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Melissa Biggs, Fashion Designer and Former Baywatch Actress, Teams with CSL Behring to Raise Awareness of Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, a Commonly Misdiagnosed Respiratory Disease
Date:5/17/2008

Biggs Named Spokesperson for Education Campaign on Behalf of CSL Behring, maker of Zemaira(R), Alpha-1 Proteinase Inhibitor (Human) Augmentation

Therapy

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa., May 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Melissa Biggs, a fashion designer and actress who appeared on Baywatch was recently named spokesperson for an education campaign on behalf of CSL Behring, and is urging Americans to get tested for alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency after her own diagnosis with the condition in 2005.

AAT deficiency (AATD), also known as Alpha-1 deficiency, is a serious, hereditary lung disease that results in progressively deteriorating lung function and can shorten life expectancies in patients who have the most severe form of the condition. An estimated 100,000 Americans have Alpha-1 deficiency, which can be easily detected through the administration of a simple blood test. However, because symptoms of this condition, including wheezing and shortness of breath upon exertion, are similar to those of other forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Alpha-1 deficiency is significantly underdiagnosed and undertreated.

In fact, up to 95 percent of people with Alpha-1 deficiency have not been diagnosed or have been misdiagnosed as having another form of COPD. Due to low awareness of the condition, it takes an average of seven to eight years from symptom onset for a patient to be correctly diagnosed with Alpha-1 deficiency.

To help raise awareness of Alpha-1 deficiency among healthcare professionals and the general public, Ms. Biggs will share her experiences and stress the importance of being tested for Alpha-1 at appearances in the U.S. and Canada, beginning with the annual scientific sessions of the American Thoracic Society (ATS) in Toronto on May 18 and 19.

"When I was diagnosed with the disease at age 32, I was traumatized. I immediately became an advocate for early detection of Alpha-1 deficiency,
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SOURCE CSL Behring
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