In many ways, Emerson College freshman Meghan Waldron seems like a lot of students in Boston. She adores pop star Ed Sheeran. She loved the latest film version of “Little Women” and wants to see it 10 more times. She had a great time backpacking alone in Europe over the summer but conceded her parents were “probably freaking out.”
She also has progeria, one of the world’s rarest diseases. The fatal genetic disorder causes premature aging and has been identified in only 169 children and young adults alive today worldwide, although researchers estimate that as many as 400 have it. Most children with progeria die of hardening of the arteries, a common killer of the elderly, at an average age of just 14.
Waldron has already lived considerably longer ― she turns 19 on March 1. She credits lonafarnib, an experimental medication she’s taken since 2007 in clinical trials at Boston Children’s Hospital. Eiger BioPharmaceuticals of Palo Alto, Calif., plans to complete its application for approval by March 31, with the hope of a favorable ruling from the Food and Drug Administration by year’s end. It would be the first approved drug for the ultra-rare disease.