Learn what partner organization Castleman Disease Collaborative Network is doing to help combat Covid-19


Uplifting Athletes values its relationship with Dr. David Fajgenbaum and the organization he founded, the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network (CDCN). It started when Uplifting Athletes’ founder, Scott Shirley, and Dr. Fajgenbaum crossed paths for the first time eight years ago.

The developing relationship has always featured two different paths, but with the common goal of serving the Rare Disease Community and looking for avenues to join forces in order to strengthen our common bond of supporting the community we serve.

Dr. Fajgenbaum was instrumental in  helping to guide Uplifting Athletes’ research commitment of funding individual researchers through our Young Investigator Draft. He was selected to be part of the first draft class in 2018 and, based on the caliber of research conducted in the CDCN lab, Uplifting Athletes has partnered with the CDCN to fund one of its qualified young investigators all three years the event’s been held.

In this time of a world pandemic, many in the Rare Disease Community are doing their very best to support the patients and families that make up one of the most vulnerable populations impacted by  COVID-19 or the novel coronavirus.

Dr. Fajgenbaum, a highly respected clinician, researcher and author, and his organization are focusing their resources in the hopes of finding a way to repurpose FDA approved therapies to fight back against the spread of the novel coronavirus. In this time of global need, CDCN is shifting gears and using the methods it developed to fight Castleman’s Disease to attack COVID-19.

Uplifting Athletes is proud to share the following excerpt posted by the CDCN on what their team, led by Dr. Fajgenbaum, is doing in response to this pandemic.

When fighting a war, information really matters. You need to know what weapons have been tried and which ones have been most (and least) effective. 

This information helps soldiers to adjust their strategy. The same holds true when fighting a global war against a disease like COVID-19 (or Castleman disease or any disease!). We need to know what drugs have been tried and which ones have worked, so doctors can adjust their treatment strategies. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t a central database to track drugs used for diseases. Instead, thousands of individual case reports and studies are published, each describing a few treatments in a few patients. Some of these drugs originally developed for other conditions that are being repurposed for use in this new condition may be the answer we’re all looking for, but the data aren’t centralized or searchable.

Following the path we blazed in fighting Castleman disease, we decided to assemble a team to read every published COVID-19 paper and extract data on every treatment that has been given to a COVID-19 patient. We set the ambitious goal for our 10 member team to read all 1,000 published papers in 10 days.

The number of COVID-19 papers soon exploded to over 2,000, but thankfully 20 more volunteers joined our team! In 12 days, we read 2,482 COVID-19 articles (1,786 on PubMed, 696 on pre-published Archives) and extracted data on 100-plus drugs used in 5,000-plus patients from 159 papers (and a MD/med student audited every data point).

Now, any physician or researcher in the world can access this open-source database.

And Sheila Pierson, a data scientist in the CDCN lab, is leading the effort to analyze the data to gain insights on which drugs seem to have the clearest benefit for patients.

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