The case of Charlie Gard has become one of international concern. The terminally ill infant suffers from Mitochondrial Depletion Syndrome, and his future hangs in the balance. People stand divided by opinion and belief. Is it in Charlie’s best interests to be flown to the US for an experimental treatment? Or is it kinder to let him pass naturally? New evidence may provide the answer to this difficult question.
Court judgement sets world ablaze
England’s high court, Appeal court, and the European Court of Human Rights all agree that experimental treatment will only prolong suffering. However, a letter from the Bambino Gesu hospital in the Vatican may challenge this decision.
Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) wishes to remove Charlie from life support, stressing the futility of the proposed nucleoside therapy due to lack of evidence. Vatican Hospital claims the opposite. Their letter states that the deoxynucleoside therapy has allowed for “dramatic clinical improvements” in mice and patients with similar genetic conditions. This letter is the cause of the new hearing called on Thursday to review this evidence.
The ruling may change the future not just for Charlie, but for others like him and the world at large.
‘Cure’ or ‘Wishful thinking’
The RRM2B protein deficiency Charlie Gard suffers from causes low levels of mitochondrial deoxynucleoside triphosphate, resulting in mitochondrial DNA depletion. This DNA depletion results in mitochondrial failure, resulting in cellular failure, resulting in damaged organs. The Vatican Hospital believes that exogenous deoxynucleosides, supplied in this proposed nucleoside therapy, can increase duplication of mitochondrial DNA, combatting the DNA depletion of this genetic condition.
While this evidence may sound promising, the facts of the matter are less so. These claims are circumstantial and experimental. There are no trials on mice or people with Charlie’s exact condition. Furthermore, the data from these trials on mice with a similar condition is still unpublished and has not been vetted or reviewed.
However, the ultimate decision resides with the courts. On Thursday, July 13, there will be a hearing to evaluate this new evidence. This seems to be the final battle in the war for Charlie Gard to have the chance to receive this therapy. This war has dragged on for months, becoming more complicated as various players like Pope Francis and President Donald Trump attempt to intervene.
The world is on edge, eager to discover the result of this war. Will this new evidence be enough to sway the courts? Will Charlie Gard receive the treatment that is being fought for by thousands? It is doubtful this new evidence will change anything, but until Thursday’s hearing, anything is possible.
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Any opinions above are the author’s alone and may not represent those of his/her affiliations. Any comment is based on the best available evidence at the time of writing. All data is based on externally validated studies unless expressed otherwise. Novel data is representative of the sample surveyed. An online recommendation is no substitute for seeing your own doctor and should not be taken as medical advice.
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