“From Bench to Bedside in a Decade” 2010

May 5, 2010 - Leave a Response

            The Progeria Research Foundation hosted their tenth international scientific workshop on Progeria, titled “From Bench to Bedside in a Decade” at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center in Boston, Mass.  The three-day event was held April 11-12, 2010.  Since PRF was founded in 1999, they have held five similar events.  In these ten years, definitive tests to diagnose  Progeria and possible treatments have been discovered.  The workshops are especially significant to everyone working towards Progeria research, as this is the culmination of everything they work for.  The workshop hosted 130 scientists from ten different countries, which demonstrates how research has become an international effort.

            The very first workshop in 2001 was a joint effort from the National Institute of Health and PRF.  It was here that Dr. Leslie Gordon announced PRF would create a cell and tissue bank and database to keep detailed information about children with Progeria.  

            The itinerary for PRF’s tenth anniversary workshop: “From Bench to Bedside in a Decade”  The idea behind the workshops, which are held every two years, is to facilitate discussion and promote progress about Progeria among a growing number of researchers.

            The topics included a discussion on living with Progeria, including a round table question and answer session from the patients’ perspective.  Audrey Gordon is the President and Executive Director for PRF.  She said this part of the workshop was exceptionally touching. 

Once you meet them it’s amazing, I mean they’re such great kids and they’re really very dynamic and fun and truthful about everything, about all the questions that were asked and answered, said Gordon. 

     Three families attended the workshop; one from England, one from Canada and one from the United States. Tina Pickard’s son, Zach, is three years old and has Progeria.  She said the opportunity to meet the researchers working for a cure for her son was beneficial to her family and the researchers alike.

Just to finally be able to say, oh, that is a child with Progeria. And you know, the same for us, when we walk in and you’re looking at these doctors and you’re like wow, they do this for a living, this is their job and they’re trying to find a cure for my son. It’s an overwhelming feeling, it’s really sweet, said Pickard.

            Doctors from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Children’s Hospital Boston, and Brigham & Women’s Hospital talked about new findings as well as treatment with the FTI drugs in children with Progeria.   Other experts discussed the relation of cardiovascular disease in mouse models to humans. 

            The workshop was named “From Bench to Bedside in a Decade” because the Progeria Research Foundation has come a great way in ten years.  PRF is used as a model for other foundations and organizations looking to start up.  Audrey Gordon says this all happens with a lot of support.

Ten years is an unheard of amount of time to go from start to drug trial – other organizations use us as a model. We started off with a vision and it really all comes together – from our cell bank for researching to doing the research.  It all is a huge building block in just ten years.  [There’s] never a dull moment, said Gordon.

            The National Institute of Health issued a fact sheet on Progeria in 2007 detailing the scarcities of research over the past thirty years, what was known in 2007, and what the outlook was for ‘tomorrow.’  Since 2007, much can be added to this fact sheet.  This is a testament to the work and research that has been devoted to Progeria.

View this document on Scribd

            The article questions the role of the LMNA gene in Progeria and its relation.  It is now known that a mutation in this gene leads to Progeria.   The article says future research may provide insight into heart disease, an affliction that a wide population experiences aside from patients with Progeria.  Now, “there is a biological link between the Progeria disease process and aging and heart disease,” said Audrey Gordon, President and Executive Director of PRF.  The article notes future lab research is preparing for the first clinical trial using Farnesyltransferase inhibitors to treat Progeria.  Now, PRF is conducting its second clinical triple-drug trial which adds two other drugs in addition to the FTI treatment.

            While a lot has happened in a short time, there are still a lot of questions.  George Martin from the University of Washington spoke at the workshop about the unanswered questions regarding normal aging and aging in Progeria patients.  Susan Rosenblatt is the executive assistant and volunteer coordinator for PRF. She says being able to see everyone come together every two years for these workshops is an amazing experience, even if you don’t under the science aspect.

I’m always amazed at the way, from a layperson’s point of view, I don’t understand a lot of the science but I’m really, what I find remarkable is how people work together to study Progeria and to move on from the workshop and form new partnerships for the future to study. It gives me a window into that whole piece of research that I can’t participate in but I constantly marvel at, said Rosenblatt.

