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Health Notes:TCOM chosen for pilot project

🕐 6 min read

The University of North Texas Health Science Center, Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNT) was one of 15 sites selected to participate in a national pilot project called “Building Better Clinical Training Experiences: A Learning Collaborative.” The medical school and the pharmacy school within UNT will collaborate to pilot processes and resources to reduce the administrative burden associated with allowing students to complete clinical rotations at community practices.

The pilot project is being led by the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) and is funded by the American Board of Family Medicine Foundation. “There is a critical shortage of clinical training sites for students,” said STFM president Beat Steiner, MD, “and it’s important for students to learn how to take care of patients in community settings so they’ll be prepared for future clinical practice.”

The goals of the two-year project are to:

• Ease the administrative burden on community-based faculty by standardizing documentation and the preparation of students

• Engage community-based faculty

• Encourage and reward teaching

• Enhance the quality of training at community sites

This project is one component of an initiative designed to address the nationwide shortage of clinical training sites for medical students.

Mitigating risks in blended EHR and IT systems

BionorthTX is sponsoring a luncheon on risks in electronic health records and information technology systems.

The large number of patient care platforms has resulted in silos of information with patient records split across multiple databases thereby restricting access to key information in the treatment of patients. The problem is made worse with the increase of mergers and acquisitions as healthcare networks work to expand. This luncheon event presents solutions to decommissioning legacy systems while maintaining data integrity and accessibility.

The Fort Worth event is Tuesday, April 16 at 11 a.m. at 600 W. 6th St. Suite 300. For more information:

Bell Health and Wellness Center opens

Direct healthcare company Premise Health has partnered with Bell, a subsidiary of Textron, Inc., to operate the Bell Health and Wellness Center, officials announced in late February. Located at Bell headquarters in Fort Worth, the facility marks 14 Premise clients and 25 wellness centers in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.

“Our partnership with Bell reflects the company’s dedication to the health and wellbeing of their employees and their families,” said Premise CEO Stu Clark. “We’re honored to work with this progressive company to enhance access, integrate care and improve the patient experience. It is no coincidence that an innovative company like Bell is adopting forward-thinking ways to enhance employee health and resiliency.”

By offering dedicated primary services, Bell and other innovative companies are enhancing the value of health care employees and dependents receive and lowering long-term healthcare costs, he added.

The wellness center offers primary and pharmacy care to Bell employees, dependents, and pre-Medicare retirees. It is staffed by a care team of eight, which includes a physician board-certified in family medicine; a nurse practitioner; a registered nurse; and a pharmacist.

“At Bell, we are passionate about providing exceptional experiences, and the Bell Health and Wellness Center delivers high-quality healthcare and pharmacy services to our most important resource: our people,” said Allison Mullis, executive vice president, Human Resources, Bell. “The Center helps our employees and their families maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle, every day.”

In addition to the wellness center at Bell headquarters, Premise operates an occupational health center at the Grand Prairie location.

Fort Worth firm invests in gene therapy company

Asklepios BioPharmaceutical Inc (AskBio), a developer and manufacturer of Adeno-Associated Virus (AAV) gene therapy therapeutics for underserved patient populations with rare and generally untreatable genetic disorders, announced April 11 it has received $235 million in funding to augment and accelerate its business.

Fort Worth and San Francisco-based TPG Capital and Vida Ventures are investing $225 million for a minority stake in the company. As part of the transaction, AskBio’s founders and board members are co-investing $10 million.

The investment provides AskBio with additional capital to help advance and expand clinical trials, enhance its manufacturing capabilities and capacity, and drive long-term growth. Additional terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

AskBio was founded in 2001 by Jude Samulski, the first scientist to clone AAV, along with Xiao, who was the first to develop a miniaturized dystrophin gene enabling the advancement of gene therapy for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and company CEO Sheila Mikhail, an accomplished life sciences executive.

Formed in the Gene Therapy Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, AskBio offers proprietary AAV technology, best-in-class manufacturing capabilities, and a robust pipeline of in-house clinical programs.

An early innovator in the space, the company holds over 500 patents in areas such as AAV production, chimeric vectors, and self-complementary DNA. AskBio’s engineered viral vectors are able to target particular tissues, de-target other tissues, and minimize the effects of neutralizing antibodies.

“It’s humbling to imagine that my Ph.D. project several decades ago has ushered in a new generation of transformative therapies that will impact so many lives,” said Samulski, president and chief scientific officer of AskBio. “I am excited to partner with TPG and Vida to catalyze the next generation of gene therapy innovation and translate discovery into life changing therapeutics.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Jude, Sheila, and the entire AskBio team to support the development of therapies for patients suffering from historically untreatable diseases,” said John Schilling, partner at TPG Capital. “AskBio is a very special company, operating in one of the most innovative and strategically important sectors of the pharmaceutical industry today. In addition to its leading clinical programs in several therapeutic areas, AskBio has a broad base of technologies that we believe can support quantum leaps in therapies for many partners in the market. We are honored to have the opportunity to work with AskBio in the next leg of this journey.”

AskBio recently advanced a therapeutic for Pompe Disease into the clinic based on the work by Dwight Koeberl, and Priya Kishnani, at Duke University. The company is also developing therapeutics for heart failure, Limb Girdle 2i, Myotonic Dystrophy, and several other muscular and neurological disorders.

AskBio’s AAV manufacturing process, Pro10, currently yields 10 18 in 200-liter bioreactors and is recognized within the industry as the gold standard in scale manufacturing. Pro10 is used by Pfizer, Takeda, and Viralgen Vector Core SA. Recently, AskBio formed a partnership with Touchlight Genetics Ltd. for the commercialization of a safer, cheaper, and more efficient alternative to plasmid DNA.

Some of TPG Capital’s past and current investments in the pharmaceutical industry include Par Pharmaceutical (now known as Endo International), Adare Pharmaceuticals, Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Aptalis, EnvisionRx, Quintiles, and IMS (together, now known as IQVIA). Last year, TPG Capital and Vida partnered to invest in Allogene Therapeutics, Inc (NASDAQ: ALLO). Vida’s recent biotechnology investments include Kronos Bio, Praxis Precision Medicines, Oyster Point Pharma, and Pionyr Immunotherapeutics.

Piper Jaffray served as financial advisor to AskBio in connection with this transaction.

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