Study Links CF Patients’ Airway Bacteria with Disease Outcomes

By: Diogo Pinto

Researchers have linked variations in the mix of microorganisms in cystic fibrosis patients’ airways to their disease outcomes.

The findings in the journal PLOS One were in an article titled “Fluctuations in airway bacterial communities associated with clinical states and disease stages in cystic fibrosis.

CF patients typically have particular strains of bacterial and fungus in their airways. The usual bacteria suspects include PseudomonasAchromobacterBurkholderiaHaemophilusStaphylococcus, and Stenotrophomonas.

Other bacteria and fungi also inhabit CF patients’ airways, however. These include anaerobic species that do not need oxygen to grow and spread.

Not only do the microbial communities in CF patients’ airways vary by type of microorganism, but also in the relative abundance of each species.

Researchers decide to see if the prevalence and relative abundance of typical CF pathogens and anaerobic microorganisms play a role in the severity of patients’ disease and their lung function.

They analyzed 631 sputum samples collected over 10 years from 111 patients.

The team classified the stage of patients’ disease on the basis of their lung function scores. The yardstick they used was forced expiratory volume in one second, or FEV1. They considered an early stage of the disease to be an FEV1 score higher than 70, an intermediate stage a score of 40 to 70, and an advanced stage a score lower than 40.

Researchers classified disease aggressiveness — mild, moderate or severe — on the basis of change in FEV1 relative to age.

They discovered a link between variations in the prevalance of the six typical CF pathogens, plus nine anaerobic species, and changes in a patient’s disease stage and lung function.

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FDA approves Proteostasis’s triple combination program for CF

Singapore — Proteostasis Therapeutics, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of ground-breaking therapies to treat cystic fibrosis (CF) and other diseases caused by dysfunctional protein processing, announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Fast Track Designation for the Company’s triple combination program for the treatment of cystic fibrosis. The Company’s proprietary triple combination includes a novel cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) amplifier, third generation corrector and potentiator, known as PTI-428, PTI-801 and PTI-808, respectively. The Company announced in January that the protocol for its triple combination clinical study, which the Company plans to initiate in the current quarter, has received endorsement and a high strategic fit score from the Therapeutics Development Network (TDN) and the Clinical Trial Network (CTN), the drug development arms of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) and the European CF Society (ECFS), respectively.

“Fast Track designation represents another positive step for the development of our triple combination therapy and underscores the serious unmet need that remains for the vast majority of CF patients,” said Meenu Chhabra, president and chief executive officer of Proteostasis Therapeutics.

The FDA’s Fast Track program is designed to facilitate the development and expedite the review of new drugs that are intended to treat serious or life-threatening conditions and that demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs. An investigational drug that receives Fast Track program designation is eligible for more frequent communications between the FDA and the company relating to the development plan and clinical trial design and may be eligible for priority review if certain criteria are met.

To read original article click here.

Lessons From the Road: Avoid the ER

By: Sydna Marshall

A few weeks ago I found myself in the ER at midnight in a new city.  Let me backup the story a bit. I had planned a road trip to Dallas with my bestie (we’ll call her “A” for now) for a beauty conference. Two days before the trip I ran a 102.6 fever for the better part of the day. The morning of, as I was doing my treatments and finishing my packing, I felt the familiar band of pain around my chest. I mentally ruled it out as merely remnants of pain from my blockage earlier in the week and carried on with my morning. I drove the hour north to pick up A and start our trek up to Dallas. We stopped for tacos and queso along the way. I took some pain meds for that persistent and annoying band of pain. A few hours later, we checked into our hotel, picked up our beauty boxes for the conference, and had a happy hour cocktail in the bar followed by sushi in the rotating tower.

Fast forward to 9p: CF changes on a dime. Suddenly, that pesky band of pain that I’ve absently noticed and ignored for the day is front and center. I can barely take a breath, much less a full breath, post-treatment. By 11p, I’ve laid in bed silently crying as the pain spikes up to an 8 and then back to a 6. It dawns on me that the band of pain is pleuritic pain. After texting multiple Cysters and weighing the pain with the inability to breathe, my recent 20% drop in lung functions and the fever I ran earlier, I finally make the decision to wake up A (who is for once sleeping peacefully, without interruptions, in the absence of her four kiddos) and have her drive me to the ER.

We arrive at the ER with this naïve idea that my CF clinic, albeit on-call at this late hour, will communicate with the CF clinic in Dallas. I’d already given A all of the information, phone numbers, and instructions for getting everyone, including my husband Adam, on the same page. Over the course of the evening and early morning hours, hundreds of texts and calls between A, Adam, and the on-call care team at home transpire in an effort to expedite the process.  Since it’s not my first rodeo with pleuritic pain, I’ve already determined before we even got settled in the ER that I desperately need instant-relief pain meds and a chest X-ray. Am I the only one who self-diagnoses? When you’re in and out of the doctor for the litany of health problems in addition to CF, you become the expert on your own body. I digress.

