Tag Archives: P4 Medicine Update 6/23/11

Ohio State’s P4 Medicine Update, June 23, 2011

Captured by Sherri Kirk

NIH Awards $200M for New CTSA Sites

Captured by GenomeWeb

The National Institutes of Health said today that it has awarded nearly $200 million to be spread over five years to five new Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) winners including Pennsylvania State University; the University of California, Los Angeles; University of Kansas Medical Center; the University of Kentucky; and the University of Minnesota.

The CTSA program, which is run by the National Center for Research Resources, funds research and resources that boost the efficacy and quality of clinical and translational research.

“The CTSAs support the innovation and partnerships necessary to bridge the traditional divides between basic research and medical practice,” NIH Director Francis Collins said in a statement Tuesday. “The combination of resources and collaboration made possible by these awards is essential for developing and delivering new treatments and prevention strategies.” Read more…

Cracking Cancer’s Code

Captured by Time 

 

It seems jarring at first, all that violent imagery we use when we talk about cancer. It was 40 years ago, with the National Cancer Act of 1971, that President Nixon launched the War on Cancer, and since then, we fight with knife and laser and radiation and chemical weapons, we target tumors, we run reconnaissance with scans and tests, and we hunt down wayward cells that sneak away from the original lesion to seed new growths elsewhere.

Until now, all the aggressive posturing was intentional and, some would argue, necessary in order to engage a disease as insidious as this. Once a healthy cell picks up signals to grow, grow, grow, it indeed becomes a biological enemy, one that left unchecked can infiltrate, overtake and ultimately shut down normal tissues and organs.

Yet while we have focused so obsessively on cutting out tumors or poisoning them with toxic drugs, we have forgotten that there is another strategy, one that takes a more sophisticated approach than carpet bombing the enemy and instead requires studying it up close, learning its ways and weaknesses and then letting that knowledge work for you.

This is the strategy luring more and more researchers into the next phase of cancer care, one in which the science of genes is applied to the biology of cancer, allowing us to peer deep into the clockwork of a cancer cell and then jam its gears or pull out its mainspring. It means that treating cancer may be not an all-or-nothing endeavor but rather a long-term crusade between tumor and therapy, similar to the way we handle chronic diseases like HIV and other infections — with combinations of drugs in a constantly evolving fashion. Such an approach could be far more precise than the scalpels-and-toxins strategy, but it requires us to do one very big thing: learn to read cancer’s DNA. Read more…

 

 

 

Geneticists Discover Technique to Tackle Mutant DNA

Captured by The Guardian (University of Rochester Medical Center)

Scientists have hit on a genetic trick that opens up fresh avenues for the treatment of devastating diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and certain forms of cancer.

The technique corrects glitches in genetic machinery that cause the body to make faulty versions of proteins that can lead to the onset of disease.

Although the work is at an early stage, the strategy represents a radical new approach to tackling mutations that give rise to an estimated one third of all genetic disorders.

“This is a really powerful concept that can be used to try to suppress the tendency of individuals to get certain debilitating, and sometimes fatal genetic diseases,” said Robert Bambara at the University of Rochester Medical Centre, who was not involved in the study.

Proteins are the workhorses of the body and carry out all of the functions necessary for life, from metabolising food to building cells and directing immune attacks on unwelcome invaders. Taken together, the cells of the body make around 20,000 different proteins.

The instructions to make human proteins are carried by around 25,000 genes that are found in almost every cell. To make a protein, each “letter” of a gene must be copied into a single strand of genetic material called messenger RNA (mRNA). The cell then takes this mRNA and uses it as a blueprint to build the protein in a process called translation.

But the business of making proteins does not always proceed smoothly. Mutations in genes or mRNA can give rise to faulty proteins that in many cases trigger disease. Read more…

NIH Awards $200M for New CTSA Sites

Captured by GenomeWeb

The National Institutes of Health said today that it has awarded nearly $200 million to be spread over five years to five new Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) winners including Pennsylvania State University; the University of California, Los Angeles; University of Kansas Medical Center; the University of Kentucky; and the University of Minnesota.

