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First Blood Test to Help Diagnose Alzheimer’s Goes on Sale

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In this Wednesday, July 22, 2020, photo provided by C2N Diagnostics, Matthew Meyer, left, senior proteomics scientist, and Stephanie Knapik, a research associate, work in a lab that analyzes blood samples at the company's facility in the Center for Emerging Technologies in St. Louis. C2N Diagnostics has started selling the first blood test to help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, a leap for the field that could make it much easier for people to learn whether they have dementia. It also raises concern about the accuracy and impact of such life-altering news. (Jerry Naunheim Jr./C2N Diagnostics via AP)

ST. LOUIS, Mis. (AP) — A company has started selling the first blood test to help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, a leap for the field that could make it much easier for people to learn whether they have dementia. It also raises concern about the accuracy and impact of such life-altering news.

Independent experts are leery because key test results have not been published and the test has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — it’s being sold under more general rules for commercial labs. But they agree that a simple test that can be done in a doctor’s office has long been needed.

It might have spared Tammy Maida a decade of futile trips to doctors who chalked up her symptoms to depression, anxiety or menopause before a $5,000 brain scan last year finally showed she had Alzheimer’s.

“I now have an answer,” said the 63-year-old former nurse from San Jose, California.

If a blood test had been available, “I might have been afraid of the results” but would have “jumped on that” to find out, she said.

More than 5 million people in the United States and millions more around the world have Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. To be diagnosed with it, people must have symptoms such as memory loss plus evidence of a buildup of a protein called beta-amyloid in the brain.

The best way now to measure the protein is a costly PET brain scan that usually is not covered by insurance. That means most people don’t get one and are left wondering if their problems are due to normal aging, Alzheimer’s or something else.

The blood test from C2N Diagnostics of St. Louis aims to fill that gap. The company’s founders include Drs. David Holtzman and Randall Bateman of Washington University School of Medicine, who headed research that led to the test and are included on a patent that the St. Louis university licensed to C2N.

ABOUT THE TEST

The test is not intended for general screening or for people without symptoms — it’s aimed at people 60 and older who are having thinking problems and are being evaluated for Alzheimer’s. It’s not covered by insurance or Medicare; the company charges $1,250 and offers discounts based on income. Only doctors can order the test and results come within 10 days. It’s sold in all but a few states in the U.S. and just was cleared for sale in Europe.

It measures two types of amyloid particles plus various forms of a protein that reveal whether someone has a gene that raises risk for the disease. These factors are combined in a formula that includes age, and patients are given a score suggesting low, medium or high likelihood of having amyloid buildup in the brain.

If the test puts them in the low category, “it’s a strong reason to look for other things” besides Alzheimer’s, Bateman said.

“There are a thousand things that can cause someone to be cognitively impaired,” from vitamin deficiencies to medications, Holtzman said.

“I don’t think this is any different than the testing we do now” except it’s from a blood test rather than a brain scan, he said. “And those are not 100% accurate either.”

ACCURACY CLAIMS

The company has not published any data on the test’s accuracy, although the doctors have published on the amyloid research leading to the test. Company promotional materials cite results comparing the test to PET brain scans — the current gold standard — in 686 people, ages 60-91, with cognitive impairment or dementia.

If a PET scan showed amyloid buildup, the blood test also gave a high probability of that in 92% of cases and missed 8% of them, said the company’s chief executive, Dr. Joel Braunstein.

If the PET scan was negative, the blood test ruled out amyloid buildup 77% of the time. The other 23% got a positive result, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the blood test was incorrect, Braunstein said. The published research suggests it may detect amyloid buildup before it’s evident on scans.

Braunstein said the company will seek FDA approval and the agency has given it a designation that can speed review. He said study results would be published, and he defended the decision to start selling the test now.

“Should we be holding that technology back when it could have a big impact on patient care?” he asked.

WHAT OTHERS SAY

Dr. Eliezer Masliah, neuroscience chief at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, said the government funded some of the work leading to the test as well as other kinds of blood tests.

“I would be cautious about interpreting any of these things,” he said of the company’s claims. “We’re encouraged, we’re interested, we’re funding this work but we want to see results.”

