Tag Archives: translational genomics research institute

head.injury

TGen and Riddell Announce Partnership

Head protection plays a vital role in the health and safety of any athlete participating in helmeted sports.  In a move that could help revolutionize football player safety, the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), and Easton-Bell Sports through its Riddell brand, announced today it would work together on a study designed to advance athlete concussion detection and treatment.  Information gathered through the study will also be used to develop new football headgear and further refine updates to player monitoring technology.

“TGen welcomes this remarkable opportunity to join Riddell in a major research study with the goal of helping to objectively monitor a player on the field (with microelectronics combined with nucleic acid sequencing),” said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen President and Research Director. “TGen’s work over the past several years in the area of head trauma is accelerating new insights to the critical study of concussion injury.”

The genesis of this potentially groundbreaking study is to merge a player’s genetic information with real-time microelectronic information captured by Riddell’s Sideline Response System (SRS). A highly sophisticated, data-intensive system, Riddell SRS provides researchers, athletic staff and players with a wide range of valuable information on the number and severity of head impacts a player receives during games and practices.  Employed since 2003 by several well-respected research institutions, Riddell SRS has captured 1.8 million impacts from youth to elite football competition, and its data has led to impactful changes to rules, how the game is played and coached, and has informed new helmet designs.

“As the industry leader in football head protection, Riddell has the unique opportunity to advance TGen’s groundbreaking medical research into the brain as we work together towards identifying a way to accurately and quickly diagnose concussions in football players,” said Dan Arment, President of Riddell. “With Riddell’s commitment to player protection and history of innovation, we are hopeful that our collaboration with TGen will help us better protect athletes and lead us to meaningful advancements in helmet technology that move the game of football forward.”

A key question the study seeks to answer is: are the effects of sub-concussive hits identifiable through blood-based molecular information? “Based on our current information, we believe this study will have the unique ability to provide a molecular ‘risk’ and ‘recovery’ score, enabling physicians to better identify when a player might be expected to recover from the effects of the concussion and get back on the field,” said Dr. Kendall Van Keuren-Jensen, TGen Assistant Professor, whose technique for studying molecular information at a micro level will drive the research.

While the joint study will begin with football, the Riddell-TGen partnership has the potential to improve sports equipment manufactured by brands in the broader Easton-Bell Sports portfolio, including headgear for hockey, baseball, cycling, snowsports, and powersports. “As the awareness of head injury grows across all sports, supporting science like this will help us offer a more protective helmet solution to the athlete,” said Arment.

Local Institutes and Advocate to Join Study

As part of the study, TGen will work with the Barrow Neurological Institute whose B.R.A.I.N.S. (Barrow Resource for Acquired Injury to the Nervous System) program treats patients who have sustained a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury.

“Combining our neurological expertise and the information from our B.R.A.I.N.S. program, with TGen’s genomic knowledge and Riddell’s helmet technology, will provide great insight into how we measure concussions and how they affect the human brain,” said Dr. Javier Cárdenas, a neurologist and brain injury expert with Barrow Neurological Institute. “The genomic data could aid in the treatment process and will greatly add to the growing body of knowledge we’re acquiring about head injury patients.”

Joining Barrow will be athletic trainers from A.T. Still University and SAFE Football, which teaches alternative game-play techniques that reduce the number of head impacts while increasing competitiveness.

“Our partnerships with Barrow Neurological Institute, A.T. Still University, and Safe Football provide a multifaceted approach to identifying athletes in need of medical attention, to educating athletes on concussion and brain injury, to reducing the risk of injury through development of better techniques, and to improving treatment outcomes,” said Dr. Matt Huentelman, TGen Associate Professor and a co-investigator on the study.

Bioscience helix

Ivy Foundation Renews Support for TGen Program

The Arizona-based Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation will fund a second year of the Ivy Neurological Science Internship Program at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

The internship program offers hands-on biomedical research experience for high school, undergraduate and aspiring medical school students pursuing careers in brain tumor research, neuroscience and neurogenomics.

Through the program, world-class scientific investigators at TGen guide interns in the translational process of moving laboratory discoveries along the pipeline into new treatments for patients in clinical trials.

“Based upon the success of the 2012 pilot year, we believe the Ivy Neurological Science Internship Program at TGen will inspire a new generation of leaders in this field,” said Catherine Ivy, President of The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation. “There is an urgent and continuing need to encourage research into the intricate workings of brain cancer.”

TGen will select seven students for the program this year. Starting in June, two high-school students will participate in a 10-week summer program. Four undergraduate students will spend the fall semester at TGen, and one student planning to attend medical school will participate for a full academic year, beginning in the fall.

“Development of a local, knowledge-based workforce depends on educating and training talented students in the latest aspects of biomedical research and medicine,” said TGen President Dr. Jeffrey Trent. “The continued support from the Ivy program greatly enhances our efforts to provide hands-on experience in the area of translational research.”

In addition to brain tumor and neurological sciences research experience, Ivy interns will participate in a clinical training module that will engage them with the ultimate focus of these studies – the patient.

“TGen recognizes that we must invest in the development of the next generation of researchers and physicians; we need to prepare today’s students for the complex and challenging work awaiting them in the areas of brain tumor and neurological sciences research,” said Brandy Wells, Manager of TGen’s Education and Outreach.

For more information, please contact Brandy Wells at bwells@tgen.org or 602-343-8655.

prevention trial - brain scan images

TGen scientist launches innovative online research project

A scientific researcher at Phoenix-based Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) has launched a first-of-its-kind online memory test to help better understand human cognition and how it might relate to Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders.

Dubbed “MindCrowd”, the study seeks to attract 1 million individuals, aged 18 to 80, willing to complete the 10-minute online memory test at mindcrowd.org. Researchers will use the test results to build a base of data for further study on how cognition and memory changes as people age.

Eventually, the researchers want to leverage this newly-gained biological insight into therapeutic application — treatment. The hope is for the online test to go viral with friends, families and colleagues challenging one another to take the test and compare the results.

MindCrowd is the brainchild of TGen Associate Professor Dr. Matt Huentelman who believes understanding how the brain works in healthy individuals will foster the development of new medicines and therapies for those with brain disorders. Dr. Huentelman’s TGen lab studies the genomics of human neurological traits and diseases with a specific focus on learning, memory and Alzheimer’s.

“MindCrowd is the first research project of its kind,” said Huentelman, an expert in genomics as it relates to memory. “By harnessing the power of the Internet, we can study a million – or more – individuals to help bring us closer to a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders. Combining our knowledge of human genetics and neuroscience with an online research study like MindCrowd is a revolutionary approach to understanding our differences in brain performance and how it may influence risk for disease. We expect to add significantly to our understanding of cognition and how genetic factors impact our memory as we age.”

The MindCrowd project has two phases: Phase I involves memory testing of 1 million or more study participants. Following an in-depth analysis of Phase I test results, researchers will then solicit a subset of Phase I participants willing to donate a DNA saliva sample and undergo an additional round of online testing.

Participation is encouraged from a broad range of ages, backgrounds and cognitive abilities. Those taking the test are free to remain anonymous, although it is encouraged that people share basic data to help the project succeed. The test does not predict or diagnose any condition, rather it provides data on one type of memory and how these processes change as people age and have varied life experiences.

MindCrowd is a collaborative effort among leading scientific research institutions and organizations including TGen, the University of Arizona, Banner Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative and others.

Visit www.mindcrowd.org to take the test.

medical.research

Foundation donates $500,000 for TGen research

The Seena Magowitz Foundation has donated $500,000 from two charity golf tournaments dedicated to supporting pancreatic cancer research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Past donations from the Seena Magowitz Foundation have helped fund significant scientific research that is making a difference in the lives of pancreatic cancer patients and their families.

In January, TGen Physician-In-Chief Dr. Daniel Von Hoff presented study results at a San Francisco cancer symposium, showing that the drug Abraxane (nab-paclitaxel) when combined with gemcitabine, significantly extended the survival of pancreatic cancer patients. The Seena Magowitz Foundation helped fund the clinical trials that led to this advance.

