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News Article | April 19, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, file photo, former New England Patriots NFL football player Aaron Hernandez is led into his court appearance at the Fall River Superior Court in Fall River, Mass. Massachusetts prison officials said Hernandez hanged himself in his cell and was pronounced dead at a hospital early Wednesday, April 19, 2017. (Matt Stone/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool, File) MILFORD, Mass. (AP) — The Latest on the death of former NFL star Aaron Hernandez (all times local): One of Aaron Hernandez's longtime friends says he's in shock and grieving after the NFL star was found hanged in his prison cell. Alex Cugno (KOOG'-no) grew up with the former New England Patriots tight end in Bristol, Connecticut. Cugno says he and other Hernandez pals can't believe he took his own life. Cugno says he thinks it's "fishy" that Hernandez would have killed himself when he was just acquitted of a 2012 double murder. Hernandez was serving a life sentence without possibility of parole for the 2013 slaying of Odin Lloyd. Prison officials say he was found hanged in his cell early Wednesday in a high-security prison in Massachusetts. For more news videos visit Yahoo View, available now on iOS and Android. His friend says he'll remember Hernandez as a happy, goofy man who was always trying to make people laugh. A lawyer for the families of two men Aaron Hernandez was acquitted of killing says the relatives "don't take any joy" in Hernandez's apparent suicide, even though they believe he was responsible for their deaths. Attorney William Kennedy represents the estate of Safiro Furtado and the family of Daniel de Abreu in wrongful-death lawsuits against Hernandez. Kennedy says the lawsuits will go forward, but will now be against Hernandez's estate. Kennedy says the families of Furtado and de Abreu "understand what kind of loss" Hernandez's family is dealing with now. He said despite Hernandez's acquittal in criminal court last week, the families still plan to try to hold Hernandez accountable for the killings in civil court. Aaron Hernandez's apparent suicide has an inmate advocacy group calling for more mental health services in Massachusetts prisons. The former New England Patriots player was found hanged in his prison cell Wednesday. Leslie Walker, executive director of Prisoners' Legal Services of Massachusetts, says the Department of Correction has taken some steps over the last decade to make it more difficult for inmates to take their own lives. One of those steps was to install clothing hooks that collapse if a significant amount of weight is placed on them. But she says the department needs to hire more mental health professionals. She says prison officials also should make frequent checks on the mental state of inmates who are serving life sentences without the possibility of parole, as Hernandez was. Aaron Hernandez's lawyer says he intends to conduct his own investigation into the NFL star's hanging death. Jose Baez says he was "shocked and surprised" when he was told that the former New England Patriots tight end was found hanging from a bedsheet in his prison cell. Baez says in a statement Wednesday that there were "no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated anything like this was possible." He says Hernandez was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence in the 2013 slaying of Odin Lloyd. Baez won an acquittal last week for Hernandez in the separate 2012 double killing of two men. He says Hernandez's loved ones are "heartbroken and determined to find the truth surrounding his untimely death." The Massachusetts maximum security prison where Aaron Hernandez apparently hanged himself has seen its share of troubles since it opened nearly two decades ago. There have been several other inmate suicides at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, several attacks on prison staff and several instances of inmate-on-inmate violence. The most famous one was the strangulation of convicted pedophile priest John Geoghan (GAY'-gehn) by another prisoner. The prison, built for $105 million, was hailed as the nation's most technologically advanced when it opened in 1998. It has more than 1,000 cells. It is named for two former prisons workers killed in 1972 during an aborted escape attempt. Hernandez was found by guards hanged with a bedsheet at about 3 a.m. Wednesday. The former NFL star was pronounced dead at a hospital about an hour later. Aaron Hernandez's death means his murder conviction is likely to disappear. Under Massachusetts law, defense attorneys can seek to have convictions vacated when a defendant dies before an appeal is heard. Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2013 death of Odin Lloyd. Authorities say Hernandez was found hanging in his Massachusetts prison cell early Wednesday and was pronounced dead at a hospital. Removing a conviction after the death of a high profile defendant has precedent in the state. Former Roman Catholic priest John Geoghan's child molestation conviction was vacated after he was beaten to death in his prison cell in 2003. John Salvi, who was convicted of killing two abortion clinic workers in Brookline in 1994, also had his convictions dismissed after he killed himself in prison. Massachusetts state police say they have launched an investigation into former NFL star Aaron Hernandez's death by hanging in prison. Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early, Jr., says detectives assigned to his office and the Department of Correction are investigating Hernandez's death. Authorities say Hernandez used a bedsheet to hang himself early Wednesday at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts. Early says Massachusetts' chief medical examiner is conducting an autopsy in Boston to determine the exact cause and manner of death. Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn prosecuted Hernandez in the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. Quinn calls Hernandez's death "a shocking and sad end to a very tragic series of events that has negatively impacted a number of families." The New England Patriots learned of former tight end Aaron Hernandez's apparent suicide as they prepared to go to the White House to celebrate their fifth Super Bowl title. Guards found the 27-year-old Hernandez hanging from a bedsheet in his cell Wednesday morning at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, where he was serving a life sentence for a murder conviction. Patriots spokesman Stacey James said: "We are aware of the reports but I don't anticipate that we will be commenting today. Hernandez played three seasons for the team before he was arrested and charged with murder in the 2013 shooting of Odin Lloyd, who was dating his fiancee's sister. Hernandez was acquitted just days ago of the 2012 shootings of two other men in Boston. A Massachusetts prisons spokesman says he's not aware of any suicide note written by Aaron Hernandez before the former New England Patriots star hanged himself in his cell, but stresses that the investigation is ongoing. Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Communications Christopher Fallon also says Wednesday that officials had no concern that Hernandez was planning on taking his own life. The 27-year-old was housed in the general population unit of the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley. He says Hernandez would have been transferred to a mental health unit if there was any concern about his well-being. Hernandez was serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. He was acquitted on Friday of a 2012 double homicide in Boston. Massachusetts prison officials say former NFL star Aaron Hernandez has hanged himself in his cell and has been pronounced dead at a hospital. He was 27. An official with the Massachusetts Department of Corrections says Hernandez was found hanged in his cell just after 3 a.m. Wednesday. Authorities tried to revive the former New England Patriots tight end, and he was pronounced dead at UMass Memorial - HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster at 4:07 a.m. Prison officials say the Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing unit at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts They say he hanged himself using a bed sheet that he attached to a cell window. Authorities say Hernandez tried to block the cell door from the inside by jamming the door with various items. Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for a 2013 murder, was acquitted Friday in a 2012 double slaying prosecutors said was fueled by his anger over a drink spilled at a nightclub.


