Since its foundation, Viralgen has had a strong emphasis towards Corporate Social Responsibility. A great proof of this can be seen from Viralgen’s overall objective and mission: to provide cures and access to these cures to people with genetic diseases.
Following this principle, Viralgen allocates a high percentage of its production to Columbus Children’s Foundation and Fundación Columbus.
These two foundations, which devote themselves to the development of cures for ultra-rare disorders, perform all the management to facilitate this benefit.
02Supporting cures for rare and ultra-rare diseases
Viralgen supplies and provides products for gene therapy research and development with the aim of treating several rare and ultra-rare diseases through Columbus Children’s Foundation and Fundación Columbus.
Currently, preclinical studies are ongoing with the hope of achieving and getting a cure to the clinic.
The current stage of the development of these diseases can be seen on the following diagram:
Columbus Children’s Foundation Executive Director Laura Brod Hameed thanks Viralgen in the media.
“We can’t thank Viralgen enough for their exceptionally generous and valuable contribution. This donation will help us support treatments that have the promise and power to transform the lives of children in need.
Manufacturing often costs millions, and Viralgen’s contribution of capacity will help us with our mission to accelerate treatments for kids who are battling not only a life-threatening disease, but also time.”
“We focus on developing treatments based on gene therapy for some of the most devastating neurodegenerative monogenic diseases that affect the children.
Specifically, we have focused on five of these diseases with the aim of providing a solution that significantly improves the lives of these patients and we won’t be able to without Viralgen’s help.”
Fundación Columbus’s Executive Director Ana Gómez.
A patient’s journey with this disease is having a great social and media impact.
Visit their astonishing journey on the following website:
Viralgen has an employment program for people with rare diseases so that they can easily become incorporated to the team. (Viralgen is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity and inclusion).
Currently, Viralgen has an employee who has suffered from a genetic condition, and with the opening of Viralgen’s Commercial facility, Viralgen aims to progressively incorporate more people with genetic diseases on a regular basis. To effectively meet this objective, Viralgen collaborates with Gureak, an organization that generates and manages stable job opportunities which are conveniently adapted to people with disabilities.
In this way, these employees and the rest of the staff are enriched in an integrative environment that deepens the human character, which distinguishes the organization.
Corporate Social Responsibility is a key component of Viralgen’s “DNA”. Viralgen was born as an organization with that specific purpose, and its goal is to strengthen it day by day, by being aware of the historical responsibility that comes with the extraordinary advances Viralgen is making.
04Columbus Children’s Foundation
Our mission is to accelerate access to the most advanced and effective therapies to treat children diagnosed with ultra-rare monogenic neurodegenerative diseases. At Columbus Children's Foundation and Fundación Columbus we are deeply driven by the urgency to improve the quality of life for children with life-threatening illnesses.
Irai is one of the 150 patients affected worldwide by Aromatic Amino Acid Decarboxylase deficiency –AADC deficiency– also known as juvenile Parkinson's. A disease that, until now, had no cure. However, gene therapy is changing the history.
The first birth
Irai was born on the 16th of July 2014. Although it seemed normal during the first weeks, it soon became obvious that something was wrong.
A year after her birth, a diagnosis was made. She suffered from an ultra-rare disease known as juvenile Parkinson's.
This deficiency causes the brain to seem disconnected from the body, keeping it from moving, holding the head up or speaking, among other symptoms.
"Imagine what went through our heads -her father saidIrai wouldn’t ever be able to talk, walk, and would probably have to wear a gastric button to allow her to eat... and there was no cure".
Everyday life with Irai was extremely difficult. She barely slept for three hours. When she was awake, her constant pain caused her permanent wailing.
She suffered crises in which her eyes looked up, stiffened herself and emitted groans that made her great pain evident. Then she was exhausted.
Hopping she would achieve some improvement, they treated her, first, in the Hospital de Barcelona and then in a specialized center in Alicante, where some improvements were obtained, but just it.
Taken by surprise
The phone rings. A friendly stranger tells them options
they simply cannot believe.
The President of Fundación Columbus, talks to them about gene therapy, the successes they were having with juvenile Parkinson's and -what was most stunning- they found the way to introduce the gene into Irai which could cure her.
On February of 2019 Fundación Columbus informed them that Professor Krystof Bankiewicz, Professor and Director of the Brain Health Department at The Ohio State University and one of the world’s leading experts in juvenile Parkinson's, would treat Irai.
The second birth
On 14th of May 2019, in Varsovia's Brodno Hospital, Professor Krystof Bankiewicz and his team performanced a highly complex gene therapy surgery.
Definetly it was a success. From then on, Irai's brain would be able to create neurotransmitters that would restore the connection between her brain and her body.
Gene therapy, Columbus Children's Foundation and Fundación Columbus with the support of Viralgen, are achieving what just a few years ago seemed like a miracle. Now, children and their families, like Irai's one, hope for a "second birth".