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Seeking the ‘eye of the tiger’

WASHINGTON—Science funding is getting an infusion of cash after Congress in December passed a $45 billion reauthorization of the America Competes Act—a bill designed to invest in research and science education, and to fund and foster innovations that will help keep the United States competitive in tech-driven industries.

It signals another key milestone for scientific research, and history teaches us that building and maintaining a competitive advantage is vital to our country.

The importance of maintaining a competitive advantage on the global stage can be defined by one striking moment that occurred Oct. 24, 1957: Sputnik I was launched, an event that marked a 20-year race for supremacy in space between the Soviet Union and the United States. For two decades, the two nations traded volleys in the space race, with the United States gaining the upper hand by the late 1960s. By the 1970s, space exploration stood as a symbol of the competitive nature between the world’s two superpowers for technological, military, cultural and intellectual supremacy.

In a less grandiose analogy, the United States must regain the “eye of the tiger.”

In Rocky III, the fictional boxer Rocky Balboa must come back from a rattling defeat to Clubber Lange and the death of his longtime manager, Mickey. He trains with his old nemesis, Apollo Creed, learning along the way that he needs to stay hungry and keep “the eye of the tiger.”

Sadly, the story has changed in recent decades, with the United States slowly losing its competitive edge. It seems as if we no longer place a premium on education, research and innovation. Evidence of this is seen in the World Economic Forum’s recent ranking of the quality of math and science education around the world—the United States stands 48th. We are lagging behind other countries in the issuance of patents and ­even—in an era of high unemployment—American companies consistently suffer from a shortage of individuals with critical skills.

The America Competes Act can serve as an investment in regaining our competitive edge and becoming the world leader in education, research and innovation.

The bill, which has been in legislative limbo throughout the year, sets funding levels for the next three fiscal years for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s research programs, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It also funds education initiatives and a range of other programs.

The legislation provides a total of $23.5 billion for NSF, $16.9 billion for the DOE’s Office of Science, $2.9 billion for NIST, $600 million for education efforts and $1.4 billion for other programs.

The original America Competes Act was approved in 2007. The legislation is based on recommendations outlined in the “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” report released by the National Academy of Sciences in 2005. It urged the United States to work harder to support technological innovation and enhance science, technology and mathematics education.

“In acting to update and extend the America Competes Act, we will spur innovation, invest in cutting-edge research, modernize manufacturing, and increase opportunity,” says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Simply put, we will continue to ‘rise above the gathering storm’—and keep America No. 1.”

Earlier this year, the bill stood in political limbo, with an earlier draft that was nearly double the cost of the version passed through the House and Senate. A compromise was reached during the lame duck session to cut down the term of the bill from five years to three, creating most of the savings from the original $86 billion draft.

“If we are to reverse the trend of the last 20 years, during which our country’s technological edge in the world has diminished, we must make the investments necessary today,” House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Representative Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., said in a statement.

“More than half of our economic growth since World War II can be attributed to development and adoption of new technologies. These investments are the path toward sustainable economic recovery and growth and the path toward prosperity for the next 50 years,” Gordon said.

Among the new programs in the act, 98 percent of which will fund new scientific research, is the creation of an inter-agency public access committee in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The committee will coordinate federal science agency policies related to the stewardship and dissemination of research results, including digital data and peer-reviewed scholarly publications.

Another aspect of the bill welcomed by the research community is the authorization of the funding boost for NSF, NIST, and DOE, which “puts us on a path towards a continued increasing investment in those programs over the next 10 years,” Jennifer Zeitzer, director of legislative relations at the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biolog.

“It’s a bipartisan bill, which we’re happy about because it sends a signal that investing in science and paying attention to science issues is something that both parties care about,” she said.

Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., a former professor and one of the few members of Congress trained as an engineer, says he was proud to have helped write and pass the measure, which he says “makes essential, job-creating investments in advanced research and science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.”

“I am grateful for the valuable feedback I received from the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public Land-grant Universities while writing the NSF title of this bill,” he adds in a statement. “Because of their expertise, and because of what I learned from scientists and research administrators across the country, I believe this legislation will have an enduring positive impact on university-based research and STEM education programs.”

The Business Roundtable lauded Congress for its swift action in passing the America Competes Reauthorization Act.

