Kidney Transplant Chain Is A Touching Act of Kindness : NPR

An American flag flies outside the Houston Methodist Hospital at the Texas Medical Center (TMC) campus in Houston, Texas.

Callaghan O’Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images


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Callaghan O’Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

An American flag flies outside the Houston Methodist Hospital at the Texas Medical Center (TMC) campus in Houston, Texas.

Callaghan O’Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

You never know where an act of kindness ends.

Tara Berliski of Magnolia, Texas, offered to donate a kidney to her husband, John Berliski. His were removed in July because of polycystic kidney disease. Doctors at the Houston Methodist Hospital living donor program explained that because John Berliski has type AB blood, he could receive a kidney from almost any donor. But if John and Tara Berliski chose to enter a kidney swap program, they might be able to help someone else, too; someone else might help them.

John Berliski told the doctors, “Yes, I’ll go ahead and help whomever.” It set off an extraordinary chain of events, as reported in the Houston Chronicle.

Justin Barrow, a 40-year-old youth pastor in Longville, La., has a rare kidney disorder, and had a transplant when he was 15; it was beginning to falter. A cousin offered to donate their kidney, but doctors said it wasn’t a good match. A kidney from Tara Berliski would be.

Diane Poenitzch of Garland, Texas, had been on the list to receive a transplant for nearly four years. Her sister, Paula Gerrick, had offered to be a donor, but her blood type is AB. Not a good match for her sister, but potentially for John Berliski.

The National Kidney Foundation says more than 100,000 people are on the waiting list for a kidney. Yet only about 20,000 receive a transplant each year. A patient on that list will wait an average of three to five years before they become one of the fortunate ones to receive a transplant. Many—there is no nice way to say this—die waiting.

But on October 20, a 30-hour series of operations began at Houston Methodist, involving more than 80 doctors, nurses, and technicians.

Justin Barrow’s cousin, Samantha Barrow, donated a kidney to Misael Gonzalez, whose mother, Teresa Salcedo, donated a kidney to Debra Lewing, whose supervisor, Dawn Thomas, donated a kidney to Diane Poenitzsch, whose sister, Paula Gerrick, has AB blood type, and donated a kidney to John Berliski.

Dr. Osama Gaber was the lead surgeon. When his young daughter, Nora, died in 1998, his family donated her organs for transplant. Years later, they founded Nora’s Home, where organ transplant patients and their families can stay before and after surgeries.

The 10 donors and recipients are all recovering, doing well and began to meet one another this week. They are former strangers, now bound for life by blood and kindness.

“You know you are saving loved ones,” Tara Berliski told us from Magnolia, Texas. “And that’s everything.”

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Strive Health Partners with Nearly 200 Nephrology Providers Across Multiple States to Implement Innovative Medicare Kidney Care Program

Strive Health, a national innovator in value-based kidney care, today announced that it has partnered with nearly 200 physicians and advanced practitioners from 20 nephrology groups across several states to participate in Medicare’s Comprehensive Kidney Care Contracting options of the Kidney Care Choices model (CKCC).

CKCC is a new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) payment innovation model that incentivizes healthcare providers to manage the care of Medicare beneficiaries with chronic kidney disease (CKD) stages 4 and 5 and end stage renal disease (ESRD). Unlike prior value-based kidney care models, CKCC addresses both CKD and ESRD beneficiaries and aligns patients based on nephrology care, not dialysis treatments. The implementation period for the program started on October 15, 2020 and the official launch of the performance period is on April 1, 2021.

“New payment models like CKCC are putting nephrologists at the center and creating meaningful opportunities to transform care for our patients,” said Gary Singer, MD, a nephrologist who leads Midwest Nephrology Associates in St. Louis, MO. “We looked for a partner whose incentives align with our goal of delaying the progression of kidney disease, and whose model blends technological innovation with high-touch care. We believe Strive is well-positioned to support us in CKCC and beyond.”

Strive Health provides technology, high-touch care teams, and management expertise that empower nephrologists to participate and succeed in new value-based kidney care models. Physicians partnering with Strive gain access to advanced tools and resources that improve care delivery, such as sophisticated data science models that predict CKD disease progression with greater than 95% accuracy. Physicians also participate in performance-based incentive programs that reward high-quality and low-cost patient outcomes.

“Our company is the market leader in transformative, value-based kidney care. The new CMMI models take an exciting step in the right direction and create unprecedented opportunities for nephrologists to innovate and be rewarded for high-quality, long-term care goals over individual treatments,” said Chris Riopelle, CEO and co-founder of Strive Health.

