fighting disease finding cure
Published Author Category Frontier RTP

You may already know that the Research Triangle is home to a lot of, well, research. But do you know the depths that our region goes into researching diseases? We brought in five experts to talk about epigenetics, neglected tropical diseases, cancer and organ transplants, and how we’re helping develop cures locally and globally. If you’re looking for a more in-depth explanation, be sure to check out the video and hear from the experts themselves.

First up was Sabrina Eyob from RTI International to talk about fighting Neglected Tropical Diseases. Neglected Tropical Diseases, or NTDs, are a group of 20 infectious diseases impacting more than 1.7 billion people, or 1 in 5 people globally. While that is a big number, the good news is that five of the 20 NTDs can be treated through medicine. RTI International has worked on health campaigns to combat these NTDs, and along with investments from U.S. support, have helped ten countries to eliminate at least one NTD. Check out the video to learn about the five NTDs that can be treated currently, and what a health campaign process looks like.

Then, Dr. Gil Golden from United Therapeutics told us a bit about the company’s history and how it has revolutionized the life and longevity of patients in the future. Their mission is to develop life-extending technology for patients in areas of lung disease and organ manufacturing. UT is working to fix the actual problem instead of “just putting a Band-Aid over it.” Tune in to learn more about some of the projects they’re working on, including using pig lungs to develop transplant organs!

Up next was Dr. Cavin Ward-Caviness from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to discuss creating a more personalized approach to environmental health in epigenetics studies. Individuals have differential sensitivities to the environment, yet we have little testing available at the individual level. As Dr. Ward-Caviness mentioned, “there are preventative therapeutics that can be beneficial to protecting against environmental health risks (i.e. nutrition) … and cures can extend beyond the pharmaceutical space. There might be structural changes, like planting trees or creating community gardens … it might serve as a protective factor.” Click here to learn more about how environmental factors may affect our health and impact our age.

Next, Karen Makhuli from G1 Therapeutics gave us a bit of insight into the history of the company as well as the “liquid gold” they’re currently manufacturing, also known as Cosela, a drug with the potential to benefit patients receiving chemotherapy across multiple tumor types. The company focuses on oncology, and works to improve the lives of patients with cancer as well as the lives of their families. Check out the video to learn more about how it works, and other things they’ve done as a company.

Last but not least, Dr. Vandana Shashi from Duke University touched on diagnosing unresolved diseases. In 2014, the National Institute of Health created a set of sites called the Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN) to help identify and diagnose unusual symptoms. The cool part? The UDN has 12 sites distributed across the U.S that cover the costs for patients who submit their symptoms within their network. So far, the UDN has received around 2,490 applications and of those, 231 have received a diagnosis. Check out the video to learn more about the UDN and some challenges they’re overcoming in clinical practice. 

Ready for more RTP180? Join us for next month’s topic on May 20 to learn about the Small Business Ecosystem! RSVP here.