Nathan’s Story
Philip and Tricia Milto began educating themselves on complicated medical concepts out of desperation. Thei...
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Nathan's Story

Published on: Mar 3, 2016

Transcripts - Nathan's Story

  • 1. Nathan’s Story Philip and Tricia Milto began educating themselves on complicated medical concepts out of desperation. Their oldest son, Nathan, had just been diagnosed with Batten Disease, a rare degenerative and fatal neurological disorder. Then four, Nathan enjoyed all the typical activities of kids his age, but was starting to show signs of vision loss. He also seemed to have lost some developmental skills he had previously mastered. Until his 4-year check-up in 1998, Nathan had always demonstrated advanced development in all areas. But for months before his fourth birthday, Tricia Milto had been noticing a few things here and there, and intuition told her something was wrong. After an endless series of tests and doctors trying to diagnose Nathan’s condition, the Miltos’ worst nightmare was confirmed: a rare disorder that was fatal. Unable to believe the prognosis, the Miltos spent countless hours researching the possibilities – “Maybe the doctors were all wrong.” “Maybe Nathan has something that mirrors the symptoms of this horrific disease, but doesn’t progress the same.” “Maybe…” Unwillingly, they had to accept Nathan’s illness. But they refused to accept the hopelessness. Through contact with leading clinicians, they met other proactive parents of children with the disease, and learned of current research efforts. Unfortunately, no treatment or cure exists, and the rarity of the disease does not attract many researchers or funding. Without the time or the money to spend testing scientific theories, the Miltos set out to find a cure, and to raise money needed to test it. They and other Batten’s parents organized a meeting in November 1999 at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland with leading Batten’s scientists from all over the world, representatives from the NIH and from the Food and Drug Administration. At the NIH meeting, researchers discussed several potential therapies under development, but the most promising treatment for Nathan was gene replacement therapy. It was more easily attainable than the others, it only involved a one-time intrusion into the brain, and it exists today. The Miltos decided this was their best hope, and Philip developed a business plan to outline the necessary steps and components to get the drug to clinical trial. Another meeting at the NIH in May 2000 has generated even more hope. One gene therapy treatment has shown a tendency in mice to reverse the damage done by the disease. At the conference, universities stepped forward to offer their labs and scientists to participate. In September, Philip and a major University in NY entered into an agreement to begin planning a clinical study on a gene transfer therapy for Late Infantile Batten Disease, Nathan’s affliction. The project began on October 1, 2000. These recent advances in science and medicine along with the formal agreement with the major NY University have given the Miltos much hope. Hope for Nathan, and hope that their two younger children, Nicholas and P.J. may be spared the same cruelty. (There is a 25% chance that each of their children may also inherit the disorder.) Remarkable progress has been made. One concern, however, is the regulatory approval process. Many times, potential therapies for rare diseases do not make it through the approval process because of the Recombinant Advisory Committee (RAC). The RAC is a politically charged group that oftentimes denies approval of innovative therapies by requiring more testing when it is not required under the normal FDA guidelines for orphan diseases, costing precious time and money. These potential therapies are the only chance for life for children with rare diseases. Children die because of regulatory issues. This is a well-documented problem that all rare diseases face. Fortunately, media coverage and public awareness are tools that can help overcome the regulatory approval process obstacle. With widespread awareness of the therapy available, and the prognosis without the therapy, the RAC less often denies approval. Please help by running this remarkable story of the Miltos in their quest to save their son. Not only will you be helping Nathan, but thousands of children with related disorders. (Batten Disease is a lysosomal storage disorder and is related to over 40 other neurological disorders.) The Milto’s story is more than a “sick kid” story. It embodies a parent’s relentless quest to save his son despite physicians telling him “there is nothing that can be done.” It profiles a community embracing and supporting Nathan. It characterizes a non-medical parent finding and developing a gene therapy treatment and mobilizing the research, pharmaceutical, and regulatory communities to begin drug trial development of a treatment for Batten Disease. It enjoins a group of multinational foundations uniting for the same cause. It describes a parent pioneering a not-for profit sponsorship of Nathan’s Battle working directly with universities, biotech companies and other larger foundations (Cystic Fibrosis) to develop this innovative approach. It is the very essence of a parent’s love. For more information on Nathan’s Battle, please visit: <>. Thank you for your consideration. Contact: Rosemarie Milto (Nathan’s Aunt) Philip Milto, Jr. (Nathan’s Father) Email: Email: Phone: (317) 888-7396

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