Sarepta Therapeutics Launches ‘Route 79, the Duchenne Scholarship Program’

Margarida Azevedo, MSc avatar

by Margarida Azevedo, MSc |

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Duchene muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients now have a new scholarship program that could help them pursue their post-high school education goals.

Sarepta Therapeutics recently launched “Route 79, the Duchenne Scholarship Program” to help up to 10 students who are taking the lead and making educational choices to plan their futures. Recipients can receive up to $10,000 per scholarship.

The name is a reference to the 79 exons in the DMD gene, which produces the protein dystrophin in DMD, and to the “route” traveled by each person with DMD, which is always different.

To apply, those interested must tell Sarepta about themselves by choosing one of the pre-selected essay questions and submitting an essay of up to 1,000 words. The questions are:

  • “Define creativity. How are you creative?”
  • “What do you think the world needs to know about you?”
  • “What are seven to nine messages you have for others living with Duchenne?”
  • “Who inspires you and why?”

An independent committee made of members of the DMD community will assess all applications, which will be reviewed anonymously to maximize impartiality. Applicants will be evaluated on their essays and their levels of community involvement. Submissions are accepted until May 31, at 11:59 p.m. PDT.

The 10 winners will be announced in July. The scholarships will be distributed by mid-August, in time for fall 2018 enrollment.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • have a DMD diagnosis;
  • be a high school senior or a college freshman, sophomore or junior in good academic standing (not on probation per the school’s guidelines), or have been accepted to or enrolled into an accredited college or university or a trade, technical or vocational school anywhere in the United States;
  • be a legal resident of the U.S.;
  • consent to disclose eligibility information with the International Scholarship & Tuition Services (ISTS), Sarepta Therapeutics and the academic institution, and;
  • not be a Sarepta employee, consultant or agent, or an immediate family member of any employee, consultant or agent.

In addition to writing an essay, those interested in applying must create an account, fill out a few personal statements and submit a personal reference from someone who can attest to their abilities (a counselor, professor, work supervisor, etc.)

The most frequently asked questions about the program are answered here.

The scholarship program is administered by ISTS. The organization can be contacted for additional questions or reached at toll free (855) 670-ISTS (4787).

In related news, Sarepta announced earlier this year that it is seeking accelerated approval for Golodirsen (SRP-4053), for patients whose disease stems from a deleted part of the DMD gene known as exon 53.

After meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in February, the company decided to submit a new drug application (NDA) to the agency by the end of 2018. The application could lead to Golodirsen’s accelerated approval for sale and marketing in the U.S.

DMD mutations can lead to certain exons being deleted. Golodirsen is aimed at getting around the exon 53 deletion by using exon-skipping technology.

Sarepta has another exon-skipping therapy already approved by the FDA — Exondys 51 (eteplirsen) —  designed to skip exon 51.