UB’s CTSI Community Partnership Development Seed Grant

The University at Buffalo’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) provides seed grants that support the planning of community-based participatory research projects and engagement of communities in research.
The goal of these awards is to increase the number of community-academic partnerships that are prepared to collaborate on the design and implementation of research projects, specifically those that address health disparities, aim to improve health equity, and generate preliminary data for submission of larger grants to intramural and extramural sources. Seed grants not exceeding $5,000 will be awarded to academic-community teams for:

  • Development of community-engaged research partnerships
  • Collaboration on the design of pilot research
  • Development of community-engaged research proposals for external funding

Letters of Intent are due by March 9, 2020. Selected LOIs will be invited to submit full proposals based on criteria outlined in the RFP.

CLICK HERE for more information!

UB, Empire Genomics Partner with Life Technologies to Accelerate Innovative, Genetics-based Clinical Research in WNY

Collaboration Will Strengthen Regional Life Sciences Industry

Empire Genomics, Life Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: LIFE) and the University at Buffalo (UB) will embark on a new partnership to develop world-class gene sequencing facilities for genetics-based clinical research on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The collaboration capitalizes on each organization’s strengths to help establish a new standard for genomic research in Western New York and continue to grow the life sciences sector of the region’s economy.

Life Technologies, a global provider of biotechnology products and services, will provide state-of-the-art genome sequencing equipment enabling UB and Empire Genomics to establish their initial set up of Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified sequencing facilities on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The advanced sequencing technology available from Life Technologies, combined with the expertise of UB researchers and the Empire Genomics team, will help clinical researchers develop new diagnostic tests that, in the future, could enable physicians to prescribe treatments tailored to each individual based on genetic make-up.

“We are very pleased that after carefully looking at all of the alternatives, the University at Buffalo and Empire Genetics decided that Ion semiconductor sequencing was the best platform to help them reach their goal of advancing genetics-based clinical research, and ultimately driving growth in the life sciences industry in Western New York,” said Mark Stevenson, president and chief operating officer at Life Technologies.

Achieving CLIA certification will enhance and expand the services Empire Genomics and UB provide to clients across the globe, and holds the promise of spawning new diagnostic tests for a number of diseases or conditions. The results will eventually lead to new tools to deliver better health care while growing new jobs in Western New York.

“This collaboration is a great example of the impact that can be made when industry and academic partners work together toward shared goals,” said Marnie LaVigne, PhD, associate vice president for economic development at UB. “We look forward to continuing to partner with Life Technologies and Empire Genomics on these efforts to support the advancement of genetics-based clinical research and the life sciences as key economic drivers in our region.”

The CLIA-certified laboratories will be set up at UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences and at the downtown Buffalo headquarters of Empire Genomics, a provider of genetics-based research and testing services.

“Genetics-based diagnostics will play a major role in developing personalized medicine, and that in turn will create new job opportunities in Western New York,” said Norma J. Nowak, PhD, founder and chief scientific officer at Empire Genomics and director of science and technology at UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. “Leveraging our combined strengths will ensure that we remain at the forefront of technological and research capabilities while making greater long-term contributions to the public health.”

*All products referenced are for Research Use Only and not intended for use in diagnostic procedures, unless otherwise noted.

Kerry Jones Waring (UB CoE);  kerryjon@buffalo.edu
;716.881.7997

Media Coverage:

Collaboration Brings Genetic Testing to Med Campus

UB, Life-sciences Firms Partner on Gene Sequencing

 

 

UB Researchers Have Developed and Validated a New Diagnostic Test for Chronic Sinusitis

The new test will provide chronic sinusitis patients with a definitive diagnosis for the first time

Clinical studies conducted at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences have completed the clinical development of the first immunologic test for diagnosing chronic rhinosinusitis.

The new test, which is being launched this month nationwide by Immco Diagnostics of Amherst, N.Y., makes it possible, for the first time, to definitively diagnose the condition. Immco Diagnostics licensed the test from the Mayo Clinic, where the researchers, who later joined UB, first developed and patented it.

“This is a game-changer,” says Jens U. Ponikau, MD, clinical assistant professor of otolaryngology at UB, who led the university’s clinical trials on the new test with David A. Sherris, MD, professor and chair of the UB Department of Otolaryngology, and Kishore Malyavantham, PhD, of Immco. “It provides physicians with a way to precisely identify what kind of inflammation is present in the nose and can help guide their treatment wp-contentroach.”

Chronic rhinosinusitis is one of the most common chronic diseases in the U.S., with more than 30 million sufferers, about 14 percent of the population. There are no wp-contentroved drugs or treatments that target chronic rhinosinusitis, mainly, Ponikau says, because physicians have not had sufficient insight into what causes it.

“The symptoms for chronic rhinosinusitis include long-term nasal congestion, thick mucus, headache, loss of sense of smell and opportunistic bacterial infections, most of which are similar to other common conditions,” Ponikau says. “So is it a year-round allergy, a deviated septum, the common cold, some recurrent bacterial infection or chronic sinusitis? Until now, there were few ways to tell.”

Some patients have even undergone endoscopic surgery in hopes of getting some relief, but often the disease comes back after surgery, he says.

While working at the Mayo Clinic, Ponikau and Sherris made the discovery that chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) is an immunologic condition in which rare white blood cells called eosinophils travel through the nasal skin into the mucus, where they release a toxic protein called major basic protein (MBP), damaging tissue and causing symptoms.

The Mayo Clinic patented the discovery as a clinical test and Ponikau and Sherris brought the research to Western New York when they were recruited to UB in 2003 to reestablish its program in otolaryngology, a specialty focusing on the ear, nose and throat.

“The major basic protein is specific only to chronic rhinosinusitis and does not wp-contentear in acute sinusitis, allergy or the common cold,” explains Ponikau, “but we and researchers at other centers around the world had to confirm this.”

“Patients afflicted with CRS show a specific kind of airway inflammation, which is usually not caused by bacterial infection,” says Lakshmanan Suresh, PhD, clinical associate professor in the Department of Oral Diagnostic Sciences in the UB School of Dental Medicine and vice president of R&D and clinical services at Immco. “Our CRS test shows inflammation elicited due to fungus and is helpful in identifying patients where antibiotic therapy may not be helpful.”

In February, the New York State Department of Health provided regulatory wp-contentroval for the test to measure MBP in nasal mucus.

The test can be performed in a physician’s office. A sample of nasal mucus is taken from a patient and is then sent to Immco Diagnostics for analysis, which will typically take a few days.

Physicians who want to obtain the test should contact Dr. Suresh at Immco at 716-691-0091 ext. 312 or ext. 149.

Ellen Goldbaum (UB); goldbaum@buffalo.edu; 716.645.4605

Light Smokers Benefit from Nicotine-Replacement Medications

75% of smokers in Roswell Park-led study said offer of free cessation medication ‘very important’ to quit effort

Light daily smokers, those who smoke fewer than 10 cigarettes per day, have greater success quitting when provided stop-smoking medications and assisted by counselors. Those are the key conclusions of research conducted by scientists at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) and the Medical University of South Carolina and published in the latest issue of Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

While the number of light smokers is increasing, most studies have focused on the benefits of counseling and nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT) for moderate and heavy smokers. This study found that light smokers who contacted a telephone quitline are typically interested in using NRT and achieve higher quit rates than those who were not offered NRT.

“While many studies have demonstrated the efficacy of nicotine medications for smoking cessation, very few have examined these questions in lighter smokers, as we have done,” says Martin Mahoney, PhD, MD, Associate Professor in the departments of Health Behavior and Medicine at RPCI and senior study author. “A unique strength of this study is the use of an experimental design implemented in a real world community setting of a state quitline.”

The study evaluated long-term quitting success among 1,365 adult tobacco users who smoked less than 10 cigarettes daily and who contacted the New York State Smokers’ Quitline for assistance between January and July 2010. All smokers received two calls from trained stop-smoking counselors, and about half of the smokers were provided with stop-smoking medications.

Nearly all the light smokers offered the free nicotine medications wanted the medications, and 75% of smokers rated the offer of a free supply of NRT as very important to their quit effort. The quit rates measured at seven months were 20% higher in the group offered the NRT (33%) compared with those who received only counseling (27.2%).

“These findings demonstrate that low-level daily smokers are interested in and benefit from using NRT when they make a quit attempt,” said Laurie Krupski, first author on the study and a Training and Development Coordinator in the Department of Health Behavior at RPCI.

“Smoking cessation is a highly cost-effective intervention because the health consequences of smoking are enormously expensive and compound over time. This study demonstrates that quitline counseling in combination with NRT is a good return on investment,” said K. Michael Cummings, PhD, MPH, Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavior Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina.

This work was supported in part by the New York State Department of Health and by the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Center Support Grant to RPCI (P30CA016056).

The study, “Nicotine Replacement Therapy Distribution to Light Daily Smokers Calling a Quitline,” is available at http://goo.gl/dUiio.

Annie Deck-Miller, RPCI Senior Media Relations Manager; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org; 716.845.859

UB Helps to Launch Two Zimbabwe National Programs

UB Helps to Launch two Zimbabwe National Programs in Nanotechnology and HIV/AIDS Eradication

What does it take to launch two major international HIV/AIDS research initiatives involving the University at Buffalo (UB) and the University of Zimbabwe?

It requires attention to issues as diverse as working with government officials, choosing the right scientists, establishing ethics in research, training for quality control and good laboratory practices, transferring paper patient records into electronic formats and understanding how different cultures respond to serious illness and treatment.

And it requires face-to-face information exchange and planning.

