The 2020 Rare Artist Contest is open for business! Anyone connected to the rare disease community – patient, caregiver, friend, medical professional etc. – may enter the contest. There are different categories for children, teens and adults. Cash prizes are awarded and winners are invited to Washington DC when their work is displayed on Capitol Hill as part of Rare Disease Week. The goal of the contest is to generate awareness of rare diseases as well as celebrate the diverse talents in the rare disease community. To learn more about the contest, prizes or learn how to submit artwork, go to: www.RareArtist.org
Researchers at the University of Bordeaux’s Molecular Genetics, Rare Disease, Genetics, Metabolism Lab report finding a new gene that causes the HPS type of albinism in the Journal of Genetics in Medicine. They found two individuals with the newly discovered gene, HPS 11.
The HPS 11 gene encodes to the protein complex BLOC 1. Other types of HPS that encode to protein complex BLOC 1 include HPS 7, 8 and 9. These are especially rare types of HPS with few known patients around the world.
Patient 1 is reported to be 20 years old and of French Flandish heritage. It appears patient one is a mild bleeder. Patient 2 is 39 years old and of Slovenian heritage. She has a more extensive bleeding history as well as a history of some infections. More study will be needed to determine with greater certainty which clinical features, besides albinism and a bleeding tendency, are associated with these rarer types of HPS.
Albismo Chile, the organization for families affected by albinism in Chile, invited Carmen Camacho to give a presentation about Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome (HPS) to its members as part of International Albinism Awareness Day. “I was honored to be asked to give this presentation. They asked very good questions. I know that we have some allies in Chile,” said Carmen Camacho, who is also a board member of the HPS Network.
“It is exciting that more and more international albinism groups are asking the Network to give presentations about HPS. With technology, we can present anywhere there is a high-speed internet connection. It is so important that people in the albinism community are aware of HPS because as we get better treatments, we don’t want to leave anyone, anywhere, behind,” said Heather Kirkwood, VP and Director of Communications for the HPS Network.
If you would like to see Carmen’s interview, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zwyo5GOLsY8
As part of International Albinism Day, Albinos Paraguay invited the HPS Network to give a presentation about Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome. As flying to Paraguay isn’t possible, Carmen Camacho and Nancy Lee, both members of the HPS Network board of directors, gave an online presentation. Carmen explained what HPS is and Nancy spoke about her experiences, including her double lung transplant. Albinos Paraguay recorded the presentation and shared it with the HPS Network. The presentation is in Spanish. If you’d like to see it, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQ6AtR7zrBg&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0S2qqN-4auFpaoYOrrWMin_DqYMl3Ct0Pt9tR1BFhcWSVE8N4q8IxrGUE
Donna Appell, Founder and Executive Director of the HPS Network, was profiled by Global Genes for the month of June as a Rare Leader. The profile summarizes how Appell became interested in Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome and how she started the HPS Network. The article also outlines the Network’s strategy and plans for going forward. It is a quick read, and a great way to gain a little insight into the Network if you are new or don’t regularly engage with us. Read the profile here: https://globalgenes.org/2020/06/04/308924/
The HPS Network has acquired a donor management platform, DonorView, as part of the grant award from CZI (Chan Zuckerberg Initiative). The platform will not only help us manage and communicate with our donors more efficiently, but it offers a variety of tools that will help us more efficiently communicate with membership on a wide variety of topics. It also offers fundraising tools that can be used by members and improved online registration for HPS Network events.
We will gradually roll out some of these changes as we learn this new system in the office. It is also very important to make sure the HPS Network has updated contact information to reach you including a current e-mail address, and a mobile phone number (if you would like to receive text alerts in the future.) Please send updated contact information to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donna Appell, President and Executive Director of the HPS Network, joined two other panelists on a company-wide webinar for Blue Cross/Blue Shield as part of its Rare Disease Webinar Series: Patient and Family Perspectives.
Appell explained HPS to the audience, and then explained why covering genetic testing for HPS is so important. “I can’t know if it will make it easier for families affected by HPS to get tested, but I hope that we were heard, and maybe next time, when another family needs an approval they might just remember this talk.”
The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), based in Washington DC, has launched a CONVID 19 Critical Relief Program for those with rare diseases. The financial relief program will help meet non-medical, yet critical, expenses. These expenses may include items such as: rent or mortgage expenses, unexpected utility expenses or emergency auto repair.
Eligible recipients could receive grants up to $1,000. To learn more, or to apply for the program, call: (203) 242-0497 or e-mail CONVID19assistance@rarediseases.org.
Twelve people with HPS or their direct family/caregivers are taking part in focus groups to help refine an HPS symptom scale tool. The tool is a collaboration of the National Institutes of Health and the HPS Network. It will help quantify which symptoms of HPS affect one’s quality of life the most through the progression of the disorder.
While if one is living with HPS it might seem obvious which symptoms are most impactful in day-to-day life, it’s helpful for researchers to have data to back up what they are anecdotally told by the community.
The tool will reflect the input of people with HPS as well as caregivers for people with HPS from childhood to adulthood. It will also include input from any HPS gene types.
The focus groups are helping researchers refine the tool. Once that is done, they will survey the entire HPS community. It will be vital to have maximum participation of the community during this step to make the tool, and the data, is most useful to researchers. Be on the lookout for invitations to participate in this project.
The project will not only help move research, but in the future it may prove useful when seeking FDA approval for a therapy.
HPS Network Responds to Urgent COVID19 Need with a gratitude campaign of online giving, Joining #GivingTuesdayNow in Global Day of Giving and Unity.
We hope that this message finds you all safe during these trying times. We realize that while we may all be in the same storm, we may be in different boats. We want to ensure our supporters that our commitment to our mission of finding a cure for Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome has not waned, and that important work continues, even during a pandemic.
Giving will be done in an online fundraiser as well as direct donations to our website, HPS Network. A 7 day countdown will begin, culminating with the day of giving on Tuesday May 5, 2020. The HPS Network is responding to meet the needs of our population, who are particularly susceptible to the effects of COVID-19, as they are by any respiratory illness. The novel coronavirus presents a particular challenge because so little is known about its long term effects on the lungs. We hope to foster goodwill by expressing our gratitude, even in these challenging times and hope that if you can support our cause you will. We are all in this together!
#GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving and unity, set to take place on May 5, 2020 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. The day is designed to drive an influx of generosity, citizen engagement, business and philanthropy activation, and support for communities and nonprofits around the world.
At a time when we are all experiencing the pandemic, generosity is what brings people of all races, faiths, and political views together across the globe. Generosity gives everyone power to make a positive change in the lives of others and is a fundamental value anyone can act on. It’s a day for everyone around the world to stand together and give back in all ways, no matter who or where we are.
Like many non-profits during this time, we have had to cancel multiple in person fundraisers due to the necessity to keep our population safe. We also had to cancel our annual conference this past March. Yet, as always, the work continues. We continue to work virtually with all members of our staff and volunteers. We continue to prepare to be research ready. We have also hosted virtual meet ups with our members to maintain our sense of community and to keep everyone up to do date on the workings of the HPS Network.
As our founder and Executive Director Donna Appell loves to quote, “It’s not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
Please consider making an emergency donation to the HPS Network, so that we may continue our mission and continue to support our members. We may be rare, but we are mighty! A cure for us means a possible cure for many of the ailments that afflict those in the general population. We thank you from the bottom of our lungs!