Study on Clinical Outcomes
for Prostate Cancer in Elderly Patients
Grace Lu Yao, PhD, MPH, a cancer epidemiologist at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ) and associate professor of medicine at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS), was awarded an $860,173 research grant from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Challenge Grant Program to support a two- year study on clinical outcomes for elderly patients with prostate cancer, following the two most commonly used treatment options: deferred treatment and radiation therapy.
The goal of her study, “Evaluate Long Term Prognosis of Localized Prostate Cancer Following Initial Radiation Therapy,” is to define the prognosis of elderly patients with localized prostate cancer in terms of overall and disease specific survival, subsequent use of cancer therapies, and serious cancer related complications, following radiation therapy compared to conservative management.
Lu Yao, who also is on the faculty of the School of Public Health (SPH), says: “The findings of this study will provide benchmark references to facilitate treatment decision making. Reduction in over treatment of prostate cancer will result in
substantial savings while improving the quality of life of millions of patients.”
TAXIS Pharmaceuticals licenses novel antimicrobial
technology from UMDNJ and Rutgers
TAXIS Pharmaceuticals, Inc, UMDNJ and Rutgers have entered into an exclusive licensing agreement for worldwide rights to develop and commercialize a novel antimicrobial technology addressing multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacterial infections. The alarming rise in the number of MDR bacterial pathogens that have emerged and spread in recent years has dramatically reduced the utility of the current arsenal of antibiotics. Two such MDR pathogens in particular have been recognized as major threats to global public health, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE). TAXIS is in the process of identifying and validating lead drug candidates that target MRSA and VRE with efficacies that are superior to current standards of therapeutic care. The novel antimicrobial technology was discovered by Daniel S. Pilch, PhD, associate professor, Department of Pharmacology, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and Edmond J. LaVoie, PhD, professor, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Rutgers University-Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy.
Online Degree Program in Clinical Trial Sciences
A new online Master’s program in Clinical Trial Sciences has been launched by the School of Health Related Professions (SHRP). It is part of the UMDNJ Biopharma Educational Initiative (BEI), a
Web-based program designed to bring together the University and the State’s biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries in an
academic partnership to develop career enhancing educational
opportunities for biopharmaceutical employees.
The graduate program will not only provide an advanced education on the complexities of clinical trial design and execution, but can offer maximum flexibility to students with demanding schedules, including those with full-time jobs. Areas of study include selecting, preparing and maintaining a clinical trial site; mastering FDA regulations; and learning the ethics and techniques involved in recruiting scientifically valid groups of volunteer patients.
Online classes are taught by UMDNJ faculty and by pharmaceutical professionals from Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Novartis, Merck and AstraZeneca. Nurses, recent college graduates or people who work in other health related fields can use the BEI courses to prepare for careers as clinical research associates, clinical research coordinators, regulatory affairs’ professionals and clinical data managers.
Barbara Gladson, PhD, program director of BEI, says science professionals who have entered the program will play a vital role in the worldwide bio-pharmaceutical industry, which is considered a major employer in New Jersey.
It’s on the Cover
Two mice — one obese, one thin — appearing on the cover of the November 24th issue of the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, belong to an RWJMS research team. Their cover story tells the tale of deleting the autophagy-related gene 7 in adipose tissue from their experimental (left) mouse, resulting in a slim creature that is resistant to obesity produced by a high fat diet. Compared to the control mouse (right), the “mutant” mouse also showed “decreased plasma concentrations of leptin, lower plasma concentrations of triglyceride and cholesterol, and distinct anti-diabetic features, including increased sensitivity to insulin.” The group whose work earned this distinction includes these investigators from the Department of Pharmacology: Shengkan Jin, PhD, associate professor, and Yong Zhang, Scott Goldman, Rebecca Baerga, and Yun Zhao.
Two $15-Million Grants for New Jersey Medical School
For the second time in less than a month NJMS has been awarded a major grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The most recent award, a highly competitive $15 million construction — or CO6 — grant, comes from NIH’s National Center for Research Resources to address critical improvements to NJMS research facilities. The funding is part of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009. The CO6 grant was coordinated through the Research Office at NJMS, under the direction of William C. Gause, MD, senior associate dean for research.
Also this month, Abraham Pinter, PhD, of the Public Health Research Institute (PHRI) at NJMS, was awarded a five-year consortium grant of $15.9 million by the NIH for HIV vaccine development. He is among an elite group of researchers worldwide seeking to develop a vaccine that could prevent HIV infection. His research focuses on identifying the mechanisms by which HIV eludes the immune response, identifying new sites that are effective neutralization targets and learning how to efficiently elicit antibodies against such targets by vaccination.
Collaborators include several core laboratories at PHRI and researchers from the Wits Health Consortium in South Africa, the University of Washington in Seattle, Tulane University in New Orleans, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
Key Factor Identified in the Genetic Expression of Cellular “Power Plants”
Researchers at the School of Osteopathic Medicine (SOM) have identified the role of a specific protein in the transfer of genetic information in mitochondria. Considered the powerhouses of the human cell, mitochondria convert the energy stored in sugars and fats into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the molecules that temporarily store the energy cells need for metabolism. A decreased capacity for production of ATP is believed to play a role in a wide range of illnesses and in the aging process.
These subcellular ‘power plants’ provide the mechanism for the conversion of fuel (in the form of glucose) into the energy needed to manufacture the proteins and other components that make up the body. Human cells can contain thousands of mitochondria, and disruptions in the function of these organelles have been linked to numerous diseases, especially during aging.
According to Dmitry Temiakov, PhD, an assistant professor of cell biology at SOM, previous research has indicated that mitochondrial transcription, the process of creating a copy of the mitochondrial DNA, is highly regulated. Research in their lab shows a basis for the mechanism of action of a specific protein, TFB2, in the regulation of transcription in mitochondria. Their research is the first to demonstrate its function. Their findings, which appear in the current edition of Cell, could open a path for the development of medications that could affect the body’s ability to produce ATP.
Clinical Trial Tests Vaccine for Pancreatic Cancer
Despite advances in standard therapies, the five-year survival rate for patients with pancreatic cancer is only 5 percent. CINJ researchers have developed a series of vaccine injections to try to stimulate an immune response against the disease.
Scientists have known for years that the presence of a tumor in the body can actively inhibit the immune system from recognizing and destroying it. CINJ studies on mouse models have shown that this blockade of immunity also prevents traditional cancer vaccines from producing a good response. A novel strategy developed at CINJ injects the vaccine directly into the pancreatic tumor to enhance the body’s own immune response. It’s believed to be the first of its kind.
A Giant Step for Nursing Research
Scholars, administrators and practitioners in healthcare will soon have a new resource to conduct comprehensive searches of research literature on randomized and clinical controlled trials in nursing.
Susan Salmond, EdD, RN, dean and professor at UMDNJ-School of Nursing, is a leader of the initiative to develop the Nursing Care Clinical Trials Database of the Cochrane Nursing Care Network Node. This “one-stop shop” will provide access to all available research literature related to nursing care clinical trials published in any language worldwide.
The database will facilitate “systematic reviews,” focusing on a single healthcare question and will try to identify and synthesize all high quality research evidence relevant to that question. The Cochrane Collaboration is an international organization dedicated to making up-to-date, accurate information about the effects of healthcare readily available globally. It produces and disseminates systematic reviews of healthcare interventions and promotes the search for evidence in the form of clinical trials and other studies of interventions.