Morse-ZimbabweA UB-led research team recently traveled to Zimbabwe to participate in a week-long program of workshops that included the formal launch of two Zimbabwe national programs: the Zimbabwe International Nanotechnology Center (ZINC) and the Zimbabwe Evidence-To-Action (ETA), an implementation project to eradicate HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe.

With 14 percent of Zimbabwe's population living with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis as a co-infection, the need for new drugs and new formulations of available treatments is crucial.

UB’s role in the ZINC partnership is to provide training to young scientists and students in Zimbabwe in multiple areas within nanotechnology. The trip to Zimbabwe included identifying research areas of common interest to Zimbabwe and prioritizing them according to the country’s needs.

UB has built a partnership with Zimbabwe over seven years through an NIH Fogarty International Center program.

Paras Prasad, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Chemistry, Physics, Medicine and Electrical Engineering; Samuel P. Capen Chair of Chemistry and executive director of UB’s Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics (ILPB), and Gene Morse, PharmD, professor and associate director of  the UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences headthe UB-ZINC collaboration.

“There was an incredible feeling of optimism and high energy toward both initiatives,” said Morse.

The week began with the second Zimbabwe National Nanotechnology Consultative Meeting on March 18 – 19.

Prasad, who will direct the international nanotechnology contributions for ZINC, gave the keynote address.

Morse, who will direct the international nanomedicine component of ZINC, presented the role that UB and the CoE will play in ZINC. Other participating UB faculty included Stanley Schwartz, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Peter Horvath, PhD, associate professor of exercise physiology and nutrition.

Background and details of ZINC were provided during presentations from the minister for science and technology development (MSTD), the Honorable Professor Heneri Dzinotyiweyi, UB alumnus, Chiedza Maponga, PharmD, technical director for nanotechnology (MSTD) and director of the UZ School of Pharmacy, and Josephat Zimba, Technical Consultant to the MSTD on nanotechnology. Additional presentations from Professor Levi Nyagura, UZ Vice Chancellor, and Professor David Simbi, CUT Vice Chancellor, described the leadership roles for their universities.

The week continued with a two-day workshop on March 20 – 21 for the ETA Project.

Hosted by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, the first day summarized:

  • Recent compelling data that provide the rationale for preventing HIV transmission through pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and treatment as prevention (TaSP)
  • The national statistics for prevention of mother-to-child transmission and pediatric HIV infection
  • HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 052 and the dramatic results obtained in discordant couples when the HIV-infected partner was treated early after infection leading to a reduced transmission rate
  • The need for a strategy to provide treatment to key populations with HIV infection including high risk groups such as prisoners, men who have sex with men, commercial sex workers and pregnant women.

At a concurrent workshop, Robin DiFrancesco, manager of the UB Clinical Pharmacology Quality Assurance Program (CPQA) and an AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP) mentor, provided lectures focused on building laboratory skills and bioanalytical method development.

In a second afternoon workshop, Kathleen Tooley, senior research support specialist in the UB Translational Pharmacology Research Core, and Education and Operations Administrator for CPQA and AITRP, and an AITRP mentor, moderated a group at the UZ College of Health Sciences to address challenges in research ethics and research administration for faculty and students who will conduct research within ETA.

Morse chaired the second day of the workshop and provided a presentation on the progress of the UB-UZ AITRP. Highlights included a review of the Training Advisory Group and the recently established Scientific Advisory Board, new research programs, nutritional and traditional medicine pharmacology, clinical pharmacology and healthcare informatics.

The second half of the morning program was chaired by Morse and focused on Bioinformatics and Health Information Technology (HIT) required for the ETA infrastructure in collaboration with the Zimbabwean health care system.

In the HIV Nutrition Pharmacology working group, Horvath and faculty and graduate students from the Departments of Pediatrics and Biochemistry discussed nutritional considerations for the ETA project.

Horvath also provided a seminar on March 25 for the UZ Departments of Pediatrics and Biochemistry titled “Nutritional Aspects of HIV Infection and Treatment.”

Morse was pleased with the results achieved during the visit.

“I was very proud that a country that has faced so many challenges to advancing the health of the nation and plan for scientific and economic growth was linked to the UB-UZ AITRP and the efforts that have been put forward over the last seven years.”

Morse said that the UB team’s visit contributed to two Zimbabwean national initiatives and conducted numerous sessions, workshops and small group meetings.

“The outcome created a new level of collaboration, reaching beyond university campuses to the highest levels of government ministries as well as community programs. This extensive spectrum of research and education programs has been built on the strong AITRP link between UZ and UB,” he said.

The events were jointly sponsored by the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and Child Welfare; the University at Buffalo – University of Zimbabwe (UZ) AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP) and the UZ – UB International Pharmacotherapy Education and Research Initiative (IPERI).

Sara R. Saldi (UB); saldi@buffalo.edu; 716.645.4593

*Photo courtesy of UB: Breakfast meeting with UB-UZ AITRP fellows and families and UB's Gene Morse, Robin DiFrancesco (both upper left), Kelly Tooley (AITRP Education and Operations Coordinator) and Amy Moss (current UB HIV Resident and AITRP Mentor). Dr. Maponga is left next to Dr. Morse.

Roswell Park Scientists Advance Findings About Novel, Low-Toxicity Anticancer Agent

New FL118 formulation may prove effective against colon, head/neck, mesothelioma, ovarian and pancreatic cancers

Researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) have found that a new formulation of a promising anticancer agent, the small chemical molecule FL118, is even more effective in controlling two types of cancer than a version reported in PLOS ONE six months earlier proved to be. Additional evidence also suggests that the agent may successfully treat other solid tumors as well.

In their previous research, a team led by Fengzhi Li, PhD, Associate Professor of Oncology in RPCI’s Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, demonstrated that FL118 eliminated human colon and head-and-neck tumors in animal models without relapse but was limited in that it could be delivered only by intraperitoneal (IP) administration. This new study, to be published in the April 8 issue of the American Journal of Translational Research, compares the earlier formulation of the agent to a new version that can also be administered intravenously, translating to much wider potential clinical wp-contentlication.

Comparing the antitumor efficacy and therapeutic index, or relative toxicity, of FL118 in its new intravenous (IV) formulation with the earlier form, the researchers found that maximum tolerated dose increased three- to seven-fold, depending on dosing schedule. While the original formulation contained Tween 80 or polysorbate 80, a solvent commonly included in drug formulations, the agent in its new composition is free of Tween 80, resulting in significantly lower toxicity.

FL118 is a targeted therapy that selectively inhibits the expression of four major cancer-survival gene products: survivin, Mcl-1, XIAP and/or cIAP2. While both studies tested the agent’s effectiveness against models of head-and-neck and colon tumors, other research from Dr. Li’s lab suggests that mesothelioma, ovarian and pancreatic cancers, and potentially other solid tumors, may also be good targets for treatment with FL118.

“This work represents a significant move forward,” notes Dr. Li, senior author on the study. “We’re targeting four of the most resilient and pervasive cancer survival mechanisms, and because the findings from preclinical testing have been so striking, we’re anxious to see FL118 tested in the clinical setting.”

Xiang Ling, MD, PhD, a senior scientist in RPCI’s Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, is co-author of the paper, “An intravenous (i.v.) route-compatible formulation of FL118, a survivin, Mcl-1, XIAP, and cIAP2 selective inhibitor, improves FL118 antitumor efficacy and therapeutic index (TI).” The study was e-published today and is available at http://goo.gl/y0oZy.

The work was supported in part by grants from the U.S. Department of Defense (PC110408), Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, and by shared resources supported by the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Center Support Grant to RPCI (P30CA016056).

Annie Deck-Miller, RPCI Senior Media Relations Manager; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org; 716.845.859

UB RIA Awarded Grant to Develop Telephone-based Clinical Skill Assessment Tool

Can alcohol and drug abuse clinician skills be assessed over the phone?

There is a growing trend to make clinical training available to alcohol and drug abuse treatment professionals via the Internet and through distance learning. It is cost effective and can deliver training in current evidence-based practices to audiences for whom access may be limited.

While ensuring that trainees can correctly wp-contently the clinical skills taught during training is crucial, evaluation of whether or not clinical skills are correctly wp-contentlied can be challenging because it is typically done through role playing. The assessment of role playing requires feedback as well as reviewing the wp-contentlication of that feedback.

When training is delivered via the Internet and/or through distance learning, clinical skills wp-contentlication assessment might require tools such as video conferencing, which are cost-prohibitive for many organizations.

The University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) has been awarded a $267,469 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) grant to refine a telephone-based clinical assessment tool for evaluating the training of drug and alcohol counselors – a tool that is built on existing data – and then to conduct a psychometric evaluation for its effectiveness.

“The idea for the grant came about because of a challenge we encountered on a previous study — the ‘Behavioral Interventions with Couples Project’ or BIC project,” said Christopher Barrick, PhD, RIA research scientist and the principal investigator on the new grant.

According to Barrick, the previous study involved expert clinicians in the field of substance abuse who were trained in behavioral couples therapy. The research compared the effects of being trained at an in-person workshop versus distance learning via video conference.  The objective was to assess gains in knowledge and clinical skill following the workshop.  Assessing knowledge was straightforward – trainees were asked to respond to a web-based questionnaire.

“Assessing clinical skill was more complicated,” said Barrick.

“How could we conduct a role play, a traditional method of clinical skill assessment, with our distance-learning trainees, many of whom were in the greater Rochester area?  Sending research staff to conduct in-person role plays would have been too time-consuming and costly.