“A decade of advocacy and fundraising is really paying off with concrete results that are actually helping pancreatic patients survive longer,” said Roger Magowitz, President and Co-Founder of the Seena Magowitz Foundation. “Our supporters deserve to take a bow, because the research behind these advances might not be possible without their help.”

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. and annually takes the lives of more than 38,000 Americans. A staggering 75 percent of those diagnosed die within the first year, and only 6 percent survive more than five years.

The most recent $500,000 donation to TGen from the Seena Magowitz Foundation represented funds raised during the 10th annual Seena Magowitz Golf Classic on Dec. 8 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort, and also from the 3rd annual Atlanta Golf Classic, organized Oct. 1 by pancreatic cancer survivor Howard Young, President of General Wholesale Beer Company. Young is a TGen Foundation Board Member and Chairman of TGen’s National Advisory Council for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

“TGen could not have made the progress we have against this disease without the unflagging dedication of special people like Roger Magowitz and Howard Young, and the hundreds of supporters they have inspired over the past decade,” said TGen Foundation President Michael Bassoff.

Magowitz informed the TGen Foundation of the $500,000 donation during the March 28 Evening on the Diamond, an annual fundraising event hosted by the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

“We are experiencing a remarkable confluence of forces between the Seena Magowitz Foundation, Major League Baseball and TGen in the fight against this most aggressive and deadly of cancers,” Magowitz said. “It is this kind of concerted effort, backed by prominent individuals and organizations, that eventually will lead to a cure for pancreatic cancer.”

Evening on the Diamond included the presentation of the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation Community Leadership Award, now named in memory of Lee Hanley, the late TGen Foundation Board Member who passed away in 2012 from pancreatic cancer. The newly named Lee T. Hanley Community Leadership Award was presented to former Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl for his 26 years of service in the U.S. Congress. Past winners include TGen Board Chairman Bill Post, TGen Foundation Board Member Karl Eller, and TGen President and Research Director Dr. Jeffrey Trent.

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alyssa Bonagura, who performed Dec. 8 during the 10th annual Seena Magowitz Golf Classic, also performed during Evening on the Diamond.

In March, Brian Cashman, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the New York Yankees, at the invitation of D-backs President and CEO Derrick Hall, joined TGen’s National Advisory Council for Pancreatic Cancer Research. Both MLB officials’ fathers died from the disease, and Hall was master of ceremonies at the Seena Magowitz Golf Classic.

Major sponsors of the golf tournament include: Leggett & Platt, Mattress Firm, Sealy, Mattress Discounters, Sleep Inc., Serta, Comfort Revolution, Ellman Family Vineyards, General Wholesale Beer Company, Morley Company, Simmons, Raymond James, Customatic, and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Roger Magowitz founded the Seena Magowitz Foundation in honor of his mother, Seena, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2001.

clinical research advantage - vaccines

TGen-Scottsdale Healthcare battle tumor growth

The safety and preliminary efficacy of a new class of tumor fighting drugs were reported by Scottsdale Healthcare’s Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Early results from the phase I, first in-human study of an RNA interface (RNAi) drug were announced during the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2013, April 6-10, in Washington, D.C. The drug, TKM-080301 (also known as TKM-PLK1) is being developed by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

The study was conducted at Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare, a partnership with TGen. It found that the RNAi drug acts by silencing the PLK1 gene involved in tumor growth and can be safely administered in humans.  Most patients tolerated the drug well; some showed therapeutic benefit.

“RNAi therapies are a unique approach to cancer treatment as they have the potential to ‘turn off’ the genes’ coding for proteins involved in cancer cell division,” said Dr. Ramesh K. Ramanathan, Medical Director of Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare and deputy director of the Clinical Translational Research Division of TGen. “Using a lipid nanoparticle, the RNAi drug can be delivered to a cancer cell to block the expression of specific proteins involved in tumor growth.”

TKM-080301 targets a specific gene called polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1), which codes for a protein involved in tumor cell growth. Prior research has shown that high levels of PLK1 are present in many types of cancer, including many of the more aggressive forms.

“Our preclinical results have shown that by decreasing PLK1 levels in cancer cells, we can stop tumor growth and kill the cancer cells,” Dr. Ramanathan said.

He and his colleagues have been enrolling patients with advanced solid tumors or lymphoma into the ongoing multicenter, open-label, dose-escalation study. Sequential cohorts of three to six patients have been assigned to escalating doses of TKM-080301 as a 30-minute intravenous infusion. To date, the researchers have assigned 23 patients to the drug at doses ranging from 0.15 mg/kg per week to 0.9 mg/kg per week.

The most common drug-related adverse events have been mild to moderate and include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Dose-limiting toxicities were observed at the 0.9 mg/kg per-week dose. One patient with a history of asthma experienced shortness of breath and hypoxia; another patient had thrombocytopenia. The researchers subsequently reduced the maximum dose to 0.75 mg/kg per week.

Two patients have been assigned to TKM-080301 for more than six months and have shown no evidence of cumulative toxicity. One of these patients has stable disease and the other has a durable confirmed partial response.

“RNAi therapies, such as the one used in our study, have the potential to make a significant and broad impact on how we treat cancer because we have the ability to target virtually any protein involved in the disease,” Ramanathan said. “This approach has the potential to augment the currently available cancer treatments to improve outcomes for the patient.”

medical.research

Medical miracle girl raises funds for TGen

Shelby Valint, the 12-year-old Phoenix girl whose sequenced genome led her from a wheelchair to walking, is raising funds for the non-profit Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

The “Shelby Valint Inspiration Fundraiser” will generate needed research dollars for TGen’s Center for Rare Childhood Disorders (C4RCD). It was research through this innovative unit at TGen that helped enable Shelby to go from a wheelchair to walking.

“TGen has done so much for me,” Shelby said. “Now, I want to do something for TGen so they can continue to help other children like me with rare medical disorders.”

The fundraiser is being organized by Shelby’s mother, Renee Valint, and by one of Shelby’s 7th Grade teachers, Tracy Livingston, whose husband – the Honorable Rep. David Livingston – is a freshman member of the Arizona House of Representatives, representing the north Valley’s District 22.

“In October, TGen launched their Center for Rare Childhood Disorders, which is helping parents in Arizona find answers and treatment for their children,” said Rep. Livingston, who has invited Gov. Jan Brewer and members of the Arizona Legislature to the fundraiser at the home of Shelby’s parents, Renee and Scott Valint – 1-5 p.m. April 6 at 1517 E. Red Range Way, about a mile south of Carefree Highway, just east of 14th Street.

“In my recent tour of TGen’s facilities, I saw first-hand the cutting-edge research, tools and technology being used to help children like Shelby,” Rep. Livingston said. “My wife, Tracy … has personally seen Shelby’s amazing transformation.”

By sequencing, or spelling out, the nearly 3 billion letters in Shelby’s DNA, TGen researchers found a gene that prevented Shelby from producing sufficient amounts of a brain chemical called dopamine, which is needed for balance and muscle control.

Using a combination of drugs usually given to older persons for treatment of Parkinson’s disease, Shelby was able within several weeks to abandon her wheelchair. She was able to more easily walk, talk, eat and even breathe, generally restoring her to a normal functioning child.

“Before TGen’s discovery, we had been through an enormous amount of despair with all the doctor visits and tests, and I had watched helplessly as Shelby was poked and prodded with a heart-wrenching number of needles and IVs,” Renee Valint said. “Shelby’s newfound ability to walk and talk, and generally lead a normal life, is a testament to the unwavering dedication to helping patients exhibited by the scientists at TGen.”

To see Shelby’s amazing transformation from a girl who was unable to walk, talk and eat to a girl who dances across the room, watch this recent story from CBS 5 News.

