‘Real Impact’ Grants Help Nonprofits Help People With Blood Disorders

‘Real Impact’ Grants Help Nonprofits Help People With Blood Disorders
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Imara has opened applications for its second-annual “Real Impact” grants for community-based nonprofit organizations that support people with rare blood disorders, such as sickle cell disease (SCD) and beta-thalassemia.

Through this year’s initiative, the biopharmaceutical company is awarding up to $150,000 to U.S. organizations that seek to address the unmet needs of these patients and their families.

“Imara continues to put patients first and the Real Impact grant program is a key embodiment of Imara’s core mission,” Rahul Ballal, PhD, president and CEO of Imara, said in a press release.

“We look forward to supporting the 2021 program and encourage all organizations who meet the grant criteria to apply,” said Jennifer Fields, Imara’s director for advocacy and engagement.

In 2020, Imara’s program supported 25 community-based organizations providing a total of $125,000 in services and support for patient communities.

“2020 marked an incredibly difficult time for those living with SCD and beta-thalassemia and we’ve been inspired by the innovative ways grant recipients have used their funds to improve the lives of patients,” said Fields.

This year funds will be awarded to support organizations across three main categories:

  • social determinants of health, including COVID-19 relief;
  • virtual support programs that aim to improve patient access to telehealth services, mental health care programs, or other educational development areas;
  • organizational capacity to support organizations’ internal operations and patient-oriented goals.

Applications must be submitted online in a selected category by May 14 and include all required supporting materials. More details about the program and the proposal submission process are available here.

“We look forward to supporting the 2021 recipients in their ongoing commitment to the patient community,” Ballal added.

Reviewers will evaluate all proposals and select the final grant recipients based on their clear identification of an unmet need, plan of execution, level of impact, and measures of success.

“As we continue to progress our Phase 2b programs in sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia, it is essential to be supporting patients and their families in new ways,” Ballal said.

Imara’s ongoing Phase 2b programs in SCD and beta-thalassemia include Ardent (NCT04474314) and Forte (NCT04411082), trials designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of IMR-687, the company’s potential disease-modifying therapy for both disorders.

IMR-687 is a selective oral inhibitor of phosphodiesterase 9 (PDE9), an enzyme found in red blood cells that normally destroys a signaling molecule called cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). In people with SCD and beta-thalassemia, the levels of cGMP usually are diminished.

By blocking PDE9 and increasing cGMP levels, IMR-687 is thought to reactivate the production of fetal hemoglobin — the protein that carries oxygen in newborns in a more effective manner than its adult version — in red blood cells. That is expected to help ease the symptoms and lessen the complications of SCD and beta-thalassemia.

Ardent is assessing the safety and efficacy of IMR-687 in SCD patients, ages 18–65. Participants will be assigned randomly to receive either a low or high dose of the therapy, or a placebo, once a day for one year. More information about trial contacts and recruiting sites is available here.

Forte is comparing the safety and efficacy of two doses of IMR-687 with a placebo in adults, ages 18–65, with beta-thalassemia over the course of 36 weeks (about nine months). Additional information about that study is available here.

Diana holds a PhD in Biomedical Sciences, with specialization in genetics, from Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal. Her work has been focused on enzyme function, human genetics and drug metabolism.
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Joana holds a BSc in Biology, a MSc in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology and a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal. Her work has been focused on the impact of non-canonical Wnt signaling in the collective behavior of endothelial cells — cells that made up the lining of blood vessels — found in the umbilical cord of newborns.
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Diana holds a PhD in Biomedical Sciences, with specialization in genetics, from Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal. Her work has been focused on enzyme function, human genetics and drug metabolism.
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