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Inside the Patient Entrepreneur’s Mind: Maria Zannes

Maria Zannes IPEM graphic

Managing a chronic illness is challenging, whether it is your own or a loved one’s. Starting and running a business also poses unique challenges. If you struggle with a chronic illness, have started a business, or want to start a business, this blog series can help guide you. “Inside the Patient Entrepreneur’s Mind” offers key insights into chronic disease and mission-driven entrepreneurship by some of the most innovative patient entrepreneurs in the world. 

Maria Zannes is the President and CEO of bioAffinity Technologies. She is also a finalist of the 2019 Lyfebulb-Helsinn Innovation Summit & Award in cancer.

As a patient entrepreneur, can you describe your personal connection to cancer and how this experience drove you to innovate the space?

When I gave my pitch at the Cancer Innovation Summit, I shared a very personal story about my father. He was a glider pilot in WWII during a time when everyone smoked, and lung cancer took his life in his 30s. Additionally, my mother suffered from breast cancer and my brother, Tom, had survived lymphoma but later succumbed to glioblastoma. Given my personal connection to cancer, when introduced to the tech that bioAffinity has now developed, I was particularly taken with the possibility and real breakthrough characteristics in finding cancer early. Because of my background as a businesswoman, we chose to look at lung cancer because it is the largest cancer killer and this technology will help combat the fact that it is mostly caught at a late stage. It also has a high false positive rate, thereby our test, which takes sputum, would be used in conjunction with screening to label the disease early.

What makes bioAffinity Technologies, Inc., namely your lung cancer early diagnostic, unique and how does it meet an unmet need of the cancer community?

We’re unique in the human sample that we use. We collect phlegm. Although sputum cytology (taking phlegm from the lung and looking at it under a microscope) has been collected for some time now, we take sputum and actually look at all 21 million cells in a sample as opposed to the 40-50 thousand that typically come on a slide. We’re unique in that we are using flow cytometry instead of blood in the diagnosis of lung cancer and sputum is 100s more times concentrated in cells than blood. We’re able to get an important profile of the lung with different cell types by taking this type of sample. We also have reimbursement codes and the cost of our test is less for the consumer/patient. Lastly, it is becoming a very highly accurate test that can be used at a very critical juncture in a patient’s path to determine if they have cancer or not. For context, it is recommended that heavy smokers participate in a screen using imaging that can find lung cancer early, but the screen has a high false positive to find a number of other conditions. Our test can be used to hone in on who actually has cancer warranting a biopsy. This helps to avoid putting patients through biopsy—saving unnecessary tests, surgeries, and the emotional effects on an already compromised population.

Are there any other unmet needs of the cancer community that you think take priority in working to address? How are patient entrepreneurs well-suited to meet these needs?

First, the test itself is applicable to, and we will be developing it for, other cancers using samples that can be collected noninvasively like colon and prostate. In lung cancer, we also see that this will become a form of screening because it is a simple test where people can collect their samples at home using a simple handheld device. I think innovation, creativity, applied experience, and collaboration equals innovation and breakthrough and that is what we are looking at within bioAffinity.

If you’re focused, innovative, experienced, and creative, I think any organization can achieve great things. Certainly, passion in any form can help when there is a need to push through obstacle. A personal passion does wonders—it can make quite a difference. The drawback is “founderitis”—you don’t want to have so much of a passion that it blinds you to problems or to difficulties. I think we do it well here.  If you’re pursuing science, then it should be at your core of what you do—that means there needs to be objectivity to all of your work by looking at results of an experiment or clinical trial. At the end, you need to recognize “this is going to be used by someone” so sometimes that means changing course or that what you hoped for doesn’t come about no matter how strong you feel. IF you have a personal connection, like I do going through cancer with many family members, the last thing you want to give is false hope. Avoiding false hope keeps us all very honest in my field. I think passion plays a big part, and whether it comes from a personal connection or your own world view of where you can do the most good, it is very, very important. You have to have some kind of a tug to get into this—cancer research is a very humbling profession because cancer is a very difficult and remarkable disease in how it changes you and your ability to survive.

Where do you draw your inspiration and motivation from to keep forging ahead as an entrepreneur in the healthcare industry?

Obviously, from the beginning, I have been inspired by my mother, my father and my brother and their experiences with cancer. However, my inspiration comes from how they lived—they were not defined by a cancer diagnosis in any shape or form. In addition, I am definitely motivated by the science and the people with whom I work. We have a very passionate, dedicated team, made up of remarkably intelligent and skilled individuals. Every day is a learning experience. You always have to keep in mind that every decision you make will ultimately affect the patients. More than providing inspiration, patients impact the decisions I make as to whether we should do that test one more time or wait for an answer to a question before moving to the next step.

Lastly, what do you do for fun to manage the stress of running a business as both a person with a personal connection to cancer and an entrepreneur? Do you have any similar advice on work-life-disease management balance to others out there thinking of starting a business to meet an unmet need of a chronic disease patient community?

Laugh a lot. Find reason to laugh. I have two sons who are absolute delights and they make me laugh all the time. It is also important to make those personal connections with people. There are so many different approaches to building a company, and many are personal. it isn’t so much about the number of hours you put in, but rather how you spend those hours. You need to figure out all that you need to know as well as what you don’t know. In the cancer/health-related field, you need to have a sense of humility and ask for help and collaboration. I’ve gained a sense of perspective in that I am working towards a goal of finding a truth as a result of my family’s experiences with cancer. That helps me manage the stress that comes with the job, because I am in the business of finding the truth instead of putting a round peg in a square hole.

Maria Laughing With Sons

Inside the Patient Entrepreneur’s Mind: Ira Spector, PhD

Ira Spector Blog

Managing a chronic illness is challenging, whether it is your own or a loved one’s. Starting and running a business also poses unique challenges. If you struggle with a chronic illness, have started a business, or want to start a business, this blog series can help guide you. “Inside the Patient Entrepreneur’s Mind” offers key insights into chronic disease and mission-driven entrepreneurship by some of the most innovative patient entrepreneurs in the world. 

Ira Spector, PhD is CEO & Co-Founder of SFA Therapeutics. He is also a finalist of the 2019 Lyfebulb-Helsinn Innovation Summit & Award in cancer.