 

medical.research

FDA approved thyroid cancer drug tested by TGen

The FDA has approved a thyroid cancer drug successfully tested at Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials, a partnership of Scottsdale Healthcare and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved cabozantinib for the treatment of progressive, metastatic medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), a rare endocrine gland cancer affecting the thyroid. Previously, MTC patients had limited treatment options.

“This was a really exciting trial. We have a drug that blocks the gene that causes a rare type of cancer,” said Dr. Michael Demeure, the Site Principal Investigator on the Phase III clinical trial and endocrine surgeon at Scottsdale Healthcare. “We’re trying to do more tests like this to try to bring innovative and exciting new cancer drugs for our patients.”

More than 56,000 Americans will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer this year, and 1,780 will die from the disease. About 4 percent of thyroid cancers are medullary, a form of carcinoma that originates from the parafollicular, or C, cells, which produce the hormone calcitonin. Physicians are able to confirm a diagnosis of MTC by detecting elevated levels of calcitonin in the blood.

MTC often is not detected until its late stages. And unlike 90 percent of differentiated thyroid cancers, MTC does not respond to the most common treatments, making it difficult to manage.

The RET gene, which is part of the family of tyrosine kinase proteins, plays a role in the development of MTC. Cabozantinib is an inhibitor of multiple receptor tyrosine kinases, including RET, MET and VEGFR2.

“Cabozantinib targets tyrosine kinases that are important in medullary thyroid cancer, including RET, MET and VEGFR2. When such tyrosine kinases — which are known to play a role in tumor growth and metastasis — are also the drug target, that gives you hope that you can impact favorably on the disease,” said Dr. Demeure, contrasting MTC with other cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, where the precise genetic source of the cancer remains unconfirmed or unknown.

The Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare enrolled two patients with MTC as part of an international randomized clinical trial of more than 300 patients.

FDA’s approval on Nov. 29 was based on demonstrating improved progression-free survival (PFS). The estimated median PFS was 11.2 months for patients taking cabozantinib, compared to 4 months for patients taking placebo. The drug is sold as COMETRIQ and marketed by South San Francisco-based Exelixis, Inc.

One patient who continues to benefit from clinical trial treatments at Scottsdale Healthcare’s Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials is Gordon Hunt, 68, a retired life-insurance salesman from Phoenix.

Hunt said he started noticing discomfort in his neck several years ago. After seeing a series of specialists, a calcitonin test finally confirmed that he had an advanced case of MTC.

Hunt endured several surgeries that included the removal of his thyroid and lymph nodes in his neck and chest. Following his most recent surgeries more than two years ago, performed by Dr. Demeure, Hunt’s calcitonin levels dropped from a one-time high of 3,300 picograms per milliliter, when he was first diagnosed, to about 500 pg/ml.

After receiving cabozantinib since February 2011, Hunt’s calcitonin levels are down to about 250 pg/ml, indicating that the cancer might still be in his system, but he has had no detectable tumors.

“I feel like he saved my life,” Hunt said of Dr. Demeure, who suggested he take part in the cabozantinib clinical trial.

“I’m just thankful for it, because I’m sure I’d be probably ready for another surgery of some sort if I hadn’t been on the medication,” said Hunt, who also expressed gratitude to the entire staff of the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare. “They’ve been responsive to my every need.”

Hunt said he at first suffered side effects, including vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, weight loss and constipation. But by lowering his dosage, the side effects eventually diminished, he said. Dose reduction was required in 79 percent of clinical trial patients, according to the FDA.

Hunt receives monthly doses of the drug along with tests for calcitonin, as well as quarterly scans for tumors.

Between doses, he and his wife Nancy, a retired schoolteacher, travel extensively, including trips in the past year to California, Texas, Missouri and Australia.

“We’re still active, so that’s a good thing,” said Hunt, noting that the couple, who have lived 47 years in Phoenix, still go regularly to the gym and are active in their church.

“I’m excited. I played a part in making it (FDA approval) happen,” Hunt said. “I thank God that I was chosen to take part in obtaining the approval of the medication. If it works for me, it’s going to work for other people, and that’s good.”

In addition to treating MTC, cabozantinib is being explored as a therapy for numerous tumor types, including prostate, ovarian, brain, melanoma, breast, and non-small cell lung cancers.

medical.research

BIO5-TGen collaboration targets Alzheimer’s disease

BIO5 Oro Valley today announced a collaboration with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) to develop new therapies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

BIO5 Oro Valley co-Director and University of Arizona College of Pharmacy medicinal chemist Dr. Christopher Hulme’s collaborative effort with TGen Assistant Professor Dr. Travis Dunckley will focus on the development of novel, small molecule inhibitors of dual-specificity tyrosine phosphorylation-regulated kinase 1A (DYRK1A). Upregulation of this kinase is implicated in promoting memory deficits associated with Down syndrome and neurodegenerative pathologies, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.

“DYRK1A is a well-validated, recently discovered target, ready for translational efforts to deliver an oral medication to patients suffering from this insidious disease,” said Dr. Hulme. “Indeed, coupled with the advanced small molecules in-hand that target DYRK1A, further efforts are underway that will broaden our therapeutic presence in the Alzheimer’s arena to other Arizona-based biological discoveries.”

Statistics from the National Institutes of Health indicate that 5.1 million older Americans – or 1-in-8 – suffer from Alzheimer’s, which makes it the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. Estimated to effect 45 million people worldwide by 2020, dementia is currently a leading, major unmet medical need and a costly burden on public health. Seventy percent of these cases have been attributed to Alzheimer’s, a neurodegenerative pathology characterized by a progressive decline in cognitive functions.

“This collaborative partnership is a critical step in advancing discoveries of the role DYRK1A plays to developing therapeutics that could alter the course of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Dunckley.

Drs. Hulme and Dunckley will focus on providing a significant alternative to common approaches that focus on small molecules that inhibit the production of neurotoxic fragments of amyloid proteins and antibody immunization approaches targeting the build up of these fragments.

The joint effort will explore the decrease of DYRK1A activity in the brain with proprietary small-molecule inhibitors. This approach could lead to new therapeutic strategies to alleviate cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer’s and Down syndrome.

Tony Pena, Brian Cashman

Yankees’ GM supports TGen Research

A top official of the New York Yankees whose father passed from pancreatic cancer has joined a prestigious national panel organized by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) to fight this aggressive disease.

Brian Cashman, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the vaunted Yankees Major League Baseball franchise, has joined TGen’s National Advisory Council for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

TGen’s National Advisory Council leads a critically needed funding effort and promotes a deeper public understanding of pancreatic cancer, the nation’s fourth-leading cause of cancer death, which in 2012 took the lives of nearly 44,000 in the U.S. and nearly 235,000 worldwide.

Cashman lost his father, John, in September after a 10-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He had wanted his Yankees to reach the World Series as one last gift to his father.

“My father loved the Yankees. There are a lot of people who face these kinds of challenges, and they look to the Yankees to provide positive inspiration. For my father, the Yankees were always something he could look forward to,” he said. “I welcome the responsibilities and challenges of my role in the fight against pancreatic cancer. I have a personal experience to draw from, and coupled with my unique standing within the fabric of baseball, I’d like to believe I can make the type of contribution my father would be proud of.”

Cashman was invited to join TGen’s National Advisory Council by another council member, Arizona Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall, who in 2011 lost his father, Larry, to pancreatic cancer, even as Derrick was fighting his own battle with prostate cancer.

The Yankees and Diamondbacks played one of the game’s iconic 7-game World Series in 2001.

In addition to Cashman and Hall, another MLB official, David Dombrowski – President, CEO and General Manager of the Detroit Tigers – also is a member of the National Advisory Council for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

Other members of TGen’s National Advisory Council are: Raymond Bojanowski, Co-founder and Co-chairman of the Seena Magowitz Foundation; Karl Glassman, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Leggett & Platt Inc.; Diane Halle,
President of the Bruce T. Halle Family Foundation and the Herbert K. Cummings Charitable Trust; Steve Hilton, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Meritage Homes Corp.; David Lane, President of the Lane Affiliated Companies; Roger Magowitz, President and Founder of the Seena Magowitz Foundation; Vincent McBeth, President of the The McBeth Group International and a retired U.S. Navy Commander; Larry Rogers, President and CEO of the Sealy Corp.; Steve Stagner, President and CEO of the Mattress Firm; Louis A. “Chip” Weil III, retired Chairman, President and CEO of Central Newspapers Inc.; and Howard Young, President of the General Wholesale Company.