            There is much hope for the future.  New insights and targets were considered among the experts at the workshop.  “So, while at one point people are very excited about all that’s happened and all the knowledge we now have,” said Gordon, “there’s also the flip side that says okay, now there’s a lot more work to do.”

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UK Reunion 2010

April 29, 2010 - Leave a Response

     Hayley Okines is a 12 year old girl from the UK living with Progeria.  She is raising money to fund a 2010 UK Reunion for children around the world with Progeria. The event will be held August 6-12. Hayley and her family are trying to raise £30,000 to make this dream come true.  They have participated in events across the country but want to hold the reunion in the UK for the first time.  So far, twenty four families have been invited and 10 are confirmed to attend.

Courtesy UK Progeria Reunion 2010 Facebook Page

     Hayley’s family said the funds will go towards travel, entertainment, and other expenses.  They are reaching out to many different sources for funding.  The Progeria Family Circle has donated £13,500.  Hayley’s mom, Kerry, said her daughter has been fortunate in her ability to take past trips, but she is hopeful she can fulfill this dream of Hayley’s as well.  Comments from supporters on the “UK Progeria Reunion 2010’s” Facebook page include, “It’s great to see you looking so well, I hope the treatment you receive in Boston continues to help you and I wish you all the best of luck in your fund raising for the reunion. You and your parents are truly an inspiration to us all!”

     Hayley is currently participating in the clinical drug trials with PRF in Boston, Mass.  Hayley recently visited Boston in April to attend the three day workshop attended by scientists from across the world.  

     Hayley’s story is one of hope as this preview of an upcoming documentary about Hayley shows:

Baja Fresh supports Progeria research

April 26, 2010 - Leave a Response

Eight months ago, Baja Fresh kicked off a year long awareness and fundraising campaign in 85 restaurants nationwide.  Coin collection boxes will be by the registers at the ‘mexican grill’-type chain for four more months.

Baja Fresh owner David Kim told the Progeria Research foundation he wanted to help: “The Progeria Research Foundation is a cause we’re proud to support.”

Baja Fresh also regularly holds fundraising nights for various organizations where they donate 15 percent of their net proceeds from the event back to the organzation. 

Click here to find a Baja Fresh near you that supports PRF.

Rare Disease Poll

April 12, 2010 - Leave a Response

            Imagine finding out you or a loved one has a life-threatening disease or condition.  Then, finding out that the disease is so rare, there is little to no information, research, studies, or treatment.  That is, of course, assuming the disease was even common enough to be diagnosed.  This is a reality for one in ten Americans.  And while apart, these rare diseases may affect smaller groups of people, together there are 30 million people affected by rare diseases. 

            In a survey asking how important people thought it is to research rare diseases in comparison to more widespread diseases, the results were:

            Less important 16%

            Equally as important 70%

            More important 12%

            Not sure 2%

           

     75% of respondents were women, and 25% were male.

            Jim Gibbons, the governor of Nevada issued an executive proclamation on February 8, 2010 declaring February 28, 2010 as Rare Disease Awareness Day.  By receiving attention at all levels, rare diseases are coming to the forefront of the minds of Americans.  In his proclamation, the Governor wrote:

“Whereas  diseases such as ‘Lou Gehrig’s disease’ are well known, while others, such as ‘Erdherim-Chester Disease’ remain unfamiliar to the public, so that, affected citizens have a large burden while raising research funds; and whereas nearly one in ten Americans have rare diseases, therefore, thousands of Nevada residents are affected; and  whereas the National Organization for Rare Disorders, patients, medical professionals, researchers, government officials, companies in support of treatment development and citizens are bringing such rare diseases into focus for the public in order to bring awareness to the State of Nevada concerning this public health issue.” 

            The National Institute of Health estimates there are approximately 6,800 rare diseases.  Of those, 75% affect children.  Since so many rare diseases have ties to more common diseases and conditions, research for even those that are the most rare of these diseases is crucial, and can be the key to ensuring fulfilling lives for millions from the discovery of treatment or a cure for one rare disease.  That over 80% of people surveyed believe that rare disease research deserves equal or more importance proves that awareness for rare diseases is prevalent and affects many people in some way.