The CTSA program, which is run by the National Center for Research Resources, funds research and resources that boost the efficacy and quality of clinical and translational research.

“The CTSAs support the innovation and partnerships necessary to bridge the traditional divides between basic research and medical practice,” NIH Director Francis Collins said in a statement Tuesday. “The combination of resources and collaboration made possible by these awards is essential for developing and delivering new treatments and prevention strategies.”

UCLA said yesterday that it will use its $81.3 million grant to work with other partners, including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, and the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute. The school also said that concurrent with the grant it plans to open a new 23,000 square-foot UCLA Clinical and Translational Research Center for outpatient research studies, which will include a biomarkers research lab.

The UCLA-led partners already host a range of research resources, including a genomics core at Cedars-Sinai as well as molecular and micro-imaging and biostatistics and lab services cores, among others.

The University of Minnesota plans to use its $51 million grant to “exponentially expand our capacity and push new discoveries forward faster,” Bruce Blazar, leader of the CTSA program at U of M, said in a statement. “Ultimately, this award is about three things: working with our community to identify research needs, capitalizing on the most promising research, and putting findings into practice to improve the health of our patients and communities.” Read more…

The Costly War on Cancer

Captured by The Economist

CANCER is not one disease. It is many. Yet oncologists have long used the same blunt weapons to fight different types of cancer: cut the tumour out, zap it with radiation or blast it with chemotherapy that kills good cells as well as bad ones.

New cancer drugs are changing this. Scientists are now attacking specific mutations that drive specific forms of cancer. A breakthrough came more than a decade ago when Genentech, a Californian biotech firm, launched a drug that attacks breast-cancer cells with too much of a certain protein, HER2. In 2001 Novartis, a Swiss drugmaker, won approval for Gleevec, which treats chronic myeloid leukaemia by attacking another abnormal protein. Other drugs take different tacks. Avastin, introduced in America in 2004 by Genentech, starves tumours by striking the blood vessels that feed them. (Roche, another Swiss drug giant, bought Genentech and its busy cancer pipeline in 2009.)

These new drugs sell well. Last year Gleevec grossed $4.3 billion. Roche’s Herceptin (the HER2 drug) and Avastin did even better: $6 billion and $7.4 billion respectively. Cancer drugs could rescue big drugmakers from a tricky situation: more than $50 billion-worth of wares will lose patent protection in the next three years.

This month Pfizer, an American company, announced that America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would speed up its review of a cancer drug called crizotinib. Roche submitted an FDA application for a new medicine, vemurafenib. The industry is pouring money into clinical trials for cancer drugs (see chart).

This is part of a shift in how big drug firms do business. For years they have relied on blockbusters that treat many people. Now they are investing in more personalised medicine: biotech drugs that treat small groups of patients more effectively. Read more…

Protecting Genetic Information: Personalized Medicine Project Puts Reports Within EHRs

Captured by HealthcareInfoSecurity

personalized medicine project leveraging genetic information holds great promise for improving patient treatment but requires multiple privacy protections, says Scott Megill, CIO at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research.

In one of Coriell’s many research projects, the institute is working with physicians at Ohio State University Medical Center to enable them to access customized reports within electronic health records about how certain patients’ genetic makeup could affect the efficacy of certain drugs used for their treatment, Megill explains. In addition, information on the patients is being added to a database that will support broader research on personalized medicine.

To help protect privacy, the EHRs do not include the patients’ full genetic sequence or even a subset, he stresses. Instead, the records only include a summary of their genetic variations and how they might affect treatment.

The OSU project is a “first wave trial of how we can get this information in front of physicians at the time at which they are actually providing care,” Megill says. “The way you do that is to push this information directly into the system they are using. … If we can get that information at their fingertips, make it human-readable and readily accessible, we’re really interested to find out just how much this information is used to change the course of healthcare that is provided to that patient.”

In an interview with HealthcareInfoSecurity’s Howard Anderson, Megill describes the many security steps project organizers are taking. Read more…