Through partnerships with nephrologists and direct care arrangements, Strive manages thousands of complex CKD and ESRD patients in five states today and will be managing, or supporting the management of, more than 30,000 patients in 12 states by early 2021. The company is actively launching new value-based kidney care arrangements with commercial payors, health systems, and medical groups – most recently announced include Humana and Conviva Health – and engaging local nephrologists as central care providers within these models. Future growth plans include new application opportunities for CKCC and additional government programs.

About Strive Health

Strive Health is a national innovator in value-based kidney care and partner of choice for leading healthcare payors and providers. Through a unique combination of high-touch care teams, advanced technology, seamless integration with local providers, and next-generation dialysis services, Strive deploys an integrated care delivery system that supports the entire patient journey from chronic kidney disease (CKD) to end stage renal disease (ESRD). Strive partners with commercial and Medicare Advantage payors, Medicare, health systems, and physicians through

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More Top Research From Kidney Week 2020

The American Society of Nephrology’s virtual Kidney Week featured a slew of research advancements and options for the treatment of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Some of the new findings presented included the investigational anti-mineralocorticoid agent finerenone for the slowing of CKD, new insights into dapagliflozin’s (Farxiga) renoprotective and cardioprotective benefits, and the best course of treatment for primary membranous nephropathy.

Below are highlights of several other noteworthy studies from the meeting.

Novel Anemia Treatment

In a pre-specified regional analysis of the PRO2TECT program, Akebia’s investigational agent vadadustat for the treatment of anemia in patients with CKD not on dialysis showed no increased cardiovascular risk compared with darbepoetin alfa.

Previous phase III findings showed that the oral, hypoxia-inducible factor prolyl hydroxylase inhibitor was non-inferior to darbepoetin alfa in the average change in hemoglobin levels over a 52-week follow-up period. However, in this original trial vadadustat failed to meet the primary safety endpoint, with a quicker time to first occurrence of a major adverse cardiovascular event (MACE) versus darbepoetin alfa.

But the pre-specified analysis presented at Kidney Week found no increased cardiovascular risk associated with vadadustat across the U.S. patients treated to a target hemoglobin range of 10-11 g/dL.

“The newly presented analysis showed that there were regional differences with respect to MACE, expanded MACE, and all-cause mortality, consistent with well-known, differing regional hemoglobin treatment target guidelines,” said Glenn Chertow, MD, MPH, of Stanford University in California, in a statement.

Glomerular Diseases & Heart Risk

Both before and after the onset of end-stage kidney disease, people with glomerular disease carry an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Looking at a centralized kidney pathology registry of Canadian patients with various glomerular diseases, patients with nearly all types saw a relatively high rate of cardiovascular events. Specifically, cardiovascular risk was about 2.5-fold higher among those with glomerular diseases versus the general population (standardized incidence ratio 2.5, 95% CI 2.1-2.8).

When the results were broken down by type of disease, people with membranous nephropathy (HR 2.6, 95% CI 1.7-3.9) and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (HR 3.7, 95% CI 2.6-5.3) had a significantly higher risk for a cardiovascular event compared with immunoglobulin (Ig) A nephropathy. However, those with minimal change disease saw a similar rate of cardiovascular events compared with IgA nephropathy (HR 1.3, 95% CI 0.8-2.4).

“Consideration of glomerular disease-specific factors can help improve cardiovascular risk prediction. Failure to take these novel factors into account will lead to underestimation of cardiovascular risk and underutilization of cardiovascular primary prevention strategies,” the study’s lead author, Heather Gunning, MBChB, of the University of British Columbia in Canada, explained in a statement.

“Further research is ongoing into the impact of glomerular disease activity and therapy over time on cardiovascular risk. This will allow better understanding of the impact of glomerular disease on cardiovascular risk and whether treatment may modify this,” she added.

Racial Disparities in Kidney Failure

Black and Hispanic patients had a more rapid decline in kidney function after new-onset CKD compared with white patients.

In a large

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Goldfinch Bio Presents Clinical Data from Phase 1 Trial Supporting Advancement of GFB-887 as a Precision Medicine for Patients with Kidney Diseases

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Goldfinch Bio, a clinical stage biotechnology company focused on discovering and developing precision medicines for the treatment of kidney diseases, today announced for the first time results from its Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating GFB-887, a first-in-class highly potent and selective inhibitor of Transient Receptor Potential Canonical Channel 5 (TRPC5), in healthy volunteers. The data are being presented today at the virtual American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Kidney Week 2020 Annual Meeting.

Goldfinch Bio is developing GFB-887 as a precision medicine for patients with kidney diseases characterized by overactivation of the TRPC5-Rac1 pathway, including focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) and diabetic nephropathy (DN). Overactivation of the TRPC5-Rac1 pathway leads to injury of podocytes, which are cells lining the kidney that, in their healthy state, prevent essential protein loss (proteinuria). Injury to podocytes causes podocyte loss, proteinuria and, eventually, kidney failure. TRPC5-Rac1 pathway overactivation is the key cause of disease in a substantial portion of FSGS and DN patients, and there are currently no approved drugs that specifically target the TRPC5-Rac1 pathway in these diseases.