Heather Snyder of the Alzheimer’s Association said it won’t endorse a test without FDA approval. The test also needs to be studied in larger and diverse populations.

“It’s not quite clear how accurate or generalizable the results are,” she said.

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Raising Canes Opens Clearwater Location to Rave Reviews

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Customers lined up around the block for the grand opening of the new Raising Cane's in Clearwater. Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.
Customers lined up around the block for the grand opening of the new Cane's in Clearwater. Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

CLEARWATER, Fla. (FNN) – Hundreds of people lined up Tuesday for the grand opening of Raising Canes, the latest chicken hot spot in the Tampa Bay area. Raising Canes, which was founded in Louisiana, dubbed Clearwater as their first Florida location and fans delivered a warm welcome for the chain that proudly proclaims, “we serve only the most crave-able chicken finger meals, it’s our one love.”

The Pena’s showing some sibling love wanted to be the first in line for this momentous occasion. Getting in line at 10 PM, the duo planned to camp out with friends.

“We had to stay up all night, but it was fun,” said Ashley Pena. “We are definitely going to remember this experience.”

20 of the first 100 people were entered into a drawing to win free Raising Canes for a year!

For Kim Boldus, bringing the franchise to the area hits close to home and means the world to her.

“Raising Canes is really all about being in the community,” she said. I’m really excited personally and professionally because I am from this area, born and raised. I am very excited to bring this amazing restaurant. We do so many amazing things to pair with the community and I can’t wait to see what we do here in Clearwater.”

According to their website, Raising Canes supports over 30,000 local organizations. At the grand opening, they had the support of the local Chamber of Commerce as well as the Mayor to celebrate this momentous occasion.

After the pomp and circumstance, it was time to eat, much to the delight of the hungry fans waiting for a taste of chicken tender goodness, some who has experienced Raising Canes before, and others who wanted to see what the hype was all about.

“We’ve had our food truck out in the community this week and so we’ve had so many people excited to see us,” Boldus added. “For those who have never been, you can expect the most tender chicken fingers you’ve ever had with the best special secret sauce and garlic Texas toast that will blow your mind.”

Unsure of what to get? Bodldus offers a simple solution.

“Definitely a box combo so that you can try everything we have on the menu!”

Raising Canes is located at 2525 Gulf to Bay Blvd, Clearwater, FL 33765. The restaurant offers both dine-in and drive-through options and is open from 10 AM until midnight Sunday – Thursday and 1 AM on Friday and Saturday.

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Tim Giuliani Elected to International Chamber of Commerce General Council

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Orlando, Fla. – Orlando Economic Partnership (the Partnership) President and CEO Tim Giuliani has been elected to the World Chambers Federation (WCF) of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) General Council. Representing more than 1,400 chambers from around the world, this year’s Council is comprised of one of the most diverse cadres of chamber leaders in its history, reflecting WCF’s commitment to advancing regional and gender diversity.

“This is much more than simply a professional honor,” said Giuliani. “This recognition further reinforces Orlando’s reputation as a global leader in economic development and highlights how our mission of advancing Broad-based Prosperity® aligns with WCF’s objective to elevate and empower businesses to be leading players in tackling our most pressing issues. I look forward to sharing our region’s best practices and vision for inclusive growth with my fellow members to show how we all can drive an impactful future for communities everywhere.”

ICC is the institutional representative of more than 45 million companies in over 100 countries with a mission to enable business to secure peace, prosperity, and opportunity for all and ensure business work for everyone, every day, everywhere. Through a unique mix of advocacy, solutions and standard setting, the organization promotes international trade, responsible business conduct and a global approach to regulation in addition to providing market-leading dispute resolution services. Its members include many of the world’s leading companies, SMEs, business associations and local chambers of commerce.