“Brian Cashman is a powerful addition to TGen’s National Advisory Council. His personal experience, championship reputation, and national visibility will be a huge boost to TGen’s fight against pancreatic cancer,” said Michael Bassoff, TGen Foundation President.

Cashman joined the Yankees as a 19-year-old intern and now commands one of the most demanding jobs in sports. During 25 seasons, he has earned five World Series rings. At age 30, he became the youngest GM to win a World Series. And during 1998-2000 he became the only GM in Baseball history to win World Series titles in each of his first three seasons.

pharmaceuticals

Arizona bioscience job growth outpaces nation

Arizona’s bioscience sector added jobs at nearly four times the national rate over the past decade and experienced double-digit job growth during the economic recovery, a new report shows.

Since Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap was launched in 2002, Arizona’s bioscience jobs have increased by 45 percent to 99,018 in 2011. Nationally, the growth rate during this time was 12 percent. While hospitals dominate Arizona’s bioscience jobs, the state’s non-hospital subsectors grew 14 percent in 2011 alone.  During the economic recovery years of 2009-11, the state’s bioscience jobs increased 11 percent while there was no gain across the state’s private sector.

The new performance analysis of Arizona’s bioscience sector, commissioned by the Flinn Foundation, also found that the number of bioscience establishments in Arizona continues to grow faster than the national average and bioscience wages in the state are outpacing those in other private-sector industries.

The 10th-annual study, released Feb. 5 by the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, did reveal funding challenges for the state.  In 2012, Arizona fell to its lowest venture capital investment level since 2009 and suffered a drop in National Institutes of Health funding while the top-10 funded states advanced.

“Arizona’s bioscience sector continues to significantly outperform the nation in terms of job and establishment growth and has made impressive gains in building a more concentrated industry base,” said Walter Plosila, senior advisor to the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice.  “However, more attention must be paid to academic research performance and venture capital investment to continue the trend in years to come.”

Plosila added that progress has been made over the past decade on all 19 actions recommended by Battelle in 2002, including substantial progress on nine.

The Roadmap was launched in 2002 as a long-range plan to make the state’s bioscience sector globally competitive. The Roadmap was commissioned by the Phoenix-based Flinn Foundation, which committed to 10 years of major funding of Arizona biosciences and formed a network of committees involving statewide experts to implement its recommendations.

There was also a major increase in bioscience establishments, rising 31 percent since 2002 to 892 firms, which is above the national growth rate of 23 percent.

Bioscience jobs in Arizona pay an average salary of $56,328, or 28 percent higher than the $44,098 for all private-sector industries. Since 2002, bioscience salaries have increased 44 percent.

“After 10 years, Arizona has carved a niche in the highly lucrative and competitive biosciences field,” said Martin Shultz, chair of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee. “We’re one of the nation’s top emerging bioscience states, and our growth in high-wage jobs continued during both good economic times and bad.”

In terms of research dollars, NIH funding in 2012 was $174 million, or 19 percent greater, than the 2002 figure. This is a decrease from $184 million in 2011. While NIH funding, the gold standard for biomedical research funding, did increase slightly faster than the national average of 18 percent over the past decade, Arizona is no longer meeting its goal of obtaining funding at a growth rate higher than the top-10 funded states. In addition, its share of the funding pool remains nearly the same as it was in 2002.

The latest data also shows:
•    The largest non-hospital bioscience subsector continues to be research, testing and medical laboratories. This group now boasts about 8,900 workers across 466 establishments, roughly a 60 percent increase in both employees and firms since 2002. The other subsectors are drugs, pharmaceuticals and diagnostics; hospitals; medical devices and equipment; and agricultural feedstock and chemicals.
•    Venture capital investment was $22 million in 2012, which is the lowest figure since 2009. This was a drop of 68 percent from 2011, compared with a national decline of 49 percent.
•    Bioscience-related academic research and development expenditures at Arizona’s universities reached a record $452 million in 2011, a 55 percent increase since 2002. Arizona’s growth had outpaced the nation until 2009, but now trails the overall U.S. growth rate of 74 percent.
•    Arizona universities spun out seven bioscience companies in 2012. University discoveries have now led to 67 new bioscience startups since 2002 as well as 180 bioscience patents.

There were a number of major developments in 2012 that showed the collaborative nature of Arizona biosciences, including the completion of major projects, the approval of future pursuits, and an emphasis on education.

The University of Arizona opened its new Health Sciences Education Building on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus that enabled the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix to increase enrollment and for Northern Arizona University to begin Phoenix-based physician assistant and physical therapy programs. In addition, final approval was granted by the Arizona Board of Regents for the UA Cancer Center-Phoenix to be built on the same campus in partnership with St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.

A number of incubators and accelerators opened or expanded with more in the planning stages. BioInspire, an incubator for medical-device startups, opened in Peoria; GateWay Community College in Phoenix opened the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation; the Arizona Center for Innovation at the UA Science and Technology Park in Tucson opened upgraded facilities and launched new programming; Flagstaff received funding for a planned accelerator; and the statewide Arizona Furnace accelerator began awarding seed money and access to incubation space.

Among other major developments, the inaugural Arizona SciTech Festival attracted 200,000 participants from across the state during February and March 2012, making it one of the largest in the nation; Banner Alzheimer’s Institute launched a $100 million trial to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease; a new skin-cancer drug first tested by Translational Genomics Research Institute and Scottsdale Healthcare received expedited approval from the Food and Drug Administration; Arizona State University began leading the first national algae biofuel testbed; Mayo Clinic announced plans for a new cancer center on its north Phoenix campus; and Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert announced a $63 million expansion.

On Dec. 4, 2012, the Flinn Foundation and bioscience leaders from across Arizona came together at the Arizona Biltmore to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the launching of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap. The Foundation announced it has committed to continue funding Arizona biosciences and coordinating the Roadmap as it enters its next chapter.

“We recognize this is a long-term pursuit,” said Jack Jewett, president and CEO of the Flinn Foundation. “We will continue to strive to improve the lives of Arizonans today and tomorrow through new medical discoveries, access to clinical trials and the recruitment of top researchers, while also attracting high-wage jobs that will strengthen Arizona’s economy.”

The Flinn Foundation is a Phoenix-based, private, nonprofit philanthropic endowment. It was established by Dr. and Mrs. Robert S. Flinn in 1965 with the mission of improving the quality of life in Arizona to benefit future generations. The nonprofit philanthropy supports the advancement of Arizona’s bioscience sector, the Flinn Scholars program, arts and culture, and the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership.

medical.research

Barrett-Jackson Auction, raffle net $129,000 for TGen research

The sale of a 2008 Shelby GT Barrett-Jackson Edition (Lot #3009) and the raffle of a 40th Anniversary Corvette generated $129,000 for cancer research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) during Scottsdale’s 42nd Annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction.

Proceeds went to the Barrett-Jackson Cancer Research Fund at TGen, in Memory of Russ and Brian Jackson. The fund, established in 2010, is a salute to auction Chairman and CEO Craig Jackson’s father, Russ, and brother, Brian, whose lives were cut short by colon cancer.

The 2008 Shelby GT Barrett-Jackson Edition (Lot #3009) was auctioned Jan. 18 for $100,000 and sold to Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports in Charlotte, N.C.  Ele Chesney, a good friend of Nellie Jackson, the mother of Craig Jackson, donated this red and black convertible — upgraded by TMS Autosports — to raise funds for TGen.

