Educational conference for people with Alpha-1 disease to be held Saturday, March 25, at UTHCT

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Texas Alpha-1 Education Day will be held Saturday, March 25, at the Center for Biomedical Research on the campus of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, 11937 U.S. Highway 271. Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency – Alpha-1 for short – is a genetic condition that can result in serious lung and/or liver disease.

“We are honored the Alpha-1 Foundation has partnered with us to bring this event to East Texas. Alpha-1 Education Day is an opportunity for people with this condition to learn about the latest research into this disease, and to share their experiences with others who have Alpha-1,” said Nancy Creech, RN, MSN, research manager for UTHSCT’s Center for Clinical Research and a certified clinical research coordinator.

As many as 100,000 people in the United States may have this condition, according to the Alpha-1 Foundation. Common signs and symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, chronic cough with phlegm, recurring chest colds, jaundice, swelling of the abdomen, gastrointestinal bleeding, non-responsive asthma or year-round allergies, and unexplained liver problems.

Alpha-1 can lead to lung destruction and is often misdiagnosed as asthma or smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD. It can be detected by a simple blood test or a new mouth swab test.

The Education Day starts at 8:15 a.m. and continues until 5 p.m. UTHSCT President Dr. Kirk A. Calhoun will kick off the event. James Stocks, MD, director of UTHSCT’s Center for Clinical Research and a pulmonologist, will discuss the basics of Alpha-1 and how it affects the lungs and liver. Rick Sifers, Ph.D., an associate professor of pathology, molecular, and cellular biology at Baylor College of Medicine, will present an update of Alpha-1 research.

In addition, Alpha-1 Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer John Walsh and Alpha-1 Association Board Member Lou Glenn will discuss the foundation and the association and their respective projects. Rick Carter, Ph.D., will describe how people with Alpha-1 can improve their quality of life through exercise training.
“UTHSCT’s Center for Clinical Research is one of a few Alpha-1 Resource Centers in the nation. Many patients with Alpha-1 lung disease are referred to Dr. Stocks for treatment,” Creech said.

“The Health Center also participates in clinical research that deals with Alpha-1. Currently, we are involved in a study to examine how Alpha-1 can have different effects on individuals within the same family. We are also participating in several clinical studies of new drugs to treat Alpha-1. Anyone interested in testing for Alpha-1 or participating in these studies may contact us at (903) 877-7753,” she said.

The Education Day is free, but participants must call (800) 521-3025 to register. Participants also are asked to avoid wearing cologne or perfume, because these substances can negatively affect people with Alpha-1. Health professionals who attend this event can receive five hours of continuing respiratory care education.

Sponsors of the Education Day include UTHSCT, the Alpha-1 Foundation, the Alpha-1 Association, AlphaNet, Boehringer Ingelheim and Pfizer, Centric Health Resources, Talecris Biotherapeutics, Baxter Healthcare, and ZLB Behring.

For more information, call the number listed above.

NOTICE: Protected health information is subject to electronic disclosure.