2020 Q1 Q2 Newsletter

June 19, 2020
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2020 Q1 | Q2 Newsletter


Due to safety and health recommendations, the Colfax Marathon originally scheduled for the third weekend in May was cancelled, with the hope of rescheduling this fall or next spring. Emily Haller and the ACT Run for Nana team, formed in honor of Emily’s late grandmother who battled with c. difficile, continued to rally and celebrate the progress being made treating and healing patients with c. difficile through Intestinal Microbiota Transplants. The team hosted a virtual zoom meeting with special guest, Dr. Khoruts, and a scavenger hunt run! Congrats to prize winners Emily Haller and Ian McConville!

MEET OUR NEW INTERN, Anna Stalsberg!

Hi! My name is Anna, and I am a Junior at the University of Minnesota studying Sociology, Psychology, and Human Health. Outside of class, I am involved with research looking at the social determinants of health, and I also work as a tour guide on campus.

After finishing my degree at the U of M, I hope to work in public health educating young adults on the importance of physical and mental health. For fun, I enjoy hiking (in my picture I'm on a hike in Arizona!), painting, and experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen! I look forward to working with everyone at ACT and making a positive impact on the community!

2020 Twin Cities Marathon

ACT is honored to once again be a Charity Partner of the Twin Cities Marathon and 10-Mile races which are scheduled for October 4th this fall. We remain in close contact with the race coordinators, Twin Cities in Motion, who are monitoring the CDC recommendations on group gatherings. No changes have been announced to date for the fall marathon schedule, please reach us to us if you are interested in running at info@achievingcures.com!

 A Special Thank You to our Community Partners!

Right now, many businesses are struggling facing the many unexpected challenges of 2020. We want to thank the businesses that have supported and been partners in furthering ACT’s mission. We are grateful for your partnership and dedication to finding cures and saving lives!

Making Microbiota Products for Patients. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges to our program, both scientific and logistic. On the scientific side, there is a concern that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the cause of COVID-19, can be shed in the stool. Since some individuals may never develop any symptoms of COVID-19, we need to make sure  that  our microbiota products are safe by testing. We are currently working to validate molecular tests for SARS-CoV-2 on stool and capsule products. On the logistical side, we need to adjust our manufacturing process to  ensure safety  for our laboratory  workers, while contending with the ongoing shortage of personal protective equipment. We anticipate  that the University of Minnesota Medical School, which oversees our production facility, will be ready to review our plans in June. We are fortunate that we had a reasonable stockpile of microbiota capsules and frozen liquid preparations prepared before December 1st, 2019, as the FDA allows use of products manufactured before this date. Thus, we continue to treat patients suffering with C. difficile infections. The oral capsule treatment is in even greater demand now because clinical procedures, such as colonoscopies, have been on hold because of COVID-19.

Covid 19 Research

Many have puzzled over why the severity of COVID-19 and death rate is so different across the globe. For example, Japan, a country with a very high elderly population has been relatively spared. Possible explanations include cultural differences, such as wide acceptance of face masks, frequent handwashing, and noncontact greeting rituals, have been suggested as some of the reasons. However, those cannot explain seemingly lower rates of COVID-19 in India or Africa. Our hypothesis is that the composition of gut microbes is an important variable. The risk factors for severe COVID-19 include older age, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The constellation of these factors is called ‘metabolic syndrome’. It is well recognized that the composition of gut microbes and their activity is different in patients with metabolic syndrome. In fact, a few years ago we did a small trial and demonstrated that insulin sensitivity, which is a core problem in metabolic syndrome, can be improved by transplanting intestinal microbiota from a lean, healthy donor into patients with metabolic syndrome. However, gut microbes are not just important in energy metabolism, they play a central role in calibration of immune responses. Vaccines do not work as well in obese patients, for example. Also, animals treated with antibiotics suffer worse outcomes of various viral infections, such as influenza. Thus, we applied to the FDA to use intestinal microbiota transplantation early after COVID-19 diagnosis to prevent a severe course of this disease. We hope to initiate this clinical trial this year.

- Dr. Alexander Khoruts

Due to COVID-19, the work on most of the below trials was suspended, but hope to resume as soon as possible.

  • Recurrent C. difficile infection: Multi-center clinical trial in the VA system (MATCH)
  • Ulcerative colitis: University of Minnesota·
  • Autism: Arizona State University
  • Pitt-Hopkins disease: Arizona State University
  • Advanced Liver Disease: Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Parkinson’s Disease: Mount Sinai Hospital, Baltimore
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation forAcute Leukemia: University of Minnesota
  • Optimization of check- point immunotherapy for lung cancer: University of Minnesota


We are so grateful for your support as we continue this essential work. As a token of our appreciation, we are sending our new ACT Klean Kanteen coffee tumblers to our existing monthly donors as well as any donor who sets up a new recurring  donation by June 30th. We could not continue treating patients and providing therapeutics  to vital clinical trials without your support.


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