The 1993 40th Anniversary Edition Chevrolet Corvette coupe was won by Roy Moreno of Allan, Texas (near Corpus Christi). The raffle raised $29,000 for TGen’s research. The ruby red Corvette, donated by Phoenix businessman David Harbour, is one of the 40th Anniversary models of this legendary sports car, which was first built in 1953.

Although the raffle was held during the Jan. 13-20 auction at Westworld of Scottsdale, the TGen Foundation conducted the raffle. Neither Barrett-Jackson Auction Co. LLC nor any of its affiliates were responsible for conducting this promotion.

“We are extremely grateful to Craig Jackson and his team at Barrett-Jackson for everything they do to raise funds for TGen research, and for spreading the word about TGen’s pursuit of personalized medicine; treating each patient based on their unique genetic profile,” said Michael Bassoff, President of the TGen Foundation.

More than 140,000 Americans, men and women, were diagnosed last year with colon cancer, which in 2012 killed nearly 52,000 patients, the third-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.

An additional 241,000 American men were diagnosed last year with prostate cancer, which in 2012 killed nearly 28,000 patients, the second-leading cause of cancer death among men in the U.S.

In addition to its annual Scottsdale event, Barrett-Jackson also will conduct collector car auctions this year in: Palm Beach, Fla. (April 4-6), Las Vegas, Nev. (Sept. 26-28), and — announced Jan. 20 — a new auction in Reno, Nev. (Aug. 8-10).

The 2012 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction helped raise nearly $5.9 million for local and national charities.

clinical research advantage - vaccines

TGen, Scottsdale Healthcare study may help pancreatic cancer patients

A multi-center Phase III clinical trial demonstrates that Abraxane (nab-paclitaxel) plus gemcitabine is the first combination of cancer drugs to extend survival of late-stage pancreatic cancer patients compared to standard treatment.
The MPACT (Metastatic Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Clinical Trial) study was led by physicians from Scottsdale Healthcare’s Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials, a partnership between Scottsdale Healthcare and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Their findings show that Abraxane plus gemcitabine was well tolerated and resulted in clinically meaningful outcomes compared to gemcitabine alone, the current standard of care. The study abstract was released today and the data will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2013 Gastrointestinal Cancers annual meeting Jan. 25 in San Francisco.

“We are ecstatic that this clinical trial of Abraxane plus gemcitabine improves survival for patients with advanced stage IV pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, international lead investigator for MPACT, chief scientific officer for Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare, and TGen’s Physician-In-Chief. “It once again demonstrates that laboratory science based medicine can make a difference for patients.”

MPACT is the largest phase III clinical trial completed in advanced pancreatic cancer with more than 800 patients. Findings from the study showed a 59 percent increase in one-year median survival rates from less than a quarter of the patients (22 percent) to more than a third (35 percent). The two-year survival rate for this cancer is negligible, less than 4 percent, but that more than doubles (9 percent) with the nab-paclitaxel/gemcitabine combination.

One of those patients was Lynne Jacoby, 48, of Phoenix, who works as a director of compliance for a healthcare company. Jacoby was given only weeks to live when her Stage 4 pancreatic adenocarcinoma, a tumor the size of a golf ball, was first diagnosed in April 2012 — nine months ago.

“If you had to live your life in a year, and that is all the time you have, wouldn’t you do everything you could to experience this time,” said Jacoby, who for nearly a year before her diagnosis had experienced night sweats, indigestion, stomach pains, neck and back pain, and an elevated white-blood count.

She began the treatment of Abraxane plus gemcitabine in May 2012 and continues on the medications, saying now that she “feels awesome, wonderful.” She is scheduled to remain on the drug combination through May 2013.

“Life is priceless. No amount of money can be placed on life. I know I would be gone already if it was not for Dr. Von Hoff,” said Jacoby, who also refers to him as “Dr. Von Hope.”

The study showed significant improvement among some of the sickest patients including those with increased metastases. Significantly there was no increase in life-threatening toxicity. Other drug combinations that have demonstrated benefit have been limited by increased toxicities.

“This is a major improvement in a cancer with the lowest survival rates among all cancer types,” said Dr. Ramesh Ramanathan, medical director of Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare and principal investigator for the clinical trial in the United States. “Advanced pancreatic cancer is fourth most common cause of cancer death in the United States and throughout the world. It is difficult to diagnose with a majority of the cases diagnosed at a late stage after the disease has already advanced.”

Abraxane wraps traditional chemotherapy, paclitaxel, in near-nano sized shells of albumin, a protein that the tumor sees as food. The tumor uses various mechanisms to preferentially attract the albumin, which then acts like a “Trojan Horse” to release its package of chemotherapy inside the tumor. It is approved in the U.S. for metastatic breast cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.

The pancreas is a gland behind the stomach that secretes enzymes into the upper part of the small intestine to help digestion. It also produces hormones, including insulin, which helps regulate the metabolism of sugars.

The incidence of pancreatic cancer is increasing worldwide with an estimated 279,000 cases per year, including nearly 44,000 in the U.S. in 2012, and resulting in more than 37,000 American deaths last year.

Individuals seeking information about eligibility to participate in clinical trials at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare may contact the cancer care coordinator at: 480-323-1339; toll free at 1-877-273-3713; or via email at clinicaltrials@shc.org.

molecular

Phoenix Children’s Hospital, TGen create Molecular Medicine Institute

Phoenix Children’s Hospital announced the creation of the Ronald A. Matricaria Institute of Molecular Medicine Tuesday, in a joint venture with The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and The University of Arizona’s College of Medicine.

The three organizations are joining forces with the hopes of unlocking genetic codes in child, adolescent and young adult cancer patients and develop drug therapies in real time to improve the outcome and treatment in these young demographics.

“Our goal is to bring genomics to the forefront of pediatrics,” said Robert L. Meyer, Phoenix Children’s president and CEO. “Research and development of novel treatments for pediatric diseases has fallen short over past decades.”

The reason why the Ronald A. Matricaria Institute of Molecular Medicine is focusing on young patients is because there have been hardly any new therapies introduced to this population in the past two decades. The new institute hopes that clinical studies on children will lead to a better understanding of specific differences between children and adults, which will hopefully lead to the development of safer, more effective and more age-appropriate drug treatments that can be provided in a faster amount of time.

“A challenge with existing molecular medicine programs is the amount of time it takes to develop a new drug or treatment,” Meyer said. “Our collaboration with TGen and University of Arizona opens the doors to making a portfolio of drugs and compounds available immediately.”

The institute will also focus their clinical studies based on underlying genetic and molecular functions of different pediatric cancers, rather than specifically on tumor type. Furthermore, physicians will then create various treatment plans specifically for each patient treated based on the drug therapy that will attack and correct the malfunctioning genes.

With the start of the new institute, a special team of physician scientists will be brought on board to help start out the genomic profiling: Dr. Timothy Triche, a pediatric pathologist and former director of the Center for Personalized Medicine at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles; Dr. Robert Arceci, a pediatric oncologist from Johns Hopkins University; and Dr. Daniel D. Von Hoff, a medical oncologist at TGen.

“We are trying to figure out a way to have children get appropriate drugs,” said Dr. Robert Arceci. “We all want to know what causes diseases and how we can treat them and I think it takes a special team of people to do this and it takes a lot of unselfish commitment.”

A founding member from whom the institute gets its name, Ronald A. Matricaria, a member of the board of directors for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, is excited and hopeful for what the new institute is capable of doing in the world of pediatric care.

“Based on my knowledge of the institute and many years of working in the medical field, I’m confident that we can chart a new course for addressing the unique needs of children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases,” Matricaria said. “We could have a huge impact on children’s live and what could be better than that.

 

medical.research

TGen Launches Website Focused on Rare Adrenal Cancer

A new website officially launched by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) provides patients and their families with 24-7 access to essential and comprehensive information on Adrenocortical Carcinoma (ACC), a rare and deadly form of cancer.