News Article | May 26, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

In a small, randomized Phase I/II clinical trial (SAT1), researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine say a 100-year-old drug called suramin, originally developed to treat African sleeping sickness, was safely administered to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who subsequently displayed measurable, but transient, improvement in core symptoms of autism. ASD encompasses a group of developmental disorders, often characterized by communication and language difficulties, repetitive behaviors and inability to socialize. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that ASD occurs in 1 in 68 children, with the condition 4 times more common in boys than girls. ASD has no single known cause, but may involve both genetic problems and environmental factors, such as viral infections, pollutants or complications during pregnancy. One of the aims of the SAT1 study was to test the cell danger hypothesis as a possible unifying theory that contributes to the pathogenesis of ASD. Writing in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, first author Robert K. Naviaux, professor of medicine, pediatrics and pathology at UC San Diego School of Medicine and colleagues describe a novel double-blind, placebo-controlled safety study involving 10 boys, ages 5 to 14 years, all diagnosed with ASD. Five of the 10 boys received a single, intravenous infusion of suramin, a drug originally developed in 1916 to treat trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) and river blindness, both caused by parasites. The other five boys received a placebo. The trial followed earlier testing in a mouse model of autism in which a single dose of suramin temporarily reversed symptoms of the neurological disorder. The results in humans were equally notable, though the purpose of the SAT1 trial was fundamentally to test the researchers' underlying theory about a unifying cause for autism and to assess the safety of suramin, which is not an approved treatment of ASD. In fact, there are no approved drugs to treat the core symptoms of ASD. All five boys who received the suramin infusion displayed improvements in language and social behavior, restricted or repetitive behaviors and coping skills. Assessment of improvements was based upon observational examinations and interviews using standardized tests and questionnaires, such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, 2nd edition (ADOS-2), the Expressive One Word Picture Vocabulary Testing (EOWPWT), the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC), the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC), the Repetitive Behavior Questionnaire (RBQ) and the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) questionnaire. To minimize misinterpretation of natural day-to-day variations in symptoms, parents were asked to mark a symptom as changed in the 6-week CGI only if the symptom lasted for at least one week. The researchers found that ADOS-2 scores were improved in the suramin treatment group at six weeks, but not in the placebo group. Specifically, ADOS-2 scores improved by -1.6 points in the suramin group, but did not change in the placebo. Children who have a score of 6 or lower in ADOS-2 may have milder symptoms but no longer meet the formal diagnostic criteria for ASD. A score of 7 to 8 indicates the child is on the autism spectrum. Nine and above classifies the child as autistic. Suramin treatment was also associated with improvements in the ABC, ATEC and CGI measurements, but not RBQ. The most changed behaviors, the authors said, were social communication and play, speech and language, calm and focus, repetitive behaviors and coping skills. Participating families also reported benefits among the children who received suramin. "We saw improvements in our son after suramin that we have never seen before," said the parent of a 14-year-old who had not spoken a complete sentence in 12 years. "Within an hour after the infusion, he started to make more eye contact with the doctor and nurses in the room. There was a new calmness at times, but also more emotion at other times. He started to show an interest in playing hide-and-seek with his 16-year-old brother. He started practicing making new sounds around the house. He started seeking out his dad more. "We have tried every new treatment out there for over 10 years. Nothing has come close to all the changes in language and social interaction and new interests that we saw after suramin. We saw our son advance almost three years in development in just six weeks." Naviaux, who is co-director of the Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center at UC San Diego, believes that ASD -- and several other chronic conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome and some autoimmune disorders -- are caused by metabolic dysfunction or impaired communication between cells in the brain, gut and immune system. Specifically, this dysfunction is caused by abnormal persistence of the cell danger response (CDR), a natural and universal cellular reaction to injury or stress. "The purpose of CDR is to help protect the cell and jump-start the healing process," said Naviaux, by essentially causing the cell to harden its membranes, cease interaction with neighbors and withdraw within itself until the danger has passed. "But sometimes CDR gets stuck," Naviaux said. "This prevents completion of the natural healing cycle and can permanently alter the way the cell responds to the world. When this happens, cells behave as if they are still injured or in imminent danger, even though the original cause of the injury or threat has passed." At the molecular level, cellular homeostasis or equilibrium is altered, creating an abnormal cellular response that leads to chronic disease. "When this happens during early child development," said Naviaux, "it causes autism and many other chronic childhood disorders." Suramin works by inhibiting the signaling function of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a nucleotide or small molecule produced by cellular mitochondria and released from the cell as a danger signal. When CDR is activated, the effect of extracellular ATP is similar to a warning siren that never stops. Suramin inhibits the binding of ATP and similar molecules to key purinergic receptors, according to Naviaux. It silences the siren, "signaling the cellular war is over, the danger has passed and cells can return to 'peacetime' jobs like normal neurodevelopment, growth and healing." "There is evidence, gathered over the past 10 to 15 years, that children with ASD can exhibit oxidative stress, an outcome of the cell danger response," said Pat Levitt, PhD, Simms/Mann Chair in Developmental Neurogenetics at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and W.M. Keck Provost Professor in Neurogenetics at Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California. "This can impact how well neurons and circuits function. Why this would impose problems on certain circuits that mediate specific behaviors, such as social communication, is unclear, but this is why understanding how genetic risk and environmental factors combine to increase risk for autism spectrum disorder is important." Levitt was not involved in the study. "We had four non-verbal children in the study," said Naviaux, "two 6-year-olds and two 14-year-olds. The six-year-old and the 14-year-old who received suramin said the first sentences of their lives about one week after the single suramin infusion. This did not happen in any of the children given the placebo." Additionally, Naviaux said, "that during the time the children were on suramin, benefit from all their usual therapies and enrichment programs increased dramatically. Once suramin removed the roadblocks to development, the benefit from speech therapy, occupational therapy, applied behavioral analysis and even from playing games with other children during recess at school skyrocketed. Suramin was synergistic with their other therapies." Naviaux and colleagues do not believe CDR is the cause of ASD, but rather a fundamental driver that combines with other factors, such as genetics or environmental toxins. And suramin, at this stage, is not the ultimate answer. Unlike treatment for African sleeping sickness, which involves multiple, higher doses of suramin over a period of time and frequently results in a number of adverse side effects ranging from nausea and diarrhea to low blood pressure and kidney problems, researchers said the single, low dose of suramin used in the ASD trial produced no serious side effects beyond a passing skin rash. But the therapeutic benefit of suramin was temporary: Improvements in the treated boys' cognitive functions and behaviors peaked and then gradually faded after several weeks as the single dose of suramin wore off. The primary import of the trial's findings, said Naviaux, is that it points a way forward, that suramin should be tested in larger, more diverse cohorts of persons with ASD. (Naviaux said his research has been limited by costs; his lab is primarily supported through philanthropy.) "This work is new and this type of clinical trial is expensive," he said. "We did not have enough funding to do a larger study. And even with the funding we were able to raise, we had to go $500,000 in debt to complete the trial." Larger and longer trials would include multiple doses of suramin over longer periods of time, allowing researchers to map whether improvements continue or if uncommon side effects appear when participant numbers are greater. If Not Suramin, Maybe Something Like It Andrew W. Zimmerman, MD, a clinical professor of pediatrics and neurology at the UMass Memorial Medical Center who was not involved in the suramin trial but is conducting similar research, described the study results as "very encouraging for the field of autism, not only for the positive effects of suramin for the children who received the drug, but also for confirmation of the important 'cell danger response.' "As the authors point out, many genetic variants have been found in ASD, but few have led to specific treatments. The CDR includes a number of metabolic pathways that may be affected by a number of genetic mutations or by environmental factors that have effects epigenetically -- beyond the genes themselves." The Food and Drug Administration has not approved suramin for any therapeutic use in the United States. It is not commercially available. Naviaux noted that new trials could prove suramin is not an effective ASD treatment. Its benefits may prove too limited over the long term, he said, or an unacceptable safety issue might arise. But "even if suramin itself is not the best antipurinergic drug for autism, our studies have helped blaze the trail for the development of new antipurinergic drugs that might be even better," said Naviaux. "Before our work, no one knew that purinergic signaling abnormalities were a part of autism. Now we do, and new drugs can be developed rationally and systematically." "The suramin pilot study is too small from which to draw specific conclusions about the treatment, but there is no doubt that the pilot study reports positive outcomes for all five children who received the medication. The findings provide a strong rationale for developing a larger study that can probe functional improvements in children in greater depth." The potential financial cost of ASD treatment using suramin cannot yet be determined for several reasons, the study authors said. First, additional trials are required to determine the effective dosage and frequency for different types of patients. Suramin is used much differently for treating sleeping sickness, but the cost for a one month course of treatment is modest: approximately $27. Second, the age of the drug means that, if approved, it would almost certainly result in cheaper, generic formulations, but there is no way to accurately predict how that would play out at this time. John Rodakis, founder and president of the N of One: Autism Research Foundation, which provided funding support for the study, said that despite all of the necessary caveats and need for additional research, the findings are "promising, hopeful work for a community of affected families that have been given little in the way of answers by medicine."


