Making a Splash in Cystic Fibrosis Research!

Tribute to Frank X Via

Several of us have known Francis (Frank) X Via from his CF group Inveniemus Viam Aut Faciemus.  Unfortunately, he passed away on January 20, 2016. All who knew him appreciated his extensive knowledge base of all things related to CF, particularly with regard to new therapies on the horizon; and how they may work on a molecular level. Frank was always an early adopter, and eager to discover new treatments that could benefit patients. He was helpful and supportive to other patients and always willing to consider new ideas. I had many long conversations with Frank regarding our plans to increase the pace of development of more effective disease modifying therapies for CF patients.

In an ideal world, Frank would have been healthy enough to graduate from medical school and put his fine mind to even better use to help the CF community which he so loved. Frank simply wasn’t healthy enough to attend college full time these past few years, and he lost his battle to CF despite his own best efforts and the best medical care. Our current best simply isn’t good enough. We owe it to Frank and all CF patients who are still with us to do much, much better.

More than a year ago, Frank had experimented with natural correctors and potentiators of CFTR, and like others in the CF community, he had good success lowering his own sweat chlorides with curcumin and genistein. However, Frank was uncomfortable, as a young male, with using genistein because it is potentially estrogenic – and he stopped using the therapy.  For this reason, Sharktank decided to pursue use of natural correctors other than genistein for use in CF supplements. We hope we will find ways for CF patients to safely and economically manage their disease more naturally.  He also was influential in the study of cysteamine.

One of Frank’s passions was to better understand how CF therapies work and to develop better ways to evaluate new treatments that come along. Everyone is different! What works best for each patient’s individual genetic makeup and current health status? Answering this question quickly and definitively would help improve many of the body’s systems that are challenged by CF.

Achieving these goals will require dedication and team work across the entire CF community. We owe this dedication to Frank, to ourselves and to each other… to keep working and to make real progress for all patients with CF. Within the next few years, we can transform this disease to a manageable one if we are successful in inspiring others to pitch in – like Frank always did.

He will be missed.  Rest in peace brother.

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