Named in memory or Kirsten Sandstrom, Kirsten’s Legacy is TGen’s research and clinical program for defeating ACC. The site includes facts about ACC, links to valuable patient resources and the latest updates on progress being made by TGen researchers and clinicians studying ACC.

To all those who knew her, Kirsten was an extraordinarily caring and loving woman. As a wife, mother, daughter and friend, Kirsten displayed a level of grace and selflessness that lifted the hearts of her family and lent them strength as she endured a 21-month struggle with ACC that claimed her life in March of 2010.

As part of a $1.5 million gift to TGen in support of ACC research, Kirsten’s parents Gary and Barbara Pasquinelli of Yuma, Arizona, worked with their son-in-law Ed Sandstrom and TGen to establish Kirsten’s Legacy. The Pasquinelli’s made their donation as a challenge gift to help encourage others to support ACC research.
“We had trouble finding information on ACC, so we established the Kirsten’s Legacy website to provide timely information for patients, their families and friends as TGen pursues better treatments and moves toward a cure for this terrible disease,” said Gary Pasquinelli. “The website enables those dealing with ACC to know immediately that they are not alone — that there is hope— a place where you can get substantial information about ACC without having to go through what we went through.”

Prior to the Pasquinelli gift and the launch of the Kirsten’s Legacy website, ACC survivor Troy Richards established TGen’s ACC program and actively raised dollars for research through his Advancing Treatment for Adrenal Cancer (ATAC) fund.
In May 2005, Richards met with TGen Drs. Daniel Von Hoff and Michael Demeure to discuss establishing TGen’s ACC Research Program. Richards also developed a website and co-founded what is now the largest ACC support group on the Web. He continues to raise funds and be an advocate by helping patients worldwide to receive the best possible care.

After learning of the Pasquinelli gift, Richards and the Pasquinelli family chose to merge their efforts and today pursue a cure for ACC through the Kirsten’s Legacy program.
“The goal of the website, the entire program for that matter, is to educate others about ACC and support TGen scientists and clinicians,’’ said Troy Richards. “Our hope is that Kirsten’s Legacy continues the work we’ve started and paves the way to improved treatments and understanding of ACC, and ultimately, leads to a cure.”
ACC is rare: less than 2 individuals in 1 million are susceptible. When the numbers are that low, few federal or philanthropic dollars flow toward studying the causes or finding a cure. That means fewer advances in diagnoses or therapeutic treatments. Also known as cancer of the adrenal cortex or ACC, TGen scientists and clinicians conduct their work with a sense of extreme urgency, knowing the fight against ACC lingers and few institutions are working to defeat this deadly cancer.

“The Kirsten’s Legacy website will enable TGen to create a community of ACC patients and advocates around the world and to share our research progress and resources,” said TGen Foundation President Michael Bassoff. “The support of Troy Richards, the Pasquinelli’s and Ed Sandstrom, serves to remind us of the power and importance of collaboration, enabling TGen’s mission against ACC.”

TGen Drs. Kimberly Bussey and Michael Demeure lead a team of scientists and clinicians who, for the first time, have completed the first whole genome sequencing of ACC tumors. This offers new insight into the possible causes of this extremely rare and aggressive form of cancer by identifying all 3 billion chemical DNA bases of ACC tumors. Researchers compare the cancer DNA to a patient’s normal DNA to discover what’s different; what mutations might cause the disease.

The ACC research team at TGen is eager to work with all investigators on efforts to improve treatments for affected patients.

Visit Kirsten’s Legacy at: kirstenslegacy.org.

medical.research

Golf tournament benefits TGen pancreatic cancer research

Nearly 450 participants, including 288 golfers, are expected Dec. 7-8 at the 10th anniversary Seena Magowitz Golf Classic, benefiting pancreatic cancer research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

The weekend charity tournament at the world-famous Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa is sponsored by the Seena Magowitz Foundation, which helps fund TGen’s global effort to eradicate pancreatic cancer, the nation’s fourth leading cause of cancer death.

The Golf Classic, which this year is expected to raise more than $500,000, also will feature celebrity emcees and two leading scientists in the field of cancer research.

“If we continue working together in a hard-fought campaign to curb this brutal disease, I’m confident that our efforts will make a life-changing difference,” said Leggett & Platt COO Karl Glassman, this year’s tournament Honorary Chairman, who lost his mother to breast cancer and a good friend to pancreatic cancer.

Following the golf tournament on Dec. 8, Derrick Hall, President and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks, will co-emcee an awards luncheon with journalist and television personality Tara Hitchcock.

The luncheon’s featured speakers are: Keynote Speaker Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, TGen’s Physician-In-Chief and one of the world’s leading authorities on pancreatic cancer; and Dr. Victor Velculescu, a Professor of Oncology at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

The weekend event kicks off from 6-11 p.m. Dec. 7 with a special Monte Carlo casino welcome, including live jazz from renowned trumpeter Jessie McGuire.

The golf tournament begins at 7 a.m. Dec. 8 with breakfast and registration, followed at 8:25 a.m. by McGuire’s special rendition of the National Anthem, which will begin the tournament’s shotgun start.

The luncheon — with special guests, a live auction and raffle — starts at 1 p.m.

The event caps off with an 8 p.m. Anniversary Music Concert, staring: pop artist Alyssa Bonagura, who just released a new album, Love Hard; Ira Dean, former member of the band Trick Pony; and Brooke Burrows.

“A decade ago, I don’t think any of us could have foreseen the tremendous progress that has been made by TGen to help conquer this disease,” said Roger Magowitz, President of the Magowitz Foundation, which he founded in honor of his mother, Seena, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2001. “The advent of TGen’s whole genome sequencing and the ability to search out each patient’s genetic vulnerability is a phenomenal biomedical advance.”

TGen’s use of whole genome sequencing in analyzing three pancreatic cancer patients was recently documented in a scientific study, funded in part by the Magowitz Foundation, and published in October by the Public Library of Science.

In addition, the Magowitz Foundation helped support a study that concluded in November that a new cancer drug combination demonstrated significant improvement in overall survival of late-stage pancreatic cancer patients, according to a clinical trial led by Scottsdale Healthcare’s Virginia G. Cancer Center Clinical Trials, a partnership with TGen.

“TGen’s groundbreaking pancreatic cancer research receives a tremendous boost from the Seena Magowitz Foundation’s annual December events,” said Michael Bassoff, President of the non-profit TGen Foundation. “Industry leaders like Leggett & Platt and Mattress Firm are making a difference in the lives of pancreatic cancer patients today.”

Pancreatic cancer annually takes the lives of more than 37,000 Americans. A staggering 74 percent of those diagnosed die within the first year, and only 6 percent survive more than five years.

Major tournament sponsors include: Leggett & Platt, Mattress Firm, Sealy, Mattress Discounters, Sleep Inc., Serta, Comfort Revolution, Ellman Family Vineyards, General Wholesale Beer Company, Morley Company, Simmons, Raymond James, Customatic, and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

A golf foursome, including the welcome and luncheon, is $1,750. Individual golfers are $450. For those who don’t play golf, and still want to participate, the welcome is $100 per person, while the luncheon is $150 per person.

Corporate sponsorships are available, ranging from $500 to $100,000. Sponsors may contact: Roger Magowitz at 602-524-7636 or roger@seenamagowitzfoundation.org; Liz McBeth, Tournament Director, at 757-773-7622 or liz@seenamagowitzfoundation.org; or Alison Bassoff, Vice President of Development, 602-361-7006 or Allison@seenamagowitzfoundation.org.

medical.research

TGen, Scottsdale Healthcare lead pancreatic cancer study

A new cancer drug combination demonstrated significant improvement in overall survival of late-stage pancreatic cancer patients compared to those receiving standard treatment, according to results of a Phase III clinical trial led by physicians from Scottsdale Healthcare’s Virginia G. Cancer Center Clinical Trials, a partnership with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Physicians at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare were first to design a clinical trial to determine the safety, tolerability and effectiveness of nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane) in combination with the standard drug gemcitabine in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. Results of that multicenter study chaired by Dr. Daniel Von Hoff were encouraging enough that it led to one of the largest international studies ever done in pancreatic cancer, with 861 patients.