As a patient entrepreneur, can you describe your personal experience with cancer and how this experience drove you to innovate the space?

I had two parathyroid tumors removed in 2013 and I was very lucky that they were both caught early and localized. The only problem I had was a sequela of cancer treatment, because there is almost always other damage that occurs. For me, my body was overproducing calcium after cancer treatment so I have calcium deposits in all of my joints as well as my heart valve that required a lot of follow up cardiac care. In my case, I feel lucky that my tumors were caught early. Unfortunately, I have a lot of other personal connections to cancer and other illnesses that resulted differently than my case. My mother and father both had cancer, we lost my father-in-law to colon cancer and my brother-in-law to what we think was glioblastoma. I was also heavily influenced growing up with a seriously ill sibling in terms of guiding me to do what I do now. I’m fairly unique because I am in the drug development industry.  In terms of cancer, specifically, when I found the technology that was the basis for SFA, it was supposed to start as an anti-inflammatory platform. Almost  by happenstance, after looking at the pathways downregulated by this anti-inflammatory platform, I found them to also be oncogenes. When I discovered the downregulating effect of this anti-inflammatory platform on certain oncogenes, I learned that there were other cancers with an inflammatory component that we could go after with this therapy. 

What makes SFA Therapeutics unique and how does it meet an unmet need of the cancer community?

Cancer patients live the rest of their lives looking over their shoulder waiting for the cancer to come back—we think our drugs are the metaphorical umbrella to prevent recurrence. Other than addressing environmental factors like smoking, cancer prevention doesn’t get a lot of attention on the Big Pharma or development side. What we’re saying is wait a second, there are millions of people who have already been treated and now they are just living in fear—what about them! We think we have an approach to reach this community of people. With the exception of certain type of breast cancer, there are very few cancers where other drugs are used to prevent relapse recurrence. At least in terms of CLL and ALL, the path to reduce recurrence comes from this drug we are developing at SFA. We think there is a whole generation of drugs that are very safe and non-chemotoxic to help prevent relapse.

Traditional treatment of cancer has been based on the theory that cancer cells grow more rapidly than normal cells. Agents like chemotherapy or radiation have been used to kill those cells, while also killing healthy cells in the process, to reduce the cancer burden. Our thesis differs in that we believe certain cancers have an inflammatory component and there is a way to control that inflammatory response in the cell. Our drugs are designed to prevent recurrence of tumors by reducing chronic inflammation.

Are there any other unmet needs of the cancer community that you think take priority in working to address? How are patient entrepreneurs well-suited to meet these needs?

Cancer is all too often treated with the ‘let’s just get it out’ mentality and we need a more integrative approach involving the family and disease experience. There are others working on this too, and although we have to be focused with resources, we recognize that there clearly needs to be an integrated approach that improves cancer aftercare. Although we are focused on drug development at SFA, we as Patient Entrepreneurs recognize the general needs of the community are huge. There is a lot of stigma and psychology that could be addressed here. I have a tremendous sensitivity to the broader issues here and I recognize that is also not a very well met need societally. 

Where do you draw your inspiration and motivation from to keep forging ahead as an entrepreneur in the healthcare industry?

Patients. I’m an industry veteran involved in household name drugs. That being said, I get up every morning thinking about patients who haven’t been treated and patients who could’ve been treated by drugs that failed. The inspiration comes from the fact that we are not done and there is still a lot left to do. I know that has become my mantra now in the industry, but it has always been my driver. Getting out of the lab or business setting and going out into the field to talk to physicians, patients, and families—that’s why we are here. Almost everyone who gets into this have personal connections—both of my co-founders have personal connections. It’s just that simple. Pharma and biotech are rated the lowest of the low in public opinion polls, even though most of us who work in this industry are trying to change the world. Despite making a fair amount of progress, we are all vilified based on perceptions about things like costs and the opioid epidemic. We just soldier on regardless of the public opinion in the hopes of changing public understanding of how hard we work to help patients. 

Lastly, what do you do for fun to manage the stress of running a business as both a cancer survivor and an entrepreneur? Do you have any similar advice on work-life-disease management balance to others out there thinking of starting a business to meet an unmet need of a chronic disease patient community?

There are two activities that I engage in. In the summer, we move to the beach so I average 3-4 miles per day walking on the beach. I’m also an active swimmer. However, my other big passion is restoring antique cars. The goal isn’t to finish, but to just decouple by putting on the stereo (I’ve worked on a car for 5 years). On a bad day, if I can’t get anything done on a car because of the calcium deposits in my hands, I walk away and do something else like walk or swim. My advice to other budding patient entrepreneurs is that you need to have activities that totally decouple from what you’re doing and enable you to have a recreation that clears your mind. Do something completely different in order to unplug. You just need to have something, whether it’s music or sports, to decouple from the stress of the day.

Ira Spector Car Restoration

Helsinn and Lyfebulb Announce Call for Applications for Third Annual Patient-Driven Innovation Summit & Award in Oncology

Annual Patient-Driven Innovation Summit & Award in Oncology
The Award recognizes Patient Entrepreneurs demonstrating outstanding innovations which advance solutions in the prevention, management or care of cancer

Lyfebulb-Helsinn Award 2020

MONACO, PRINCIPALITY OF MONACO, AND NEW YORK, NY, USA, September 17th, 2019: Helsinn, a Swiss pharmaceutical group focused on building quality cancer care, and Lyfebulb, a patient empowerment platform that connects patients with industry to support user-driven innovation toward solutions in chronic disease, announced the opening of applications for their third annual Innovation Summit in Cancer. Candidates are invited to submit applications at Lyfebulb-Helsinn 2020 Challenge page, where more information regarding eligibility criteria is available. Submissions may be made until November 17th, 2019.

The Summit is open to Patient Entrepreneurs building groundbreaking companies to advance the prevention, diagnosis, management or care of cancer. Patient Entrepreneurs include cancer patients, cancer survivors, or those having a close relative or loved one with cancer. Applicants for the competition must have established a company with impactful solutions to better manage and improve the quality of life of cancer patients with respect, integrity, and quality.

