How Great a Risk Do You Take? A Qualitative Study Exploring Attitudes of Individuals with Friedreich Ataxia Toward Gene Therapy

Katherine Lieschke, Varlli Scott, Martin B. Delatycki, Sharon Lewis, Megan Munsie, Claire Tanner, Louise A. Corben

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Scientists and pharmaceutical companies are working toward delivering gene therapy (GT) for Friedreich ataxia (FRDA). Understanding the views of people with lived experience of FRDA and their parents toward GT is essential to inform trial design and identify potential barriers to participation in clinical trials. The goals of this study were to identify the attitudes toward GT held by individuals with FRDA and parents of individuals with FRDA, and to explore how these may impact future trials for this condition. Audiorecorded, semistructured, qualitative interviews with 19 Australians explored experiences of FRDA, knowledge about clinical trials, views on GT, including risks and benefits, and potential barriers to participation in trials. Participants included thirteen individuals living with FRDA aged between 15-43 years, and six parents of children with FRDA aged 4-12 years of age. Thematic analysis of the interviews identified six main themes. Findings from this study indicate there is strong desire for information regarding GT in FRDA, however the current level of uncertainty around GT makes decision making challenging. The desire to maintain functional status and avoid additional risk of deterioration from an investigational treatment was apparent. Importantly, neurological targets were identified as preferred for GT trials. Further research is required to identify if attitudes and perceptions differ according to geographical location and disease stage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1041-1048
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Gene Therapy
Issue number19-20
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • attitudes
  • Friedreich Ataxia
  • gene therapy
  • neurological
  • qualitative

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