More on awareness:

            The movie, Extraordinary Measures, focuses on a family whose two children have life-threatening diseases.  The movie was released in January, 2010 and was based on the true story of Aileen and John Crowley whose children had Pompe’s disease.  The film shows the parents’ willingness to do anything to save their children, including financing and ensuring research for treatments.  The trailer for the movie is below:

Children Diagnosed with Progeria in the World

April 5, 2010 - Leave a Response

There are currently 64 known children living with Progeria in the entire world.  Below is a map that allows you to move from country to country and by clicking on the blue placemarkers, you can view how many children are diagnosed with Progeria in that country.

The ‘Find the Other 150’ Campaign is an effort by the Progeria Research Foundation to find the, statistically, other 150 children living with Progeria in the world.

Timeline

April 4, 2010 - Leave a Response

This link will lead you to a flipbook displaying some of the remarkable accomplishments of the Progeria Research Foundation in the past ten years.

Doctor who helped identify all human DNA honored

March 29, 2010 - Leave a Response

     One of the doctors who unlocked the human genome, making it easier to identify and study the genes associated with Progeria and other genetic conditions is a recipient of the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research.

Photo Courtesy genome.gov

     Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. is the director of the National Institute of Health.  Collins will be recognized along with the others chosen for the prize on April 23 at the Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y.

     The Human Genome Project identified the approximately 20-25,000 genes and identified the sequence of 3 billion chemical pairs that make up human DNA.  The information was immediately available online to researchers and will be used to ensure a quick as possible route for researchers in medicine.

     Collins declined his portion of the $500,000 prize that would have been awarded in order to comply with ethical rules. 

     Other recipients of the prize are Eric Lander, Ph.D. and David Botstein, Ph.D.

Stay Connected

March 29, 2010 - Leave a Response

     Widgets are applications for the internet that allow you easy access to just about anything. There are widgets for weather, to take notes, or to tell the time. Shout Me is a widget that puts all your social media contacts in one place. You can put your URL’s to Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, MySpace, YouTube, and Flickr within the widget.
     Widgets allow you to multitask and be a click away from anything. Student Christen Scarpa said widgets are unique tool: “I think the accessibility of being able to see everything you’re working on at once is a really convenient tool.”
     “Because widgets exploit well-understood tools and technologies, they have lower entry barriers than complex native applications, and thus can be a good first step to assess the demand for an application on a specific platform before undertaking expensive native development,” research firm Gartner told Networkworld.com. Widgets are highly accessible and many websites offer simple tools to make your own.

Poker for Progeria

March 22, 2010 - Leave a Response

The Progeria Research Foundation will host their 5th annual Poker for Progeria Event this Saturday, March 27, 2010.  The evening will include a silent auction, refreshments, raffles and more

Find a map below with directions to the Azorean Brotherhood Hall located at 20 Howley Street in Peabody, MA.  Tickets are $100 to play poker for 4 thousand chips, $100 to sponsor a table, or $25 to enjoy the evening and support the cause.  The first place prize will be approximately 3 thousand dollars if there are 120 players, in addition to five cash card prizes.  Blackjack tables will be available for those not playing poker who wish to gamble for fun.

The evening begins with registration at 6 pm, and the games start at 7.

Dr. Oz Show Monday March 8, 2010

March 16, 2010 - Leave a Response
Photo Courtesy DoctorOz.com
Photo Courtesy of ToledoFreePress.com

 

     Kaylee Halko and her parents, Tim and Marla appeared on the Dr. Oz show Monday. Staffers had contacted them after viewing the TLC documentary “6 Going On 60” that Kaylee appeared in.

     Progeria Research Foundation Medical Director Leslie Gordon and University of Michigan’s Dr. Jeffrey Innis joined the Halkos on the show.  Dr. Innis originally diagnosed Kaylee in 2004 and practices at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

    Audrey Gordon told the Toledo Free Press that they were thrilled the medical show was interested in Progeria and raising awareness for the rare condition.