News Article | May 26, 2017
Site: www.medicalnewstoday.com

A report on the trial - led by the University of California-San Diego (UCSD) - is published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or autism, is a developmental disability with a cluster of behavioral symptoms that typically surface in childhood and generally affect social interaction and communication. ASD is considered a complex, wide-spectrum disorder because the many symptoms can vary in combination and intensity. For this reason, no two people with ASD will have exactly the same symptoms. Some of the behavioral symptoms of ASD include: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ASD affects around 1 in 68 children in the United States and occurs in all socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic groups. However, it is about 4.5 times more common in boys than in girls. There is no single cause of ASD, but it is thought that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is involved, ranging from pollutants to viral infections and pregnancy complications. Robert K. Naviaux, a professor of medicine, pediatrics, and pathology at UCSD School of Medicine and first author of the new study, believes that the idea of an abnormal "cell danger response" may offer a unifying theory for the development of ASD. The cell danger response is a normal signal sent out by all cells when they suffer injury or . Its purpose, says Prof. Naviaux, "is to help protect the cell and jump-start the healing process." The signal causes the cell to stiffen its cell walls, stop talking to other cells, and withdraw until the threat subsides. However, Prof. Naviaux explains that the cell danger response "can get stuck" and stop the completion of the cell's healing cycle. The cell persists in the threat response state, which can "permanently alter the way the cell responds to the world." The effect at the molecular level is to disrupt the chemistry of cell equilibrium and cause chronic disease. Prof. Naviaux says that "when this happens during early child development, it causes autism and many other chronic childhood disorders." Cells activate the cell danger response by releasing a small molecule from their energy-making compartments, or mitochondria. The release of this molecule is what acts as the danger signal, and it keeps being released as long as the cell danger response is active. Suramin blocks the ability of the small molecule to release the danger signal. The effect, says Prof. Naviaux, is to signal that "the cellular war is over, the danger has passed and cells can return to 'peacetime' jobs like normal neurodevelopment, growth, and healing." The drug was originally developed in 1916 by the German firm Frederich Bayer and Co. for treating diseases caused by trypanosome parasites, such as those that cause African sleeping sickness and river blindness. For their small study - which took the form of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase I/II clinical trial involving 10 boys, all aged between 5 and 14, who were diagnosed with ASD - the team tested the effect of a single dose of suramin on symptoms of ASD. The aim of the trial was to find out whether the cell danger response theory might explain the development of ASD and to assess the safety of suramin, which is not approved for the treatment of ASD. An earlier trial that tested the drug on mice had found that a single dose "temporarily reversed" symptoms of ASD. The boys were randomly assigned to receive either a single intravenous transfusion of suramin, or a placebo. The results showed that all five boys who received the active drug showed measurable improvements in ASD symptoms not seen in the placebo group. The improvements were specifically in speech and language, social communication and play, coping skills, calm and focus, and repetitive behavior. The researchers used a battery of standardized tests and interviews to measure the improvements. When these involved parent observations, the team only counted a change as an improvement if it persisted for at least a week. This was to rule out any fluctuations in day-to-day behavior that may have occurred anyway. Prof. Naviaux says that there were four non-verbal children in the trial: two aged 6 and two aged 14, with one of each age having been assigned to the drug group and the placebo group. "The 6-year-old and the 14-year-old who received suramin said the first sentences of their lives about one week after the single suramin infusion," he notes. "This did not happen in any of the children given the placebo." The team reports that while the children were on suramin, there was a dramatic improvement in the benefits they derived from the speech therapy, occupational therapy, and other programs that they were taking part in. However, the effects of the drug waned over time. The measured improvements peaked and then gradually dwindled after a few weeks. The team is not dispirited by this. They say that the findings are sufficient to show that it is worth testing different doses of suramin in larger, more diverse groups of people with ASD, over longer periods. This could help to establish how long improvements last, and also whether side effects other than the mild skin rash observed in the small trial might emerge. Andrew W. Zimmerman, a clinical professor of pediatrics and neurology at UMass Memorial Medical Center, was not involved in the trial but is also researching in a similar field. He says that the results of the trial are "encouraging for the field of autism," both in terms of the promising changes in the children and also because it supports the cell danger response theory. He comments: Prof. Naviaux and colleagues point out that suramin is not approved for the treatment of autism. They strongly urge against using it in unauthorized settings. The drug must undergo years of rigorous testing through clinical trials to identify any rare side effects and establish safe doses. Learn how a new biochemical method accurately diagnosed autism in children.


