Virtually Very Cool Conferences

By: Mark Levine
One of the things I love about the CF Roundtable is how it brings the CF community together and is a forum for sharing stories. Stories, after all, are what life is about. So when I heard about CF virtual conferences, I had to learn more.
This past fall I attended my first BreathCon, a virtual conference for CF Adults organized by the the CF Foundation and a lot of volunteers. About two weeks ago, I participated in another virtual conference, a smaller one labeled a Mini-Con, which had the theme of Sexual and Reproductive Health. Yes, it was as interesting as it sounded like it should have been.
As a step-father of two, I was asked to facilitate a discussion on parenting. There were a lot of stories as well as some amazing tips and tricks that are wonderful to hear live. All of the conferences have a theme and they start off with a keynote address followed by break-out sessions (group discussions) with varying topics related to the theme. When I first signed up for one of these events, I had no idea how a virtual break out session would work but I have to confess… they are really cool.
The platform, or software, that is used is called BlueJeans and it allows people in a “room” to see and talk to each other using their computer or cell phone camera and microphone. Picture a Brady Bunch style screen layout and you get the idea.
Turns out that people with CF are pretty open about pretty much everything. There is a lot to be learned from others with CF and it is not only comforting to chat with people going through the same thing you are but also refreshing to hear a different perspective. I recommend getting on the mailing list for future conferences. The next one is scheduled for June.
Sign up by going to www.cff.org/virtualeventsYou will be happy you did. Until then, keep on creating those stories. I will see you online.
Mark Levine, 48, lives in Michigan with his wife Joelle and shared dog BamBam. Mark has two step-children, 23 and 21. He is on the board of and the subscription manager for the CF Roundtable.

 

 

 

Potential Therapy for Infections in CF Gets Patent

AB569Arch Biopartners’ treatment candidate for bacterial infections in patients with cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other respiratory conditions, has received a U.S. patent.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued patent 9,925,206 to the University of Cincinnati, which granted Arch Biopartners an exclusive commercial license on all patents related to AB569. The inventor is Daniel Hassett, PhD, a principal scientist at Arch and professor at the University of Cincinnati College Of Medicine.

“This patent issuance, which protects the composition of AB569, gives Arch a stronger commercial position to pursue treating not just CF patients, but also the millions of other patients that have chronic antibiotic resistant lung infections including those with COPD,” Richard Muruve, CEO of Arch, said in a press release. “It also opens the door for Arch to develop treatments for many other indications where antibiotic resistance is a problem, such as urinary tract infections and wound care.”

Bacterial infections in the lungs are a serious problem in patients with CF, COPD, or ventilator-associated pneumonia. Cystic fibrosis patients are susceptible to bacterial respiratory infections as a result of abnormal mucus production in the lungs and airways.

In particular, the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) affects most adult CF patients and 40 percent of CF children ages 6 to 10. The mucoid form of P. aeruginosa is highly resistant to conventional antibiotics and immune-mediated killing. It causes a rapid decline in lung function and a poor overall clinical prognosis.

Antibiotic use in the treatment of CF and COPD patients with chronic bacterial respiratory infections is increasing, which correlates with a higher prevalence of antibiotic-resistant strains.

AB569 is a non-antibiotic therapy made of sodium nitrite and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), two compounds approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for human use. The treatment has a different mechanism of action from antibiotics that may increase effectiveness, Arch believes.

“AB569 has two active ingredients that produce a dramatic and synergistic effect at killing many antibiotic resistant bacteria including Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa), which commonly causes severe chronic infections in the lungs of cystic fibrosis (CF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients,” Hassett said. “AB569 has the potential to make a significant medical impact on treating infection where traditional antibiotics fail.”

In preclinical experiments, the therapy showed significant ability to kill several types of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria.

The safety and pharmacokinetics of a single administration of nebulized AB569 are now being evaluated in a Phase 1 clinical trial with up to 25 healthy volunteers at the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center (CVAMC). Pharmacokinetics refers to how a drug is absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and expelled by the body. Enrollment of volunteers started in February.