“While cancer is a broad-reaching disease, the impact of it is felt very personally by each patient and his or her family,” said Karin Hehenberger, MD, PhD, Founder and CEO of Lyfebulb. “We look forward to seeing the latest innovators who have been personally impacted by this disease and turned this experience and the insights gained into much needed solutions for our community.”

The 2020 Lyfebulb-Helsinn Summit will be held at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco on January 29th and 30th, 2020, culminating in the announcement of the winner of the 2020 Lyfebulb-Helsinn Award of $25,000 on January 30th, during the 14th Monaco Biennale of Oncology. An additional $25,000 Squinto-LePera Award in Oncology will also be awarded at that time.

About the Helsinn Group
Helsinn is a privately-owned pharmaceutical group with an extensive portfolio of marketed cancer care products and a robust drug development pipeline. Since 1976, Helsinn has been improving the everyday lives of patients, guided by core family values of respect, integrity and quality. The Group works across pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices and nutritional supplements and has expertise in research, development, manufacture and the commercialization of therapeutic and supportive care products for cancer, pain and inflammation and gastroenterology. In 2016, Helsinn created the Helsinn Investment Fund to support early-stage investment opportunities in areas of unmet patient need. The company is headquartered in Lugano, Switzerland, with operating subsidiaries in Switzerland, Ireland, the U.S., Monaco and China, as well as a product presence in approximately 190 countries globally.
To learn more about Helsinn Group please visit www.helsinn.com

About Helsinn Investment Fund S.A., SICAR
The Helsinn Investment Fund is focused on investments in areas of high unmet patient need. Backed by the Helsinn Group, and guided by Helsinn’s core values of quality, integrity and respect, Helsinn Investment Fund aims to help companies with innovative technologies to transform new ideas into commercial solutions with the potential to impact health-related quality of life of patients.
Drawing on Helsinn’s over 40 years of investment into research and development and commercial expertise, the investment fund selects companies with technologies in a range of areas including cancer therapeutics and diagnostics, cancer supportive care, metabolic and gastrointestinal disorders, and dermatology conditions. For more information, visit www.helsinninvestmentfund.com

About Helsinn International Services sarl
Helsinn International Services sarl is the Helsinn subsidiary which provides a range of advisory services and strategic activities to the Group and its specific companies. In particular, it acts as the advisory company to Helsinn Investment Fund.

About Lyfebulb
Lyfebulb is a chronic disease-focused, patient empowerment platform that connects patients and industry to support user-driven innovation. Grounded with its strong foundation in diabetes, the company has expanded disease states covered into cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, mental illness and migraine.
See www.lyfebulb.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Lyfebulb LinkedIn, and Karin Hehenberger LinkedIn.

For more information:
Helsinn Group Media Contact
Paola Bonvicini
Group Head of Communication
Lugano, Switzerland
Tel: +41 (0) 91 985 21 21
Info-hhc@helsinn.com
For more information, please visit www.helsinn.com and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Vimeo.

Lyfebulb Media Contact:
Karin Hehenberger, MD, PhD
CEO & Founder, Lyfebulb
Phone: + 1 917-575-0210
Email: karin@lyfebulb.com

Helsinn and Lyfebulb Announce Third Annual Patient-Driven Innovation Summit & Award in Oncology to be held during the 14th Monaco Biennale of Oncology 2020

The Award recognizes Patient Entrepreneurs demonstrating outstanding innovations which advance solutions in the prevention, management or care of cancer

Lyfebulb-Helsinn Award 2020

MONACO, PRINCIPALITY OF MONACO, AND NEW YORK, NY, USA, August 29th, 2019: Helsinn, a Swiss pharmaceutical group focused on building quality cancer care, announced that it will partner with Lyfebulb, a patient-empowerment platform that connects patients with industry to support user-driven innovation, to host their third annual Innovation Summit and Award in Oncology.

The Lyfebulb-Helsinn Innovation Summit will be held at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco on January 29th and 30th, 2020, culminating in the announcement of the 2020 Award winner on January 30th, during the 14th Monaco Biennale of Oncology.

The Summit is open to Patient Entrepreneurs building groundbreaking companies to advance the prevention, diagnosis, management or care of cancer. Patient Entrepreneurs include cancer patients, cancer survivors, or those having a close relative or loved one with cancer.

All candidates are invited to submit applications through the Lyfebulb-Helsinn Innovation Summit & Award website, where more information regarding eligibility and key criteria is available. Submissions may be made between September 16th and November 17th, 2019.

Riccardo Braglia, Helsinn Group Vice Chairman and CEO, commented: “Cancer patients and their real life experience are at the heart of what the Helsinn Group does. We are strongly committed to supporting inspired Patient Entrepreneurs who have a unique insight into products and solutions which can bring respect and integrity to the patient community and quality solutions to the challenges they face.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Helsinn again to help accelerate solutions that patients have identified as much needed into the marketplace,” said Dr Karin Hehenberger, CEO and Founder of Lyfebulb. “Getting this group of select Patient Entrepreneurs together not only increases their exposure, but also fosters a unique collaboration between innovators with a shared mission of serving patients’ unmet needs.”

About the Helsinn Group

Helsinn is a privately-owned pharmaceutical group with an extensive portfolio of marketed cancer care products and a robust drug development pipeline. Since 1976, Helsinn has been improving the everyday lives of patients, guided by core family values of respect, integrity and quality. The Group works across pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices and nutritional supplements and has expertise in research, development, manufacture and the commercialization of therapeutic and supportive care products for cancer, pain and inflammation and gastroenterology. In 2016, Helsinn created the Helsinn Investment Fund to support early-stage investment opportunities in areas of unmet patient need. The company is headquartered in Lugano, Switzerland, with operating subsidiaries in Switzerland, Ireland, the U.S., Monaco and China, as well as a product presence in approximately 190 countries globally.

To learn more about Helsinn Group please visit www.helsinn.com

About Helsinn Investment Fund S.A., SICAR

The Helsinn Investment Fund is focused on investments in areas of high unmet patient need. Backed by the Helsinn Group, and guided by Helsinn’s core values of quality, integrity and respect, Helsinn Investment Fund aims to help companies with innovative technologies to transform new ideas into commercial solutions with the potential to impact health-related quality of life of patients.