News Article | May 26, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Small, randomized clinical trial reported measurable, but transient, benefits after single dose of suramin, highlighting novel causative theory and need for more, larger and longer trials In a small, randomized Phase I/II clinical trial (SAT1), researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine say a 100-year-old drug called suramin, originally developed to treat African sleeping sickness, was safely administered to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who subsequently displayed measurable, but transient, improvement in core symptoms of autism. ASD encompasses a group of developmental disorders, often characterized by communication and language difficulties, repetitive behaviors and inability to socialize. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that ASD occurs in 1 in 68 children, with the condition 4 times more common in boys than girls. ASD has no single known cause, but may involve both genetic problems and environmental factors, such as viral infections, pollutants or complications during pregnancy. One of the aims of the SAT1 study was to test the cell danger hypothesis as a possible unifying theory that contributes to the pathogenesis of ASD. Writing in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, first author Robert K. Naviaux, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, pediatrics and pathology at UC San Diego School of Medicine and colleagues describe a novel double-blind, placebo-controlled safety study involving 10 boys, ages 5 to 14 years, all diagnosed with ASD. Five of the 10 boys received a single, intravenous infusion of suramin, a drug originally developed in 1916 to treat trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) and river blindness, both caused by parasites. The other five boys received a placebo. The trial followed earlier testing in a mouse model of autism in which a single dose of suramin temporarily reversed symptoms of the neurological disorder. The results in humans were equally notable, though the purpose of the SAT1 trial was fundamentally to test the researchers' underlying theory about a unifying cause for autism and to assess the safety of suramin, which is not an approved treatment of ASD. In fact, there are no approved drugs to treat the core symptoms of ASD. All five boys who received the suramin infusion displayed improvements in language and social behavior, restricted or repetitive behaviors and coping skills. Assessment of improvements was based upon observational examinations and interviews using standardized tests and questionnaires, such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, 2nd edition (ADOS-2), the Expressive One Word Picture Vocabulary Testing (EOWPWT), the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC), the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC), the Repetitive Behavior Questionnaire (RBQ) and the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) questionnaire. To minimize misinterpretation of natural day-to-day variations in symptoms, parents were asked to mark a symptom as changed in the 6-week CGI only if the symptom lasted for at least one week. The researchers found that ADOS-2 scores were improved in the suramin treatment group at six weeks, but not in the placebo group. Specifically, ADOS-2 scores improved by -1.6 points in the suramin group, but did not change in the placebo. Children who have a score of 6 or lower in ADOS-2 may have milder symptoms but no longer meet the formal diagnostic criteria for ASD. A score of 7 to 8 indicates the child is on the autism spectrum. Nine and above classifies the child as autistic. Suramin treatment was also associated with improvements in the ABC, ATEC and CGI measurements, but not RBQ. The most changed behaviors, the authors said, were social communication and play, speech and language, calm and focus, repetitive behaviors and coping skills. Participating families also reported benefits among the children who received suramin. "We saw improvements in our son after suramin that we have never seen before," said the parent of a 14-year-old who had not spoken a complete sentence in 12 years. "Within an hour after the infusion, he started to make more eye contact with the doctor and nurses in the room. There was a new calmness at times, but also more emotion at other times. He started to show an interest in playing hide-and-seek with his 16-year-old brother. He started practicing making new sounds around the house. He started seeking out his dad more. "We have tried every new treatment out there for over 10 years. Nothing has come close to all the changes in language and social interaction and new interests that we saw after suramin. We saw our son advance almost three years in development in just six weeks." Naviaux, who is co-director of the Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center at UC San Diego, believes that ASD -- and several other chronic conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome and some autoimmune disorders -- are caused by metabolic dysfunction or impaired communication between cells in the brain, gut and immune system. Specifically, this dysfunction is caused by abnormal persistence of the cell danger response (CDR), a natural and universal cellular reaction to injury or stress. "The purpose of CDR is to help protect the cell and jump-start the healing process," said Naviaux, by essentially causing the cell to harden its membranes, cease interaction with neighbors and withdraw within itself until the danger has passed. "But sometimes CDR gets stuck," Naviaux said. "This prevents completion of the natural healing cycle and can permanently alter the way the cell responds to the world. When this happens, cells behave as if they are still injured or in imminent danger, even though the original cause of the injury or threat has passed." At the molecular level, cellular homeostasis or equilibrium is altered, creating an abnormal cellular response that leads to chronic disease. "When this happens during early child development," said Naviaux, "it causes autism and many other chronic childhood disorders." Suramin works by inhibiting the signaling function of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a nucleotide or small molecule produced by cellular mitochondria and released from the cell as a danger signal. When CDR is activated, the effect of extracellular ATP is similar to a warning siren that never stops. Suramin inhibits the binding of ATP and similar molecules to key purinergic receptors, according to Naviaux. It silences the siren, "signaling the cellular war is over, the danger has passed and cells can return to 'peacetime' jobs like normal neurodevelopment, growth and healing." "There is evidence, gathered over the past 10 to 15 years, that children with ASD can exhibit oxidative stress, an outcome of the cell danger response," said Pat Levitt, PhD, Simms/Mann Chair in Developmental