Excerpt from an article on Sciencemag.org:
Nothing unusual jumps out upon meeting Evelyn, a bubbly almost-3-year-old with red curls—except that she should not be here, chatting with a visitor in her family’s living room, twirling in her tights to the Pharrell Williams song “Happy.”
Evelyn’s older sister Josephine had spinal muscular atrophy type 1 (SMA1), a genetic disease that gradually paralyzes babies. She died at 15 months. Evelyn was an unexpected pregnancy, but her parents decided to have the baby despite one-in-four odds of a second tragedy.
Soon after Evelyn was born in December 2014, they were devastated to learn from genetic testing that she, too, had SMA1. “We knew what we were dealing with: We’ll love her for as long as we can,” says her father, Milan Villarreal. But that same night, frantically searching the internet, they learned about a clinical trial in Ohio and sent an email. At 8 weeks old, Evelyn received a gene therapy treatment that gave her body a crucial missing protein.