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The Community Voice Team
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The Community Voice Team
By: Ella Balasa
I’ve always known cystic fibrosis (CF) is a progressive disease; it destroys lung cells, tightens the small airways in the bottom of my chest, and each day takes me closer to the time when it will have ravaged my lungs. I had never really questioned if there was some way this process could be altered. I accepted that it couldn’t.
Recently, however, this has changed. The epicenter of new CF research is the development of medications that will slow, stop, and hopefully even reverse the effects and damage that CF inflicts on the body. The possibility of the cells in my lungs functioning to their full potential — with CF transmembrane conductance regulator protein function restored and working correctly, expelling chloride out of my cells, hydrating the surface of my lungs, and halting the thick sticky mucus that has caused my airways to be enveloped in a suffocating cloak for all these years — is like a feeling of being rescued when you are drowning.
Unfortunately, I am still drowning.
“I’m very sorry, Ms. Balasa, but you will not be able to be a participant in this clinical trial.” This was the response I received during one of my searches for these drug trials. Excited by the possibility of participating, finding one recruiting at my local adult clinic, I reached out to study coordinators and was informed that I met all but one criterion to participate in the studies. This specific criterion has prevented me from prior trial participation involving other investigational medications treating the symptoms of CF, including anti-infectives and anti-inflammatories.
Most CF studies, including phase I, II, and III trials, require a lung function minimum of at least 40% FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in one second). My FEV1 is 25%, so I am excluded from these trials. Many patients face a similar situation. The 40% threshold biases samples toward a young patient population, as this degenerative condition causes steadily decreasing lung function with time. Furthermore, as CF treatment has rapidly progressed and increased patients’ life expectancies, there are now more adults with CF in the U.S. than children, according to the CF Foundation Patient Registry.
As a patient who works in the science field, I started to ask myself: Where does that number come from? Should this one variable be such a deciding factor? Are we getting comprehensive results from these studies if a subset of patients is omitted? Are investigators using eligibility criteria from a prior study without determining whether the exclusions are scientifically justifiable?
To continue reading, please visit MedPage Today.
SEATTLE, Sept. 25, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Sound Pharmaceuticals (SPI) is pleased to announce that its recent submission to the upcoming North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference (NACFC) Oct. 18-20 has been selected as a late-breaking abstract. This presentation will focus on the incidence and severity of ototoxicity in CF patients undergoing intravenous (IV) tobramycin treatment for acute pulmonary exacerbation. Ototoxicity (hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo or dizziness) is a common side effect of tobramycin and other aminoglycoside antibiotics (amikacin, gentamycin and streptomycin). Currently, there are no FDA approved therapies for the prevention or treatment of ototoxicity or any other type of sensorineural hearing loss, tinnitus, or dizziness. Continue reading Sound Pharmaceuticals to present initial data on the STOP Ototoxicity Study at Cystic Fibrosis Conference
By Michele Wilson PhD
The buildup of mucus in the lungs is an ongoing challenge faced by people with cystic fibrosis, and knowing whether they should seek medical attention is not always clear.
Recently, Mologic – a developer of personalized diagnostics – have developed a tool which they hope will help guide people with cystic fibrosis so they can avoid unnecessary stays in hospital.
The app-embedded algorithm converts data collected from a urinary test to a traffic light result, which indicates whether a patient is stable or in need of medical intervention.
Recently, Mologic, announced that they are launching a clinical trial to assess the company’s urine-based diagnostic tool, ‘HeadsUp’.
To learn more about how this point-of-care diagnostic tool could help improve healthcare for people with cystic fibrosis, we spoke with Gita Parekh, Head of R&D at Mologic.
How do you define pulmonary exacerbation, and why is it important that it is monitored in people with cystic fibrosis? Continue reading Monitoring Pulmonary Exacerbation in Cystic Fibrosis: The Hunt for Urine-based Biomarkers Begins
By Janet Stewart
Attain Health will partner with DarioHealth, a digital health and big data solutions company, to test its Dario Engage platform to monitor blood sugar levels in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients with CF-related diabetes (CFRD). Attain Health provides integrative health coaching for CF patients.
CFRD is an unusual form of diabetes estimated to affect some 30,000 CF patients in the United States and 70,000 worldwide. Experts say that the hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) seen in CFRD patients results in higher rates of bacterial lung infections, and an increased risk of death.