Drawing on Helsinn’s over 40 years of investment into research and development and commercial expertise, the investment fund selects companies with technologies in a range of areas including cancer therapeutics and diagnostics, cancer supportive care, metabolic and gastrointestinal disorders, and dermatology conditions.

For more information, visit www.helsinninvestmentfund.com

About Helsinn International Services sarl

Helsinn International Services sarl is the Helsinn subsidiary which provides a range of advisory services and strategic activities to the Group and its specific companies. In particular, it acts as the advisory company to Helsinn Investment Fund.

About Lyfebulb

Lyfebulb is a chronic disease-focused, patient empowerment platform that connects patients and industry to support user-driven innovation. Grounded with its strong foundation in diabetes, the company has expanded disease states covered into cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, mental illness and migraine.

See www.lyfebulb.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Lyfebulb LinkedIn, and Karin Hehenberger LinkedIn.

For more information:

Helsinn Group Media Contact
Paola Bonvicini
Group Head of Communication
Lugano, Switzerland
Tel: +41 (0) 91 985 21 21
Info-hhc@helsinn.com

For more information, please visit www.helsinn.com and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Vimeo.

Lyfebulb Media Contact:

Karin Hehenberger, MD, PhD
CEO & Founder, Lyfebulb
Phone: + 1 917-575-0210
Email: karin@lyfebulb.com

Two and a Half Years After Chemo, I Take Inventory of My Healing

Part of my goal with ABSOT is to create a resource for the newly diagnosed to understand what lies on the road ahead. I detailed nearly every moment of my chemotherapy treatments and began writing a series of posts of how recovery was going after finishing chemo. I wrote these posts at the two monthsfive months, and twelve months post-chemo marks, respectively. However, after the last one, I really dropped the ball on continuing the series.

But today marks thirty months post chemo, or two and a half years for people who don’t count anything over a year in months. Looking at you, new moms who insist on telling me your kid is 16 months, 3 weeks, 2 days, and 6 hours old. Your kid is one. Move on.

But I digress. True to the fashion of the other “Months Later” pieces, I’ll give an update on how my physical and mental recovery, after facing chemo, has been going since the last update.

Physical healing remains strong, with a few slight problems.

 

In the “Twelve Months Later” piece, I mentioned that I wasn’t feeling any nausea or fatigue anymore. This remains true today. I haven’t vomited at all since the ‘BRATman Begins’saga and I would even venture to say I’m in the best shape of my life.

I also mentioned in that post that my hair fully grew back and I was contemplating a new style. I’ve finally decided on a new one… a year and a half later. Stay tuned! Another holdover from that same post is my disdain for plain water. While I don’t hate it anymore, I still prefer it with lemon – or even a lime if I’m feeling wild.

However, a number of new strange symptoms have cropped up in the past six months or so. Mainly, I’ve been experiencing excessive sweating (even in cool temperatures) and had some weird pains here and there. So far, blood work has ruled out thyroid or hormonal issues, and I’ve had an ultrasound that I am still waiting on the results (as of this publishing).

Overall, aside from these new symptoms, I would be confident in saying that my physical health is 99.9999% back to normal – a full 0.0009% higher than in January 2018.

Mental health continues to ebb and flow.

I still have some slight difficulties with memory and attention, which I credit to chemo brain. Over the weekend, I participated in an online study that confirmed my short term memory and concentration are below average and my spatial awareness and ability to split my attention are right on the money. Interestingly, my ability to quickly scan and process information is actually above average. However, I don’t have a baseline to draw from originally, so who knows if that’s actually due to chemo brain, “old age,” or undiagnosed ADHD?

Worrying about scans is a constant, too

Probably the single biggest difference between January 2018 and now is mental health fluctuations. Back then, after realizing how I was experiencing depression, I had just started on antidepressants. At first, they didn’t seem to help too much. Finally the correct dosage kicked in and has been helpful in keeping me balanced since then.

Recently, I’ve noticed that I’ve been struggling a bit more than usual with my mental health, so I’ve begun seeing a therapist who I’ve seemed to connect well with. I’ve gone twice thus far, and we’re working on a roadmap to help me navigate the sea that is cancer survivorship and life. In a few months, I’ll probably write a more detailed post about therapy and how it’s been helping.

All in all, my mental health is doing much better than it was right after facing cancer, but it’s always in the forefront of my mind.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: Being a cancer survivor is complicated.

I firmly believe in the value of sharing my full story in hopes of letting others know that it’s ok to not be ok. While this piece was largely the same as the “Twelve Months Later” piece, it’s important to share these moments so others know what to expect on the road ahead.

It’s also critical to note that my left testicle has still not grown back, even after all this time.

Though I still hold out hope, the local hospital has told me that, “infusing your DNA with that of a salamander will not help you to spontaneously regrow a testicle and for the last time, please stop calling us unless you have a true medical emergency.”

A self exam is how most cases of testicular cancer are detected early. Click the image for video directions or click here for a larger version

 

Want to work with Justin? Click here to learn more.

The Implications of Using CBD for Chronic Conditions: Here’s What We Know

Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating compound in cannabis, has become a popular alternative to pharmaceuticals. CBD users can sometimes find relief from their conditions without harsh side effects. 

41% of cannabis users surveyed report swapping out other medications completely in favor of cannabis, while another 58% use cannabis and other medication or alternate between them,” researchers stated in a survey by Brightfield Group

While CBD may be a beneficial alternative for chronic conditions, it’s important to consider the implications of using CBD before changing your current regimen.

Diabetes

Studies have suggested that inflammation has a correlation with insulin resistance. This may be the result of the body not moving sugar from the bloodstream into cells, causing excessively high blood sugar. Obesity-related inflammation particularly limits glucose metabolism, resulting in high blood sugar. 

Researchers still don’t know exactly how CBD improves insulin resistance, but often credit it to the compound’s anti-inflammatory effects

According to a report on Type 1 diabetes from the Diabetes Council, “CBD can save insulin-forming cells from damage so that normal glucose metabolism can occur.”

