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The Latest Medical Research to Find Treatments and Cures for PNH

Managing a chronic disease is difficult. It’s a process of doctors’ visits, procedures, coping with flare-ups, and trying to get the best treatments to go back into remission. Unfortunately, some chronic diseases have no cure.

Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, also known as PNH, is a rare disease that is still without a cure. At least 400-500 cases are diagnosed annually in the country. Despite the lack of a cure, physicians and researchers continue to seek ways to defeat chronic diseases like PNH. They aspire to improve treatments for patients and improve their quality of life. 

Below is everything you need to know about PNH, and what is currently being done for the disease today. 

What is PNH?

Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria is a rare blood disease. The condition causes red blood cells to break apart or disintegrate, which is called hemolysis. Due to the lack of a specific protective protein, known as GPI-anchored proteins that coat and defend the surface of the red blood cells, the cells become weak and break to pieces, releasing the hemoglobin inside. It’s this release of hemoglobin that triggers a number of the symptoms of PNH. PNH can cause blood clots and impaired bone marrow function. The disease is associated with aplastic anemia.

The name references passing dark-colored urine, particularly at night. Though while some patients do have dark-colored urine because of the hemoglobin, a large percentage of those who have PNH do not. 

PNH is seen as a disease stemming from bone marrow failure. When blood cells produced by bone marrow are damaged or defective, or if the marrow is unable to provide enough of them, it’s referred to as a bone marrow failure. This blood disease is also considered life-threatening.

Advances in PNH Treatment and Research

Near the end of 2018, PNH gained greater awareness when the Food and Drug Administration officially approved the use of a new drug, ravulizumab-cwvz, or Ultomiris, as a treatment for the disease. 

The drug is part of what is called complement therapeutics: it addresses the lack of complement-regulating protein cells that keep healthy cells from disintegrating. The medication works on the complement process to manage the symptoms of PNH and save lives. However, the drug can have side effects, including increased risk of meningococcal infections and sepsis.

Another treatment that is currently in development and has received attention is APL-2, or pegcetacoplan. It was fast-tracked as a novel treatment that could be used against PNH. APL-2 is designed to inhibit the complement cascade, and it even can potentially aid in the treatment of other complement-mediated diseases.

Danicopan is another treatment that has been given a Breakthrough Therapy designation by the FDA. Researchers have shown promise in its ability to improve anemia as measured by hemoglobin. Furthermore, trial subjects saw a reduction in blood transfusions and an increase in the hemoglobin of patients who completed the treatment for 24 weeks.

While there may still be no cure on the horizon for PNH, the breakthrough drugs that are now being fast-tracked or put into priority by the FDA show that there are big leaps and advancements in research towards the disease. With better treatments and improved drugs, there is hope that the quality of life of people afflicted with PNH may improve.

PicnicHealth also supports research on PNH by structuring real-world evidence datasets from anonymized medical records of real people living with PNH in the real world. Visit PicnicHealth.com to sign up for a free PicnicHealth account and contribute to research if you have PNH.

Create a List

List the names of all the doctors, hospitals, and other facilities your loved one visits regularly, along with those they have visited in the past. Try to go back as far as you can, striving for at least the last 5-10 years, but do your best. Even if you can’t remember them all, having a strong baseline can help you quickly identify gaps in records.

Ensure You Have the Appropriate Legal Status

It is important to make sure that you are fully empowered to make decisions on behalf of your loved one with Alzheimer’s. Your relationship status with the patient may not be enough to legally give you access to your loved one's medical information. It is a good idea to talk to an expert about securing special legal status, such as Power of Attorney (POA), a legal document that allows an individual to name someone as their decision maker should they no longer be able to make decisions on their own.