“To address this need, we developed a method that used interactive voice recording (IVR).  Essentially, trainees telephoned in and the IVR system acted like a sophisticated voice mail system, capturing unrehearsed responses to clinical questions. It was a good start, but the method needs refinement.  That’s the goal of this current research grant.”

Barrick says the specific goals of the project are to refine and extend the existing assessment tool developed in the BIC project, and conduct a psychometric evaluation to examine the generalizability, alternate form reliability and construct validity of the tool.

“My co-investigator at RIA, Dr. Neil McGillicuddy, also a research scientist at the UB Research Institute on Addictions, has had experience developing similar instruments before, and I’m excited to collaborate with him on this project,” said Barrick.

Barrick says this particular project focuses on developing a methodology that could be used in a variety of fields.

“It just hwp-contentens that there is a trend toward making trainings available to substance abuse treatment clinicians via the Internet and other distance learning methods, so this is a good fit with the broader needs of the field at the moment.

“There is a lot of great treatment and intervention research currently going on in the substance abuse field.  Unfortunately, there has been an ongoing problem of transferring that work into community practice.  This project is a part of this broad area of research that looks at better ways to make the big investment in treatment and intervention research pay off and gets those results into the hands of people who can use it,” he said.

The grant is scheduled to run from December 2012 to December 2014.

Sara R. Saldi (UB); saldi@buffalo.edu; 716.645.4593

SSO 2013 Lineup Includes 5 Talks by Roswell Park Cancer Institute Physicians

Presentations by RPCI surgeons cover issues of biomarker identification, quality improvement, treatment decisions

Five Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) physicians were invited to give oral presentations on cancer research March 8 at the 66th annual Cancer Symposium of the Society of Surgical Oncology, an international society for cancer surgeons. They were among 10 RPCI physicians who presented at this year’s meeting in National Harbor, MD. The symposium is a major annual meeting where new advances in cancer care are presented.

John M. Kane III, MD, FACS, Chief of the Melanoma/Sarcoma Service within the Department of Surgical Oncology, is first author on “High Risk Soft Tissue Sarcoma Biomarker Expression Patterns and Outcome Following Neoadjuvant Chemoradiation” (abstract 64; session: Sarcoma). Dr. Kane, a member of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) sarcoma working group, presented research performed through his RTOG Translational Research Program grant from the National Cancer Institute.

Because outcomes for patients with “high-risk” soft-tissue sarcoma (STS) — those tumors that are large, deep and high-grade — are often poor, high priority has been placed on identifying biomarkers that might predict response to therapy and survival. Dr. Kane and a multi-institutional team of collaborators created tissue microarrays using pre- and post-treatment STS tumor samples from participants from two clinical research studies, looking to see how treatment impacted levels of seven different biomarkers. They found that two biomarkers, CAIX (carbonic anhydrase IX) and GLUT 1 (glucose transporter 1), decreased following neoadjuvant chemoradiation. The researchers also found that increased post-treatment p53 expression correlated with a higher chance of cancer recurrence.

“We’re always looking for ways to determine which patients might truly benefit from chemotherapy, sparing other patients that do not need it the potential side effects,” notes Dr. Kane. “In addition, these microarrays can also be used to identify new targeted therapies for these often-deadly sarcomas.”

Co-authors are Qiang Zhang, PhD, Asha George, MS, and William Kraybill, MD, of Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, Philadelphia, PA; Thomas DeLaney, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA; Alex Klimowicz, PhD, of the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Anthony Magliocco, MD, of the Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL; and Jeff Simko, MD, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.

Shicha Kumar, MD, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology, is first author on “Clinical Impact of Real Time Reporting Using the Commission on Cancer’s Rapid Quality Reporting System: Is It Worthwhile?” (abstract 55; session: Quality Improvement/Clinical Outcomes).

Quality-control measures have been shown to correlate with improved cancer outcomes, yet deviations from desired standards of care often go undetected or are discovered late, limiting or preventing opportunities for effective intervention. The research team set out to assess the clinical impact of the Rapid Quality Reporting System (RQRS), a tool developed by the Commission on Cancer for alerting providers to wp-contentroaching deviations from predetermined quality measures. They found that while relatively few deviations from standards occurred, RQRS is an easy-to-use tool for proactively identifying and improving delivery and documentation of cancer care.

“Our analysis shows the Rapid Quality Reporting System to be a helpful and reliable safety mechanism for identifying patients at risk for lapses in wp-contentropriate care,” Dr. Kumar says. “The providers we surveyed indicated that the system spurred more effective teamwork and improved documentation, and resulted in reduced concern over insufficient or delayed follow-through.”

Co-authors are Marian Betrus, Jaemi Fitzgerald, Camille Rinaldo, Kassia Delgado, Linda Hauck and Stephen Edge, MD, all of RPCI.

Moshim Kukar, MD, a clinical fellow in the Department of Surgical Oncology, is first author on “Fostering Coordinated Survivorship Care in Breast Cancer: Who is ‘Lost to Follow-Up’?” (abstract 57; session: Quality Improvement/Clinical Outcomes).

Patients who stop scheduling or showing up for wp-contentointments are a concern for many oncology providers. They are considered “lost to follow-up” (LTFU) when they stop seeking services or ongoing monitoring from a facility without having a transfer-of-care plan in place. Dr. Kukar and colleagues looked at nearly 13 years of RPCI records for patients treated for breast cancer, classifying them as LTFU if they had a two-year gap in visits to the facility. They then looked at patient, tumor and treatment characteristics to see whether any particular factors were correlated with LTFU status. They identified five characteristics associated with increased incidence of care abandonment: older age, earlier-stage disease, living longer distances from the facility, having no need for additional adjuvant therapies and absence of recurrence.

“We know that many breast cancer patients will self-triage away from oncology care and follow-up,” says Dr. Kukar. “This research shows that we have a real opportunity to prospectively identify who these women are so we can better assist them with the transfer of care to other providers and make sure that continuity of care is maintained.”

Co-authors are Nancy Watroba, MPA, Austin Miller, PhD, Dr. Kumar and Dr. Edge, all of RPCI.

Jacqueline Oxenberg, MD, a clinical fellow in the Department of Surgical Oncology, is first author on “Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy to Define Biologic Behavior Prior to Resection of Primary Angiosarcoma” (abstract 71; session: Sarcoma).

In a retrospective review of RPCI patients treated for angiosarcoma, a rare and biologically aggressive tumor, the research team tested their hypothesis that neoadjuvant chemotherapy would provide insights that could help guide treatment decisions, particularly by defining those who would not benefit from more involved, higher-risk surgeries. They found that chemotherapy administered preoperatively was well tolerated and significantly decreased tumor size, decreased the number of surgeries needed to control tumors and was not associated with any increase in complications.

“We now have evidence that giving chemotherapy prior to surgical removal of angiosarcoma tumors allows us to better identify which patients would benefit most from surgery,” Dr. Oxenberg explains. “It’s an wp-contentroach that wp-contentears to be both effective and easy to implement.”

Co-authors are Dr. Kane, Nikhil Khushalani, MD, Kilian Salerno May, MD, and Kristopher Attwood, PhD, all of RPCI.

Timothy Platz, MD, is first author on “The Use of Modified 4-Dimensional Computed Tomography in 100 Consecutive Patients with Primary Hyperparathyroidism: An Argument for the Abandonment of Sestamibi SPECT” (abstract 25; session: Endocrine Cancer).

For many years, the vast majority of providers performing parathyroidectomy have used ultrasound and/or Sestamibi SPECT imaging technologies to help identify abnormalities and guide surgical planning. Looking at patients treated at RPCI between December 2010 and July 2012, Dr. Platz and colleagues performed a comparative analysis to determine whether a newer imaging option, 4-Dimensional Computed Tomography (4D-CT), might be an effective alternative to those standard imaging technologies. The team found that a modified form of 4D-CT, adapted to include volume rendering highlights the parathyroid abnormality in relation to neighboring structures, was superior to sestamibi SPECT and ultrasound, with similar levels of radiation exposure.

“We found that this modified 4D-CT wp-contentroach was much more reliable than the other modalities in providing a preview of the anatomy that we’d encounter when actually performing the surgeries,” notes Dr. Platz. “The distinctions between these wp-contentroaches proved to be so significant that we can present a persuasive case for other providers to consider abandoning sestamibi SPECT for these types of cases.”

Co-authors are Ahmed Abdelhalim, MD, Adrienne Groman and William Cance, MD, all of RPCI.

Annie Deck-Miller, RPCI Senior Media Relations Manager; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org; 716-845-8593

New Biotech Companies Move Into Innovation Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

The Thomas R. Beecher, Jr. Innovation Center is pleased to welcome Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) spin-off companies Tartis Aging, Inc., and OncoTartis, Inc., as its newest tenants. The companies will occupy a combined 5,700-square-foot of wet lab and office space on the fourth floor of the building. Approximately half of this space will be built up as the companies continue to grow in size. Tartis
OncoTartis and Tartis Aging are discovery-stage biotechnology companies seeking novel anti-cancer and anti-aging drugs. Their proprietary technologies are licensed from the laboratories of Andrei Gudkov, PhD, from RPCI.

Dr. Gudkov was recruited to Buffalo by RPCI and other local partners in 2007. He moved his research lab and his first commercial company, Cleveland BioLabs, Inc. (CBLI), from the Cleveland Clinic to serve as Senior Vice President of Basic Science and Chair of the Department of Cell Stress Biology at Roswell Park.

The laboratory building at 73 High Street, shared with Cleveland BioLabs, Inc., had been the first home for both corporations. With 15 employees and a growing portfolio, the two companies have outgrown the space available on High Street but wanted to remain on the BNMC.