It’s important to note that most claims being made are based on studies with animals, not humans. Using CBD to treat diabetes without more substantiated research and medical oversight could be dangerous. Until further human studies are conducted, CBD can’t be considered a direct treatment for diabetes. 

However, the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabidiol may be beneficial for managing secondary symptoms from the disease. For example, CBD has neuroprotective qualities and may prevent retinal damage.

Cancer

While there is anecdotal evidence of successfully treating cancer with CBD, no definitive studies can back this up. However, we do know that CBD plays a role in cancer prevention and seems to have anti-tumor effects. In a 2012 report, researchers explained, “Evidence is emerging to suggest that CBD is a potent inhibitor of both cancer growth and spread.”  

The U.S. National Library of Medicine explains that CBD is anti-proliferative, meaning it can stop, slow down, or reverse the growth of cancerous tumors. It is also anti-angiogenic, meaning it does not support the generation of new blood vessels, specifically ones that allow cancerous tumor growth. Lastly, it is pro-apoptotic, which means it induces cellular suicide of cancerous cells. 

In addition to these cancer-specific effects, CBD may help patients dealing with pain related to cancer treatment, such as pressure on the organs and nerve injuries. Patients with cancer are commonly prescribed opiates to manage pain, but managing pain with CBD may be just as effective with fewer side effects.

Unlike opiates, which mimic our bodies’ natural endorphins, CBD actually encourages the production of natural endorphins by interacting with a neurotransmitter called anandamide. As a result, CBD is a non-habit-forming pain-reliever. 

It’s important to consider the legal implications before using CBD for cancer, or any other chronic condition. Hemp-derived CBD is legal across the United States, with specific guidelines per state. Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota have strict, conflicting rules regarding CBD, so caution should be taken if you live in those states. 

Whatever state you’re in, be sure to get high-quality CBD from producers who follow the guidelines of the law. 

Multiple Sclerosis

According to Neurology.org, “inflammation occurs in the brains and spinal cords of people with a specific kind of MS called relapsing-remitting MS.” CBD has been shown to protect against this harmful inflammation

In a 2011 study with mice, researchers found that CBD diminished axonal (nerve) damage and inflammation. CBD also reduced microglial activation, an inflammatory process that occurs in the central nervous system and is attributed to conditions like MS, Parkinson’s, and more. 

CBD may help users get relief from their MS without causing the sometimes intense side effects that come with pharmaceuticals. Still, CBD may cause some side effects that users should be aware of. Side effects may include:

 

  • Anxiety
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in mood
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea

Anxiety and Depression

The hippocampus, the most widely studied portion of the brain, is responsible for the regulation of memories and emotions. Researchers believe the hippocampus plays a major role in depression, and have found that this region of the brain can shrink or decay in those with depression.

Fortunately, the shrinkage does not have to be permanent. The brain is very regenerative and can bounce back as new neural connections are made. This process is known as “neurogenesis” and is an important process to target for antidepressants, contrary to the prior belief that they just work to increase serotonin. 

Where does CBD come in? Research has shown that cannabidiol signals a serotonin receptor called 5-HT1A. This receptor is responsible for controlling many neurotransmitters, and is also the target of some anti-anxiety medications, like Buspirone. Activating this receptor can encourage neurogenesis, and potentially relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

While each individual case is unique, anxiety and depression tend to go hand-in-hand. CBD may encourage the neural regeneration necessary to find relief from either or both conditions. 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is caused by — you guessed it — inflammation. A 2009 study found CBD was beneficial for colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers induced colitis in mice and tracked their gut inflammation, finding that “cannabidiol, a likely safe compound, prevents experimental colitis in mice.”

Another review found “this compound may interact at extra‐cannabinoid system receptor sites, such as peroxisome proliferator‐activated receptor‐gamma. This strategic interaction makes CBD as a potential candidate for the development of a new class of anti‐IBD drugs.”

If you’re considering using CBD with other medications, consult your doctor first. Much like grapefruits, CBD inhibits the cytochrome P450 enzyme, which can prevent drugs from metabolizing properly. 

CBD could also negatively affect the liver by increasing liver enzymes. A 2014 review of CBD saw changes in the liver function of 10% of the subjects, and 3% had to drop out of the study to prevent further damage. Again, consult with a doctor if you want to use CBD for a chronic condition like IBD but are worried about the effects on your liver.

The Bottom Line

Americans spend around $1,200 on prescription drugs each year, which is more than the residents of any other developed country. The price of pharmaceuticals has risen without any improvements or innovation, according to CNBC. This makes CBD an exciting avenue as a potential alternative to standard pharmaceuticals.

It’s important to remember that the effects of CBD will vary by person, and that a lot of the claims we hear about CBD are in relation to animal studies and not humans. It’s also important to be as informed as possible before diving into the complicated world of buying CBD.

Still, many people find success with CBD for their chronic conditions. 

 

Macey Wolfer HeadshotMacey is a freelance writer from Seattle, WA. She writes about natural health, cannabis, and music.

Why I Became a Patient Advocate

Last year, I got diagnosed with breast cancer. My life fell apart. I lost my health, my energy, my job, my enthusiasm, my sleep, my appetite. My brain got sluggish. I was lost. Lethargic. Uninspired.

Then I started treatment. It was brutal. I shrank my sense of time to smaller units. I wasn’t thinking about what I would do after cancer. Or even making plans for the summer. I was just focused on making it to the end of the day. One day at a time. From my bed to the hospital. From the hospital to my bed. And again the next day.

Then, something happened. My body was still beaten up and shivering, but I started to see the treatment through new eyes. Amidst the misery, a new sense of purpose started to awaken in me. I realized that being a cancer patient also gave me an opportunity to be a proximate witness of cancer. I started to see the stress and trauma of treatment not as an inevitable dread, but as a design flaw that could be improved. I started to see that my pain could be turned into something positive. That I could leverage my first-hand experience of cancer, professional skills, and moment-to-moment awareness of my human experience to help oncology providers design a better cancer experience for other cancer patients. That gave me hope.