“Effective diabetes management in cystic fibrosis patients is critical, as there is a sixfold increase in mortality among cystic fibrosis patients who have diabetes as compared to those who don’t. The increased risk of mortality from lung infections is correlated with hyperglycemic events,” Kat Quinn Porco, founder of Attain Health, said in a press release.
The three-month pilot study will include real-time tracking of 12 patients with CFRD using the Dario Engage digital platform, which includes a blood sugar monitoring device that transmits readings to the clinic. Attain Health will pay for access to the Dario Engage Dashboard to monitor participants.
The app is designed to help clinics detect blood sugar trends that could lead to disease progression. Disease management is also expected to be improved by DarioHealth’s ability to provide health education content via the app.
“We are very excited to move forward with DarioHealth in exploring the benefits of digital health solutions for patients living with cystic fibrosis. We chose to work with DarioHealth because of their platform’s patient-centric approach, ease of use, real-time actionable data, and their very favorable reputation in the diabetes market,” Porco said.
The companies plan to jointly present preliminary findings at the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference Oct.18-20 in Denver. Final results are expected in December.
Attain Health plans to obtain grant money for continuous use of the DarioEngage program with up to 200 patients a year.
“By piloting this study in partnership with Attain Health, DarioHealth is taking a leadership position in addressing CFRD by deploying what we believe are the best digital health management tools on the market today. This agreement and pilot study mark DarioHealth’s foray into chronic disease treatment markets that overlap with and expand beyond the treatment of diabetes, our company’s first treatment indication,” said Erez Raphael, president and CEO of DarioHealth.
A note from CF Roundtable: Please do not stop using your Vest or other HFCWO device because of this impractical study. There are important differences in this study that make it not applicable to CF and therefore, not meaningful for us. First, healthy volunteers without CF were enrolled. Too many adults with CF have experienced significant benefits with these HFCWO devices, not to mention the preventive benefits. To imply these devices worsen lung function when used by a healthy nonCF person vs one with CF – with the usual accompanying inflammation, mucus +/- bronchiectasis, etc – is not practical. Second, these healthy subjects tested all 4 HFCWO devices in one day. Even when I repeat spirometry in one day, my lung function numbers most often decline over time, even with rest periods in between. The researchers tested lung function with a rest period of 15 minutes on these healthy individuals after use of the HFCWO device then moved on to the next device. Very impractical and again – not applicable to use by individuals with CF.
By Iqra Mumal
A clinical study into high-frequency chest wall oscillation vests — assessing their short-term impact on standard measures of lung function before and during use — challenges the view that these devices work through airflow bias in the lungs, the process responsible for mucus movement when breathing.
Findings, using established tests that include forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume (FEV1), and forced expiratory flow (FEF25%-75%), suggest “that the concept of HFCWO vest-induced cephalad airflow bias is not supported by standard spirometry measurements,” researchers concluded. “None of the vest groups showed statistically significant increased airflow in the lungs.” Continue reading Airway Clearance Vests Fail to Show Measurable Short-term Lung Benefits in Study
By Vijaya Iyer
Conducted by a research team in Italy, the study, “Trans-heterozygosity for mutations enhances the risk of recurrent/chronic pancreatitis in patients with Cystic Fibrosis,” was published in the journal Molecular Medicine. Continue reading Mutations in Genes Regulating Digestion Prevalent in CF Patients with Pancreatitis
By James Hayes
New research claims to have demonstrated that machine learning techniques can predict with a 35% improvement in accuracy – in comparison to existing statistical methods – whether a cystic fibrosis patient should be referred for a lung transplant.
The research, led by Professor Mihaela van der Schaar of the Alan Turing Institute at the University of Oxford, has been generated through a partnership between The Alan Turing Institute and charity the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Continue reading Machine learning to help cystic fibrosis decision-making
By Janice Abbott
Patient-reported outcome (PRO) measurement (e.g. health-related quality of life questionnaires, symptom diaries) can provide a standardized, valid and reliable way of gaining the patients’ perspective on ‘how they are’ or the benefits and limitations of a specific intervention. The insights that patients have concerning their health are important given that aspects of patient-reported quality of life are independent predictors of survival in cystic fibrosis (CF) . Regulatory authorities require the inclusion of PROs in clinical trials as an additional outcome parameter and PRO information is becoming important in labelling claims. It is noteworthy that the top 10 research questions, reached by global consensus of patient and healthcare providers, all require the inclusion of CF-specific PROs to achieve meaningful answers . This represents a significant paradigm shift but capturing data that matters to patients, families and clinicians is challenging. Two of the persistent challenges in CF PRO measurement are a) the development and use of technologies to enable efficient administration, accurate scoring, and the correct interpretation of data and b) being able to accurately measure PROs (or parental proxy assessment) across the entire CF lifespan. These important issues are considered by two papers in this issue of the Journal of Cystic Fibrosis [3, 4].