“We are very hwp-contenty to find space in the Innovation Center, which allows us to expand our research and at the same time continue to be close to our colleagues at CBLI and Roswell Park,” said Aleksandra Kotlyarova, Director of Operations for both companies.

“OncoTartis and Tartis Aging are perfect examples of what we need to see more of here in Buffalo,” said Patrick J. Whalen, Chief Operating Officer of the BNMC, Inc., which owns and operates the Innovation Center. “Dr. Gudkov and Cleveland BioLabs moved to the BNMC several years ago to better collaborate with Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and thanks to the groundbreaking research at Roswell Park, they continue to grow and spin off companies, creating more jobs and economic-development opportunities in Buffalo as they evolve.”

Kari Bonaro (BNMC, Inc.); kbonaro@bnmc-old.local; 716.218.7157

New Biotech Companies Move Into Innovation Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

Banner Letterhead

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 11, 2013

For more information, contact:

Contact Kari Bonaro
kbonaro@bnmc-old.local, 716.218.7157

(BUFFALO, NY) – The Thomas R. Beecher, Jr. Innovation Center is pleased to welcome Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) spin-off companies Tartis Aging, Inc., and OncoTartis, Inc., as its newest tenants. The companies will occupy a combined 5,700 sq. ft. of wet lab and office space on the fourth floor of the building. Approximately half of this space will be built up as the companies continue to grow in size.

OncoTartis and Tartis Aging are discovery-stage biotechnology companies seeking novel anti-cancer and anti-aging drugs. Their proprietary technologies are licensed from the laboratories of Andrei Gudkov, PhD, from RPCI.

Dr. Gudkov was recruited to Buffalo by RPCI and other local partners in 2007. He moved his research lab and his first commercial company, Cleveland BioLabs, Inc. (CBLI), from the Cleveland Clinic to serve as Senior Vice President of Basic Science and Chair of the Department of Cell Stress Biology at Roswell Park.

The laboratory building at 73 High Street, shared with Cleveland BioLabs, Inc., had been the first home for both corporations. With 15 employees and a growing portfolio, the two companies have outgrown the space available on High Street but wanted to remain on the BNMC.

“We are very hwp-contenty to find space in the Innovation Center, which allows us to expand our research and at the same time continue to be close to our colleagues at CBLI and Roswell Park,” said Aleksandra Kotlyarova, Director of Operations for both companies.

“OncoTartis and Tartis Aging are perfect examples of what we need to see more of here in Buffalo,” said Patrick J. Whalen, Chief Operating Officer of the BNMC, Inc., which owns and operates the Innovation Center. “Dr. Gudkov and Cleveland BioLabs moved to the BNMC several years ago to better collaborate with Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and thanks to the groundbreaking research at Roswell Park, they continue to grow and spin off companies, creating more jobs and economic-development opportunities in Buffalo as they evolve.”

About the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) is dedicated to the cultivation of a world-class medical campus for clinical care, research, education, and entrepreneurship on 120 acres in downtown Buffalo. It is home to the region’s top clinical, research, and medical education institutions, including: the University at Buffalo, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Olmsted Center for Sight, Kaleida Health, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, Buffalo Medical Group, Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center, Unyts, and the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care. There are over 40 public and private companies on the BNMC. More than 12,000 people come to work at the Medical Campus every day, and BNMC institutions see over one million patients and visitors annually. The Campus has an annual economic impact of $1.5 billion on the region. The Medical Campus consists of more than 6 million square feet of research, clinical, and support space.  bnmc-old.local

About Roswell Park Cancer Institute

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at http://www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org.

About the Thomas R. Beecher Innovation Center

The Thomas R. Beecher, Jr. Innovation Center, located at 640 Ellicott Street in downtown Buffalo, is a LEED-certified research and development space housing life sciences and biotech companies, as well as companies offering support services like IP attorneys, talent acquisition, sales, and marketing. This state-of-the art facility is designed to accommodate small to medium companies seeking office, wet lab and/or research space, on a month-to-month basis or via longer term leases, located in the heart of the thriving Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. There are currently 40 companies located in the building.

The Innovation Center is owned and operated by the BNMC, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that fosters conversation and collaboration among its member institutions, their 12,000 employees, and the community; coordinates activities related to sustainable planning, development and enhancement of its 120-acre space; and works to create a distinct, innovative environment that provides opportunities for entrepreneurship and active and healthy living.

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Brain Imaging to Identify Physical Reasons Why IBS Symptoms Improve with Drug-free Treatments

UB researchers and colleagues will correlate objective measures of brain changes with patients’ reports of relief from symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

Patients who suffer from the painful, often disabling, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often are surprised to find that behavioral changes, not drugs, provide significant relief. Jeffrey Lackner

Now, researchers at the University at Buffalo who have pioneered some of these behavioral treatments, along with colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Northwestern University, are using functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to reveal the biological basis for the relief. The research could help doctors choose the best treatment method for individual patients and could improve the quality of life for millions of people with IBS.

“We’re going to look at biological mechanisms that underlie these non-drug treatments, to discover what is going on in the brain that explains treatment benefits achieved by teaching patients specific skills to control and reduce their symptoms,” says Jeffrey M. Lackner, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and a project principal investigator. “By using a brain scan to compare brain activity before and after treatment, we expect to get a picture of changes in the brain that correspond to improvements in gastrointestinal symptoms.”

The work is funded by a $2.3 million grant to UCLA, the lead institution; Northwestern; and UB by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. It builds on the work of UCLA researchers at its Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress and a pilot neuroimaging study conducted by Lackner and colleagues at UB.

The brain imaging study came about partly as a result of a major, $8.9 million, seven-year, multi-site clinical trial Lackner is leading at UB to test behavioral treatments in IBS patients. It is the largest IBS clinical trial conducted to date and one of the largest behavioral trials ever funded by the NIH without a drug component. Developed at UB, these treatments are regarded as some of the most powerful treatments available to IBS sufferers.

Lackner is currently recruiting IBS patients for the behavioral and imaging studies at the Behavioral Medicine Clinic of the UB Department of Medicine at Erie County Medical Center. For more information on participating in one of the studies, call 716-898-4458 and leave a name, telephone number and convenient times to be contacted.

IBS is among the most common, disabling and intractable gastrointestinal disorders. Twice as common among women as men, it is estimated to affect between 25 million and 50 million Americans. Symptoms include pain, stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation.

“We’re excited about the possibility of providing the first evidence for biological markers that correlate with treatment-induced symptom changes, and developing a better understanding of the mechanism behind IBS,” says Lackner. “Such cutting-edge translational research is going to help foster individualized, specific treatments for patients.”

One treatment developed at UB aims to control symptoms by changing specific thinking patterns and behaviors found to aggravate IBS. Using state-of-the-art brain-imaging methods, UCLA researchers, under the leadership of Emeran Mayer, MD, hope to identify the biological mechanisms underlying their effectiveness. Mayer is a professor of medicine and psychiatry at UCLA, director of the Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and principal investigator of the imaging study.

Scientists believe that IBS symptoms are the result of dysregulation of brain-gut interactions, resulting in abnormal muscle contractions in the gut and heightened sensitivity to painful stimuli.

“Just as faulty wiring between the neural connection of the brain and gut can bring on symptoms, so learning new ways of thinking and behaving may ‘rewire’ brain-gut interactions, resulting in reduced pain and bowel symptoms that otherwise take a major toll on patients,” says Lackner. “Determining whether behavioral treatments work by targeting specific areas of the brain that have a direct effect on gut function and sensation is a major goal of this study.”

Correlating structural brain changes with symptom reduction is, for both Lackner and Mayer, a primary goal that they say will demonstrate an ‘organic’ component to IBS, which is critical. “IBS is often unfairly dismissed as a psychosomatic condition,” says Mayer. “These findings will be important in dispelling the notion once and for all that IBS symptoms are not real and are ‘only psychological.’”

Lackner’s UB’s colleagues on the study include Michael Sitrin, MD, professor, Christopher Radziwon, PhD, research assistant professor, Greg Gudleski, PhD, clinical research assistant professor, Leonard Katz, MD, professor emeritus and Rebecca Firth, senior research support specialist, all in the Department of Medicine and Susan Krasner, PhD, clinical assistant professor of anesthesiology.

Ellen Goldbaum (UB); goldbaum@buffalo.edu; 716.645.4605

Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Honors Researchers Making a Difference

A group of innovative and influential tycoons came together to form the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, recognizing individuals who have made significant contributions in the life sciences field. The most lucrative prize offered for any academic achievement in the world, the first group to receive the annual Breakthrough Prize included 11 recipients, all scientists, in February. The awardees received $3 million and recognition for their “excellence in research aimed at curing intractable diseases and extending human life.”
Lauretes included:

  • Cornelia I. Bargmann – For the genetics of neural circuits and behavior, and synaptic guidepost molecules.
  • David Botstein – For linkage mwp-contenting of Mendelian disease in humans using DNA polymorphisms.
  • Lewis C. Cantley – For the discovery of PI 3-Kinase and its role in cancer metabolism.
  • Hans Clevers – For describing the role of Wnt signaling in tissue stem cells and cancer.
  • Napoleone Ferrara – For discoveries in the mechanisms of angiogenesis that led to therapies for cancer and eye diseases.
  • Titia de Lange – For research on telomeres, illuminating how they protect chromosome ends and their role in genome instability in cancer.
  • Eric S. Lander – For the discovery of general principles for identifying human disease genes, and enabling their wp-contentlication to medicine through the creation and analysis of genetic, physical and sequence maps of the human genome.
  • Charles L. Sawyers – For cancer genes and targeted therapy.
  • Bert Vogelstein – For cancer genomics and tumor suppressor genes.
  • Robert A. Weinberg – For characterization of human cancer genes.
  • Shinya Yamanaka – For induced pluripotent stem cells.