Over the course of the 12 hours in the ER, my port is accessed a total of four times, with one of them being a needle repositioning, before we get anywhere. To administer IV medication and run blood tests, two different nurses start dueling peripheral lines, one in my left hand and the other in my right elbow.  Meanwhile, other nurses attempt to get my port working, which won’t flush or draw back blood. My vein blows on one of the lines, and the other is dangerously close. I have a chest X-ray taken, a CT scan with contrast of my lungs, every blood test imaginable, an EKG, several rounds of morphine, two doses of vancomycin and two albuterol treatments.  I’m told I have a potential pulmonary embolism, a virus causing pleurisy, a mucus plug, or sepsis. Twelve hours in, and about 10 minutes after Adam arrives at the Dallas ER, my repeated requests to be moved to my home clinic, care team, and hospital are heard and I’m care-flighted from Dallas back home (Adam has to drive back home). Once admitted to my home hospital, they have me repeat nearly every test the Dallas ER did less than 24 hours prior as none of my medical records transferred with me from the ER. Five days later the medical records from the ER finally make their way to my home hospital and care team.  In the end, it was determined that I had a virus, which accounted for the difficulty in breathing, pleuritic pain, and fever. It was a very long, traumatic, stressful, and a trying 12 hours away from home. And, I missed my conference entirely, but that’s another story.

I’ve since had some time to reflect on this jaunt to the ER. The biggest takeaway for me – CF clinics do communicate but getting the ER to communicate with the CF care team is nearly impossible.  Having a port is a blessing, but it requires orders from your doctor, not just any doctor, to access and use heparin or cath flow in the event that it’s not working properly (or, in my case, repeatedly accessed incorrectly).  I learned that complaining of chest pain at a new hospital where none of my medical records are accessible means a round of tests to rule out heart problems, despite knowing that it’s my lungs. I learned that transferring medical records from one hospital to another is a royal pain in the you-know-what.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but I know I could have avoided the entire debacle if only I had heeded my inner voice the morning I left for Dallas when I first felt the band of pain around my lungs.  For me, it’s often hard to gauge when it’s important to say no and upend plans, especially when it impacts friends and family around me. If a trip to Walgreens completes a vacation in my house, am I an overachiever for my trip to the ER?

AbbVie is Now Accepting CF Scholarship Applications from Students with Cystic Fibrosis for 2018-2019 Academic School Year

— Scholarship awards $3,000 to 40 exceptional students with cystic fibrosis (CF) for academic excellence, creativity and community service
— Top 40 students compete for public votes to receive one of two Thriving Student Scholarships for a total of $25,000 each
— Nearly $3 million in scholarships awarded to CF students to date through the CF Scholarship program

NORTH CHICAGO, Ill., March 28, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — AbbVie, a global research and development-based biopharmaceutical company, today announced that the 2018 AbbVie CF Scholarship program is now accepting applications for the 2018-2019 academic school year. Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to apply for the scholarship now until May 9, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. U.S. Central time by visiting www.AbbVieCFScholarship.com. Students can apply online or by downloading an application on the scholarship website.

As a part of its tradition of celebrating students with cystic fibrosis (CF), AbbVie will award $3,000 scholarships to 40 exceptional students with CF who demonstrate academic excellence, creativity and community involvement based on established criteria outlined in AbbVie’s application. Each of the 40 selected scholarship recipients will also be given the opportunity to compete for a total of $25,000 for use toward education-related expenses through one of two AbbVie CF Scholarship award categories: Thriving Undergraduate Student and Thriving Graduate Student.

“Learning that I was the recipient of an AbbVie CF Scholarship was one of the most exciting moments of my life. Growing up with CF, I was surrounded by an incredible team of doctors, clinicians, and nurses that worked to make sure that I was getting the best care possible,” said Briana Hansen, 2017 Thriving Undergraduate Student. “Now, with the help of the AbbVie CF Scholarship, I’m pursuing a career as a physician assistant, so I can do my part to give back and help other patients in need.”

AbbVie will announce the 2018 Thriving Undergraduate and Thriving Graduate Scholarship recipients in the fall of 2018. The Thriving Undergraduate and Graduate Student Scholarships are granted based on a combination of exceptional academics, achievements, and creative presentations. These awards are also determined, in part, by public votes cast over a two-week voting period to be announced in the fall.

“It’s amazing to witness the accomplishments that students with CF have achieved over the years. Together with the advances in modern medicine, these students are making incredible strides in their own lives, in their schools and in shaping a world in which living with cystic fibrosis doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your goals,” said John Duffey, vice president, U.S. Specialty, AbbVie. “AbbVie is proud to be part of such a strong community, and to continue in its support of these incredible students.”