PRO measurement largely remains a research endeavour with little uptake in clinical practice. Administering, scoring and interpreting PROs in a busy clinic is difficult. It requires staff time and expertise and the results are not instantly accessible to steer a discussion with the patient or to aid clinical decision making. Paper-based data collection suffers from missing, unreadable data that is prone to scoring/mathematical error. The development of electronic PRO (ePRO) technologies is immensely important in clinical practice and for endpoint assessment in clinical trials. It is a cost-saving, patient-friendly approach to PRO assessment: data collection can occur in clinic, the patient’s home, workplace or school. Results can be added to a patient’s electronic medical file, alerts triggered by problematic scores and clinicians can track patient/parent-reported symptom/event data over time. Importantly, electronic data capture enhances the integrity and accuracy of the data, makes it logistically easier to collect repeated assessments (daily or at several points over a trial), and is preferred over paper-based data collection by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
There is growing evidence that paper and electronic versions of PROs typically provide comparable data but this requires psychometric evaluation if transferring an original paper-based questionnaire to an electronic mode of administration. Solé and colleagues have demonstrated measurement equivalence with paper and electronic administrations of the Cystic Fibrosis Questionnaire-Revised (CFQ-R teen/adult version) . The e-CFQ-R web version is linked to an online database that can be adapted for any electronic devise (smartphone, tablet, computer). Immediately the patient completes the questionnaire, results are sent to the healthcare team and the data are saved in a centralized, protected database. Real-time patient-reported data are available to the clinician as an adjunct to clinical data. Access to the English and Spanish versions are by independent web addresses provided in the paper. Ultimately, the integration of PRO data within electronic care records as developed by Peckham et al. , or in CF patient registries would enable efficient patient care and longitudinal research endeavours.
There is a lack of PROs that can be used as endpoints in early intervention studies in CF. Such instruments are time-consuming and painstakingly difficult to develop so the research of Edwards et al. reporting on the initial development of a CF-specific, parent-reported instrument for children 0–11 years is welcome . The need for an effective way of data collection is also considered. The instrument takes the form of an electronic (web-based data capture), observational sign/symptom diary containing 17 respiratory and activity signs that parents report the presence or absence of. Results suggest that children aged 7 to 11 years are best reporting for themselves, therefore observational reporting by parents should focus on young children aged 0 to 6 years. Considerable evaluation has yet to determine the final instrument but the development of the scale follows FDA guidance enabling its acceptance as a clinical trial endpoint in infants and young children with CF.
Over the last twenty years we have learned a great deal about measuring patient-reported outcomes in CF, and there are many pitfalls when employing PROs in CF trials . They are typically secondary endpoints and the trial is not powered on them, often making it difficult to draw valid inferences about treatments. However, there are trials that have collected patient-reported respiratory symptom data as the primary endpoint [7, 8], employing the only CFQ-R subscale that has been approved by the FDA for use as an endpoint. Scientific, regulatory and pragmatic factors are driving the shift towards ePRO data collection. The development of ePROs is not trivial, yet they are fast becoming the ‘gold standard’ for PRO data capture in clinical trials. The challenge now is to develop CF-specific, lifespan PROs, utilising new technologies that can deliver real-time, high-quality PRO information. They also need to be acceptable to the regulatory bodies to aid their decisions on cost-effectiveness and ensure the appropriate commissioning of new medicines to improve the lives of people with CF and their families.
Original article with references here.
By Robbie Gonzalez
The lungs in Joan Nichols’ lab have been keeping her up at night. Like children, they’re delicate, developing, and in constant need of attention, which is why she and her team at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston’s Lung Lab have spent the last several years taking turns driving to the lab at 1:00 am to check that the bioreactors housing their experimental organs are not leaking, that the nutrient-rich soup supporting the lungs is still flowing, or that the budding sacs of tissues and veins have not succumbed to contamination. That last risk was a persistent source of anxiety: Building a lung requires suspending the thing for weeks on end in warm, wet, fungus friendly conditions—to say nothing of the subtropical climate of Galveston itself. “In this city, mold will grow on people if they sit still long enough,” Nichols says.