“The bill will attract more young Americans into technical fields, expand the employment horizons and earnings potential of millions of new American workers, and strengthen America’s future. The Act helps increase our nation’s competitiveness by driving recruitment of K-12 math and science teachers, enhancing the skills of existing teachers, and increasing investments in both scientific research and math and science education. The reauthorization of this act will ensure America remains a global leader in technology, innovation and science in the 21st century,” said Larry Burton, Executive Director, Business Roundtable.

Nonetheless, it was a long and winding road to passage for the bill. The scientific community made an urgent call for it to be reauthorized in September—even issuing a stirring update to the original National Academies report—but despite their best efforts the legislation expired in October before the Senate had time to pass it.

The bill was revived in early December with Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander among those credited for bringing the bill forward. Alexander is a strong supporter of the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is another of the agencies set to benefit from the funding increases mandated by America Competes.

“We’re very pleased. We think it’s a very, very important statement in support of research,” says Robert Berdahl, president of the Association of American Universities in Washington, D.C.

Society of Photographic Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) leaders are among researchers, engineers, and others in the science and engineering community celebrating the passage today of the America COMPETES Act of 2010.

“We are delighted to see continued strong support for the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology,” said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs.

“We are also happy to see approval for both continued and new spending for Department of Energy (DOE) research, and support for ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy),” Arthurs said. “This is a vital step in building a vigorous innovation pathway, linking the excellent R&D produced by DOE and other agencies to successful commercialization and the creation of jobs.”

Deborah L. Wince-Smith, president and CEO of the Council on Competitiveness, says the group applauds the passage of the America Competes Reauthorization Act with bipartisan support.

“By passing this legislation, Congress has taken a critical step in maintaining America’s leadership in innovation and entrepreneurship, which serves as the foundation for economic growth and long-term prosperity,” she says in a statement.

“The America Competes Act reauthorization paves the way for the vital funding of research, STEM education and American innovation, and will help keep America competitive through a time of great economic uncertainty. We encourage the 112th Congress to build upon this reauthorization and show their commitment to raising the standard of living for all Americans.”


December 30, 2010 Posted by | Academia & Non-Profit, Corporate, Government, Labwork & Science | Leave a comment

Certriad just wasn’t valuable enough

It was just yesterday that I posted a short news article on the website about AstraZeneca and Abbott pulling the plug on their dyslipidemia drug Certriad (click here to read that), pretty much because the FDA had some questions about it, it seems they were worried it wouldn’t be quite as popular on the market because of those concerns if it got approved, and so it just wasn’t “commercially attractive” enough for them anymore.

I find myself of three minds about this development, quite frankly.

On the one hand, as a consumer (though I don’t need prescriptions much and hope I can continue that well past my middle age years), I’m not sure how I feel about the tactic of two companies putting their drugs together into a single combo pill as (presumably) a way to extend some patent protection time and keep getting name-brand-level payments for drugs that might otherwise be generic.

On the other hand, as a journalist who has focused on healthcare and medical areas most of my career, and now earns my living reporting on the business aspect of pharma and biotech, I understand the need for such companies to keep money flowing into their accounts, both to support the people who work for them and to fund important R&D (and, hopefully, take out ads in ddn, to be honest).

On the third hand (meaning I just borrowed one of my chief editor’s limbs or I’m a mutant), why does this drug have to be abandoned because it’s no longer quite as potentially profitable? With money already put into the effort, isn’t it worth the time and expense to address the FDA’s issues, whatever they are, and make some money off Certriad? Isn’t the goal to get useful therapies to patients and wasn’t this drug supposed to be both convenient and helpful for patients with mixed dyslipidemia?

I mean, companies are willing to tackle orphan drugs and neglected diseases even though the payoffs might not be as high, so what made Certriad so unattractive all of a sudden?

Mind you, I’m not pointing fingers at either company, because I don’t know what the contents of the FDA letter were, and last I heard, the companies hadn’t shared that information. But still, I shake my head and wonder why you just drop a drug that combines two already approved products because it just isn’t as “commercially attractive” anymore?

December 28, 2010 Posted by | Corporate | , , , | 2 Comments

A “just friends” Viagra?

The holidays are barreling down on me, and things are wrapping up from now until sometime in late December for my ddn activities, so I figured I’d just drop in quickly (and hopefully drop in for a few short posts here and there during the “off time” just in case you’re visiting).

