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Alpha-gal symposium to address hope and resilience

CRITZ, VA – Virginia Tech’s Reynolds Homestead and New College Institute will host the third Alpha-gal Symposium on Aug. 28 in Martinsville, Virginia. The event will run from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and costs $25, which includes morning refreshments and an alpha-gal friendly lunch.

Alpha-gal syndrome is a condition that most often begins when a Lone Star tick bite transmits a sugar molecule called alpha-gal into the body. In some people, this triggers an immune system reaction that later produces mild to severe allergic reactions to red meat.

The Lone Star tick is found predominantly in the southeastern United States, and most cases of alpha-gal syndrome occur in this region. The condition appears to be spreading farther north and west, however, as deer carry the Lone Star tick to new parts of the United States. Alpha-gal syndrome also has been diagnosed in Europe, Australia, and Asia, where other types of ticks carry alpha-gal molecules.

The symposium will offer six speakers who address diverse aspects of the syndrome including:

– Candice Matthis and Debbie Nichols, also known as the Two Alpha Gals, will deliver the keynote address on “Finding JOY in Alpha-gal.” Matthis and Nichols have spent years researching creative lifestyle changes that they are eager to share with those who struggle with alpha-gal syndrome.

– Dr. Jennifer Platt, CEO of Tick Warriors and co-founder of Tick-Borne Conditions United, who will speak on “Patient Symptoms and Experiences.”

– John Bianchi, vice president of product development at Revivicor Inc., will present an update on development of a “GalSafe Pig.” Revivicor is a regenerative medicine company focused on applying leading-edge animal biotechnology platforms to provide an alternative tissue source for treatment of human degenerative disease.

– Beth Carrison, co-founder of Tick-Borne Conditions United, will speak on “Advocating for Yourself and Alpha-gal” and on the progress on awareness for alpha-gal syndrome. She will also help participants prepare information to take to their doctors and pharmacists to help educate them on how to manage patients with alpha-gal.

– Heather Hargis, MFT, a therapist from Nashville, will speak on “Food Allergies and Mental Health.”

– Dr. Nader Soliman will introduce a powerful technique that provides relief from allergy symptoms and has been used successfully to relieve symptoms of alpha-gal syndrome. He will be joined by Dr. Deborah Farley to moderate a panel discussion with those who have undergone the treatment.

Check in and on-site registration for the symposium will be from 8-9 a.m. at the New College Institute, which is located at 191 Fayette St. in Martinsville. The symposium will begin promptly at 9 a.m.

An alpha-gal safe luncheon will be served, and guests will have an opportunity to try emu, a poultry that has a similar taste to beef. The luncheon is sponsored in part by Amaroo Hills, an emu, duck, and ostrich farm with locations in Tennessee and North Carolina.

For more information about the symposium, interested participants can call the Reynolds Homestead at 276-694-7181. Online registration is available at https://bit.ly/AGSymposium.

Individuals with a disability and desiring an accommodation should contact Lisa Martin at martinlm@vt.edu during regular business hours at least five business days prior to the event.

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