“We are excited to share these first-in-human data, which demonstrate that GFB-887 is well-tolerated and suggest a dose-dependent reduction in urinary Rac1, confirming GFB-887 target engagement in the podocyte,” said Anthony Johnson, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Goldfinch Bio. “Suppressing the TRPC5-Rac1 pathway has the potential to deliver clinically meaningful benefit to patients by reducing proteinuria and, as a result, preserving native kidney function. Supported by the Phase 1 data, we are now underway with our Phase 2 TRACTION-2 study of GFB-887 in FSGS and DN, as we continue to advance our mission of protecting patients from the inevitability of dialysis and kidney transplant by delivering precision medicines for subsets of kidney disease.”

Data from the Phase 1 Clinical Trial

The primary objective of the randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial was to assess the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetic (PK) profile and pharmacodynamics (PD) of GFB-887 in healthy volunteers. A key exploratory objective was to characterize changes in urinary Rac1. Urinary Rac1 concentration may predict therapeutic response to TRPC5 inhibition.

The study enrolled 70 subjects, who were randomized four to one to receive GFB-887 at seven dose levels (ranging from 5 mg to 900 mg) or placebo.

Primary Objective: Safety, Tolerability and PK Data

GFB-887 was observed to be well-tolerated at all doses. There were no dose-limiting toxicities, severe adverse events (AEs) or abnormalities in laboratory or clinical assessments. In total, 38 percent of subjects who received GFB-887 reported AEs, compared to 21 percent of subjects treated with placebo. GFB-887-treated subjects reported headache more frequently than placebo-treated subjects (28.6% versus 7.2% respectively). The only other AE that was reported in two or more GFB-887-treated subjects was nausea (3.6%). Slight, asymptomatic reductions in blood pressure were observed in subjects treated at the highest doses.

The PK profile of GFB-887 is consistent with once-daily dosing, with a half-life ranging from 55 to 68 hours. A single 40 mg dose was also shown to exceed the preclinical

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National Kidney Foundation Appoints Johns Hopkins Nephrologist to Board of Directors

National Kidney Foundation Appoints Johns Hopkins Nephrologist to Board of Directors

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Oct. 19, 2020

NEW YORK, Oct. 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is pleased to announce the appointment of nephrologist Dr. Sumeska Thavarajah of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine to its national Board of Directors.

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is pleased to announce the appointment of nephrologist Dr. Sumeska Thavarajah of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine to its national Board of Directors.
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is pleased to announce the appointment of nephrologist Dr. Sumeska Thavarajah of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine to its national Board of Directors.

Dr. Thavarajah is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology. She has a demonstrated commitment to increasing education and community awareness of kidney disease noted through her work with the foundation’s local office NKF Serving Maryland and Delaware (NKF MDDE).

“As a daughter of a nephrologist, I have grown up learning about the challenges and needs of those with kidney disease,” Dr. Thavarajah said. “I am excited by the opportunity to work with others committed to bettering the lives of those with kidney disease through education efforts and advocacy.”  

Dr. Thavarajah served as the NKF MDDE-Medical Advisory Board Chair from 2014 to 2020 and has been a member of the board since 2013. Much of her work at Johns Hopkins and the local NKF has focused on the development of patient education programs, including videos, live classes, and patient conferences with an emphasis on understanding kidney disease, dialysis modalities, and transplant options.

“We look forward to having Sumeska’s voice on the Board as we work to advance kidney health in the United States,” said Anthony E. Tuggle, NKF Chair. “With 37 million adults in the U.S. affected by kidney disease, it has never been more important to get the attention of the 90 percent of those who don’t know they have it.”

Dr. Thavarajah is very involved in clinical care and operations serving as medical director for the nephrology clinic and acute dialysis services at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center (JHBMC) and the FMC Merritt outpatient dialysis unit. Dr. Thavarajah joined the JHBMC Nephrology editorial board in October 2019 as a blog editor for the journal.

The NKF Board of Directors consists of leaders in their communities who have been affected by kidney disease. They are nephrologists, kidney healthcare professionals, living donors, transplant recipients, care partners, top executives with diverse business experience, and civic leaders. The Board meets three times per year and is charged with fiduciary, fundraising, and governance responsibilities for NKF. Board members serve a term of three years and may be elected for a second term.     

Kidney Disease Facts
In the United States, 37 million adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease—and approximately 90 percent don’t know they have it.  One in 3 adults in the U.S. are at risk for chronic kidney disease.  Risk factors for kidney disease include: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and family history. People of Black or

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