Press Release

Flourish Diagnostics & Vivi VaNess LLC Launch Global “Lyme Disease” Diagnostic Research Crowd Funding Campaign

A quarter century long battle with chronic Lyme disease and co-infections prompted Linda Osborn, CEO of Vivi VaNess LLC, to launch an educational awareness campaign for Lyme disease: The world’s fastest growing infectious disease.  “I wanted to find a palatable way to deliver a very difficult message about the misery of chronic Lyme when it isn’t diagnosed in a timely  fashion. A good friend and fellow writer inspired me to write a stage play, so I did. I wrote ‘Addy & Allie’, Says Osborn.

Helen McCormack, CEO of Flourish Partners & Flourish Diagnostics has been on her own mission:  Getting an accurate Lyme diagnostic test to market.

When Linda read a tweet from Flourish Partners, she realized, “We are perfect for one another. Our projects couldn’t be more different yet complimentary.”  A few tweets and e-mails later, the partnership solidified and the two women began collaborating to try to change the course of the epidemic.

The Diagnostic Conundrum. 

According to Dr. Robert F. Rando, “Epidemiologic understanding of Lyme Disease has been slow in coming.  This is mainly due to the inadequate diagnostic tests currently available.  Without proper diagnosis followed by an immediate antibiotic treatment protocol for those who test positive, the bacterial infection may persist leading to a chronic Lyme infection.”  Dr. Rando spent his career studying infectious diseases including stints at the CDC and NIH and has managed R&D efforts for both diagnostic and therapeutic programs in the biopharmaceutical arena.

“Lyme Disease is such a complicated bacteria. It is exceptionally difficult to diagnose due to its complex pathogenesis and multi-systemic nature.” Says McCormack.  She adds, “Current tests measure antibodies our bodies have produced to fight the bacteria, not the organism itself. Patients have a high probability of receiving false negative test results from this type of test- which can result in grave consequences; especially when Lyme induced complications such as carditis and neurosis are present.”

Add to the purely scientific challenge of developing a better diagnostic there is minimal funding available for this type of research. Of the 30 billion dollars earmarked for medical research programs in the US this past year only 20 million was distributed for work on Lyme disease or Lyme related illnesses.  Recently, the White House redirected 589 million in Ebola funds to the Zika virus.  Unfortunately none of these dollars went towards efforts to combat the existing global Lyme epidemic.  “There have been legislative actions to address concerns with treatment protocols, but so much more needs to be done now before the situation gets any worse than it currently is. We need more research funding and a financial safety net for families suffering because of chronic Lyme and the financial hardships that result from this dreadful disease.” says Osborn.

Together, Osborn and McCormack have created, “United We Heal & Together We Flourish” a diagnostic crowd funding campaign and 501c3 Charity for funding both research and patient medical treatment.

From a purely scientific standpoint, an accurate diagnosis is huge, but what prompted me to collaborate and support Helen’s efforts is Flourish Partner’s philanthropic approach to sharing profits.” explains Osborn. “An accurate diagnostic would generate significant revenue in sales and could provide a substantial fund for further studies and human aide,” Says CEO McCormack.  “Flourish Partners is not a big company.  We have a small core team of scientists and commercialization specialists.  There are no Board of Directors or shareholders to monetarily satisfy.”  In its’ company documentation and partnership agreements, Flourish is obligated to direct profits from sales to a 501c for additional research and to pay medical bills for families that cannot afford treatment. We can also fund educational programs.  Says McCormack, “We can fund programs and get ‘Addy & Allie’ into community theaters so the general population has a greater understanding of Lyme and its destructive forces.”

Why Crowd Fund?

The traditional routes for funding a scientific endeavor aside from government funding are private funding or venture capital.  “Raising funds is very difficult, as our efforts are deemed “high risk” from an investment standpoint.  Even charitable Lyme organizations have passed us over for grants as our diagnostic method is cutting edge and has not been completed by any other research scientists prior to now” comments McCormack.  She adds, “Anyone with experience using venture capital knows how difficult it can be and competition is fierce.” Crowd funding for research and using profits to treat patients is a paradigm shift in the way we go about managing this crisis. It is a game changer.

“We are creating an opportunity for the sick to self-fund the research for Lyme testing and treatment,” says Osborn. There are in excess of 300,000 annual cases of Lyme in the US alone.  Globally the estimate is tens of millions.  If we collect $1.00 from every person with Lyme and give it directly to scientists solely dedicated to Lyme disease diagnostics and treatment research, we will see great things happen. ‘United We Heal’ & “Together We Flourish” may be our only way out of this mess.

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