I decided to use my voice to give voice to the million voiceless cancer patients suffering in silence. I wrote a blog post about my cancer radiation experience and the distressing impact of stressful medical processes. A friend suggested I submit it to a medical journal to broaden its reach. I made improvements to turn it into an academic paper, and it was accepted for publication in the Journal of Patient Experience: Leotin, S. (2019). An Insider View of the Cancer Radiation Experience Through the Eyes of a Cancer Patient. This, in turn, opened doors to new conversations with medical providers. I was met by resistance by some and gratitude by others. I joined the board of the Stanford Cancer Center Patient and Family Advisory Council. I received invitations to speak at medical conferences.

My cancer experience made me aware of a gap in understanding the needs of cancer patients I had not seen before, and the unintended suffering it adds to the cancer journey. Cancer is a black box few people understand unless they’ve had cancer themselves. We need to bring to light the unseen needs of cancer patients to empower those who care to address them. Through writing, speaking, and the use of new technologies, my objective is to reveal the human experience of cancer and help improve the patient experience for all cancer patients.

I am thrilled to be joining the Lyfebulb community as Cancer Ambassador and look forward to meeting many of you, online and offline.

This article was originally published on my blog at sylvieleotin.com.

Twitter: @sleotin

Lyfebulb and Helsinn Announce Finalists for the 2019 Innovation Summit in Oncology

Ten finalists have been chosen for the second annual Lyfebulb-Helsinn Innovation Summit & Awards in Oncology  

GlobeNewswire – New York, NY – February 27, 2019

  • The Award recognizes Patient Entrepreneurs’ innovations for cancer and cancer supportive care using therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices or healthcare IT tools 

MONACO, PRINCIPALITY OF MONACO and NEW YORK, NY, FEBRUARY 27 2019:  

Lyfebulb, a patient empowerment platform that connects patients, industry and investors to support user-driven innovation toward solutions in chronic disease, and Helsinn, a Swiss pharmaceutical group focused on building quality cancer care, today announce the names of the ten Patient Entrepreneurs chosen as finalists for the Lyfebulb-Helsinn Innovation Summit & Awards in Oncology. 

The following inspirational finalists will compete at the Lyfebulb-Helsinn Innovation Summit, on March 18 and 19, 2019, for two $25,000 grants: 

  • Karl Blohm, PhD of SafeHeal SAS 
  • Matt De Silva of Notable Labs 
  • Carlos Garcia of Welwaze Medical Inc. 
  • Philippe Halfon MD, PhD, PharmD of Genoscience Pharma 
  • David Hysong of Shepherd Therapeutics 
  • Pierluigi Paracchi of Genenta Science 
  • Florence Séjourné of Da Volterra  
  • Mihir Shah of UE LifeSciences Inc. 
  • Ira Spector, PhD of SFA Therapeutics Inc. 
  • Maria Zannes of bioAffinity Technologies  

The Awards will recognize outstanding Patient Entrepreneurs building groundbreaking companies to advance the prevention, diagnosis, management or care of cancer patients. The finalists represent companies that have been founded by cancer patients, cancer survivors or those with loved ones affected by cancer. A “pitch session” will be held at the summit, where a jury of experts will select the ultimate winners. 

“At Lyfebulb, we believe individuals living with a chronic disease have not only unique insights, but also solutions to address needs they identify in their daily lives. We thank and salute each and every Patient Entrepreneur who applied to our Challenge, and we look forward to the highly collaborative two days we will spend with our teams, jury and finalists, who each bring their unique strategy to reducing the burden of living with cancer, said Dr. Karin Hehenberger, CEO and Founder of Lyfebulb. 

Riccardo Braglia, Helsinn Group Vice Chairman and CEO, added, So many of us are affected by cancer, and bringing new and advanced solutions to the marketplace is at the heart of what the Helsinn Group does. Helsinn and the Helsinn Investment Fund are  committed to positively impacting the patient community by mentoring, partnering, investing in or connecting these innovators as they pursue their entrepreneurial journey and we are delighted to be working with Lyfebulb on this summit and awards for a second year. 

About Lyfebulb 

Lyfebulb is a chronic diseasefocused, patient empowerment platform that connects patients, industry (manufacturers and payers) and investors to support user-driven innovation. Lyfebulb promotes a healthy, take-charge lifestyle for those affected by chronic disease. Grounded with its strong foundation in diabetes, the company has expanded disease states covered into cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis. 

See www.lyfebulb.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Lyfebulb LinkedIn, and Karin Hehenberger LinkedIn.  

About Helsinn International Services sarl 

Helsinn International Services sarl is the Helsinn subsidiary which provides a range of advisory services and strategic activities to the Group and its specific companies. In particular, it acts as the advisory company to Helsinn Investment Fund.   

 About Helsinn Investment Fund S.A., SICAR 

The Helsinn Investment Fund is focused on early-stage investments in areas of high unmet patient need. Backed by the Helsinn Group, and guided by Helsinn’s core values of quality, integrity and respect, Helsinn Investment Fund aims to help companies with innovative technologies to transform new ideas into commercial solutions with the potential to impact health-related quality of life of patients 

Drawing on Helsinn’s over 40 years of investment into research and development and commercial expertise, the investment fund selects companies with technologies in a range of areas including cancer therapeutics and diagnostics, cancer supportive care, metabolic and gastrointestinal disorders, and dermatology conditions.  

For more information, visit www.helsinninvestmentfund.com 

About  the  Helsinn  Group 

Helsinn is a privately owned pharmaceutical group with an extensive portfolio of marketed cancer care products and a robust drug development pipeline. Since 1976, Helsinn has been improving the everyday lives of patients, guided by core family values of respect, integrity and quality. The Group works across pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices and nutritional supplements and has expertise in research, development, manufacture and the commercialization of therapeutic and supportive care products for cancer, pain and inflammation and gastroenterology. In 2016, Helsinn created the Helsinn Investment Fund to support early-stage investment opportunities in areas of unmet patient need. The company is headquartered in Lugano, Switzerland, with operating subsidiaries in Switzerland, Ireland, the U.S., Monaco and China, as well as a product presence in approximately 190 countries globally. 

