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As Michael J. Fox Returns to Primetime, His Research Foundation Urgently Pursues the Cure for Parkinson’s

Last month, Michael J. Fox returned to television as the star of his own sitcom after more than two decades living with Parkinson’s disease. Fox’s decision to return to primetime has injected Parkinson’s into the national conversation — a conversation already transformed by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF), which the actor launched in 2000 with the exclusive goal of funding research to speed a cure for the disease.

Asthmapolis Relaunches as Propeller Health to Advance Broader Respiratory Mission

Asthmapolis, the FDA-cleared mobile health solution for chronic respiratory disease, recently announced the company is changing its name to Propeller Health. The Propeller platform is designed to help patients and their physicians better understand and control respiratory disease to reduce preventable emergency room visits, hospitalizations and unnecessary suffering.

Propeller Health will now offer providers and payers expanded mobile apps for asthma, COPD and other respiratory disease, as well as new sensors for additional inhaled medications pending regulatory clearance.

“COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States and an extremely costly disease, both in its actual medical costs and the impairments that limit patients with this illness. I believe using technology to help improve adherence and give clinicians early indications of increasing symptoms or exacerbations is valuable and will make an important contribution to helping people successfully manage the disease,” said David Mannino, MD, professor and chair, University of Kentucky Department of Preventive Medicine and Environment, and international expert on the epidemiology and impact of COPD.

Early outcomes have been promising. In the last month, more than two-thirds of Propeller users with asthma were well-controlled or transitioned to well-controlled; by comparison, only 30-40 percent of the general population with asthma has their disease under control. In recent programs, up to 80 percent of patients with asthma remain engaged with Propeller three to six months after enrollment. As a result, the Propeller platform has yielded an 80 percent improvement in medication adherence.

“We need to be doing everything we can to help people manage their health conditions and prevent unnecessary trips to the hospital,” said Rich Roth, vice president of strategic innovation at Dignity Health. “Propeller Health is in a position to make big difference for our patients, which is why we’re excited to see the company moving in this direction.”

Propeller is a novel combination of snap-on sensors, mobile apps, analytics and personal services to empower people to achieve better self-management of their respiratory disease, while reducing the burden of chronic disease management. The HIPAA-compliant solution uses remote monitoring to track when and how often patients use their inhaled medications. This real-time information advances understanding of symptoms and triggers and reveals insights about both medication adherence and rescue medication frequency. Analytics coupled with personalized feedback and individual support, including access to health educators and community managers, inform more productive conversations between Propeller users and their care teams, contributing to positive behavior change, improved quality of life and reduced costs to manage chronic disease like asthma and COPD.

“Over the last year, we’ve grown to be the leading mobile health platform for managing asthma. Today we are charting a new course in chronic respiratory disease management, applying our proven technology and accumulated wisdom to reduce healthcare utilization for COPD,” said David Van Sickle, CEO of Propeller Health. “The Propeller brand broadens our mobile health footprint to include all disease treated with inhaled medications. It more accurately describes how we use technology to achieve momentum in self-management, but with minimal disruption to our users’ daily lives, which in turn helps improve outcomes that reduce cost.”

“Asthmapolis, now Propeller Health, is one of the leaders in mobile health sensors and apps. It is great to see their expansion from asthma to COPD,” said Eric Topol MD, CAO of Scripps Health and author of The Creative Destruction of Medicine (Topol has no relationship with the company). “Further, someday in the future there is now hope that such a platform will be able to markedly reduce asthma attacks and exacerbations of COPD.”

Propeller for COPD is available now, and the company is filing applications for international regulatory clearance for additional sensors later this year.

Source: Propeller Health

Caris Life Sciences Expands Global Reach of its Tumour Profiling Service to Middle East and Africa

Caris Life Sciences™, a leading biosciences company focused on fulfilling the promise of personalized medicine in oncology, recently signed a distribution agreement with IPS Genomix to facilitate patient access to its tumour profiling service, Molecular Intelligence™, in select Middle Eastern and African markets. Given this region’s continued investment in healthcare, Caris is uniquely positioned to provide a growing community of oncologists the most relevant and actionable biomarker information to help individualise cancer care.

“The Middle Eastern and African markets represent key areas of unmet medical need and commercial opportunity for Caris Life Sciences, and demonstrate a significant leap forward for our international global expansion plans,” said Ian Walker, Vice President – International at Caris Life Sciences. “Partnering with IPS Genomix offers us a large, diverse and experienced team to help realize our goal to bring Caris Molecular Intelligence to patients and physicians across the globe.”

Caris Molecular Intelligence™ uses multiple evidence-guided profiling technologies — IHC, FISH/CISH, PCR and Next-Generation Sequencing – to provide oncologists with the most relevant, clinically actionable treatment information to help them personalise care for their patient. By identifying the biomarkers unique to a patient’s tumor, Caris can help the physician develop a treatment plan ranging from commercially available agents to active, openly enrolling clinical trials in the patient’s geography. Caris’ multi-technology approach assesses the molecular biology of a tumor in order to better understand the gene and protein alterations that may be driving its growth. Testing of multiple clinically relevant analytes in a tumor is typically most applicable for patients with aggressive, rare or refractory cancers where standard-of-care guidelines have been exhausted or are unclear, or where additional clinical trial options are desired.

