Peyton Elkins, 6, has a rare genetic disorder known as Angelman Syndrome that can bring a variety of challenges to daily living.
She was diagnosed with the disorder when she was 9 months old.
"She’s globally delayed," said Melissa Elkins, the little girl's mother. "She can’t walk by herself, she doesn’t feed herself, she doesn’t dress herself, she's constantly needing help with everything. Everything’s a challenge for her. She can’t talk; she’s nonverbal."
Elkins is excited to be part of trying to find a treatment.
"When you have a baby, you have huge dreams for them, and then you get a diagnosis and those dreams are shattered," Elkins said. "So I’m hoping that we can have those back."
The Elkinses came from Tennessee to participate in the first and only drug trial for the disorder.
Dr. Edwin Weeber of USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute is the principal investigator.
The drug, minocycline, is an antibiotic already approved by the FDA.
"If minocycline does have an effect on sleep, on seizure, on cognitive ability, it’ll give us more insight on potentially what we need to be looking at in other therapeutics,” Weeber said. "So it could open the door to a lot of different treatments for these kids."
Peyton is one of 24 patients in the USF Health study. For 16 weeks, each patient undergoes a series of tests and blood work and a variety of evaluations.
Elkins is hopeful the drug trial will be successful in helping her daughter.
"I have hope," she said. "I know it will happen, and I can’t live any other way."