Neurogenetics at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and W.M. Keck Provost Professor in Neurogenetics at Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California. "This can impact how well neurons and circuits function. Why this would impose problems on certain circuits that mediate specific behaviors, such as social communication, is unclear, but this is why understanding how genetic risk and environmental factors combine to increase risk for autism spectrum disorder is important." Levitt was not involved in the study. "We had four non-verbal children in the study," said Naviaux, "two 6-year-olds and two 14-year-olds. The six-year-old and the 14-year-old who received suramin said the first sentences of their lives about one week after the single suramin infusion. This did not happen in any of the children given the placebo." Additionally, Naviaux said, "that during the time the children were on suramin, benefit from all their usual therapies and enrichment programs increased dramatically. Once suramin removed the roadblocks to development, the benefit from speech therapy, occupational therapy, applied behavioral analysis and even from playing games with other children during recess at school skyrocketed. Suramin was synergistic with their other therapies." Naviaux and colleagues do not believe CDR is the cause of ASD, but rather a fundamental driver that combines with other factors, such as genetics or environmental toxins. And suramin, at this stage, is not the ultimate answer. Unlike treatment for African sleeping sickness, which involves multiple, higher doses of suramin over a period of time and frequently results in a number of adverse side effects ranging from nausea and diarrhea to low blood pressure and kidney problems, researchers said the single, low dose of suramin used in the ASD trial produced no serious side effects beyond a passing skin rash. But the therapeutic benefit of suramin was temporary: Improvements in the treated boys' cognitive functions and behaviors peaked and then gradually faded after several weeks as the single dose of suramin wore off. The primary import of the trial's findings, said Naviaux, is that it points a way forward, that suramin should be tested in larger, more diverse cohorts of persons with ASD. (Naviaux said his research has been limited by costs; his lab is primarily supported through philanthropy.) "This work is new and this type of clinical trial is expensive," he said. "We did not have enough funding to do a larger study. And even with the funding we were able to raise, we had to go $500,000 in debt to complete the trial." Larger and longer trials would include multiple doses of suramin over longer periods of time, allowing researchers to map whether improvements continue or if uncommon side effects appear when participant numbers are greater. Andrew W. Zimmerman, MD, a clinical professor of pediatrics and neurology at the UMass Memorial Medical Center who was not involved in the suramin trial but is conducting similar research, described the study results as "very encouraging for the field of autism, not only for the positive effects of suramin for the children who received the drug, but also for confirmation of the important 'cell danger response.' "As the authors point out, many genetic variants have been found in ASD, but few have led to specific treatments. The CDR includes a number of metabolic pathways that may be affected by a number of genetic mutations or by environmental factors that have effects epigenetically -- beyond the genes themselves." The Food and Drug Administration has not approved suramin for any therapeutic use in the United States. It is not commercially available. Naviaux noted that new trials could prove suramin is not an effective ASD treatment. Its benefits may prove too limited over the long term, he said, or an unacceptable safety issue might arise. But "even if suramin itself is not the best antipurinergic drug for autism, our studies have helped blaze the trail for the development of new antipurinergic drugs that might be even better," said Naviaux. "Before our work, no one knew that purinergic signaling abnormalities were a part of autism. Now we do, and new drugs can be developed rationally and systematically." Levitt at USC agreed: "The suramin pilot study is too small from which to draw specific conclusions about the treatment, but there is no doubt that the pilot study reports positive outcomes for all five children who received the medication. The findings provide a strong rationale for developing a larger study that can probe functional improvements in children in greater depth." The potential financial cost of ASD treatment using suramin cannot yet be determined for several reasons, the study authors said. First, additional trials are required to determine the effective dosage and frequency for different types of patients. Suramin is used much differently for treating sleeping sickness, but the cost for a one month course of treatment is modest: approximately $27. Second, the age of the drug means that, if approved, it would almost certainly result in cheaper, generic formulations, but there is no way to accurately predict how that would play out at this time. John Rodakis, founder and president of the N of One: Autism Research Foundation, which provided funding support for the study, said that despite all of the necessary caveats and need for additional research, the findings are "promising, hopeful work for a community of affected families that have been given little in the way of answers by medicine." Suramin is not approved for the treatment of autism. Like many intravenous drugs, when administered improperly by untrained personnel, at the wrong dose and schedule, without careful measurement of drug levels and monitoring for toxicity, suramin can cause harm. Careful clinical trials will be needed over several years at several sites to learn how to use low-dose suramin safely in autism, and to identify drug-drug interactions and rare side effects that cannot currently be predicted. We strongly caution against the unauthorized use of suramin. Co-authors include: Brooke Curtis and Alan Lincoln, Alliant International University; Kefeng Li, Jane C. Naviaux, A. Taylor Bright, Gail E. Reiner, Marissa Westerfield, William A. Alaynick, Lin Wang, Edmund V. Capparelli, Cynthia Adams, Ji Sun, Sonia Jain, Feng He, Deyna A. Arellano, Lisa E. Mash, Leanne Chukoskie, and senior author Jeanne Townsend, UC San Diego; and Suzanne Goh, Pediatric Neurology Therapeutics. Disclosure: Robert Naviaux has filed a provisional patent application related to antipurinergic therapy of autism and related disorders. He is a scientific board member for the Autism Research Institute and the Open Medicine Foundation. Edmund V. Capparelli is a DSMB member for Cempra Pharmaceuticals and The Medicines Company, and a consultant for Alexion. Suzanne Goh is co-owner of MitoMedical. For non-media information: Contact the Naviaux lab at naviauxlab.ucsd.edu