Russian venture capitalist and entrepreneur, Yuri Milner, established the prize along with additional founding sponsors Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan, Anne Wojcicki and Mark Zuckerberg. All accomplished Internet and business gurus in their own right, the group has already guaranteed that the prize be presented for the next 5 years.

Life sciences companies including those involved with biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and biomedicine are coming up with innovative and effective ways to treat different types of cancer. Academic and health care institutions are leading research efforts to use genomics to identify personalized medicine. With all of the developments taking place on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus alone, it is easy to understand why it is important to recognize the individuals making life-enhancing discoveries. The Prize is public validation that the work being done in labs, under the microscopes, in the manufacturing companies and during simulations is highly valued and respected.

“I believe this new prize will shine a light on the extraordinary achievements of the outstanding minds in the field of life sciences, enhance medical innovation, and ultimately become a platform for recognizing future discoveries,” said Art Levinson. In addition to his current position as Chairman of both the Apple Inc. and Genentech Boards, Levinson will serve as the Chairman of the Board of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation.

Bound to spark an influx of submissions for consideration since any third party can nominate a researcher or scientist for the Prize, the major qualification is that it must recognize a major achievement, with special attention to recent developments. A person can win the Prize any number of times and there are no age requirements. The Prize can also be shared amongst a group of people.

In realizing that the next generations will lead the development of the next big breakthrough, the Prize is a recognition well-deserved for those whose jobs may not be as glamorous or well-known. It will serve as one more way to shed light on how impactful and relevant scientists and researchers are and will open the door for more students to take interest in pursuing those career paths.

International Partnership to Train and Educate Future Nanotechnologists in Zimbabwe

The University at Buffalo (UB) welcomed Minister of Science and Technology Development of Zimbabwe, Professor Heneri Dzinotyiweyi to Buffalo to tour its Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics (ILPB) and New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CoE). Both research facilities will play a role in the international academic partnership with the University of Zimbabwe and Chinhoyi University of Technology.
Receiving the award to establish a Fogarty International Center AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP) in 2009, UB professor, CoE associate director, and director of Translational Pharmacy Research Gene D. Morse, PharmD and collaborators set out to use the award for its intended purpose, providing education and training for HIV-related research in low- and middle-income countries.

UB Robin DiFrancesco, Zimbabwe Minister, Dr. Dzinotyiweyi, and Charles Chiedza MapongaThrough the Zimbabwe International Nanotechnology Center (ZINC), the collaboration will primarily serve as a nanotechnology research program where UB will help educate and train young researchers at the University of Zimbabwe  and the Chinhoyi University of Technology to wp-contently nanotechnology to treat and prevent prevalent diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in the south-African country. Nanotechnology is molecular manufacturing on a 100 nanometer or smaller scale. Nano-particles (particles with dimensions less than 100 nanometers) have become important to the equation of new HIV/AIDS drug development because they can provide effective treatment options with shortened duration of therapy, reduced systemic side effects and limited development of drug resistance.

With 14 percent of Zimbabwe’s population living with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis as a co-infection, the need for new drugs and new formulations of available treatments is crucial.

To prepare for ZINC implementation and discuss logistics, Morse and Paras Prasad, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Chemistry, Physics, Medicine and Electrical Engineering and Samuel P. Capen Chair of Chemistry invited Professor Dzinotyiweyi to Western New York. “Professor Dzinotyiweyi’s visits to the ILPB, as well as the center, provided an opportunity for faculty leaders, regional scientists and public officials to discuss the recently announced international collaboration of UB and ZINC,” says Morse.

A public symposium will take place in Harare, Zimbabwe on March 18th and 19th. The symposium will include representatives from government, academia and the community. Meetings in Zimbabwe and Buffalo are scheduled to help all participants continue to get acquainted.

A future hope is to develop partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, drawing private-sector investments. In addition to that goal, a positive effect on economic development is expected to take place in Western New York and in Zimbabwe.

Roswell Park Study Finds Substantial Use of E-Cigarettes by Smokers

Nearly 80% of smokers who use electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, believe the devices are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and authored by a team of scientists led by Richard O’Connor, PhD, Associate Professor of Oncology and Director of the Tobacco Research Laboratory at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI).
“This study offers a snapshot in time on the use of e-cigarettes from mid-2010 to mid-2011 and examines awareness, use and product-associated beliefs among current and former cigarette smokers in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom,” said Dr. O’Connor.

Nearly 6,000 adult smokers from the four largest English-speaking countries participated in the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Survey. Study results include:

  • Overall, 46.6% of those surveyed were aware of e-cigarettes (US: 73%, UK: 54%, Canada: 40%, Australia: 20%)
  • Younger, non-minority, heavy smokers with higher incomes were more likely to be aware of e-cigarettes.
  • Younger, non-daily smokers and those who believe e-cigarettes to be less harmful than traditional cigarettes were four times more likely to try e-cigarettes.
  • E-cigarette use was higher among non-daily smokers and those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day.
  • 79.8% of smokers believe using e-cigarettes is less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes.
  • 85% of current e-cigarette users indicate that they are using the devices as a tool to help them quit smoking, yet only 11% had successfully stopped smoking.

“This study provides valuable insights into the use and attitudes surrounding e-cigarettes among smokers,” adds Dr. O’Connor. “However, questions remain regarding the impact of these devices in nonsmokers, such as what potential exists to induce nicotine addiction in non-smokers and/or maintain addiction in current smokers who might otherwise stop smoking.”

Regarding future steps, the researchers suggest that the net impact of e-cigarettes on public health be examined. If evidence shows that e-cigarettes reduce the number of cigarette smokers and do not attract use among nonsmokers, they note, then the net public health effect is likely to be positive.

The study, “Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems International Tobacco Control Four-Country Survey,” will be published online today at http://www.ajpmonline.org.

Annie Deck-Miller, RPCI Senior Media Relations Manager; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org; 716-845-8593

 

Roswell Park's Center for Personalized Medicine

center-personalized-medicine-press-conference.2013-01-30-35Roswell Park Cancer Institute‘s (RPCI) new 5,000-square-foot facility, the Center for Personalized Medicine (CPM), will provide individualized therapies for patients through genetic code sequencing (an analysis of genomes – the entire inherited genetic makeup of humans). Using state-of-the-art, next-generation technology, advanced research has led to the identification of unique genetic characteristics that will help determine effective and custom treatments for patients with certain diseases. Utilizing high-throughput screening for drug discovery, personal gene sequence machines and a 1,600-processor supercomputing cluster, the RPCI team will efficiently be able analyze individual genome data.
Located within RPCI’s Center for Genetics & Pharmacology, the Center will also act as a resource for scientists and medical providers to use for national clinical care wp-contentlication. In addition to having a mobile unit, the CPM is the first regional resource for next-generation gene sequencing to have met federal Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) requirements.

At the end of  last year, RPCI was awarded a $5.1 million grant to begin the pilot phase of the genome project from Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council, established to promote regional economic development. Since then, RPCI has garnered an additional $18.5 million in investments to support the project. From RPCI, $16 million has been invested in equipment and infrastructure, and Computer Task Group (CTG), a Buffalo-based national leader in healthcare IT, has committed to $2.5 million. As a local and nearby partner, CTG will provide its healthcare and bioinformatics expertise to deliver personalized medicine quickly and cost-effectively. The University at Buffalo, IMMCO Diagnostics and Western New York Urology Associates LLC are additional supporters of the project.

Candace Johnson, PhD, Deputy Director of the CPM stated that “We now have the ability to do robust, ‘next-generation’ gene sequencing on blood and tissue samples, with tremendous possibilities in terms of what we can learn diagnostically, prognostically, therapeutically.” Johnson also stated that personalized medicine is the future, not just for oncology patients but for treatments across all diseases.

The CPM is a prime example of the type of support that Cuomo’s Council looks to provide for organizations throughout the region to capitalize on resources and developments that will support the local economy by creating more jobs and economic growth. Recognizing the growth hwp-contentening on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and throughout the region, Cuomo stated that “Western New York has a thriving health and life sciences industry cluster, which the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council and Roswell Park Cancer Institute recognized. Through the Regional Council process, they created a custom-tailored plan to take advantage of this opportunity, which will rebuild the regional economy.”

center-personalized-medicine-press-conference-2013-01-30-34RPCI’s President and CEO, Dr. Donald Trump captured the significance of the Center’s presence. He stated that “The doors are wide open in terms of the opportunities for entrepreneurship and technology transfer that will flow from [the Center].” The CPM team, partners and supporters increase RPCI’s menu of services, giving the institution the opportunity to contend with other small circle healthcare organizations providing similar medical services.

Immediately on the agenda, the CPM will undertake its first 3 sequencing projects, clinical research studies that will:

  • Predict on a case-by-case, personalized basis which of the two main types of standard chemotherapy, anthracycline-based or platinum-based, will be most effective in treating a woman’s breast cancer, and with fewest adverse side effects;
  • Develop, in collaboration with Western New York Urology Associates, a diagnostic test for superficial bladder cancer, the ninth most common cancer in the U.S. and the most expensive of all cancers in terms of cost to treat; and
  • Engage 600 healthy volunteers representing the ethnic, racial, socioeconomic and geographic diversity of the eight-county Western New York region in an initiative to identify the particular healthcare priorities of this community, aided by a mobile tissue-collection unit that will travel to disparate and underserved areas.
  • In addition, RPCI expects to use the resources of the CPM in planning individualized care for its lung, melanoma and leukemia patients in the near future.

