Stoke’s Response to COVID-19
Dear Trusted Partners and Patients:
Stoke is continuously monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic situation and making adjustments as needed to our day-to-day operations. These adjustments are primarily focused on ensuring the well-being and safety of our employees who are the driving force behind our efforts to discover and develop medicines for Dravet syndrome and other severe genetic diseases. Thanks to them, and despite the disruptions we are all experiencing in our daily lives, we are continuing to make meaningful advances in our work to research new disease targets and prepare to start our first clinical trial in children and adolescents with Dravet syndrome later this year.
Stoke is well-positioned to weather the uncertainties of this time due, in part, to our financial stability. As of December 31, 2019, Stoke had $222.7 million in cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash, which we anticipate funding our operations into 2023. This, and the deep commitment of our employees to surmount obstacles by being attentive and flexible, continuing to scenario plan, keeping in regular contact with one another and with key stakeholders demonstrates the strength and commitment of our organization. I could not be more impressed.
Our Community and Employees
We have responded to the call for help from local healthcare providers and their institutions by donating needed personal protective equipment (PPEs) and scientific reagents needed in the fight against COVID-19. We have provided updates and guidance to our employees to help them and their families stay safe and healthy during this time. Several of our employees have family members who are providing medical care to people suffering from the virus in Massachusetts and elsewhere.
We have worked to ensure that anyone who can is able to successfully work from home. We have implemented safety measures to maintain social distancing and reinforced guidance related to appropriate use of PPEs for employees who must continue to perform business-critical activities on-site in our laboratories. We have established limits to the number of employees allowed on-site at any given time and in each of our laboratories. We are active in the Massachusetts life sciences community, and are in regular contact with MassBio and the Kendall Square Association, participating in online events to stay informed about best practices for workplace safety and other issues important to our industry. We are in contact with patient organizations, including the Dravet Syndrome Foundation and the broader rare disease community through our partnership with the EveryLife Foundation.
Everyone at Stoke is committed to maintaining critical business operations so that we can continue to advance STK-001, a potential new medicine for people with Dravet syndrome. That means we are continuing to hire and virtually onboard new team members. We are conducting as much of our business as usual activities as possible while allowing for flexibility that is needed during this time. As a tight-knit organization, we feel the loss of our daily interactions, but are finding other ways to stay connected and continue to foster a culture of understanding and inclusion by hosting virtual events such as lunches, weekly town hall meetings and small group coffee breaks with senior leaders, in addition to proactively seeking input on what is on our employees’ minds as the COVID-19 situation evolves. We’ve also managed to share some laughs and fun moments during virtual trivia nights and social hours.
Clinical Efforts and Patients
Advancing our work in Dravet syndrome remains our top priority. We know that the urgent need for new, more effective medicines to treat this severe and progressive epilepsy did not go away when COVID-19 struck. The Dravet community needs us now more than ever and we remain deeply committed to keeping our clinical plans intact, while taking additional measures to ensure the safety of patients, families and investigators in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.
Enrollment in our BUTTERFLY observational study of people living with Dravet syndrome is ongoing. We remain on track to start enrolling children and adolescents with Dravet syndrome in Part A of our Monarch study in the second half of 2020 and to announce our next pre-clinical candidate coming from our work to make a new generation of RNA-based genetic medicines that up-regulate protein expression to restore human health.
The global community is facing unprecedented challenges at this time. We are grateful to those who are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 and to our peers who are working tirelessly to develop new testing methods, vaccines and treatments. From our team, thank you.
Best and Be Well,
Edward M. Kaye, M.D.
CEO, Stoke Therapeutics