Several gene therapy trials for Duchenne muscular dystrophy initiated in 2018. Trial decision making is complicated by non-curative, time-limited benefits; the progressive, fatal course; and high unmet needs. Here, caregivers and patients prioritize factors influencing decision making regarding participation in early-phase gene therapy trials.
We conducted a best-worst scaling experiment among U.S. caregivers and adults with Duchenne (N = 274). Participants completed 11 choice sets, choosing features they cared about most and least when deciding whether to participate in a hypothetical gene therapy trial. We analyzed the data using sequential conditional logistic regression.
Participants prioritized improved muscle function in trial decision making. Concerns about participation limiting later use of gene transfer and editing were also important, as were improved lung and heart function. Low risk of death fell near the middle. Participants cared least about muscle biopsies and potential for randomization to placebo. Adults with Duchenne and caregivers of non-ambulatory children significantly prioritized improved lung function compared to caregivers of ambulatory children.
Our data demonstrate prioritization of anticipated benefits and opportunity costs relative to potential harms and procedures in gene therapy trial decision making. Such data inform protocol development, education and advocacy efforts, and informed consent.