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Approximately 40 percent of babies born with sickle cell disease in Texas are in Houston

There are about 180 babies born with sickle cell disease in Texas each year, and approximately 40 percent (70 children) are born in Houston.

The Houston Health Department said in a press release that of the estimated 100,000 Americans living with the condition, approximately 7,000 are Texans, and Houston has more diagnoses than in any other region.

Sickle cell disease is a rare genetic blood condition that ultimately causes organ damage, including severe episodes of pain that can last up to a week and can result in multiple hospitalizations throughout a lifetime.

Kennedy Cooper is one of the estimated 1,500 children in Houston living with the disease. In a blog post for Texas Children’s Hospital, Cooper shared her journey, recalling moments where she felt ashamed to take medicine in front of friends and had to miss out on activities she loves because of her condition.

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“It’s not really fun to take medicine in front of friends at sleepovers,” she shared. “I’ve tried countless techniques to avoid this, including sneaking my medicine bag into the bathroom while others were distracted or waiting until everyone was sleeping to take my medicine. I’ve also had to turn down invitations to countless pool parties because the pool temperature was usually never warm enough for me.”

She’s able to shrug if off most of the time, “but sometimes you just can’t help but notice how different you are from everybody else,” she said.

Dr. Titilope Fasipe, chair of the Houston Sickle Cell Collaborative, is also a sickle cell patient. She was diagnosed at age 1, and wants every child to know that they can still lead a long, fulfilling life.

“I’m one of the ones who made it to adulthood and I’m happy, but I’m also respectful of the fact that so many more did not, and that’s part of what pushes me at times,” she said, as reported by KPRC Click2Houston’s Haley Hernandez.

Fasipe said we need more research and treatments for “this devastating disease that affects so many people in our community.”

If you want to learn more about the disease, the sickle cell collaborative and health department will host their 2020 Sickle Cell Advocacy Summit on October 8.

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BIAL Goes Global With New US Research Center and Acquisition of Promising Parkinson’s Disease Programs

  • BIAL Biotech to be based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and will be a Research Center of Excellence dedicated to genetically-defined Parkinson’s disease

  • LTI-291 clinical program and other research programs in Parkinson’s disease acquired from Lysosomal Therapeutics, Inc.

  • R&D team led by Peter Lansbury, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School

  • Investment may add up to 130 million dollars depending on the accomplishment of downstream development, and several regulatory and commercial milestones

BIAL, a pharmaceutical company based in Portugal with locations across Europe and dedicated to R&D in CNS diseases, announced today that it has established a new affiliate in the United States of America, BIAL Biotech Investments Inc. (BIAL Biotech). This new research center focused on genetically-defined Parkinson’s disease is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a prominent biotech hub in the world.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201001005323/en/

Simultaneously, BIAL announced that it has acquired worldwide rights of LTI-291 and all the Parkinson’s disease research programs of Lysosomal Therapeutics Inc. (LTI) and taken on the entire R&D team.

António Portela, executive president of BIAL, reveals: “Our entry into the US with the creation of BIAL Biotech and the acquisition of the promising programs from LTI, is a decisive step towards the fulfilment of our mission to contribute to improving the quality of life of people worldwide. The development of this new research center in the US, is a landmark of enormous relevance for us. We are investing in science and research, through our direct presence in one of the most important research hubs in the world and in one of the most promising areas of medicine.

This acquisition not only provides the company with a pipeline of new product candidates in Parkinson’s disease but also an experienced R&D team, led by Peter Lansbury, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and a recognized thought leader in the field of neurodegenerative diseases.

With this acquisition, BIAL is expanding its pipeline, namely with the integration of new compounds in neurodegeneration already in clinical development, specifically for Parkinson’s disease, where the pharmaceutical company already has a significant market position.

The executive president of BIAL also points out: “The compounds we’ve acquired are based on genetics, a new field of research for us. The lead asset, which now has the code name ‘BIA 28-6156/LTI-291’, has an innovative mechanism of action and presents the potential of being a first disease-modifying therapy for a genetic subset of Parkinson’s disease. It has successfully completed a Phase I trial program and should be ready to start Phase II studies in 2021. We´re progressing from symptomatic treatment to an intervention in the mechanisms of the disease, which is very exciting for BIAL.

“We are happy to be part of BIAL and take the lead on the growth story in the US,” says Kees Been, former CEO of LTI and now CEO of BIAL Biotech. “With the commitment and resources of BIAL we will be able to accelerate our novel

Study: Giving babies wheat very early may prevent celiac disease

Childhood risk for developing the allergic/autoimmune disorder known as celiac disease might be eliminated if infants were exposed to gluten as early as 4 months of age, new British research suggests.

The observation is based on work with 1,300 infants. Half were exposed to solid foods — including wheat protein — at an age that conflicts with current breastfeeding guidelines. Among those who were, none developed celiac disease.

“It was a surprise,” said study author Dr. Gideon Lack. “But if this study is correct, it would indicate that in order to prevent the development of celiac disease, we would need to introduce significant quantities of wheat into a baby’s diet as of 4 months of life.”

But the finding is not the final word on the subject, cautioned Lack, a professor of pediatric allergy and immunology at King’s College London.

“This is one study with a relatively small number of patients,” he said. “And, therefore, it cannot be regarded as conclusive, and clearly demands further study and investigation.”

Celiac disease is an inflammatory condition where consuming gluten damages the small intestine. It can cause poor absorption of nutrients.

“In some ways it’s an allergic disease inasmuch as it is triggered by eating gluten, which is a major wheat constituent, although it’s also present in barley and rye,” Lack said. “And in other ways it is an autoimmune disease, in that the body launches an immune response, and that response becomes redirected against the lining of the small intestine.”

About 1% of the population is affected, he added. In children, celiac disease it can go undiagnosed for many years, leading to poor growth and malnutrition. In adults, it can cause bone-thinning, fatigue and in rare cases, colon cancer.

Celiac patients can manage by avoiding gluten altogether. But there is no known way to prevent the onset of celiac disease. Current guidelines stipulate that celiac risk is not affected by the age at which one is first exposed to gluten.

But Lack and his colleagues put that wisdom to the test during a broad investigation that examined food allergy risk as a whole, rather than celiac disease, specifically.

The team focused on 1,300 English and Welsh infants who were enrolled in a food study between 2009 and 2012.

All had been exclusively breastfed until 13 weeks of age. After that, half continued to be exclusively breastfed through their sixth month. The other half was also exposed to potentially allergy-provoking foods.

Those foods included cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, sesame, cod fish and wheat. The team aimed to include about 4 grams of wheat protein per week, which contains about 3 grams of gluten.

By age 3, there were seven cases of celiac disease among the breastfeeding group, but zero among the group that was exposed to wheat early.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.K. government all urge parents to breastfeed exclusively for six months, giving babies no additional foods or fluids unless medically