So, I saw this story today on the possible therapeutic effects of Ecstasy (the recreational drug, that is, not the feeling you get thinking a  lot about Halle Berry or George Clooney…depending on gender or sexual orientation), and I find myself both intrigued and flabbergasted.

Intrigued, because the potential value for treating people with post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, schizophrenia would be fantastic if the research bears fruit.

On the other hand, I’m flabbergasted (or perhaps just wary and concerned) about the treatment of “inability to socialize.” I’m not saying this isn’t a serious issue and a potential problem for quality of life, but I worry. Because I remember how Viagra came around (and its successors and peers thereafter) to help men with erectile problems, and then it became something to be used recreationally by many to simply give them more…endurance, shall we say?

I’m not sure I like the idea of taking Ecstasy into the realm of dealing with socialization issues among people who probably just need some good counseling to figure out how to interact with people and make friends. But, as with so many medications, if it ends up going mainstream and prescription-grade, it will likely soon move from being for a select group of people who really, really need it to being purchased en masse by people who simply want it or think they need it when there are better answers.

It’s not a new dynamic, of course, but it is still a worrying thought.

I’m sure there some sort of pill I can head to the pharmacy and get to deal with that feeling.

December 22, 2010 Posted by | Labwork & Science, Market Trends | , , , , | Leave a comment

Season’s mergings

So, I just finished writing one of my articles for the January issue, which is on the Johnson & Johnson and Crucell acquisition bid for Crucell. As I noted in the blog (here), one of the sticking points in the M&A journey for these two companies has been the opinion of the second-largest shareholder, Van Herk Groep, that J&J just isn’t offering a satisfactory per-share price in its bid.

Well, in the few months that have passed since the two companies told everyone they were courting, there have been some manufacturing problems at a Crucell plant in South Korea that were bad enough to affect third-quarter earning and year-end projections.

However, J&J went ahead with a formal acquisition bid earlier this month, and didn’t lower its offer a single penny.

Now, one can only speculate whether Van Herk has still been holding to its opinion that J&J is being a Scrooge. After all, I haven’t heard anything so far that’s made me think their collective minds have changed. And I don’t know how much they think is fair…

…but one wonders whether Van Herk will view this bid as a holiday gift (no change despite manufacturing problems), or still keep looking for a bigger box under the tree for itself.

At least I wonder.

Seasons greetings, everyone, belatedly to those who’ve already celebrated their respective holidays and proactively to everyone else. And let’s hope for a Happy New Year in pharma, whether J&J and Crucell tie the knot in February or not.

December 20, 2010 Posted by | Corporate, M&A activity | , , , , | Leave a comment

Brilique…yes, Brilinta…not sure

Earlier this week in a Dec. 14 blog post, I noted that European regulators had given the go-ahead to AstraZeneca’s ticagrelor for the prevention of atherothrombotic events in adult patients with acute coronary syndromes. In that post, I noted it was likely the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would make a similar move for Brilinta (as the drug will be known in the United States) as the European Commission did for Brilique (as it will be known in Europe).

Well, today’s decision by the FDA shows why it was a wise move I became a journalist and not a market analyst.

While the FDA didn’t exactly say “No way,” it also didn’t say “Yes.” Instead, we have a solid, “We’re not sure yet.”

More specifically, the FDA has issued a complete response letter (CRL) for the New Drug Application (NDA) for ticagrelor in the United States. In the CRL, the FDA has requested additional analyses of data from AstraZeneca’s PLATO trial. The agency did not request additional studies, clinical studies or otherwise, as a prerequisite for approval of the ticagrelor NDA. At this point, it seems to want the numbers crunched a bit more from the studies that have been conducted.

AstraZeneca has noted that it is evaluating the contents of the CRL and will respond to the agency’s request for additional analyses of the PLATO data as soon as possible. The company reports that it remains confident in the NDA submission for ticagrelor and in its ability to respond to the agency’s questions.

“Our highest priority is to provide the requested PLATO analyses to the FDA and progress to completion of the Brilinta NDA review,” says Martin Mackay, president of research and development for AstraZeneca.

