Montgomery man calls new cystic fibrosis treatment ‘miracle drug’

UAB helped run clinical development on the drug Trikafta
Published: Aug. 28, 2022 at 10:19 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A new drug used to treat cystic fibrosis is showing promising results in patients across the country.

Elexacaftor/tezacaftor/ivacaftor, sold under the brand name Trikafta, is the first triple combination therapy available to treat patients with the most common cystic fibrosis gene mutation. The Food and Drug Administration approved the new breakthrough therapy in October 2019.

Elexacaftor/tezacaftor/ivacaftor, sold under the brand name Trikafta, is a fixed-dose...
Elexacaftor/tezacaftor/ivacaftor, sold under the brand name Trikafta, is a fixed-dose combination medication used to treat cystic fibrosis.(WSFA 12 News)

Cystic fibrosis is caused by a defective protein that results from mutations in the CFTR gene. Trikafta is a combination of three drugs that target the defective CFTR protein.

According to the FDA, there are over 2,000 gene mutations that cause CF. The most common is the F5o8del mutation. Trikafta is the first approved treatment effective for CF patients 6 years and older with at least one F5o8del mutation, which affects 90% of people with CF.

“Because of Trikafta I’ve been able to literally live a life that I dreamed of,” said 27-year-old Montgomery resident Christopher Davis.

Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at just 3 months old, Davis has spent over 20 years of his life in and out of the hospital battling the disease.

“One of the main things I had was really bad sinus issues, because with cystic fibrosis the mucus in your body is so thick it’s hard to pass through your body and there’s mucus all throughout your body, so instead of running throughout your body like water, mine and ours runs through our body like hot glue,” Davis said.

Christopher would have joint problems, constant coughing, and struggled with gaining weight. But everything changed for him during a hospital visit in 2019. Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) prescribed him Trikafta.

“They call the stage when you first start taking Trikafta ‘the great purge’ because you cough up all of this mucus that’s been in your body that’s not been able to be passed,” Davis said.

For patients like Davis, Trikafta has been a game changer. He says he is now able to live a more healthy, active lifestyle and has even been able to gain nearly 40 pounds.

Before and After: Christopher Davis, of Montgomery, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at just...
Before and After: Christopher Davis, of Montgomery, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at just 3 months old. Now 27, he's taking a drug called Trikafta. He says it's given him his life back, and he's since gained more than 40 pounds.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

“It’s just a whole lot easier to live life now,” Davis said. “I didn’t realize the energy I did not have until I had it.”

Dr. George Solomon, a UAB Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, was among the doctors who helped run clinical trials for Trikafta. He also treated Christopher.

“That mucus is easier to clear out and is improved in terms of its overall properties so that people breathe overall easier,” Dr. Solomon said about Trikafta.

“Many, many people have benefitted, now there are certainly a set of patients that don’t have those types of mutations that still have very severe CF, and we’re actually studying new therapies to help them right now,” Solomon said.

There are many patients, however, who are seeing positive results with Trikafta.

“Some people are having tremendous results. I mean we’ve had patients that were listed for lung transplantation that we’ve now been able to pull off of those lists,” Solomon said. “This drug has rescued him (Christopher) to the point where he’s had few, if any, hospitalizations, has gained a lot of weight, is healthier, is able to get his life back on track beyond just having to think about CF all the time.”

Davis is hoping that by sharing his story, he can provide hope for a number of people who suffer from this debilitating disease.

“When I was born I was told, you know, life span’s going to be 18, so it’s hard to think about the future in those moments, but now that’s all I’m focused on is the future,” Davis said. “Going back to my doctors, that’s what they gave me.”

“Any chance I have to spread the word, especially now that we’re kind of this new generation that won’t have to live CF the way that everybody else has, it’s just so exciting to me and everybody and it’s just honestly a blessing and a miracle,” Davis went on to say.

Researchers like Dr. George Salomon at the Gregory Fleming James Research Center at UAB helped with the clinical development of Trikafta. Dr. Solomon added that a number of women with CF have been able to have give birth because of this life-saving treatment.

If you would like to follow Christopher on his journey, you can follow him on TikTok @ChristopherDavisCF.

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