To learn more about Helsinn Group please visit  www.helsinn.com 

For  more  information: 
Helsinn  Group  Media  Contact 
Paola  Bonvicini 
Group Head  of  Communication 
Lugano,  Switzerland 
Tel: +41 (0) 91 985 21 21 
Info-hhc@helsinn.com 
For more information, please follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn  and  Vimeo

Press Contact for Lyfebulb 
Karin Hehenberger, MD, PhD 
CEO & Founder, Lyfebulb,  
Phone: + 00 1 917-575-0210  
Email: karin@lyfebulb.com 
HELS-US-0031 

10 Items You Should Take With You To Chemo

Repost from:  CrazyPerfectLife.com

By: Dara Kurtz

Going through chemotherapy can be challenging. Trust me, I speak from experience. Here are 10 items I wish someone had told me to bring when I went for chemotherapy. It would have made the experience easier for me.

10 Items You Should Take With You To Chemo:

1. A good attitude – You don’t want to be in this situation, but here’s the thing, you are. You need to have a good attitude. I know it’s hard, but try.

2. Layers of comfy clothing – The room will probably be very cold, kind of like an airplane (Maybe you could pretend you’re on an airplane going somewhere fun? Think of the chemotherapy chair like sitting in first class.). Even if it’s summer time, make sure you bring a sweater or jacket. The chemo can change your body temperature, so being able to shed a layer or put one on is helpful. Warm blankets will be offered and I highly recommend getting one, or many.

3. Warm socks – I always took my shoes off, snuggled under the warm blankets the hospital provided and put on cozy socks. Wear shoes you can slide into easily in case you have to go to the bathroom, which you will probably need to do. During chemo, a ton of liquids are pumped into your body and they’re going to have to come out eventually.

4. Something to keep you busy – Take your journal, knitting, crocheting, adult coloring books, crossword puzzles, reading material or whatever else inspires you or holds your  attention. The key is to try to distract yourself. Do not focus on any of the side effects. The nurses will watch you closely, and should you have a reaction, which probably won’t happen, they’ll know exactly what to do. If you start to feel strange or something seems off, don’t hesitate to tell your nurse, but don’t sit in the chair and worry.

5. Chapstick – Or something to put on your lips.

Take items to chemo to help you relax.

6. Snacks – Bring snacks such as crackers, bananas, sliced apples, applesauce, healthy muffins or breads. Don’t eat anything rich or bring foods with a strong smell. I also wouldn’t recommend foods that are too sugary. Don’t let your stomach get empty but don’t eat too much either. It’s kind of like being pregnant. Except it’s not. Peanut butter crackers became my best friend.

 

7. Technology – It’s nice to have earphones and your device so you can listen to music or podcasts or even watch a movie. Ask about Wi-Fi before you start chemo. You might not have access.

8. Something to drink – Take a large cup with either water or hot tea. I always took a large Swell bottle with my favorite tea. This worked great because it would stay warm during my entire treatment. I was usually cold, and having a warm drink was soothing. While your hospital will probably offer water and other drinks, it’s nice to have a large cup so you don’t have to keep getting refills. Make sure you drink a lot, even if you aren’t thirsty.

9. Mints – Or hard candy, especially peppermint.

10. Make sure you can see – Don’t forget your glasses. If you wear contacts, you might want to take them out if you get tired (you will get tired) and want to sleep (you will want to sleep). Your glasses will enable you to see when you wake up from your nap. If, or should I say when, the drugs they administer to manage the side effects of chemo make you feel sleepy, don’t fight it. Let yourself sleep. The time will pass by faster.

 

Poached Pears With Whipped Cream Recipe

POACHED PEARS WITH WHIPPED CREAM

poached pear

An original recipe  from Lyfebulb CEO Dr. Karin Hehenberger, MD, PhD

Interested in more delicious auto-immune diet friendly recipes! Click the link  to learn more about “The Everything You Need to Know About Diabetes Cookbook: Expert advice, plus 70 recipes complete with nutritional breakdowns.”
Pears are delicious, particularly in the fall and winter, and can easily be found in most food markets. This dessert is healthy and looks so yummy.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (350 ml) red wine
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon stevia
1/2 vanilla bean(pod) split in half lengthwise and seeds scraped out or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
1 orange, quartered
4 small ripe pears, peeled
Scant 1/2 cup (100ml)
whipping cream,
whipped, to serve
Serves 4

Instructions

1. In a saucepan large enough to hold the pears snugly, pour in the wine and lemon juice, then add the stevia, vanilla seeds or extract, cinnamon, and cloves, Squeeze the juice from the orange quarts into the saucepan, then add one of the squeezed orange quarters to the saucepan and discard the remainder. Finally, add the pears.
2. Set the saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes, turning the pears occasionally, until they’re easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to individual plates.
3. Pour the poaching liquid through a strainer set over a bowl and discard the orange quarter and spices.  Return the poaching liquid to the saucepan, bring to a simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the poaching liquid is syrupy and reduced by two-thirds.  Let cool a little( you don’t want the syrup to melt the whipped cream).
4. Spoon the syrup over the pears and serve with the whipped cream.
Per serving: 239 kcals, 10.3 g fat (6.3 g saturates), 16.9 g carbohydrate (16.7 sugars), 1.3 G protein, 3.6 g fiber, trace salt

Enjoy!

Inside the Patient Entrepreneur’s Mind: Gitte Pedersen

 

What motivated you to create a business addressing a disease you know so well?

My parents got diagnosed with lung cancer and I knew if we followed standard of care they were facing an evidenced based death. Understanding genomics and cancer made my brother and I believe that there were better options looking into clinical trials for eg immune therapies. The question became which trial and due to the 1000 of trials available it was overwhelming. We also understood that cancer is a very heterogeneous diseases thus we needed a tool that could identify the unique features in the tumor that could be interrogated by drugs either approved or in development. We developed that tool, and named it OneRNA™ unfortunately not in time for our parents to benefit from it, however we have 2 newly diagnosed cancer patients in the family so the next generation is benefitting.

 

What are some of the hurdles you perceive exist for people with your disease?