“With more than 25 years of experience in the Middle Eastern and African healthcare markets and the dedicated diagnostics sales, marketing, customer service and medical expert teams needed to successfully interface with the local oncology community, IPS Genomix is an ideal partner to Caris as it strives to broaden the reach of its tumour profiling service,” said Ahmed Yacout, Chairman and CEO of IPS Group. “Our vision is to have a life-changing impact on our community by democratizing access to global health solutions.”

Source: Caris Life Sciences

BioFocus Extends its Collaboration with The Michael J. Fox Foundation

BioFocus recently announced that it has extended its collaboration agreement with The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, a not-for-profit organization focused on developing therapies for Parkinson’s disease. Based on the success of the project to date, BioFocus will continue the optimization of agents for disease specific biomarkers.

“We have worked with The Michael J. Fox Foundation since 2011 to identify and optimize alpha-synuclein imaging agents, and are delighted that the progress supports an extension to this collaboration,” said Dr Chris Newton, Managing Director, BioFocus. “The program will utilize BioFocus’ leading biology and chemistry platforms, and will capitalize on the company’s highly experienced teams and state-of-the-art technologies.”

Source: BioFocus

AgedBrainSYSBIO, a Medium-scale Research Initiative Against Neurodegenerative Diseases

The AgedBrainSYSBIO project on systems biology of synapse proteins & ageing was officially launched recently in Paris, France. AgedBrainSYSBIO is a European collaborative research project funded by the European Commission under the Health Work Programme of the 7th Framework Programme. This multidisciplinary consortium assembles 14 academic and industrial internationally renowned research teams from Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Israel, United Kingdom and Switzerland.

Ageing is undisputedly a complex process because it affects the deterioration of most (if not all) aspects of life. Cognitive decline is emerging as one of the greatest public health challenges of the old age, with nearly 50% of adults over 85 afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia.

As other chronic and neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s disease develops slowly and gradually; but is distinctive in that it forces patients to endure many years of steadily-lessening contact with others, because of memory loss, difficulty with orientation, loss of language and speaking abilities, judging things and depression amongst numerous other symptoms. In 2013, it is estimated that there are worldly more than 24 million people with Alzheimer’s disease, with 4.6 million new cases each year, which means a new case each 7 seconds. It is thus one of the greatest challenges in public health for modern societies, in terms of costs but also in terms of cause, cure and care. To address all these issues, European Commission-funded research effort is crucial as there are still no curative drugs, with only symptomatic treatment able to delay the disease progression.

Over the last years, Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) have been instrumental to identify genes that mediate genetic risk associated to Late-Onset Alzheimer Diseases (LOAD). These approaches based on the genetic comparison of large cohorts of patients and healthy aged persons, and for which three academic partners have been involved (Inserm U894; Institut Pasteur Lille, University of Antwerpen), have been largely funded by Europe. Additionally, a variety of new sets of data have been built and have delivered the state-of-the art of protein-protein interactions, their localisation in subregions of human neurons and genome-wide transcriptome analysis of human neurons derived from aged patient fibroblasts. In another field, new drosophila and mouse models have been also generated via academic partners involved in European Commission-supported large-scale programmes. Finally, the analysis of genes displaying an accelerated evolution in humans as non-human primates do not display these human-specific neurodegenerative diseases has open interesting research paths. So far however, in spite of a huge amount of data available and existing in vitro and in vivo models, these approaches have not been successfully translated into the clinic separately.

The AgedBrainSYSBIO will take advantage of these large set of data, will cross them to other large-scale ageing databases and will include all of these know-how, technologies and results. Thanks to the involvement of four European SMEs, this program is expected to get results readily translated into preclinical studies.

AgedBrainSYSBIO project assembles 13 well-established research teams both from academia and industry. The scientists will share results and know how on LOAD GWAS gene discovery, comparative functional genomics in mouse and drosophila models, in mouse transgenic approaches research on human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) and their differentiation in vitro and modelling pathways with emphasis on comparative and evolutionary aspects. Importantly, the four European SMEs involved will bring their complementary expertise. QURETEC (Estonia) will be a key partner for data management solutions and bioinformatics data analyses; HYBRIGENICS (France) is a world leader in comparative proteomics and protein-protein interaction analyses; GENEBRIDGES (Germany) is marketing novel strategies for DNA engineering in mammalian cells; reMYND (Belgium) is a leader for development of protein misfolding-modifying treatments against LOAD .

Together, researchers will address the basis of brain ageing by studying the pathways involved in Late-Onset Alzheimer Diseases combining integrative systems biology and comparative genomics. One of the first steps will be to identify the interactions through which the ageing phenotype develops in normal and in disease conditions; on this basis, novel pathways and their evolutionary properties will be modelled and experimentally tested in order to identify druggable targets. This work will finally allow the validation of new druggable targets and markers as a proof-of-concept towards the prevention and cure of aging cognitive defects.

Michel Simonneau, MD PhD, Professor at Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan, who coordinates this effort states that “this ambitious project integrates the numerous European initiatives, such as JPND , as well as national research programmes, which addresse the scientific and societal challenge of neurodegenerative diseases. This project receives the decisive input of 4 small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) that allow us to get candidate solutions for curing and preventing common age-related diseases. The links between academia and industry is the driving force of this work programme and in the end will hopefully benefit to all of us.”

Source: EurekAlert!