News Article | May 26, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

In a small, randomized Phase I/II clinical trial (SAT1), researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine say a 100-year-old drug called suramin, originally developed to treat African sleeping sickness, was safely administered to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who subsequently displayed measurable, but transient, improvement in core symptoms of autism. ASD encompasses a group of developmental disorders, often characterized by communication and language difficulties, repetitive behaviors and inability to socialize. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that ASD occurs in 1 in 68 children, with the condition 4 times more common in boys than girls. ASD has no single known cause, but may involve both genetic problems and environmental factors, such as viral infections, pollutants or complications during pregnancy. One of the aims of the SAT1 study was to test the cell danger hypothesis as a possible unifying theory that contributes to the pathogenesis of ASD. Writing in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, first author Robert K. Naviaux, professor of medicine, pediatrics and pathology at UC San Diego School of Medicine and colleagues describe a novel double-blind, placebo-controlled safety study involving 10 boys, ages 5 to 14 years, all diagnosed with ASD. Five of the 10 boys received a single, intravenous infusion of suramin, a drug originally developed in 1916 to treat trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) and river blindness, both caused by parasites. The other five boys received a placebo. The trial followed earlier testing in a mouse model of autism in which a single dose of suramin temporarily reversed symptoms of the neurological disorder. The results in humans were equally notable, though the purpose of the SAT1 trial was fundamentally to test the researchers' underlying theory about a unifying cause for autism and to assess the safety of suramin, which is not an approved treatment of ASD. In fact, there are no approved drugs to treat the core symptoms of ASD. All five boys who received the suramin infusion displayed improvements in language and social behavior, restricted or repetitive behaviors and coping skills. Assessment of improvements was based upon observational examinations and interviews using standardized tests and questionnaires, such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, 2nd edition (ADOS-2), the Expressive One Word Picture Vocabulary Testing (EOWPWT), the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC), the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC), the Repetitive Behavior Questionnaire (RBQ) and the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) questionnaire. To minimize misinterpretation of natural day-to-day variations in symptoms, parents were asked to mark a symptom as changed in the 6-week CGI only if the symptom lasted for at least one week. The researchers found that ADOS-2 scores were improved in the suramin treatment group at six weeks, but not in the placebo group. Specifically, ADOS-2 scores improved by -1.6 points in the suramin group, but did not change in the placebo. Children who have a score of 6 or lower in ADOS-2 may have milder symptoms but no longer meet the formal diagnostic criteria for ASD. A score of 7 to 8 indicates the child is on the autism spectrum. Nine and above classifies the child as autistic. Suramin treatment was also associated with improvements in the ABC, ATEC and CGI measurements, but not RBQ. The most changed behaviors, the authors said, were social communication and play, speech and language, calm and focus, repetitive behaviors and coping skills. Participating families also reported benefits among the children who received suramin. "We saw improvements in our son after suramin that we have never seen before," said the parent of a 14-year-old who had not spoken a complete sentence in 12 years. "Within an hour after the infusion, he started to make more eye contact with the doctor and nurses in the room. There was a new calmness at times, but also more emotion at other times. He started to show an interest in playing hide-and-seek with his 16-year-old brother. He started practicing making new sounds around the house. He started seeking out his dad more. "We have tried every new treatment out there for over 10 years. Nothing has come close to all the changes in language and social interaction and new interests that we saw after suramin. We saw our son advance almost three years in development in just six weeks." Naviaux, who is co-director of the Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center at UC San Diego, believes that ASD -- and several other chronic conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome and some autoimmune disorders -- are caused by metabolic dysfunction or impaired communication between cells in the brain, gut and immune system. Specifically, this dysfunction is caused by abnormal persistence of the cell danger response (CDR), a natural and universal cellular reaction to injury or stress. "The purpose of CDR is to help protect the cell and jump-start the healing process," said Naviaux, by essentially causing the cell to harden its membranes, cease interaction with neighbors and withdraw within itself until the danger has passed. "But sometimes CDR gets stuck," Naviaux said. "This prevents completion of the natural healing cycle and can permanently alter the way the cell responds to the world. When this happens, cells behave as if they are still injured or in imminent danger, even though the original cause of the injury or threat has passed." At the molecular level, cellular homeostasis or equilibrium is altered, creating an abnormal cellular response that leads to chronic disease. "When this happens during early child development," said Naviaux, "it causes autism and many other chronic childhood disorders." Suramin works by inhibiting the signaling function of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a nucleotide or small molecule produced by cellular mitochondria and released from the cell as a danger signal. When CDR is activated, the effect of extracellular ATP is similar to a warning siren that never stops. Suramin inhibits the binding of ATP and similar molecules to key purinergic receptors, according to Naviaux. It silences the siren, "signaling the cellular war is over, the danger has passed and cells can return to 'peacetime' jobs like normal neurodevelopment, growth and healing." "There is evidence, gathered over the past 10 to 15 years, that children with ASD can exhibit oxidative stress, an outcome of the cell danger response," said Pat Levitt, PhD, Simms/Mann Chair in Developmental Neurogenetics at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and W.M. Keck Provost Professor in Neurogenetics at Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California. "This can impact how well neurons and circuits function. Why this would impose problems on certain circuits that mediate specific behaviors, such as social communication, is unclear, but this is why understanding how genetic risk and environmental factors combine to increase risk for autism spectrum disorder is important." Levitt was not involved in the study. "We had four non-verbal children in the study," said Naviaux, "two 6-year-olds and two 14-year-olds. The six-year-old and the 14-year-old who received suramin said the first sentences of their lives about one week after the single suramin infusion. This did not happen in any of the children given the placebo." Additionally, Naviaux said, "that during the time the children were on suramin, benefit from all their usual therapies and enrichment programs increased dramatically. Once suramin removed the roadblocks to development, the benefit from speech therapy, occupational therapy, applied behavioral analysis and even from playing games with other children during recess at school skyrocketed. Suramin was synergistic with their other therapies." Naviaux and colleagues do not believe CDR is the cause of ASD, but rather a fundamental driver that combines with other factors, such as genetics or environmental toxins. And suramin, at this stage, is not the ultimate answer. Unlike treatment for African sleeping sickness, which involves multiple, higher doses of suramin over a period of time and frequently results in a number of adverse side effects ranging from nausea and diarrhea to low blood pressure and kidney problems, researchers said the single, low dose of suramin used in the ASD trial produced no serious side effects beyond a passing skin rash. But the therapeutic benefit of suramin was temporary: Improvements in the treated boys' cognitive functions and behaviors peaked and then gradually faded after several weeks as the single dose of suramin wore off. The primary import of the trial's findings, said Naviaux, is that it points a way forward, that suramin should be tested in larger, more diverse cohorts of persons with ASD. (Naviaux said his research has been limited by costs; his lab is primarily supported through philanthropy.) "This work is new and this type of clinical trial is expensive," he said. "We did not have enough funding to do a larger study. And even with the funding we were able to raise, we had to go $500,000 in debt to complete the trial." Larger and longer trials would include multiple doses of suramin over longer periods of time, allowing researchers to map whether improvements continue or if uncommon side effects appear when participant numbers are greater. If Not Suramin, Maybe Something Like It Andrew W. Zimmerman, MD, a clinical professor of pediatrics and neurology at the UMass Memorial Medical Center who was not involved in the suramin trial but is conducting similar research, described the study results as "very encouraging for the field of autism, not only for the positive effects of suramin for the children who received the drug, but also for confirmation of the important 'cell danger response.' "As the authors point out, many genetic variants have been found in ASD, but few have led to specific treatments. The CDR includes a number of metabolic pathways that may be affected by a number of genetic mutations or by environmental factors that have effects epigenetically -- beyond the genes themselves." The Food and Drug Administration has not approved suramin for any therapeutic use in the United States. It is not commercially available. Naviaux noted that new trials could prove suramin is not an effective ASD treatment. Its benefits may prove too limited over the long term, he said, or an unacceptable safety issue might arise. But "even if suramin itself is not the best antipurinergic drug for autism, our studies have helped blaze the trail for the development of new antipurinergic drugs that might be even better," said Naviaux. "Before our work, no one knew that purinergic signaling abnormalities were a part of autism. Now we do, and new drugs can be developed rationally and systematically." "The suramin pilot study is too small from which to draw specific conclusions about the treatment, but there is no doubt that the pilot study reports positive outcomes for all five children who received the medication. The findings provide a strong rationale for developing a larger study that can probe functional improvements in children in greater depth." The potential financial cost of ASD treatment using suramin cannot yet be determined for several reasons, the study authors said. First, additional trials are required to determine the effective dosage and frequency for different types of patients. Suramin is used much differently for treating sleeping sickness, but the cost for a one month course of treatment is modest: approximately $27. Second, the age of the drug means that, if approved, it would almost certainly result in cheaper, generic formulations, but there is no way to accurately predict how that would play out at this time. John Rodakis, founder and president of the N of One: Autism Research Foundation, which provided funding support for the study, said that despite all of the necessary caveats and need for additional research, the findings are "promising, hopeful work for a community of affected families that have been given little in the way of answers by medicine."