The Partnership has a long history of supporting the Orlando region’s business community. Through its business development efforts, the Partnership works to market the Orlando region as an ideal location for successful and innovative businesses to scale and success while also growing the diversity of the regional economy by providing complimentary services to expanding businesses to achieve a soft and welcoming landing in the business community. The Partnership’s programs and initiatives support our region’s existing businesses by driving regional investment, catalyzing regional leadership and helping to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

In collaboration with ICC, the WCF provides all the tools to support Chambers and MSMEs, connecting chambers worldwide to develop and reinforce our chamber community. Chamber leaders from local, regional, national and transnational chambers were eligible to run for the General Council, each member serving a three-year term with the opportunity to run twice. The final composition of the Council sees representation from all parts of membership worldwide. It includes nine representatives from the Americas, thirteen from the Africa and Middle East region, nine from Asia-Pacific and twelve from Europe.

“We are proud of the level of enthusiasm and support of our members who showed interest in serving on the ICC WCF General Council,” said WCF Chairman Nicolás Uribe. “We have successfully brought together one of the most diverse and inclusive Councils in our long history, and I look forward to working with all members to strengthen the WCF and the wider chamber community.”

The new members of the WCF Executive Council are as follows:

Mr Tim Giuliani, President and CEO, Orlando Economic Partnership (USA)

Mr Marcelo Elizondo, Director – prosecretary, Argentina Chamber of Commerce and Services (Argentina)

Mr Andrew McKellar, CEO, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Australia)

Mr Olivier Willocx, Chief Executive Officer, Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry (Belgium)

Mrs Maria Teresa Bustamante, President, FIESC Foreign Chamber of Commerce (Brazil)

Mrs Min Yu, General Director, ICC China Secretariat, China Chamber of International Commerce (China)

Mrs Rim Siam, President of Economic Business Women Council, Alexandria Chamber of Commerce (Egypt)

Mr Giorgi Pertaia, President, The Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Georgia)

Mr Volker Treier, Chief Executive of Foreign Trade and Member of the Executive Board, Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (Germany)

Mr Mohammed Khazaee Torshizi, Senior Advisor to President, Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines & Agriculture (Iran)

Mr Kazuo Nishitani, Executive Director, Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Japan)

Mr Seong Woo Lee, Vice President, Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Korea)

Mr Trajan Angeloski, President, Macedonian Chambers of Commerce (Macedonia)

Mrs Tamader Al Thani, Director of International Relations and Chamber Affairs, Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Qatar)

Mr Mihai Daraban, President, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania (Romania)

Mr José Luis Bonet, President, Spain Chamber of Commerce (Spain)

Mr Vincent Subilia, Director General, Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services (Switzerland)

Mr Izzet Volkan, Chairman of the Board, Corlu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Turkey)

Mr Gennadiy Chyzhykov, President, The Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Ukraine)

Mrs Shevaun Haviland, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce (United Kingdom)

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Orlando International Airport Pushing 50 Million Passenger Mark, Again

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ORLANDO, FL. – With a strong start to the holiday travel season in November, Orlando International Airport (MCO) came dramatically close to breaking the 50 million passenger barrier, again. Previously, MCO shattered the mark before the pandemic and it was not predicted to fully rebound again until at least 2025.

“We have far exceeded anyone’s expectations for traffic growth at Orlando International Airport,” says Kevin Thibault, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. “On a rolling 12-month basis, MCO welcomed 49.7 million passengers as of November. If you break that down even further, it is about two days-worth of traffic shy of 50 million.”

For the month of November, MCO was bolstered once again by robust international traffic, which climbed over 85 percent. Those numbers were also affected by the resumption of service by Sunwing to Toronto. Another key factor, MCO recorded the third-lowest domestic air fares in the country from July through September for the top 50 U.S. airports.

Rolling 12-month Traffic Statistics:

  • International traffic is up by triple digits with a 225 percent increase over the same 12-month period in 2021 with 5,352,825 total international passengers.
  • Domestic traffic climbed 21.04 percent year-over-year to 44,350,955 passengers at MCO.
  • Combined, overall traffic at MCO for the 12-month rolling total was up 29.82 percent to 49,703,780 passengers.

November 2022 Traffic Statistics:

  • International traffic climbed 85.35 percent with a total of 466,169 international arrivals and departures.
  • Domestic passenger traffic was up 3.83 percent on 3,772,635 total travelers for the month.
  • Combined, traffic was up 9.11 percent with a grand total of 4,238,804 arrivals and departures at MCO.

Traffic Summary Report

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