Read more about the CPM below:

Roswell Launches Center for Personalized Medicine

Groundbreaking Cancer Research Hwp-contentening in Buffalo

Progressive Medicine is Roswell’s Newest Venture

 

Hauptman-Woodward to Open Doors for Science & Art Cabaret

The Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute (HWI) will open its doors to the public on Jan. 30 for “Modularity,” the latest event in Buffalo’s Science & Art Cabaret series.
Each cabaret centers around a common theme, featuring short talks by scientists and artists on how that theme relates to their work. The next topic of conversation will be modularity, which refers to the way ideas and objects, from molecules to artwork with repeating patterns, can be broken down into standardized units.

“Modularity” will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 30 at HWI at 700 Ellicott St., Buffalo. The event is free and open to the public.

The lineup:

  • A talk by University at Buffalo Professor of Physics Surajit Sen on sociophysics: modeling battles, terrorism and chimpanzee social behavior with simple rule-based dynamics, which rely in part on the methods of physics to describe dynamical problems beyond the traditional bounds of physics.
  • A presentation by HWI researcher Vivian Cody, a UB professor of structural biology, on the artful structural models of protein/enzymes and their functions.
  • A video interview with Western New York artist Katherine Sehr, whose work is notable for its intense modularity. As described in Artvoice in 2007, “Sehr’s drawings don’t look like drawings at all, but rather like prints of simple, paired squares of muted colors. Upon closer inspection, however, they reveal themselves to be something entirely different — large, frenetic, scribbled testaments to compulsive, repetitive motion.”
  • Bill Louden, who will present, “Piece for String Quartet and Chladni Pattern Generator.”

The event will give the public a chance to step inside HWI’s state-of-the-art research building, which opened in 2005. The sleek, modern facility features an innovative floor plan that supports HWI’s collaborative and open culture.

The Science & Art Cabaret series is organized by the UB College of Arts and Sciences, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center and Buffalo Museum of Science.

“Modularity” is the 13th cabaret held since 2009, and the third of the 2012-13 season. For information on the Science & Art Cabaret and past events, visit http://www.buffalo.edu/news/13376 and http://www.hallwalls.org/science-art.php.

Charlotte Hsu (UB); chsu22@buffalo.edu; 716-645-4655, 510-388-1831

New Vaccine Research Aims to Prevent Recurrent Ear Infections

Lab in UB’s Clinical and Translational Research Center is one of few in the world studying an increasingly prevalent bacterium, once considered harmless
Children’s ear infections cause more than pain and sleepless nights; they temporarily disrupt hearing when children are at a critical age for speech and language development.  They also have major social and economic costs.

But while infants and children receive immunizations against infections caused by Haemophilus influenzae and pneumococcus, there is no vaccine against Moraxella catarrhalis, an increasingly prevalent bacterium that causes at least ten percent of otitis media cases.

Now, University at Buffalo scientists, among just a handful of researchers in the world studying this organism, have received a $1.5 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to develop a vaccine against it. The researchers are among the first tenants in UB’s Clinical and Translational Research Center, which opened in September on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The goal of the current research, funded by the NIH’s National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, is to identify new virulence mechanisms for this understudied pathogen, identify the structure of a candidate antigen for a new vaccine and develop a new vaccine.

According to Timothy F. Murphy, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Microbiology in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and principal investigator on the NIH grant, research on M. catarrhalis has lagged because it was originally believed to be a “commensal” or harmless bacterium. While it does cause milder cases of middle ear infections (otitis media) than other bacteria, Murphy said it is becoming more prevalent. Preliminary evidence also shows that existing ear infection vaccines are changing colonization patterns among otitis media pathogens, possibly increasing the prevalence of M. catarrhalis infections.

“Of the 15 to 20 million cases of otitis media each year in the U.S., about ten percent are recurring, causing incredible disruption for the child and the family,” explains Murphy. “When a child has the infection, the middle ear fills with fluid, a condition that can last for a month or longer. During that time, the child’s hearing is muffled, which disrupts the normal development of language and speech skills, potentially resulting in long term delays and learning problems in school.”

Recurrent ear infections also require repeated courses of antibiotics, which then contribute to the global problem of antibiotic resistance. Some children must undergo insertion of drainage tubes under general anesthesia.

“The best option would be to prevent these infections in the first place,” says Murphy.

The goal of the UB researchers is to identify M. catarrhalis antigens that are very similar among all strains so that a vaccine based on a single antigen will protect against as many strains of the bacterium as possible.

“Based on our results thus far, it looks like we will be able to identify antigens that are identical or very similar among all strains and genetic lineages,” says Murphy.

He and his colleagues are using bioinformatics to identify genes predicted to encode proteins on the surface of the organism, construct a gene chip to test which of more than 300 possible genes on the surface are identical or similar among multiple strains and then clone genes for some of the predicted proteins for testing in in vitro and mouse models.

The UB group is now testing several promising vaccine antigens that they have identified. A new vaccine could be ready for human testing in three to five years.

Murphy and his colleagues at UB are global leaders in the study of M. catarrhalis in otitis media in children and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations in adults. Their hope is that the same vaccine could be used to prevent both kinds of infections.

In addition to directing the M. catarrhalis research, Murphy directs UB’s Clinical and Translational Research Center and is senior associate dean for clinical and translational research in the UB medical school. For more than a decade, Murphy has studied how M. catarrhalis causes both otitis media in children and infections in chronic obstructive COPD in adults.

Ellen Goldbaum (UB); goldbaum@buffalo.edu; 716.645.4605

New Center of Excellence Tenant's Research to Help Treat Muscular Dystrophy

Inspired by his grandson, JB’s Duchenne muscular dystrophy diagnosis, Jeff Harvey, Tonus Therapeutics co-founder and chief financial officer, along with Frederick Sachs, University at Buffalo (UB) Distinguished Professor, Thomas Suchyna, Research Assistant Professor, and Philip Gottlieb, Research Associate Professor, all from UB’s Department of Physiology and Biophysics, partnered to develop a therapy for muscular dystrophy. Establishing Tonus Therapeutics in 2009, the group began to work together based off of initial research Sachs and his team first came across nearly 10 years ago, studying the effect of venoms on mechanosensitive ion channels.
As one of several forms of muscular dystrophy, Duchenne is the most lethal, rapidly getting worse over time causing respiratory problems in addition to severe and increased limb-muscle weakness. The absence of the dystrophin protein is due to a defective gene commonly found in males. Dystrophin helps muscle cells maintain their shape structure. Without that protein, cell membranes tear apart more easily and cause the muscle to contract abnormally. According to Sachs, when this hwp-contentens, the body “starts digesting muscle from the inside out.”

A UB spin-off company, having made the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences (CoE) its home headquarters, Tonus Therapeutics will continue its quest to develop drugs that help distribute and control the transfer of mineral substances like calcium to cells through the tiny conduits known as mechanosensitive ion channels. These channels, which Sachs co-discovered in 1983, connect the inside of a cell with its outside. Normally, in healthy cells the channels are closed, but when a cell is stretched or contorted, the channels open and let calcium and other substances into the cell.

Using GsMTx4, a peptide that scientists at UB discovered in the venom of the Chilean rose tarantula, Tonus Therapeutics will use the FDA “orphan drug” designation to move forward with the development of a therapy for muscular dystrophy. The designation of GsMTx4 comes with recognition from the government agency that the peptide is a promising method of treatment for a rare disease like muscular dystrophy. Research shows that GsMTx4 is capable of staying in the body for a long time without breaking down. This means it could be possible to deliver low doses infrequently, reducing costs for patients. The company has gathered preliminary data showing that GsMTx4 is nontoxic in mice and did not disturb heart function in mice or ferrets or isolated human heart muscle.

In November, Tonus Therapeutics licensed UB patents relating to GsMTx4 through UB’s Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (UB STOR).

Harvey stated that “Being located in a hub of research activity in Buffalo, close to other entrepreneurs and biotech startups, is important to [Tonus Therapeutics].” He also stated that “The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is extremely important to us because it provides ready contact with experienced entrepreneurs and potential clinical and commercial partners, including those within the [CoE].”

The CoE, a part of the 400,000 sq. ft. Buffalo Life Sciences Complex, houses more than 100 scientists with biological, physical and computational expertise. The CoE’s efforts aims to leverage its research resources, helping to create new technological advantages for health care and life sciences industry sectors, partnering with and supporting biomedical, research and development companies like Tonus Therapeutics. Marnie LaVigne, UB associate vice president for economic development stated that “Tonus benefits from the technological and business resources available here, and their continued growth will be an asset to Western New York’s economy.”

Prior to their move into the CoE, the Tonus team benefited from other UB resources and partnerships. Harvey is a graduate of the UB School of Management’s High-Tech Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership program, and Tonus received funding through the UB Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology (UB CAT). The Children’s Guild Foundation and the John R. Oishei Foundation have provided additional funding.

Learn more about Tonus Therapeutics below:

Research from UB and Immco Diagnostics Leads to Early Detection of Sjogren’s Syndrome

Patients suffering from the painful autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s Syndrome, will soon be able to be properly diagnosed much earlier, thanks to the discovery of novel antibodies by researchers at the University at Buffalo (UB) and Immco Diagnostics, Inc. The breakthrough, described in a paper in the December issue of Clinical Immunology, will allow patients to be treated sooner when they are much more likely to benefit. The new diagnostic test will be available to physicians in early 2013.Ambrus-Shen
“Sjogren’s patients get diagnosed too late,” says Julian L. Ambrus Jr., MD, professor in the Department of Medicine in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, an immunologist at Buffalo General Medical Center and senior author on the paper.  “They go to the doctor because their eyes are dry or they can’t swallow, but by that time, their salivary or tear glands are already dead. They’re way past the point where they can generally benefit from any treatment.”