News Article | May 9, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

The DPH letter, sent to the hospital yesterday, was issued in response to a plan submitted by the hospital which the DPH requested as part of its legal review and evaluation of the closure's impact on the health of the community.  On April 17, the DPH had issued an initial finding that the beds slated for closure provided an essential service that is "necessary for preserving access and health status in the hospitals' service area."  The DPH had requested the hospital provide more detailed information about their plan for the closure and their rationale for how patients would be cared for post closure. In rejecting the hospital's closure plan, the DPH calls into question nearly every aspect of the hospital's rationale for the closure, stating UMass Memorial's response does not "meet the needs of the patients in the Community.  As a result of this review, the Department is deeply concerned that the proposed closure of thirteen out of twenty-seven psychiatric beds in the central Massachusetts area, will impact the timely admission and treatment of persons in need of inpatient psychiatric care."  The DPH further calls upon the hospital to "reassess" the closure "to best meet the needs of those individuals presenting with a need for inpatient psychiatric care."  Reporters can obtain a PDF of the letter by emailing dschildmeier@mnarn.org. The DPH is not alone in its opposition to the closure, as the plan has been met with strident opposition from every sector of the community, including leading mental health advocates, the Worcester City Council (which cast a unanimous vote in opposition to the closure), several members of the Worcester legislative delegation, local law enforcement officials, former patients and family members of patients, as well as staff at the facility. "No one outside of those proposing this callous and dangerous plan supports this closure," said Lisa Goss, RN, a nurse on 8 East, the unit where the beds are slated for closure. "All, including the agency in our state charged with protecting public health have evaluated and rejected the hospital's arguments for this closure, yet UMass has turned a deaf ear to the outcry from our community." UMass Management Shocks Staff by Threatening to Close the Unit Regardless of DPH Findings Goss's skepticism about UMass Memorial management's commitment to its patients is well founded.  Nearly two weeks ago, after the DPH issued its initial finding that the beds slated for closure were an essential service that should be preserved, and before UMass had even submitted its required response to DPH, hospital management met with the staff on the unit and told them that they planned to go forward with the closure no matter what DPH ruled. "We were shocked that our management could take such an arrogant position and show such blatant disdain for our patients, and those who oversee the safety of our patients," said Goss.  "In the interest of our patients and this community, we can only hope that UMass management finally comes to its senses and places its concern for patients ahead of its concern for the bottom line." The DPH rejected nearly every claim made by the hospital to justify the closing, including rejecting its contention that patients currently cared for on the unit can be safely admitted and cared for in other facilities in the region, particularly patients with both psychiatric and medical conditions, and patients who may be poor.  "As the existing beds at the Medical Center treat patients with both psychiatric and medical needs, the Department is deeply concerned that the lack of information on diagnoses accepted at alternative sites and the potential inability of these alternate sites to accept some patients from the Medical Center will delay transfer of these patients to a facility that can meet their needs" The DPH letter further states, "these additional sites are not immediately available…Given the uncertainty of bed availability, the Department questions the Medical Center's assertion that there is sufficient capacity to treat patients with serious medical needs. Further, the Department is concerned that the Medical Center's reliance on beds at other facilities will consequently strain the regional capacity and limit access to inpatient psychiatric services and lead to increased ED boarding." In January, the management of UMass Memorial Medical Center announced plans to close 13 of the 27 psychiatric beds on 8 East, its busy inpatient psychiatric unit, and to convert these beds to medical surgical beds. On 8 East staff care for patients from the age of 16 up to geriatrics. They suffer from a range of mental health issues such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia, addiction, and also may be suicidal, self-injurious, and have homicidal thoughts and behavior. These patients often also need treatment for other medical issues which they are able to receive on 8 East because it is a medical psychiatric unit within an acute care hospital. This unit is nearly always full, while at the same time, the UMass University and UMass Memorial emergency departments are overburdened with psychiatric patients waiting for a bed on this or any other unit in the state that can take them These patients often wait several hours to several days for a bed. Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/mna-dph-rejects-umass-memorial-medical-centers-plan-to-close-psychiatric-beds-300454366.html


WORCESTER, Mass., March 1, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In response to a proposal by UMass Memorial Medical Center (UMMMC) to close 13 of its 28 inpatient psychiatric beds at its University Campus, Worcester District 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera is proposing an order that would appear...


News Article | February 17, 2017
Site: www.marketwired.com

Mesothelioma expert, Mary Hesdorffer, has been selected to receive the Gabriella Graham Patient Advocacy award at the 12th International Regional Therapies conference in Snowbird, UT. ALEXANDRIA, VA--(Marketwired - February 17, 2017) - The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation has announced today that its executive director, Mary Hesdorffer, has been selected as the recipient of the Gabriella Graham Patient Advocacy Award. This award honors individuals who have dedicated significant time and effort to help patients obtain the best care possible; have increased awareness and provided education of the disease to health care providers; and have promoted research efforts to expand understanding of the disease and improve treatment. The award is presented by the coordinating committee for the 12th International Regional Therapies meeting, taking place on Saturday, February 18th in Snowbird, UT. "Through Ms. Hesdorffer's efforts at the Foundation, she has clearly exemplified the meaning of the word advocate," said Dr. Laura Lambert of UMass Memorial, a spokesperson for the event. "Not only does she provide people with the information and resources they need to get the optimal treatment for mesothelioma, even more importantly, through her personal connection with patients and their families, she helps them with the even harder process of healing from this life-threatening disease," Dr. Lambert added. Mary Hesdorffer has been working in the field of mesothelioma for nearly 20 years, during which she has cared for mesothelioma patients in a number of roles, including her most recent as executive director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. "Mary works tirelessly on behalf of the mesothelioma community and I am thrilled that her work is recognized with this award. Recognition is not something she seeks, but she truly deserves it," said Melinda Kotzian, chief executive officer of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. The purpose of this conference, which is sponsored by the David C. Koch Regional Cancer Therapy Center, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Center for Continuing Education in the Health Sciences, and UPMC CancerCenter, is to facilitate an exchange of regional cancer therapies information among physicians. Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor of the lining of the lung, abdomen, or heart known to be caused by exposure to asbestos. With the life expectancy of less than one year after diagnosis, medical experts consider it one of the most aggressive and deadly of all cancers. An estimated one-third of those who develop mesothelioma were exposed while serving in the Navy or working in shipyards. Currently, few treatment options exist. There is no cure. ABOUT THE MESOTHELIOMA APPLIED RESEARCH FOUNDATION The Meso Foundation is the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating mesothelioma and easing the suffering caused by this cancer. The Meso Foundation actively seeks philanthropic support to fund mesothelioma research; provide patient support services and education; and advocate Congress for increased federal funding for mesothelioma research. The Meso Foundation is the only non-government funder of peer-reviewed scientific research to develop life-saving treatments for this extremely aggressive cancer. To date, the Foundation has awarded over $9.4 million to research. More information is available at www.curemeso.org.