Full results are expected to be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2013 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in Jan. 24-26 in San Francisco.

“This is a great example of rapid bench to bedside development of new treatments for cancer. We’re ecstatic that we will have a new treatment for patients with late stage pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Von Hoff, international lead investigator and Chief Scientific Officer for the Virginia G. Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare and TGen’s Physician-In-Chief.

The pancreas is a gland behind the stomach that secretes enzymes into the upper part of the small intestine to help digestion. It also produces hormones, including insulin, which helps regulate the metabolism of sugars. Advanced pancreatic cancer is fourth most common cause of cancer death in the United States and throughout the world. It is a difficult to diagnose and treat cancer with the lowest survival rates among all cancer types.

Nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane) is an albumin-bound formulation of paclitaxel, produced by Celgene Corp. Dr. Von Hoff said that results of the MPACT (Metastatic Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Clinical Trial) study will lead Celgene to submit for FDA approval.

“Pancreatic cancer incidence is increasing worldwide with almost 220,000 cases per year, and we are optimistic that this will have worldwide impact for treating advanced pancreatic cancer,” added Dr. Ramesh Ramanathan, Medical Director of Virginia G. Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare and principal investigator for the United States.

Dr. Von Hoff credited the support of Scottsdale Healthcare Foundation, Stand Up to Cancer and the Seena Magowitz Foundation for advancing the study at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare. He noted that TGen and International Genomics Consortium scientists in collaboration with scientists from Abraxis Bioscience found that in pancreatic cancer, an albumin-binding protein called SPARC was present at high levels in cells within the pancreatic tumor microenvironment. They hypothesized that the albumin formulation of nab-paclitaxel may be taken up by tumor and surrounding cells with high SPARC expression.

Individuals seeking information about eligibility to participate in clinical trials at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare may contact the cancer care coordinator at 480-323-1339; toll free at 1-877-273-3713 or via email at clinicaltrials@shc.org.

SkySong

Innovation unites Arizona’s economic engines

When Arizona became a state 100 years ago, it was easy to identify its economic engines, those industries, innovators and locations that drove the state’s economy and employment.

They all started with C — copper, cotton, citrus, cattle and climate.
A decade later, it’s not so easy.

“We must find ways to diversify our economy, including investing in bioscience and technology, health science and innovation,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton says. “We are coming out of the recession, and we need to move forward in a strategic way.”

Today’s economic engines are doing just that. They innovate, they collaborate, and the only one that starts with C is CityScape, and the only copper you’ll find there is Copper Blues Rock Pub and Kitchen and the cotton is at Urban Outfitters.

But today’s economic engines have to clear vision and direction for driving Arizona’s economy during its second century.

The Biodesign Institute at ASU
What it is: The Biodesign Institute at ASU addresses today’s critical global challenges in healthcare, sustainability and security by developing solutions inspired from natural systems and translating those solutions into commercially viable products and clinical practices.
Economic impact: The Biodesign Institute has met or exceeded all of the business goals set in mid-2003 by attracting more than $300 million in external funding since inception, and generating more than $200 million in proposals advanced in 2011 alone.
Companies it has helped grow: Licensed next-generation respiratory sensor technology to a European medical device developer; executed an exclusive license agreement for DNA sequencing technology to Roche, which includes a sponsored research agreement to develop devices in collaboration with Roche and IBM; and launched two Biodesign Commercial Translation companies.
Latest news: Led by electrical engineer, Nongjian Tao, ASU researchers have formulated a new sensor technology that will allow them to design and create a handheld sensor that can contribute to better diagnosis of asthma.
Michael Birt, director of the Center for Sustainable Health at the Biodesign Institute at ASU: “By establishing biosignatures centers, we hope to build a global network that will provide the scale necessary to overcome scientific limitations while creating a global platform to share methods, results and experiences.”

CityScape
What it is: A highrise mixed-use development in Downtown Phoenix consisting of residential, retail, office, and hotel components. The project covers three downtown Phoenix city blocks and is located between First Avenue and First Street, and between Washington and Jefferson streets.
Economic impact: Officials credit the evolution of Downtown Phoenix — led by CityScape — with helping the Valley land the 2015 Super Bowl, which will bring an economic impact of an estimated $500 million.
Companies it has helped grow: In addition to entertainment venues and top-notch restaurants, business leaders calling CityScape home include Alliance Bank, Cantor Law Group,  Fidelity Title, Gordon Silver, Gust Rosenfeld, Jennings, Strouss and Salmon, PLC, Polsinelli Shughart, RED Development, Squire Sanders and UnitedHealthcare.
Latest news: The 250-room boutique hotel, Hotel Palomar Phoenix by Kimpton, opened in June.
Jeff Moloznik, general manager, CityScape:  “The most progressive and entrepreneurial talent in the Valley have convened at CityScape. The impact our tenants’ businesses have brought to Downtown Phoenix is noticeable and significant. In an area that once lacked a central core, there is now energy, creativity, enterprise and excitement all day, every day in once central location.”

Intel

What it is: Intel is a world leader in computing innovation. The company designs and builds the essential technologies that serve as the foundation for the world’s computing devices.
Economic impact: Since 1996, Intel has invested more than $12 billion in high-tech manufacturing capability in Arizona and spent more than $450 million each year in research and development. Intel is investing another $5 billion in its Chandler site to manufacture its industry-leading, next-generation 14 nanometer technology.
Companies it has helped grow: Intel has been a catalyst for helping to create Chandler’s “tech corridor,” which includes Freescale, Microchip Technology, Orbital Sciences, Avnet, Amkor, and Marvell Technologies.
Latest news: Intel and ASU’s College of Technology and Innovation (CTI) are developing a customized engineering degree for some of the chip maker’s Arizona-based employees. The program is based on CTI’s modular, project-based curriculum and upon completion will provide a Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering degree from ASU, with a focus in materials science.
Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny: Intel likes the partnership it has with Chandler, likes doing business in Arizona, and they’re a very good corporate citizen.”

Phoenix Mesa-Gateway Airport

What it is: Formerly Williams Gateway Airport (1994–2008) and Williams Air Force Base (1941–1993), it is a commercial airport located in the southeastern area of Mesa.
Economic impact: The airport helped generate $685 million in economic benefits last year, and the airport supports more than 4,000 jobs in the region.
Companies it has helped grow: Able Engineering & Component Services, Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft, Embraer, CMC Steel, TRW Vehicle Safety Systems Inc..
Latest news: The Airport Authority’s Board of Directors announced Monday the airport will undergo a $1.4 billion expansion. There is also an effort to privately raise $385 million to build two hotels and office and retail space near the airport.
Mesa Mayor Scott Smith: “Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport has gone through tremendous growth and expansion and has truly arrived as a major transportation center in the Valley.”

SkySong

What it is: A 1.2-million-square-feet mixed use space that gives entrepreneurs and innovators the resources they need  to grow and thrive, and provide them an exceptional home for when their businesses begin to take off.
Economic impact: Projected to generate more than $9.3 billion in economic growth over the next 30 years, according to an updated study by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.
Companies it has helped grow: Emerge.MD, Channel Intelligence, Adaptive Curriculum, Alaris, Jobing.com/Blogic, webFilings.
Latest news: Jobing, an online company that connects employers and job seekers nationally, relocated its corporate headquarters from Phoenix to SkySong.
Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane: “It is hard to think of a business attraction initiative the city has recently used that has not mentioned SkySong as a major attribute. SkySong has a national reputation and as it grows it will continue to elevate Scottsdale’s standing.”