December 17, 2010 Posted by | Corporate, Government | , , , | Leave a comment

Report predicts steady growth in gene therapy market

With the final act of sanofi-aventis’ dramatic pas-de-deux with Genzyme wrapping up (last time we checked, sanofi-aventis extended its $18.5 billion hostile takeover bid), attention has been drawn to the gene therapy market, which according to a recent market research report, promises to be “one of the most important frontiers in medicine.”

RNCOS, a firm in India that specializes in pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry intelligence, has released a new report, “Global Gene Therapy Market Analysis,” which predicts that the global gene therapy market will “grow stupendously in the coming years.”

“Presently, large pharmaceutical companies are investing heavily in both, developing such drugs internally and acquiring such candidates from others,” RNCOS says in the report. “The inherent specificity and predictability of gene therapy have shorten the duration of drug development and increased rates of success in preclinical and clinical trials, relative to non-biological ‘small-molecule’ drugs thus, boosting the further growth of the industry.”

Back in 2008, San Jose, Calif.-based market research firm Global Industry Analysts Inc. predicted that the gene therapy market would reach $484 million by 2015, so it certainly seems that this market is on pace for that rapid growth.

RNCOS notes that although no significant achievements for curing disease have been achieved, advancements in gene therapy have provided useful data, which has helped in understanding the pathogenesis of diseases.

“The discipline heralds a significant potential for the biotechnology industry over the long term, as the approach moves from research labs to clinical trials,” the firm says.

RNCOS notes, however, that the gene therapy market is still at the experimental stages, with success yet to be achieved in completely developing curative therapeutic drugs.

Among the markets showing healthy growth rates are the United States, Europe, Canada, China and Japan, according to the report.

“Our study indicates that the highest growth rate in the developing countries’ gene therapy market is likely to be observed for the treatment of cancer, followed by infectious diseases like AIDS,” RNCOS says.

In addition to our ongoing coverage of sanofi-aventis’ bid to acquire Genzyme, Drug Discovery News has recently reported on several business agreements among companies that are engaged in this type of research. For some of our recent stories, see the following:

City of Hope leads first successful use of RNA interference to treat HIV infection

Expressing themselves: Aragen and CEVEC sign agreement covering novel human expression system

Stanford researchers find non-viral way to make iPS cells

December 15, 2010 Posted by | Market Trends | 1 Comment

And in this corner…Brilique!

It looks like the world’s second-best-selling medication, Plavix, may possibly have some head-to-head competition in the form of Brilique (also known as Brilinta, and known generically as ticagrelor). In the U.S., the FDA extended the time to complete its review of the New Drug Application ticagrelor from Sept. 16 to Dec. 16, but in Europe, the European Commission has granted marketing authorization to the drug for the prevention of atherothrombotic events in adult patients with acute coronary syndromes.

AstraZeneca, the drug’s maker, expects to begin selling the pill in the second half of 2011, once price negotiations are completed with member countries of the European Union, and the company plans to market Brilique based on the results of a study that showed it cut the risk of heart attacks, strokes and death linked to heart disease more than Plavix.

Plavix, which is also known by its generic name clopidogrel, is sold by sanofi-aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and posted $9.8 billion in revenue last year, second in sales only to Pfizer Inc.’s Lipitor for lowering cholesterol.

The AstraZeneca study indicates that Brilique, known by the generic name ticagrelor, works regardless of the patients’ genetic makeup, compared with Plavix, which isn’t as effective in patients with a certain genetic variation. Reportedly, AstraZeneca’s drug showed a higher risk of spontaneous major bleeding in the study.

Brilique got a thumbs-up from an FDA advisory panel in the United States, so it is expected that the FDA make a similar marketing decision for the drug as did its European counterpart, in just a couple days. The drug will be known as Brilinta in the United States.

Plavix, which is also known by its generic name clopidogrel, is sold by Sanofi-Aventis SA and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and had $9.8 billion in revenue last year, second in sales only to Pfizer Inc.’s Lipitor cholesterol-lowering pill.

December 14, 2010 Posted by | Corporate | , , , , | Leave a comment

Leaders, layoffs and losses

It’s been an interesting month in the pharmaceutical industry, with a few of the top pharma’s leaders leaving, more pink slips piling up and stocks morphing in the face of all of the change.

