Memorial Healthcare offers revolutionary treatment for genetic spinal disease

February 18, 2018

Dr. Margaret FreyA breakthrough drug for patients living with Spinal Muscular Atrophy is now available at Memorial Healthcare, which is one of only two healthcare systems in Michigan with qualified, expert neurologists who can prescribe and administer the medication to adults

Dr. Margaret Frey, Neurologist with the Memorial Neurological Institute and Center for Multiple Sclerosis offers Spinraza® for adults living with any of the four types of the genetic spinal disease that robs people of physical strength. The injectable medication increases the body’s ability to produce a protein critical to the health of motor nerve cells.

The disease afflicts up to 25,000 people in the U.S. and there is no known cure. Spinraza is the first and only FDA-approved therapy for SMA, which is the leading genetic cause of death in infants and toddlers. Among adults, SMA causes progressive weakness until patients need help breathing, eating and performing other basic functions.

“We are excited to be one of only two healthcare systems in the entire State of Michigan offering Spinraza to adult patients suffering from this debilitating disease,” Memorial President and CEO Brian Long said. “Our neurology team of physicians is committed to bringing the most advanced, groundbreaking treatment to their patients.

“The emergence of new drugs is providing our neurologists with additional options to optimize care for our complex patient populations, all right here in Owosso.”

One in every 6,000 to 10,000 children are born with the disease, according to the SMA Foundation, a national organization supports research. Studies also show that 1 in 50 Americans carry the gene mutation that causes SMA but they show no symptoms. The advocacy group compares SMA’s prevalence to rare genetic diseases like ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), cystic fibrosis and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, all of which can also be treated by the staff at Memorial Healthcare.

Dr. Billy Dunn, director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation, hailed Spinraza upon the FDA’s approval.

“There has been a long-standing need for a treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, the most common genetic cause of death in infants, and a disease that can affect people at any stage of life,” Dunn said. “We could not be more pleased to have the first approved treatment for this debilitating disease.”

Memorial Healthcare’s neurology team consists of Rany Aburashed, DO, Robert Pace, MD, Margaret Frey, DO, and Cara Leahy, DO. The experts are committed to providing compassionate care for life.


Learn more about the Memorial Healthcare and its services.