Suwanee resident Brittany Robinson spent eight days and nights at Emory University Hospital in a research study as a way to say thank you to the hospital that helped her son, Ethan. Ethan was diagnosed with the heart defect Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome with Ebstein’s anomaly at birth, and was treated at Emory-Children’s Center and the Egleston cardiac ICU. About a year ago, Ethan had an ablation to cure the WPW. “My son was on medication from nine months old until last year. If there wasn’t someone who had gone through a similiar research trial for his heart medication, who knows what would have happened,” said Robinson. The medicine prescribed to her son went through the same process MBX-400 must go through now, the medicine being studied at Emory University. The in-patient research study is a Phase I Trial to Evaluate the Safety and Pharmacokinetics of Multiple Ascending Doses of MBX-400 in Healthy Volunteers, or clinical trial, testing the oral medication MBX-400 to treat cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection.
CMV is a common virus that can infect the majority of the population but can cause severe eye, neurologic, and organ diseases in patients with a weakened immune system. Medications currently used to treat CMV have limitations and many scientists are stepping up to help find a new treatment. The study enrollment criteria mandates only healthy people can enroll.
According to Robinson, “The experience has been wonderful. I was actually very nervous going into it. I’ve never been away from my family for this long before. But I feel better, because you have to do a fast, can have no alcohol or caffeine, and I’ve actually gotten sleep. I feel refreshed, like a paid vacation,” said Robinson. The in-patient trial provides all meals, a room with a view, and the quiet needed for adequate rest. Something Robinson says she has not had since her first son was born eight years ago.
Robinson received a letter in the mail regarding the study. “I was going to throw it out, but for some reason I kept being drawn to it, and thinking this is my way to give back,” said Robinson. During the study, she was required to wake up and eat by a certain time, take a pill, fast for two hours, give blood, urine and stool samples and have EKG’s. The rest of the time was free time, with unrestricted visiting hours.
Allison Beck, PA, Mari Hart, RN, Nadine Rouphael, MD, and a team of Research Coordinators with the Emory Hope Clinic have been recruiting for months to fully enroll this trial, which only has half the participants needed to complete the trial.
“Without research, we do not have the treatments and cures that save our loved ones. New medicines and vaccines that work and are safe are only discovered when heroes like Robinson and her family are willing to give their time to research and enroll in a study,” said study PI Mark Mulligan, MD, distinguished professor, Department of Medicine and executive director, Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Center, Emory University. Every medication, treatment, or medical device currently available was FDA mandated to go through this process to prove safety and efficacy.
“This was my first research experience and after this experience I would definitely participate again. My husband is interested in doing the next round of studies, so we can switch off, and he can be the one to give back. There is nothing to be scared of,” said Robinson.
The Emory Hope Clinic needs more volunteer participants for this study and others. More information is available at hopeclinic.emory.edu and by calling 404-712-1371. The study is conducted by Emory’s Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU) funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).