QUINCY, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Shields Health Solutions, creator of specialty pharmacies for hospitals and health systems, today announced a new agreement with Fairview Health Services, a Minneapolis-based integrated health system, to co-develop care-related products and services for hospitals to better serve patients living with chronic illness. The agreement builds on five years of partnership co-developing products and services for hospital-based specialty pharmacies. “Adding the depth offered by Shields Health Solutions to our co-development initiatives makes sense because our patient-first values align so seamlessly,” said Dave Fasching, Chief Financial Officer, Fairview Health Services Specialty Pharmacy. “Shields is a great business partner and they are even better people. Like our healers in the hospital system, Shields puts patient health above all. We are committed to doing a lot more in 2017 and beyond.” Innovation in Hospital-Based Specialty Pharmacy Placing a specialty pharmacy on site at Fairview Health Services and at other health systems has resulted in many population health and coordinated care improvements including: “Creating the best products for hospital-owned specialty pharmacies with partners like Fairview allows us take advances from one location and bring them to hospital systems across the country,” said Jack Shields, CEO, Shields Health Solutions. “This is the most efficient way of improving lives for patients. Hospital’s having their own specialty pharmacy program is the single biggest care model improvement I’ve seen for patients in my 30 years in healthcare. We look forward to accelerating the pace of innovation alongside Fairview to help bring the best healthcare in the country to people living with chronic illness.” Creating the First Specialty Pharmacy Patient Telemetry Center™ Today, the sickest five percent of the population spends fifty times as much on healthcare per person as the healthiest majority of the population. Five years ago there was no quantifiable, cost-effective way to treat the sickest patients, who are often those with chronic illness. For example, if a hospital had 3,000 chronically ill patients scheduled for appointments in a given week, an effort was made to contact each patient before she or he arrived at the hospital. But that was not always possible. Today there is a Shields Patient Telemetry Center™ capable of analyzing the needs of all 3,000 patients before they arrive for appointments. Analysis may show 185 patients require intensive intervention before or after hospital appointments. Screening for medication adherence counseling, drug interaction prevention and post surgical follow-up are just a few medical interventions that can be scheduled to keep a sub-set of those 185 patients healthy. Because chronic illnesses often involve more than prescriptions to maintain health, some other patients may receive financial aid support to afford medicines and co-pays, psychological counseling, or home education visits to teach home injections. All as a result of analysis performed in the Patient Telemetry Center. In the end, all 3,000 patients can be contacted today, but all at the appropriate level of intervention. Technology like the Patient Telemetry Center helps the hospital system focus care resources where they are needed most, improving overall population health while cutting overall healthcare costs. Shields continued, “We’re fortunate to co-develop and incubate ideas at places like UMass Memorial and the University of Minnesota. Both are leading academic medical centers and have a national reputation for leadership. Next year we’ve been challenged by James Hereford, the CEO of Fairview, to focus on innovation around oncology. And that’s really exciting because about half of all FDA pipeline formularies are in the oncology specialty area. Developing best practices will really make an impact on value-based care going forward.” About Shields Health Solutions Shields Health Solutions is a specialty pharmacy integrator and care provider, partnering with hospital leaders on every aspect of specialty pharmacy creation and management. The company provides the fastest, lowest risk model for Hospitals to create a hospital-owned specialty pharmacy business, eliminating risks associated with Limited Distribution Drug (LDD) contracts, payor contracts, pharmacy accreditations, infrastructure set up and more. Shields Health Solutions handles it all, whether hospital leaders want to build from scratch or add specialty capabilities to their existing pharmacy programs. In 2012 Shields Health Solutions broke new ground by introducing the first turn-key, hospital-owned specialty pharmacy for a health system. The project included design and build of the pharmacy facility, pharmacy accreditations, pharmacy staffing, payor contracts, Limited Distribution Drug (LDD) contracts and technology infrastructure such as telecommunications and analytics dashboards. Today many of the most respected hospitals in the country, including UMass Memorial, Hartford Healthcare and Bay State Medical Center, are serving their chronically ill, complex patient populations using specialty pharmacy best practices developed collaboratively with Shields. The breakthrough of Shields Specialty Pharmacy is based on 40 years of partnerships with 30 hospital systems, building Shields Dialysis Centers, Shields Advanced Imaging Centers (Shields MRI) and Shields Radiation Therapy Centers. What we are doing today with Specialty Pharmacy is once again bringing best practices into a new area of healthcare, returning patients to the center of the care model, while helping healthcare leaders deliver better care more efficiently. Today, Shields Health Solutions is one of the fastest growing companies in America. For more information about Shields Health Solutions, visit www.shieldshealthsolutions.com.


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.businesswire.com

QUINCY, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Shields Health Solutions, a creator of specialty pharmacies for hospitals and health systems nationwide, today announced Prashant K Dilwali has joined the company’s executive team as Director of Business Operations. In his new role Prashant is responsible for establishing best practices across the patient support systems that the company has put in place to serve thousands of chronically ill patients. He also provides support identifying and analyzing new business opportunities. “Prashant is widely recognized as one of the most brilliant minds in healthcare today and we are delighted to have him join our growing executive team,” said Jack Shields, CEO, Shields Health Solutions. “We are adding the top talent in the country to our executive team right here in Quincy, heading into another year of double-digit growth. I know Prashant will play a vital role helping us meet the aggressive goals we have set out for the next few years, especially because we put patient health above all else and he is responsible for ensuring our operations continue to be the best in the industry at doing just that.” Prior to joining Shields, Prashant was Director of Finance at US Anesthesia Partners where he was responsible for budgeting and analytics. He has worked as a turnaround management consultant at Alvarez & Marsal’s Healthcare Industry Group – implementing both financial and operational restructuring. Prashant has also worked at Trinity Partners and Scientia Advisors as a strategy consultant to healthcare and life sciences companies – identifying new business opportunities and forecasting market capture. Prashant holds a Masters of Health Administration from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a Bachelors of Science in Biology with a minor in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. About Shields Health Solutions Shields Health Solutions partners with hospital leaders on every aspect of specialty pharmacy creation and management. The company provides the fastest, lowest risk model for Hospitals to create a hospital-owned specialty pharmacy business, eliminating risks associated with Limited Distribution Drug (LDD) contracts, payor contracts, pharmacy accreditations, infrastructure set up and more. Shields Health Solutions handles it all, whether hospital leaders want to build from scratch or add specialty capabilities to their existing pharmacy programs. In 2012 Shields Health Solutions broke new ground by introducing the first hospital-owned specialty pharmacy for a health system. Today many of the most respected hospitals in the country, including UMass Memorial, Fairview Health Services and Hartford Healthcare, are serving their chronically ill, complex patient populations using specialty pharmacy best practices developed collaboratively with Shields. The breakthrough of Shields Specialty Pharmacy is based on 40 years of partnerships with 30 hospital systems, building Shields Dialysis Centers, Shields Advanced Imaging Centers (Shields MRI) and Shields Radiation Therapy Centers. What we are doing today with Specialty Pharmacy is once again bringing best practices into a new area of healthcare, returning patients to the center of the care model, while helping healthcare leaders deliver better care more efficiently. Today, Shields Health Solutions is one of the fastest growing companies in America.

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