If the Phase 1 study provides positive results, the company plans to start a Phase 2 trial to test the effectiveness of AB569 in the treatment of chronic lung infections caused by P. aeruginosa and other bacterial pathogens in CF and/or COPD patients.

AB569 previously received orphan drug status from the FDA for the treatment of CF patients infected with P. aeruginosa, and orphan medicinal product designation from the European Medicines Agency.

For original article, click here.

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.

To continue reading, click here. 

Cystic Fibrosis Podcast 180: The Pre-Transplant Process

In Jerry Cahill’s latest podcast series, The Path Forward with Cystic Fibrosis, we hear from Dr. Selim Arcasoy from Columbia University Medical Center. He discusses the pre-transplant process by covering the following topics:
  • When should a CF patient consider a lung transplant?
    • When lung function decreases to 30% or below
    • When there is an increased infection resistance
    • When exacerbations resulting in ICU hospital stays become frequent
    • When a patient experiences frequent lung bleeds and collapse
  • What is the transplant listing process?
  • What is the transplant evaluation process?
  • What are some testing and evaluation obstacles, both mental and psychosocial?
  • What is dual listing?
  • What happens when you are actively listed?

This video podcast was made possible through an unrestricted educational grant from Columbia University Medial Center and the Lung Transplant Project.

Stream “Up for Air” Documentary this Month for Free!

Jerry Cahill‘s documentary, “Up for Air”, provides viewers with an inside look at his personal fight for survival while living with #CF. During national #DonateLifeMonth (4/1 – 4/30) use the code: BEANORGANDONOR to watch the documentary for FREE! Tap the link to watch: https://vimeo.com/137872395

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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.

Jerry Unplugged: Bouncin’ Back

Well, here I sit, staring at four walls, unable to ride my bike, work out, coach, or run. I’m stuck here in my apartment for the next two weeks as I recover from a partial knee replacement. This lifestyle is not me at all. I’m frustrated, and it would be easy to get discouraged, but I can’t afford to.
I’ve just listed some of the many things I can’t do, but I’m focusing on what I can and must do in order to live the way I want to live. I must stay focused on the positive and on my recovery. It’s the only way to bounce back to my version of normal.

Continue reading Jerry Unplugged: Bouncin’ Back

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.

How One Conversation Led Me to Being More Intentional About My Life

By: Ella Balasa

Would I ever live long enough to fall in love? Would I be able to graduate college? Would I be remembered for making some kind of impact on the world before I was gone? Would I get to travel to destinations where the breaking waves crashed against a rocky shore and the sea mist sprayed as I breathed deeply, and beside me stood …

Gabriella-Balasa-Beach-Featured-Rectangle

I’m startled back to reality. I sit in a hospital bed, surrounded by my parents in chairs on either side of me. I’m on the lumpy foam mattress, where I sit cross legged and my butt sinks at least 4 inches straining my back and adding to the pain the past few weeks — and this conversation — have caused me. My dad sits, lips pursed as normal when he listens intently. We are all listening to my doctor talk about my declining health, about my recent episode of pneumonia, and what my future may hold.

“No one knows the future,” I think, as the doctor speaks. My mind jumps again to that ocean scene, only it isn’t me standing on the shore, I’m now observing the scene from above, as if in spirit. Observing a couple embrace and I feel a strange sense of sadness, anger, and jealousy.

“It’s time to consider a lung transplant.” Those words, uttered from my pediatric CF doctor 6 years ago, made me, in an instant, think about all the joys of life I hadn’t gotten to experience yet.

Why me? That’s the first thought many people have when they can’t accept the reality of what’s happening. We try to answer unanswerable questions.

Later that summer, my parents and I followed doctors’ advice and scheduled a week-long transplant evaluation. A week of what I still consider to be grueling medical tests, even compared to other lung complications I have developed since. In the end, the transplant evaluators concluded I was not quite in the transplant window at the time. That fall, my health started to stabilize. I started my second year of college and I felt myself withdraw from the world.

To continue reading, visit CFF community blog.