On Nov. 30, Merck & Co. Inc. announced its appointment of President Kenneth Frazier, who as Merck’s former chief counsel was instrumental in helping the pharma overcome its Vioxx litigation, as its new CEO. Frazier will succeed current CEO Richard Clark, who will reach Merck’s mandatory retirement age next year. Clark will continue as chairman of the board. Although analysts are optimistic that Frazier will see Merck through its next big challenge—the expiration of the Singulair patent, which accounts for 11 percent of the company’s sales—and continue Clark’s work on investing in the next generation of blockbusters, the announcement prompted a 4 percent drop in Merck’s shares to $34.64.

Recently retired Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler speaks at the Reuters Health Summit in New York

Days later came the news that Pfizer Inc. Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Kindler abruptly announced his resignation after four years of leadership at the company. Although Kindler said he needed to “recharge my batteries,” analysts have speculated that he was forced out by a board and investors who are unhappy with Pfizer’s languishing stock price, late-stage clinical failures and a strategy emphasizing repeated acquisitions to boost revenue and cut costs as a way to improve the bottom line. The appointment of Ian Reid, Pfizer’s head of global pharmaceuticals, as Kindler’s replacement has also raised analyst concerns about Pfizer’s long-term performance and leadership. With Pfizer’s shares down 9.6 percent over the last year of Kindler’s tenure, shares rebounded on the resignation news, gaining 20 cents to $16.92.

With the holidays upon us, and many analysts taking a look at the highlights of 2010, layoffs are also making headlines. Fierce Pharma recently unveiled its annual top 10 layoffs list, highlighting the 10 largest job cut announcements by company. Counting the year’s total pink slips at more than 50,000 jobs, the list begins with AstraZeneca, which let 8,550 employees go this year, and counts job losses in the thousands at Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche, Bayer, Abbott Labs, sanofi-aventis, Takeda, Novartis and Bristol Myers-Squibb. Given how often these companies made the front page of ddn this year with their merger and acquisition activity, these cuts are no surprise, as all of these transactions inevitably mean consolidation of resources.

With new leadership, more modest operations and the pressure of patent expirations, all of this should make for a very interesting 2011 in Big Pharma. As the Yieldpig blog notes, “with the dicey situation in Europe, stubborn domestic unemployment, a housing market that’s bottoming at best, and the great unknown of interest rates, equity portfolios should probably continue to play defense. Big, cheap, pharmas with sick dividend yields should help.”

December 10, 2010 Posted by | Corporate | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scripps researchers make metabolic breakthrough

Normally, this kind of story would be something you’d see in the “Bench Press” portion of our e-newsletter or website (click here) but in this post-Thanksgiving season, our cornucopia of stories was overflowing a bit, and I hate to throw out perfectly tasty and still-fresh leftovers, so enjoy this bit of research news right here at the blog.

Scripps researchers’ synthetic agonist of hormone-mediating proteins could yield treatments for metabolic disorders

By Amy Swinderman

JUPITER, Fla.—Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute have discovered the first synthetic agonist of retinoid-related orphan (ROR) nuclear receptor, protein molecules that mediate hormone activity inside the cell. Publishing their discovery in the November issue of the journal ACS Chemical Biology, the scientists say their finding could pave the way for the development of a therapeutic compound to treat numerous metabolic disorders and even cancer.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Thomas Burris, a professor in the Department of Molecular Therapeutics at Scripps’ Florida campus, and his colleagues have for years focused on nuclear pharmacology and chemical biology, and in particular have been investigating orphan receptors of the nuclear receptor (NR) superfamily. Members of the NR superfamily display a conserved domain structure with highly conserved DNA-binding and ligand-binding domains, and include the receptors for the steroid hormone, thyroid hormone and bile acids and oxysterols. Although many of the 48 NRs found in the human are characterized as ligand-activated transcription factors, a significant number of these proteins still have uncharacterized ligands.

The retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptors RORα and RORγ are two of these orphan receptors that have been demonstrated to play important roles in regulation of metabolism and immune function. Last year, Burris and his colleagues identified a high-affinity synthetic inverse agonist of this same pair of nuclear receptors.

For this new study, the researchers extended that discovery with the identification of the compound T1317, as a molecular scaffold to synthesize an array of compounds and assess their activity against a number of receptors, including RORα and RORγ. The one compound that stood out was SR1078, which displayed a unique pharmacological profile that indicated it had a high potential for use as a chemical probe for assessing ROR receptor function in general.

