Great Strides 2007
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Foundation Brings Message to Congress

CF Foundation President and CEO Robert J. Beall, Ph.D., was joined by Pamela Zeitlin, M.D., Ph.D., co-director of Johns Hopkins University Hospital's CF care center, and Joshua Boger, Ph.D., Vertex president and CEO to brief congressional staff about the drug development pipeline.

After a successful kick-off in September 2006, the Congressional Cystic Fibrosis Caucus, led by co-chairs Reps. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL), took its next steps to ensure progress against cystic fibrosis. In June, the CF Foundation visted Capitol Hill to share its innovative strategy for developing new therapies to treat CF at a special briefing for congressional staff.

Aiming to increase awareness and gain support for research funding, Foundation President and CEO Robert J. Beall, Ph.D., spoke about its success in creating a visionary investment model that has yielded a “pipeline of promise,” with nearly 30 potential treatments in various stages of development. The Foundation, he emphasized, has played an integral role in virtually every approved CF drug available on the market today, but needs more financial backing to continue accelerating the pace of CF research.

Illustrating the Foundation’s vital role in drug development, Joshua Boger, Ph.D., president and CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, discussed the recent advancements made by Vertex to develop VX-770, an oral drug candidate that addresses the basic defect in CF. “Without the CF Foundation’s funding in the first stages of research, we simply would not be working on these therapies.”

As co-director of the CF care center at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, Pamela Zeitlin, M.D., Ph.D., told the group about the dramatic differences in the quality of life for those with CF because of treatments like TOBI®, Pulmozyme® and hypertonic saline. People with CF are living longer and healthier lives. In the past 52 years, the median predicted age of survival has improved from the single digits to 37 years old.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to bring to the Hill important news of our progress in drug development, as well as improvements in CF care,” noted Beall. “With more support from Congress, we can ensure that people with cystic fibrosis receive the access to the care and treatment they need to help them live longer and healthier lives.”