But their vigilance has paid off. In 2014, Nichols’ team became the first to bioengineer a human lung. A year later, the researchers implanted a single lab-built lung into a pig—another first. They’ve grown three more pig lungs since, using cells from their intended recipients, and transplanted each of them successfully without the use of immunosuppressive drugs. Taken together, the four porcine procedures, which the researchers describe in this week’s issue of Science Translational Medicine, are a major step toward growing human organs that are built to-order, using a transplant recipient’s own cells.
Bioengineering a lung is a bit like modeling with clay: Like a sculptor uses a wire armature to lend his creation form, Nichols’ team grew the tissues and blood vessels of their lab-grown lungs atop a framework of tough, flexible proteins. The researchers got that scaffolding secondhand, harvesting whole organs from dead pigs and bathing them in a concoction of sugar and detergent to strip them of the cells and blood of their previous owners like a coat of varnish from an old table.
Nichols calls the milky mass that remains the organ’s skeleton: It’s made mostly of collagen, which lends the lung strength, and elastin, which makes it flexible. Each scaffold goes into a bioreactor—one of the containers Nichols and her team built from scratch to house each of the proteinous blobs. The earliest models were little more than spruced-up fish tanks; the latest iterations still incorporate parts purchased from Home Depot.
Its humble origins notwithstanding, each bioreactor plays a vital role. “It lets you provide the organ with growth factors, media, mechanical stimulation,” says pediatric anesthesiologist Joaquin Cortiella, who co-leads the Lung Lab with Nichols. Its job is similar to that of a placenta, allowing the lung to develop in a warm, cozy, nutrient-rich environment for 30 days before it moves to the thoracic cavity of a living, breathing pig, nestled neatly beside the animal’s original lung.
Growing a lung in a bioreactor for a month is a significant accomplishment, says bioengineer Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, director of the Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering at Columbia University, who was unaffiliated with the study. In an email to WIRED, she said that previous lab-grown lungs have spent a lot less time in culture before being transplanted. The extra time allowed Nichols’ and Cortiella’s bioengineered lungs to grow more blood vessels, the underdevelopment of which “is a major current limitation of lung survival,” said Vunjak-Novakovic. In past studies involving smaller animals, transplant recipients have died within a matter of hours due to fluid accumulation in the lungs. By contrast, the vasculature in Nichols’ and Cortiella’s organs allowed the pigs who received them to survive as long as two months post-transplant without any observable complications.
It’s unclear how the pigs would have fared beyond two months. The four animals in this study were euthanized 10 hours, two weeks, one month, and two months post-surgery, so the researchers could examine how each bioengineered lung had developed inside its recipient following transplantation. All signs pointed to the lungs integrating seamlessly—they continued to develop blood vessels and lung tissues and were colonized by the microbes specific to each animal’s native lung microbiome, all without respiratory symptoms or rejection by the recipient’s immune system.
A big lingering question is how well the bioengineered lungs deliver oxygen. Though each of the pigs had normal amounts of the stuff pumping through their bodies, that could have been the work of the animal’s original lung. The researchers worried the implanted organs were too underdeveloped to risk stopping each research animal from breathing on its original lung, to test the lab-grown one in isolation. That’ll have to wait for future experiments, which Cortiella and Nichols say will involve pigs living for a year or more on their transplanted organs.
Such studies will also require more animals. “It will be interesting to see how robust this technology is, as the number of animals was very low,” said Vunjak-Novakovic. Still, the results are promising. With sufficient funding, Nichols and Cortiella think they could be transplanting bioengineered lungs into humans within the decade.
But first come more experiments—and better, more reliable research facilities. High on Nichols’ wish list is a clean room for the bioreactors, accessible only to researchers clad head-to-toe in bunny suits. She’d like more automated equipment too, which would translate to less manual labor and fewer opportunities for error. And of course, she’s looking forward to the day when she and her colleagues can monitor their lungs remotely via a livestream. Babysitting bioengineered lungs may always be a 24-hour job, but at least with a video monitor the members of the Lung Lab could work remotely.