect their child from public scrutiny and avoid situations that many engender criticism of their parenting skills.”

    Read the complete article from the Orphanet Journal on Rare Diseases.

    Helping the research, clinical, and regulatory communities understand the perspectives of caregivers for Sanfilippo children is a priority for Cure Sanfilippo. The fastest path to a cure is when researchers, clinicians, regulators, and patient advocates collaborate and align. Another way to the Foundation is working to amplify the caregiver voice and project it into the industry space is with its Caregiver Preference Study. Learn more about this initiative.

    Abeona launches website with eligibility survey for its now-enrolling MPSIII clinical trial

    Abeona has launched, a website featuring information about its Transpher A Study clinical trial in Sanfilippo syndrome type A (MPS IIIA). The Transpher A Study currently is enrolling eligible patients as young as 6 months old.

    A part of the site is an eligibility survey to see if your child may be able to participate:

    The following additional information was provided by Abeona regarding its website, its Transpher A Study and Transpher B Study, and how it’s working to spread awareness of them to families with Sanfilippo Syndrome.

    Click here or directly on the image for a downloadable PDF.

    July 2019 Update from Abeona regarding clinical trial tool and

    Speeding Diagnosis of Rare Diseases By Empowering Pediatricians

    First-Ever Collaboration: Pilot Program Giving Pediatricians Direct Access to Geneticists so Rare Diseases Are Diagnosed Accurately and Early

    Families need faster, accurate diagnosis so they can access clinical trial opportunities as soon as possible. A key to this happening is bridging the gap in pediatricians’ access to genetics information, especially regarding rare diseases. To help bridge this gap, Cure Sanfilippo Foundation has partnered to pilot the Genetics Access in Primary Pediatrics (GAAP) project, linking Greenwood Genetic Center’s (GCC) clinical geneticists and genetic counselors to pediatricians through the Faces2Genes app.

    Face2Gene analyzes patient photographs using machine learning and computer algorithms to help make challenging diagnoses. Through the GAPP pilot project, the Face2Gene improves patient wait times and allows a pediatrician to identify patients through a list of genetic “triggers” or features that may indicate a need for further genetic evaluation.

    If the patient’s family elects to be a part of the GAPP pilot project, the pediatrician uploads facial photos and other clinical information to Face2Gene where it can be securely shared with GGC clinicians for review. The geneticist can suggest appropriate referrals or genetic testing that can be initiated by the pediatrician in advance of the genetics appointment. Urgent referrals can be prioritized, and when the patient does come in for their genetics consultation, initial test results have already been completed, saving valuable time.

    Learn more about the Faces2Gene project and Foundation’s collaboration.

    Cure Sanfilippo Foundation

    501c3 non-profit
    (Tax ID: 46-4322131)

    P.O. Box 6901
    Columbia, SC 29260