The AbbVie CF Scholarship is part of AbbVie’s ongoing commitment to the CF community, which is comprised of more than 30,000 people in the United States. Today, more than half of the CF population is age 18 or older.1 For more information about the scholarship, please visit www.AbbVieCFScholarship.com.

About the AbbVie CF Scholarship
The AbbVie CF Scholarship was established 26 years ago in recognition of the financial burdens many families touched by CF face and to acknowledge the achievements of students with CF. Since its inception, the scholarship program has awarded nearly $3 million in scholarships to over 1,000 students. The AbbVie CF Scholarship is part of AbbVie’s ongoing commitment to the CF community, which is comprised of more than 30,000 people in the United States. As of 2016, more than half of the CF population are 18 years or older.1 Click here to learn more about the AbbVie CF Scholarship and 2017 Thriving Undergraduate Student Briana Hansen.

It is not necessary for scholarship applicants to have taken, currently take, or intend to take in the future, any medicine or product marketed by AbbVie, and this is not a consideration in the selection criteria. More information about the AbbVie CF Scholarship criteria and application can be found at www.AbbVieCFScholarship.com.

About AbbVie
AbbVie is a global, research-driven biopharmaceutical company committed to developing innovative advanced therapies for some of the world’s most complex and critical conditions. The company’s mission is to use its expertise, dedicated people and unique approach to innovation to markedly improve treatments across four primary therapeutic areas: immunology, oncology, virology, and neuroscience.  In more than 75 countries, AbbVie employees are working every day to advance health solutions for people around the world. For more information about AbbVie, please visit us at www.abbvie.com. Follow @abbvie on Twitter, Facebook or stories.abbvie.com.

A Dutch Company on the Quest Against Cystic Fibrosis

An interview by:  Clara Rodríguez Fernández

Daniel de Boer founded ProQR in 2012 following a strong determination to improve the lives of people with cystic fibrosis. We started ProQR Therapeutics for a very personal reason,” he told me. “Eight years ago, my son was born, and diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. At that time, I was a serial entrepreneur in IT. I decided to make a career switch and start a company to develop drugs for cystic fibrosis, but then also for other genetic diseases.”

One would think that a person without a background in biotech might have it difficult to succeed, but de Boer is not the only to have so far successfully undertaken this endeavor. Over in France Karen Aiach built Lysogene to treat her daughter’s rare genetic disorder, while in the US the story of John Crawley and his company Amicus Therapeutics, founded to help his two children’s diagnosis, went so far as to inspire a movie. The determination and motivation of these parents seem to overdrive any challenges they might have faced because of their limited experience.

De Boer set out to create a business plan for his new company and found out that there was already quite a lot of activity, especially in approaches using small molecules or gene therapy.“We decided that we really wanted to add something new to the space, and take a completely novel approach.”

So he started looking for a new technology, and he found it. “Around that time, I met for the first time with some people in biotech, including the CEO at Alnylam, John Maraganore, and we talked about how they used RNA approaches for genetic diseases,” says de Boer.

Technologies targeting RNA are quite new compared to those that target DNA such as gene therapy. But RNA-based treatments have started to gain traction in the last few years. There are multiple ways that RNA can be used as a therapeutic, but its distinctive advantage over gene therapies and the likes is that it does not permanently change our genetic makeup, making it possible to reverse its effects.

Today, RNA technology is being tested in multiple rare diseases caused by genetic mutations, such as hemophilia, porphyria, or iron overload disorders. I thought, ‘if you can do that for all these other genetic diseases, why not for cystic fibrosis?’” says the Boer. “With that in mind, we started ProQR.”

For the rest of this article, please click here.

Potential Nitric Oxide Treatment for Resistant Bacterial Infections Gets Patent

A possible inhalable treatment for antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in people with cystic fibrosis due to Pseudomonas aeruginosa now has a U.S. patent and is being readied for a first clinical trial, Novoclem Therapeutics announced.

The patent (No. 9,850,322) was issued to the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill where the potential therapy, BIOC51, was discovered, and covers a technology known as water-soluble polyglucosamine compositions that release nitric oxideContinue reading Potential Nitric Oxide Treatment for Resistant Bacterial Infections Gets Patent

Supercharged antibiotics could turn tide against superbugs

An old drug supercharged by University of Queensland researchers has emerged as a new antibiotic that could destroy some of the world’s most dangerous superbugs.