The agonist, a compound known as T1317, is a molecular scaffold to synthesize an array of compounds and assess their activity against a number of receptors, including RORα and RORγ. For this study, the Scripps researchers describe the identification of a synthetic RORα and RORγ ligand, SR1078. SR1078 modulates the conformation of

RORγ in a biochemical assay and activates RORα and RORγ driven transcription.

“Pharmacokinetic studies indicate that SR1078 displays reasonable exposure following injection into mice, and consistent with SR1078 functioning as a RORα/RORγ agonist, expression of two ROR target genes, glucose-6-phosphatase and fibroblast growth factor 21, were stimulated in the liver,” Burris says. “Thus, we have identified the first synthetic RORα/RORγ agonist, and this compound can be utilized as a chemical tool to probe the function of these receptors both in vitro and in vivo.”

Those properties, Burris says, give SR1078 potential as a possible therapeutic compound for many different metabolic disorders. Nuclear receptors have become drug development targets for diseases like type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis and metabolic syndrome, and have also been implicated in the progress of a number of cancers.

However, Burris cautions that this was a proof-of-principle study, and additional experiments are needed to examine the pharmacological profile of this compound in vivo.

“We’re certainly interested in merging the academic side of this with the drug development side,” says Burris, who spent 10 years working for pharmaceutical companies Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly & Co. “We’re still looking around for folks who will take it further, because of course on the academic side, we can only take it so far.”

The first author of the study, “Identification of SR1078, a Synthetic Agonist for the Orphan Nuclear Receptors RORα and RORγ,” was Yongjun Wang. Others authors include Naresh Kumar, Philippe Nuhant, Michael D. Cameron, Monica A. Istrate, William R. Roush and Patrick R. Griffin. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

December 8, 2010 Posted by | Academia & Non-Profit, Labwork & Science | Leave a comment

Research efforts can help fragile young lives

Whether we are researchers or journalists, as we explore the landscape of the drug development world we are reminded just how fragile human life can be.

This week, I came across a story that a team of pediatric cancer researchers have identified variations in a gene as important contributors to neuroblastoma, the most common solid cancer of early childhood.

The study team, led by researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, found that common variants in the LMO1 gene increase the risk of developing an aggressive form of neuroblastoma, and also mark the gene for continuing to drive the cancer’s progression once it forms.

The team’s work appears online in Nature. According to their report, a cancer of the sympathetic nervous system that usually occurs as a solid tumor in the abdomen, neuroblastoma accounts for 10 percent of childhood cancer deaths.

According to its website, The Cancer Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia cares for more children with cancer than any other pediatric hospital in the United States. It is ranked second in children’s cancer care in the U.S. by U.S.News & World Report.

It is so sobering to think that the youngest and most vulnerable—our children—sometimes are engaged in a fight for their lives as they battle myriad issues that come with adult-sized problems.

The researchers found a significant association between neuroblastoma and the LMO1 gene, located on chromosome 11, detecting the strongest signal among patients with the most aggressive form of the disease. This portion of the study identified SNPs, changes in a single letter within the DNA sequence, which predispose a child to developing neuroblastoma.

The research team utilized genetic tools to decrease LMO1’s activity, and showed that this inhibited the growth of neuroblastoma cells in culture. Increasing LMO1 gene expression had the opposite effect, causing tumor cells to proliferate.

Because other genes in the LMO family are known to be active in acute leukemias, other researchers have been investigating potential anti-leukemia drugs to target portions of the LMO pathway.

This is just one example of all of the great work going on in labs in hospitals, academic institutions and other facilities in the United States and around the world.

The research offers great hope for children battling cancer. It also is further proof that the work being done in research labs around the world are yielding results that can take steps to eradicate the diseases that take a great toll on us emotionally and physically, regardless of sex, age or race.

Further, the study by researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia shows how we can expand our knowledge base for translating genetic discovery to clinical issues through integrative genomics, combining SNP discovery arrays with gene expression arrays and other functional approaches.

With the great results coming from this work, perhaps the suffering of some of the small and meek can be eased.

December 7, 2010 Posted by | Academia & Non-Profit, Announcements and Events, Labwork & Science, Uncategorized | Leave a comment