The new antibodies were seen in 45 percent of patients who met most of the clinical criteria for Sjogren’s except for the antibodies currently required for diagnosis, called Ro and La. At least one of the novel antibodies is present in 76 percent of patients who have had symptoms for less than two years and who also lacked the two antibodies required for definitive diagnosis, which wp-contentear late in the disease.

“The vast majority of patients we tested who have early symptoms of severe dry mouth and dry eyes also have these antibodies,” says Ambrus.

The journal highlighted the research paper with an editorial by Robert I. Fox, MD, PhD, of Scripps/Ximed, considered one of the world’s top Sjogren’s Syndrome scientists.

Considered one of the three most common autoimmune diseases, Sjogren’s Syndrome affects more than 4 million Americans, 90 percent of them women; last year, Venus Williams, the tennis champion, announced that she had the disease. Symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth so severe that they are painful. Despite its high incidence, Sjogren’s is not well-known and can take years to diagnose; once diagnosed, it is often too late to effectively treat it.

Beyond the chronic pain associated with not being able to produce tears or saliva, the disease is associated with additional, systemic consequences, such as mild kidney and lung disease. Five to 10 percent of Sjogren’s patients also will develop lymphoma, cancer of the lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that is continually produced in Sjogren’s Syndrome.

The discovery of novel antibodies grew out of a strong collaboration between UB and Immco, which in 2006 resulted in a new, far superior animal model for Sjogren’s Syndrome.

“Our animal model has completely changed how people think about this disease,” says Ambrus. “Sjogren’s disease in our animal model marches along in exactly the same way that the human disease does, reproducing every stage of the disease.”

Labs studying Sjogren’s around the world have now adopted the new model developed at UB and Immco, which is based in Amherst.

Once the new antibodies were detected in mice, the scientists started testing human patients at Buffalo General Medical Center. The researchers found the same antibodies in humans even at early stages of the disease.

UB has filed a patent on the biomarker-based method and licensed the technology to Immco, which has developed a new diagnostic tool based on the research.

“We believe this is one of the most undiagnosed autoimmune diseases,” says William Maggio, Immco’s chief executive officer.

The new diagnostic tool his company developed for Sjogren’s Syndrome has significant proprietary value. “We will be the only company in the world to offer and market this test across any platform,” he says.

And because Sjogren’s Syndrome presents with various symptoms, unlike other autoimmune diseases, this diagnostic test will be marketed to several different types of physicians, including dentists, oral surgeons, ophthalmologists and rheumatologists.

The assay will undergo validation by the New York State Department of Health. Once complete early next year, physicians will be able to start using the test. Patient samples from around the nation will be sent to Immco for testing. Immco also is developing a diagnostic kit for customers to be marketed internationally.

“If the market is as successful as we anticipate, then it will lead to more employment opportunities locally,” says Maggio.

Already, the UB and Immco scientists have begun collaborating with several international groups working on Sjogren’s Syndrome, giving them access to many more patients.

“Sjogren’s patients are miserable,” says Lakshmanan Suresh, DDS, vice president, research and development at Immco and clinical associate professor in the Department of Oral Diagnostic Sciences in the UB School of Dental Medicine. “They cannot taste anything, they often have serious tooth decay, and they feel as though they have sandpaper or grit in their eyes all the time. If we can find the antibodies early, then we can start to develop therapies to target them. The first step though, is to make the diagnosis.”

“This is a very good example of how research and industry collaborate to produce something that will bring a lot of good to the health-care industry and it’s hwp-contentening here in Buffalo,” says Maggio.

The UB researchers recently received a $450,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study how the immune system becomes dysfunctional in Sjogren’s disease.

Last summer, the project also received funding from UB’s Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology, one of 15 centers across New York State funded by the Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation to support university-industry collaboration in research, education and technology transfer.

Along with Ambrus, Shen and Suresh, co-authors on the Clinical Immunology paper are Jingxiu Xuan, PhD, research assistant professor in the UB Department of Medicine and Matthew Lindemann, PhD, director of assay development, Przemek Kowal, PhD, director of biopolymers, and Kishore Malyavantham, PhD, director of scientific initiatives, all from Immco.

Ellen Goldbaum (UB); goldbaum@buffalo.edu; 716.645.4605

Buffalo-Area Pharmacists Say No to Tobacco Sales in Pharmacies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 29, 2012
Contact: Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org

Buffalo-Area Pharmacists Say No to Tobacco Sales in Pharmacies

BUFFALO — More than 75 percent of Western New York pharmacists say tobacco sales in pharmacies should be legally banned, according to research conducted by Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) and the University at Buffalo (UB), published in BMC Research Notes. The study found that more than 86% of pharmacists surveyed would prefer to work in a pharmacy that does not sell tobacco products.

The research, led by James Marshall, PhD, Senior Vice President for Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences at RPCI, evaluated the opinions of Western New York pharmacists about the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies and about their role in helping their patients to stop smoking.

“The sale of tobacco products in pharmacies in any locality sends conflicting messages to consumers who visit pharmacies for medication or health products,” said Dr. Marshall. “Pharmacists, dedicated to protecting the health of their customers, recognize tobacco sales as contrary to their professional ethics. They would, in overwhelming numbers, prefer not to be selling cigarettes. This research will inform policymakers and elected officials as they consider regulations of tobacco sales in pharmacies.”

The 2010 survey evaluated opinions of 148 pharmacy mentors from the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (UBSoPPS) and 345 local supervising pharmacists. Participants were contacted by mail and email. The combined response rate for both surveys was 31%.

The pharmacist’s role in assisting patients to stop smoking also was evaluated. The survey found that more than 75% of pharmacists say they “sometimes” or “rarely/never” ask about tobacco use. The majority of pharmacists also indicate that they are not required to document tobacco use among patients or to enter such information into patient records.

“A striking finding is that pharmacy mentors were more likely than supervising pharmacists to be familiar with patients’ tobacco use and take steps to offer advice and information about how to quit smoking,” said Peter Brody Jr., PharmD, Director of Experiential Education at UBSoPPS. “It was also surprising that area pharmacists seemed not to take full advantage of the opportunity to educate and counsel patients regarding tobacco use. We need to better understand why and do what we can to help correct this issue.”

“This research presents several interesting findings, including that the overwhelming majority of pharmacists would support legislation banning the sale of tobacco in pharmacies,” added Edward Bednarczyk, PharmD, Chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice at UB. “Importantly, this study also shows a considerable gap between theory and practice, with a substantial majority of pharmacists finding the sale of tobacco in pharmacies inwp-contentropriate, but doing little to prevent the sale or engage patients regarding tobacco use and smoking cessation.”

The study, Tobacco sales in pharmacies: a survey of attitudes, knowledge and beliefs of pharmacists employed in student experiential and other worksites in Western New York,” can be accessed at http://www.biomedcentral.com/1756-0500/5/413/abstract.

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at http://www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org.

Research Shows Effectiveness of New Biomarker to Measure Prostate Tumors

New Research Uncovers Promising New Biomarker for Aggressiveness of Prostate CancerRoswell Park-led effort found increased levels of serum glutamate in both primary and metastatic prostate tumors

Research out of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) supports the adoption of a new biomarker to measure the aggressiveness of primary prostate tumors. A team of investigators from three institutions, led by Shahriar Koochekpour, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Cancer Genetics, Urology and Oncology in RPCI’s Department of Cancer Genetics, has for the first time produced data showing that levels of serum glutamate, a naturally occurring nonessential amino acid that plays a key role in cancer metabolism, are increased in patients with primary and metastatic prostate cancer.

Collaborators included James L. Mohler, MD, Gissou Azabdaftari, MD, and Kristopher Attwood, PhD, from RPCI; Robert L. Vessella, PhD, from the University of Washington School of Medicine; and Oliver Sartor, MD, from Tulane Cancer Center and the Tulane University School of Medicine. In a study involving 366 men, the team measured serum glutamate levels in 60 healthy adult males, 197 with primary prostate cancer and 109 with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer — cancer that progresses following androgen depletion therapy.

“Comparing normal, primary and metastatic prostate cancer tissues, we discovered that glutamate receptor is expressed at very high levels in primary and metastatic tumors, but at very weak or undetectable levels in benign prostate tissues,” notes Dr. Koochekpour. “And serum glutamate was detected at increased levels proportional to Gleason score, the standard index for rating prostate cancer aggressiveness and prognosis in patients with primary tumors.”

The researchers also demonstrated, for the first time, that glutamate deprivation significantly decreases the growth, migration and invasiveness of prostate cancer cell lines, suggesting potential clinical wp-contentlications. They also report that the glutamate antagonist riluzole (Rilutek), a well-tolerated oral medicine used for mood and anxiety disorders, depression and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), induces cell death while inhibiting the progression and motility of human prostate cancer cells.

“We detected one major difference between African-Americans and Caucasians in the study,” Dr. Koochekpour notes. “In African-Americans, serum glutamate levels were higher among those men with metastatic disease than in those with primary prostate cancer, and we didn’t see that trend in Caucasian men. This finding may implicate a role for glutamate metabolism in inter-racial disparities of prostate cancer.”