Gather and Organize the Medical Records in One Place

It’s important to have all of your loved one’s medical records together in one spot. This makes it much easier for you and your loved one’s physicians to accurately map the patient’s medical journey and more easily share information between doctors. Fortunately, tools exist to make record management and access simple. A free resource like PicnicHealth helps you collect and organize all of this information. PicnicHealth’s intuitive timeline allows you to pinpoint data across the medical history, eliminating your need for keeping heavy binders filled with paper records or keeping track of multiple software portal logins.

Review the Medical Records to be an Informed Advocate

The better you understand your loved one's medical history, the better you can advocate on their behalf. Access and understanding of this information will help you to ask informed questions with physicians. Through regular communication backed by the data in the medical records, you can help your loved one’s care team develop a more successful care plan.

Learn more about PicnicHealth’s commitment to the Alzheimer’s community and the Alzheimer’s Association

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Together, we can make a difference.

Learn more about PicnicHealth’s commitment to the Alzheimer’s community and the Alzheimer’s Association

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1

Build a support network.

If your loved one is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, putting a support system together might not seem like priority #1. But it’s never too soon to build a network of people that you can turn to in times of need. Cultivate connections today with the people who can be there tomorrow, or whenever you might need a hand.

You may also want to connect with other Alzheimer’s caregivers through a support group, whether it meets in-person or online. In addition to the encouragement and empathy they provide, support groups can be a helpful source of tips, resources, and recommendations for navigating the world of Alzheimer’s.

2

Stay organized.

If your loved one is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, putting a support system together might not seem like priority #1. But it’s never too soon to build a network of people that you can turn to in times of need. Cultivate connections today with the people who can be there tomorrow, or whenever you might need a hand.

You may also want to connect with other Alzheimer’s caregivers through a support group, whether it meets in-person or online. In addition to the encouragement and empathy they provide, support groups can be a helpful source of tips, resources, and recommendations for navigating the world of Alzheimer’s.

3

Plan for the future.

It isn’t always easy to look into the future with Alzheimer’s—but doing the legwork now will save you from stress later. If your loved one is in the early stages of illness, you can involve them in conversations about legal, financial, and long-term care planning decisions. Despite the difficulty of these topics, you’ll all feel empowered by facing them early, and you can move ahead with greater confidence.

4

Explore treatments and clinical trials.

It’s an exciting time for Alzheimer’s research, with new treatments in development and coming to market. Ask your loved one’s doctors about therapies they can try or clinical trials they can join. One easy way to participate in research is to sign up at PicnicHealth, which helps to advance Alzheimer’s science by sharing participants’ anonymous health data with some of the brightest minds in research.

5

Make time for self-care

It may seem self-centered to focus on self-care—but when you feel good, you can be a better caregiver. Whether it’s exercise, a mindfulness practice, a soak in the bath, or just time to rest when you need it, carve out those moments in the day when you can unwind, reset, and stay healthy mentally and physically. Think of it as building up your reserves of kindness, patience, and understanding—which can only benefit your loved one with Alzheimer’s. And don’t forget to keep a sense of humor along the way.

Having trouble managing your loved one's medical records?

Easily manage all of your loved one's medical records and contribute to ongoing Alzheimer's research with PicnicHealth.

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25,966

patients onboarded to platform

1,427,368

medical visits processed

56,861

facilities provided medical records

255,101

healthcare providers

95+

research programs

12

published posters and manuscripts

10

partnerships withtop 30 pharma

New Research

Discover how PicnicHealth data powered medical research in 2021

Keeping Patients at the Center

This year, experts from PicnicHealth joined podcasts, webisodes, virtual summits and much more to speak to the importance of patient-centric approaches when building complete, deep real-world datasets.

LC-FAOD Odyssey: A Preliminary Analysis, presented at INFORM 2021

Data from real-world medical records:

(from 13 patients with LC-FAOD)

16 yrs old

Median age at enrollment

38% Female

15 providers / patient

7.5 years of data / patient

Data from patient-reported outcome (PRO) survey

(from 13 patients with LC-FAOD)

We hope you found this session informative! Sign up for PicnicHealth’s Alzheimer’s research program below.

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