The supercharge technique , led by Dr Mark Blaskovich and Professor Matt Cooper from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), potentially could revitalise other antibiotics. Continue reading Supercharged antibiotics could turn tide against superbugs

List of CF Patient Assistance Programs

Patient Assistance Programs

AbbVie 
CREON® CFCareForward Patient Support Program offers nutritional services to eligible patients, as well as financial and educational support for patients and families.
http://www.creon.com/CFCareForward
1-855-227-3493

Chiesi USA 
Chiesi USA offers prescription access support, financial assitance, and product counseling for patients taking BETHKIS® (Tobramycin Inhalation Solution) and PERTZYE® (pancrelipase) 
ttp://bethkis.com/support-services/
http://www.pertzyecf.com/patient/free-support-and-savings/r
1-888-865-1222

Genentech, Inc.
Genentech Access Solutions 
http://www.genentechaccesssolutions.com/portal/site/AS/
1-866-4-ACCESS
Pulmozyme® Access Solutions Co-Pay Card Program 
https://www.activatethecard.com/pulmozyme/welcome.html
1-877-794-8723

Gilead
Cayston® Access Program
http://www.gilead.com/responsibility/us-patient-access/cayston%20access%20program
1-877-722-9786

Novartis Pharmaceuticals
Patient Assistance Now (Spanish Speaking Services) 
http://www.pharma.us.novartis.com/info/patient-assistance/patient-assistance.jsp?usertrack.filter_applied=true&NovaId=2935377019348182802
1-800-245-5356

Vertex Pharmaceuticals
Vertex GPS: Guidance & Patient Support (Kalydeco® or ORKAMBI™)
http://www.vertexgps.com/
1-877-752-5933

RespirTech
Customer financial assistance program for patients using inCourage® airway clearance therapy.
http://www.respirtech.com/reimbursement-incourage-airway-clearance-therapy/patient-financial-resources
1-800-793-1261

Live 2 Thrive 
Live 2 Thrive Offers copay assistance, free vitamins and supplements, and nutritional information for eligible patients. 
https://www.live2thrive.org/
1-888-936-7371

OTHER RESOURCES

Foundation Care 
List of company assistance programs 
http://www.foundcare.com/fc-patients/reimbursement-help/

Cystic Fibrosis Patient Assistance Foundation
Assistance for affording medications and devices for managing CF
https://www.pparx.org/prescription_assistance_programs/cystic_fibrosis_patient_assistance_foundation

Cystic Fibrosis Services
Additional patient assistance programs for those without insurance coverage 
http://www.walgreens.com/topic/pharmacy/cystic-fibrosis-services.jsp

Boomer Esiason Foundation
Links to assistance programs for Tobradex, Creon, Aceon, Estratest HS, Prometrium, EstroGel, Pulmozyme, Advair, and Cipro
http://www.esiason.org/what-is-cf/resources/patient-assitance

HospitalBillHelp.org 
Guidance for Californians facing hefty hospital bills 
http://www.hospitalbillhelp.org

NeedyMeds.org 
Additional Patient Assistance Programs
http://www.needymeds.org

Partnership for Prescription Assistance
Database of Patient Assistance Programs
(Search by drug, company or program name) 

http://www.pparx.org/prescription_assistance_programs/list_of_participating_programs

Patient Advocate Foundation
Mediation and arbitration services for patients with debilitating and life-threatening illnesses.
http://www.patientadvocate.org/

USACFA History: How a group of adults with CF helped create a community without computers, email, or the internet

By: Laura Mentch

Our story begins with Lisa McDonough, a young woman with CF. Lisa wanted to find a way for people with CF to connect with each other and share their thoughts and strategies related to living with CF. In 1989 she singlehandedly produced 4 issues of Roundtable, a newsletter for adults with CF. Lisa knew that she benefited from talking to people with CF on the phone or in CF clinic and she wanted other adults with CF to benefit from connecting and sharing information about living with CF, medications, and staying healthy. Continue reading USACFA History: How a group of adults with CF helped create a community without computers, email, or the internet

Clinical Trial Opportunity for Phase IV Airway Clearance System

Med Systems is sponsoring a Phase IV clinical study to measure the
effectiveness of the Electro Flo 5000 Airway Clearance System for
people who have been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. The goal of the
study is to provide health insurers and Medicare with comprehensive
information regarding the system’s performance. The study is designed
to measure the efficacy of the system, which includes the FDA510K
(K031876) device under current indications. The study will last 30 days
and involve using the system for lung clearance and recording the
results in a digital journal. The study should take about 10 minutes per
day to record measured results in the morning after waking. You will
also be asked to use a spirometer and a digital pulse oximeter to
evaluate your lung function after using the Electro Flo 5000 Airway
Clearance System.

Interested participants must be:
 Between the ages of 18-55 years of age
 Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis
 Prescribed chest physical therapy for airway clearance
 Able to perform self-treatment- having manual dexterity
 Residing in the United States

Contact- Dr. Leigh Mack: CFtrial@mackbio.com or Phone 888-935-
8676 ext. 706