Dr. Koochekpour and colleagues are currently conducting a preclinical study assessing the effectiveness of riluzole in preventing growth of human prostate cancer cells in animal models, and hope to build on these results in the clinical setting within the next 12-18 months. The paper, “Serum Glutamate Levels Correlate with Gleason Score and Glutamate Blockade Decreases Proliferation, Migration, and Invasion and Induces Apoptosis in Prostate Cancer Cells,” was published October 16 in Clinical Cancer Research and can be accessed at http://clincancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2012/10/10/1078-0432.CCR-12-1308.

Annie Deck-Miller; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org; 716-845-8593

UB Ranked One of the World’s Best Universities by Times Higher Education

UB Ranked One of the World’s Best Universities by Times Higher Education

Times Higher Education has named the University at Buffalo as one of the world’s top 200 universities.

UB is ranked 198th in the 2012-13 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, up from last year’s ranking among the top 201 to 225 universities worldwide. The assessment uses 13 performance indicators to analyze how well a university is doing in core missions including teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

“This is very good news. Moving into the top-200 will enhance UB’s already-strong reputation overseas and help us attract outstanding students from around the world,” said Stephen C. Dunnett, PhD, UB professor and vice provost for international education.

“International students are particularly conscious of university rankings, and UB’s steady ascent in various international rankings in recent years — a reflection of our strong institutional commitment to excellence — is certainly well recognized and wp-contentreciated by students and their families overseas.”

Times Higher Education is a leading higher education magazine, and the recognition of UB as a top-200 university demonstrates UB’s growing global reputation. The data for the rankings were collected by Thomson Reuters, which considered about 700 institutions in 69 countries.

In recent years, UB has invested in recruiting additional high-quality faculty, attracting researchers from around the world to Western New York. These faculty members conduct research on some of the world’s most pressing problems, and provide students with an excellent education in the classroom.

Under President Satish K. Tripathi, UB has embarked on the next phase of its UB 2020 plan for academic excellence.  With the support of the NYSUNY 2020 legislation, signed into law last year by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, UB is in the midst of a historic transformation.  The university is hiring 250 new faculty over the next five years, offering new programs to enrich students’ academic experiences and opening new facilities on its three campuses, with the goal of becoming one the world’s leading public research universities and increasing its regional economic impact.

Abroad, the university has cultivated relationships with distinguished educational institutions throughout the world, cooperating with international partners on student exchanges, joint research projects and the delivery of degree programs overseas.

At home, UB consistently places in the top 20 in the United States for international student enrollment, according to annual data published by the Institute of International Education. In 2010-11, for instance, UB had 5,185 foreign students, the 17th largest population in the nation.

John DellaContrada; dellacon@buffalo.edu; 716-645-4601

Investigational Brain Cancer Vaccine to Be Tested in Phase I Roswell Park Study

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASESeptember 27, 2012
Contact: Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org

Investigational Brain Cancer Vaccine to Be Tested in Phase I Roswell Park Study
Peptide vaccine targets cancer survival protein, putting tumor cells in a Catch 22

BUFFALO — A new clinical research study at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) will test a first-of-its-kind cancer “vaccine” that may prove effective against many forms of solid-tumor cancers. The vaccine, to be investigated in a trial involving patients with brain cancer, generates an immune response that wp-contentears to put the target molecule, the cancer survival protein survivin, into a bind it can’t escape.

The peptide vaccine, developed at Roswell Park by Robert Fenstermaker, MD, and Michael Ciesielski, PhD, is based upon a specially engineered small protein molecule called a “peptide mimic.” Dr. Fenstermaker is principal investigator of the phase I clinical research study, which will test the safety and immunological effects of the vaccine in patients with two types of brain cancer: glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and anaplastic glioma. Called SurVaxM, the injectable vaccine will initially be given in four doses to nine patients.

Survivin, produced by at least 80% of cancers, is a protein that helps cancer cells to survive under stressful conditions. It is present only in diseased cells, which are caught in an unwinnable situation when exposed to the vaccine.

“SurVaxM puts cancer cells in a Catch 22,” says Dr. Fenstermaker, who is Chair of RPCI’s Department of Neurosurgery and Director of the Institute’s Neuro-Oncology Program. “The vaccine kills tumor cells that express survivin. If the cells turn survivin off to escape the vaccine, they’re essentially committing suicide.”

The engineered peptide used in the vaccine is able to stimulate an immune response because the cancer recognizes it as a foreign molecule.

“We arrived at this peptide through reverse immunology,” notes Dr. Ciesielski. “We knew we wanted to target survivin because it is expressed by so many tumors. We looked at many survivin peptides trying to find the best one to use as our vaccine. Once we identified one that looked promising, we engineered it to be more potent and produce a better response by enlisting multiple arms of the immune system.”

In preclinical studies, the vaccine was effective against several cancers, including gliomas and prostate, ovarian, breast and kidney tumors that produce survivin. Studies in which human glioma, lymphoma and leukemia cells were exposed to the vaccine outside the body also produced a strong response. “In those earlier studies, the response was persistent,” Dr. Ciesielski says. “It wp-contentears that the vaccine continues to provide lasting immunity after the tumor has been eliminated.”

Roughly 15,000 people are newly diagnosed with glioblastomas and anaplastic gliomas in the U.S. every year. These cancers are very difficult to treat, and are often fatal.

“Survival rates for malignant gliomas have improved modestly over the last two decades, but better therapies are desperately needed,” Dr. Fenstermaker says. “We’re anxious to move ahead with this study and, hopefully, go on to larger studies in the years ahead, but we first have to show that this is a safe and well-tolerated drug for a group of terrible diseases.”

Because they enlist the body’s own cells to fight cancer, immune-based therapies generally have few adverse side effects. The trial is the fourth clinical research study launched through RPCI’s Center for Immunotherapy this year.

The study is National Cancer Institute trial no. NCT01250470. For more information about SurVaxM and this new phase I research study, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org.

Ciesielski and Fenstermaker credit early seed funding from donations with helping to move their research forward and generating additional dollars in new grant funding from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute (R21 NS049309-01) and the American Cancer Society. Additional support from The Jayne and Phil Hubbell Family was instrumental in advancing the team’s research.

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at http://www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org.

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Editor’s note: Photo caption: Robert Fenstermaker, MD, left, and Michael Ciesielski, PhD. Video interview with Drs. Fenstermaker and Ciesielski available at https://vimeo.com/48443468. For additional photos and multimedia, including B-roll video, send request to: annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org.

UB Partners with Zimbabwe Universities to Create International Nanotechnology Center

For release: September 24, 2012Contact: Sara R. Saldi, saldi@buffalo.edu
University at Buffalo
716-645-4593

UB Partners with Zimbabwe Universities to Create International Nanotechnology Center

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With 14 percent of Zimbabwe’s population living with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis as a co-infection, the need for new drugs and new formulations of available treatments is crucial.

To address these issues, two of the University at Buffalo’s leading research centers, the Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics (ILPB), and the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences have signed on to launch the Zimbabwe International Nanotechnology Center (ZINC) — a national nanotechnology research program — with the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and the Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT).

This collaborative program will initially focus on research in nanomedicine and biosensors at UZ and energy at CUT.  ZINC has grown out of the NIH Fogarty International Center, AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP) that was awarded to UB and UZ in 2008 to conduct HIV research training and build research capacity in Zimbabwe and neighboring countries in southern Africa.

UB faculty and research directors in the ZINC partnership include Paras N. Prasad, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Physics, Medicine and Electrical Engineering, the Samuel P. Capen Chair, executive director of ILPB; Gene D. Morse, PharmD, Professor of Pharmacy Practice, associate director of the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences and director of the Translational Pharmacy Research Core; Alexander N. Cartwright, PhD, UB vice president for research and economic development and interim executive director of the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences , who will work with Professor Levi Nyagura, UZ vice chancellor; Professor David T. Simbi, CUT vice chancellor, and Dr. Charles Maponga, PharmD, UZ pharmacy school director.

ZINC will establish a long-term international research and training platform in the field of nanotechnology, focused in areas that promote Zimbabwe’s strength, and advance the development of nanotechnology as an avenue for Zimbabwe’s commercial growth.

The UB ILPB and TPRC collaboration recognized that the fields of pharmacology and therapeutics have increasingly developed links with emerging areas within the field of nanosciences in an attempt to develop tissue/organ targeted strategies that will lead to disease treatment and eradication. Research teams will focus on emerging technologies, initially focused in nanobiotechnology and nanomedicine for health care.

“Developing nanoformulations for HIV and tuberculosis diagnostics and therapeutics, as well as new tuberculosis drug development, are just a few of the innovative strategies to address these co-infections that this research collaboration can provide,” said Morse.

“In addition, the development of new nanotechnology-related products will jumpstart the economy and foster new economic initiatives in Zimbabwe that will yield additional private-public partnerships.”

A photo of Morse is available at: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/13694.

Morse says that the current plans for a “Center of Excellence” in clinical and translational pharmacology in Harare at UZ will create a central hub in Africa, not just for Zimbabwe but for other countries to gain new training and capacity building in many exciting aspects of nanotechnology as well.

Morse adds that this initiative creates an opportunity for additional involvement from a number of UB centers such as those represented by UB’s Strategic Strengths in areas such as Health and Wellness across the Lifespan, Integrated Nanostructured Systems, Molecular Recognition in Biological Systems and Bioinformatics and Information and Computing Technology.

“With an international program like ZINC, we are hoping to attract pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology firms who will have similar interests in joining this unique partnership that will enhance the likelihood of economic success through efficient, innovative research.”

“Locally, these efforts will be linked to the growing Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus resulting in a truly global partnership with one anchor in Buffalo–a comprehensive ‘UB matrix’ of innovation and excellence,” says Morse.

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