It is overwhelming and difficult to navigate various treatment options without an effective tool which can reduce the number of options to something more manageable e.g. OneRNA™ typically identifies 5 already approved drugs and shortlist 30 clinical trials. By combining various liquid biopsy strategies after treatment selection it is now possible to quickly find out of you benefit from a treatment and with more than 1 option and the potential of combining drugs e.g. a tumor antigen with a checkpoint inhibitor, the treatment can be completely personalized to the patient.

 

Who are some of your role models in your space?

I believe that Foundation Medicine is a 1.0 version of this idea. I also believe that Genomic Health is a 0.5 version demonstrating the utility of RNA in treatment selection in breast cancer more specifically avoiding chemo when its not necessary. OneRNA™ is a 2.0 version c combining those strategies into one product.

 

What is your goal beyond creating a successful business?

The “standard of care” paradigm must change in oncology to a completely “personalized  treatment” paradigm, and my personal goal is to provide THE platfrom that enables this shift. We will not cure cancer by continuing developing drugs that only work in 20% of the patients and subjecting the other 80% to harsh and sometimes deadly side effects with no benefits, to me that is barbaric and unnecessary. My ultimate bottom line is make cancer a chronic manageable disease that you survive by choosing the right treatment.

 

What does being a patient entrepreneur mean to you?

It means that you are personally invested in the success of your technology in solving a significant medical problem. It also means that you are not going to give up even facing significant hurdles such as a payer system that in general overpay for drugs and under pay for diagnostics. We are innovating outside the lab in how we address those hurdles developing novel business models.

 

How do you stay healthy and motivated to deliver?

I read an amazing amount of literature every week and I am very knowledgeable about how to eat healthy and live healthy. I done that for my whole life. My parents did not have that knowledge and they made some very poor decisions early in their lives (smoking). Their life was shortened and more importantly the quality of life in their last decade was reduced because of those choices. I saw their decline and I made a conscious decision to live a healthy and long life: I exercise every day. I am a true believer in data and love my Apple health app. I also love Chronometer to monitor the quality of my food intake. You can’t cheat when the data is there.

 

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

I was fortunate to have a great mentor while working for Novo Nordisk. He encouraged me to read “A road less travelled”, in short enjoy the trip rather than focus on the arrival. I believe my parents instilled in me a great sense of purpose and the belief that I could accomplish what I wanted. They both played a very significant role. I have great investors that I get feedback from on a regular basis, same situation with by board in addition to a mentor who works with the North Shore InnoVenture – our incubator. The latter is a great independant voice.

 

How can we draw more attention to user-driven innovation?

Create personal success stories and get media coverage. That is already part of our media plan. The problem does get more real than when its your problem.

 

How do you maintain work/life balance?

I had days where I worked for 24 hrs (not healthy) but I did it because it was important for me to wake up with my kids in the morning. I sign out after 6 pm most days. If I need to go back its after my family goes to bed. I also work early in the day in the weekends and I stop when the family wakes up. I love my family, my time with them is very precious.

 

What is your favorite song that gets you motivated?

Nina Simone, Feeling Good

 

What are some of your favorite social activities?

I love cooking and eating dinner with friends and my family. I also love traveling, skiing and surfing with friends and family.

What three things would you take if stranded on an island?

My iPhone  with solar charger, a bikini and sun screen

 

Personal/Company Twitter handle: @dnabarcode

Lyfestories: Jen Hodson’s Journey with Breast Cancer

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, the scariest word in the room was “chemotherapy”.  Naïve to what active treatment would actually be like, I foolishly assumed that once I completed it, I would be on to a whole new adventure.  Wow, was I wrong. I finished big chemo in April 2017 (coming up on one year!) and my Herceptin infusions in December 2017. I’ve been out of active treatment for three months and things have never been scarier.

It wasn’t chemotherapy I should have been fearful of, I should have balked at “post treatment” instead. With chemo and targeted therapy, I was actively doing something against cancer, and now I’m simply existing.  Or that’s how it feels. My follow-up appointments are dwindling, my side effects are plateauing, my survivorship care plan has been queued up. So why am I feeling so utterly depressed instead of ecstatic?!

Turns out, this is more common than I thought.  After discussing with several others I’ve met online or in support groups, they all agreed that “post cancer” life can be quite brutal on the mind.  Not only for the aforementioned reasons, but because we’re left with the fallout from the fight. We’re putting together pieces we didn’t realize had broken. Depression, anxiety, PTSD, lifestyle changes, relationship changes, returning to “normalcy”, being sick but not looking sick, these are just some of the aspects of my life that came rushing to greet me as I closed the door on active treatment.

And I was not prepared to greet them.  Perhaps I’m still not, but I’m learning everyday how to equip myself with the tools to make it through this challenging time.  I’ve started to carve out 10 minutes everyday to sit and reflect, or to meditate, so that I can turn everything off and see what surprising thoughts come creeping out of the woodwork.  After more than a year of cancer running the show, I’ve learned that I still desperately want to learn sign language. Now I have a new goal to focus on. No seriously, I got that from sitting on my bed and listening to my Headspace app for 10 minutes.  It works wonders.

I’ve started to run again, and I even have a few races under my belt.  I’ve signed up for the Chicago Marathon in October 2018 and each day I can push my body and lungs to the limit, is a day I am thankful for. It’s an outlet for all the things I can’t control, I am quite literally running away from them.  And on the days that are the darkest, I’ll try and stroll around the park for a few minutes, just to be outside. A change of scenery always seems to help.

Most importantly however, I’ve started seeing a therapist.  This is the most important tool I’ve found during this tumultuous period.  There is so much to take in after treatment, there are so many questions that float around my head daily.  Should I become a vegan? How can I prevent a recurrence? Why do I feel guilty about surviving? About having fun? Journaling and reporting to my therapist keeps me grounded.  And it allows me an outlet to explore this new phase with a safety net. I’m happy to have it.

If you’re reading this, and find yourself in the same position, please reach out to your medical team for help.  I was surprised by the resources they provided me when I admitted that I was struggling. And if you’d like to chat more with me about it, you can find me on Instagram @jenhods or at my website www.rogueboob.com (if you’re not in the same position, that is amazing, but I hope you’ll still come say hi).  For everyone on this journey, just remember to put one foot in front of the other.

 

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