Talking Stick

What it is: This economic engine encompasses a complex that includes the 497-room Talking Stick Resort, Courtyard Marriott Scottsdale Salt River, Casino Arizona at Talking Stick Resort, Talking Stick Golf Club, and Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the spring training home of the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Economic impact: Salt Rivers Fields аt Talking Stick accounted fоr 22 percent оf the the attendance for Cactus League baseball, which generates more thаn $300 million а yeаr іn economic impact tо the greater Phoenix metropolitan area economy.
Companies it has helped grow: In 2011, nearby Scottsdale Pavilions — which features 1.1 million square feet of select retail and mixed-use properties — became The Pavilions at Talking Stick. Pavilions has added Hobby Lobby, Mountainside Fitness, Buffalo Wild Wings and Hooters.
Latest news: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick will be one of the ballparks selected to host the first round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic in the spring.
David Hielscher, advertising manager, Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort: “Our property’s diverse, entertainment-driven culture and convenient locations allow us limitless opportunities for future expansion and development.”

Translational Genomics Research Institute

What it is: TGen is a non-profit genomics research institute that seeks to employ genetic discoveries to improve disease outcomes by developing smarter diagnostics and targeted therapeutics.
Economic impact: TGen provides Arizona with a total annual economic impact of $137.7 million, according to the results of an independent analysis done by Tripp Umbach, a national leader in economic forecasting.
Companies it has helped grow: TGen researchers have collaborated with Scottsdale Healthcare, Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic, Ascalon International Inc., MCS Biotech Resources LLC, Semafore Pharmaceuticals Inc., Silamed Inc., Stromaceutics Inc., SynDevRx Inc., and Translational Accelerator LLC (TRAC). and many others.
Latest news: When TGen-generated business spin-offs and commercialization are included,  Tripp Umbach predicts that in 2012 TGen will produce $47.06 for every $1 of state investment, support 3,723 jobs, result in $21.1 million in state tax revenues, and have a total annual economic impact of $258.8 million.
Michael Bidwill, president of the Arizona Cardinals: “TGen is one of this state’s premier medical research and economic assets, and is a standard-bearer for promoting everything that is positive and forward-looking about Arizona.”

University of Arizona’s Tech Park

What it is: The University of Arizona Science and Technology Park (UA Tech Park) sits on 1,345 acres in Southeast Tucson. Almost 2 million square feet of space has been developed featuring high tech office, R&D and laboratory facilities.
Economic impact: In 2009, the businesses that call Tech Park home had an economic impact of $2.67 billion in Pima County. This included $1.81 billion in direct economic impacts such as wages paid and supplies and services purchased and $861 million in indirect and induced dollar impacts. In total, the Tech Park and its companies generated 14,322 jobs (direct, indirect, and induced).
Companies it has helped grow: IBM, Raytheon, Canon USA, Citigroup, NP Photonics, and DILAS Diode Laser.
Latest news: A 38.5-acre photovoltaic array is the latest addition to the Solar Zone technology demonstration area at Tech Park. Power generated from the facility will be sold to Tucson Electric Power Co., providing power for  about 1,000 homes.
Bruce Wright, associate vice president for University Research Parks:  “By 2011, the park had recaptured this lost employment (resulting from the recession) with total employment increasing to 6,944. In addition, the number of tenants had expanded from 50 to 52 reflecting the addition of new companies in the Arizona Center for Innovation and the development of the Solar Zone at the Tech Park.”

carbon

TGen, NAU awarded $2 million to study biodiversity

Potential connections between the biodiversity of soil microorganisms and the carbon cycle will be studied by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Northern Arizona University (NAU) under a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The TGen-NAU project was one of 14 recently awarded a grant by NSF under the Dimensions of Biodiversity program.

“The work will test the idea that biodiversity is a fundamental driver of the carbon cycle, connecting microbes to the entire Earth system,” said Dr. Bruce Hungate, Professor of Biology and a Director in NAU’s Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research.

The project will investigate “a surprising response” to changes in soil carbon levels: When new carbon enters the soil, a chain reaction leads to the breakdown of older soil carbon that otherwise would have remained stable, Dr. Hungate said.

“Current theory does not explain this chain reaction,” Dr. Hungate said. “The project will explore new dimensions connecting the diversity of the tree of life with the carbon cycle.”

TGen’s role in the project leverages advances in metagenomic sequencing — spelling out the DNA code of microbial samples from the environment  —made by Dr. Lance Price, Director of TGen’s Center for Microbiomics and Human Health, and Dr. Cindy M. Liu, a medical doctor and researcher at both TGen and NAU, who now works for Johns Hopkins University.

“This project is a natural extension of our efforts to understand how the human microbiome responds to injuries, surgeries and chemicals,” Dr. Price said. “Here, we’re investigating how the planet’s microbiome responds to excess carbon inputs, which may in turn loop back to negatively affect public health.”

The work is important, Dr. Hungate said, because soil carbon is a major reservoir in the global carbon cycle, storing about three times the amount of carbon contained in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Some soil processes promote carbon storage, locking it away in stable forms, resistant to decay.

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TGen’s Keim named AZBio’s 2012 Bioscience Researcher of the Year

TGDr. Paul Keim, Director of the Pathogen Genomics Division of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Cowden Endowed Chair of Microbiology at Northern Arizona University (NAU), will receive the 2012 Bioscience Researcher of the Year award from the Arizona BioIndustry Association (AZBio).

“Dr. Keim was nominated by members of the Arizona Bioscience Community and selected by an independent, statewide panel of leaders for this recognition of his research and innovation in the field of pathogen genomics and microbiology,” said AZBio President and CEO Joan Koerber-Walker.

His award will be presented at the 7th annual AZBio Awards on Oct. 23 at the Phoenix Convention Center. An industry showcase and student discovery session are scheduled from 3-5:30 p.m., and the awards gala is from 6-9 p.m.

“AZBio’s recognition of Dr. Keim is extraordinarily well deserved,” said TGen President and Scientific Director Dr. Jeffrey Trent. “Paul’s unique achievements in interpreting the microbial genomes of pathogens — both those that naturally cause disease, but also those made into weapons by terrorists — are of profound importance.  His research, coupled to his dedications to his students and to the cause of public health globally, place him in the upper echelon of premier scientists, and puts Arizona on the map in this critical growing area of research.”

Dr. Keim is a world-renowned expert in anthrax and other infectious diseases. At TGen and NAU he directs investigations into how to bolster the nation’s biodefense, and to prevent outbreaks — even pandemics — of such contagions as flu, cholera, E. coli, salmonella, and even the plague.

“Our science has been completely transformed by the rapid advancements of technology. Now, TGen’s job is to rapidly advance our science to make great impacts on human health. We have that ability, therefore, we feel that we have that responsibility,” said Dr. Keim, a Professor at TGen and Regents Professor of Microbiology at NAU.

Dr. Keim also is Director of NAU’s Microbial Genetics & Genomics Center, a program that works with numerous government agencies to help thwart bioterrorism and the spread of pathogen-caused diseases.

Since 2004, he has been a member of the federal government’s National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB). He helped draft national guidelines for blunting bioterrorism while elevating ethical standards and improving the quality of scientific research. Dr. Keim’s work at the NSABB includes recently serving two years as the acting Chair.

While TGen this year celebrates a decade of progress, TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division, also known as TGen North in Flagstaff, is celebrating five years of protecting human health though genomic investigations of some of humankind’s most deadly microbes.

“Paul Keim’s work ranges broadly — from plague in prairie dogs, to cholera in Haiti,” said NAU Provost Laura Huenneke. “Here at NAU, literally hundreds of students, both undergraduate and graduate, have participated in that research and launched from there into successful careers. His research group has also grown into the strong partnership between the university and TGen North — a huge economic development dividend for Flagstaff.’’

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TGen Launches Center for Rare Childhood Disorders

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) today announced the creation of a new center that could have life changing effects on the lives of potentially thousands of children and their families.

The TGen Center for Rare Childhood Disorders (C4RCD) will harness the latest technologic leaps in genome sequencing to pinpoint the causes of rare childhood disorders that largely remain a mystery to modern medicine.

“We envision a Center that leverages today’s genomic technology toward diagnosing children with a baffling array of seriously debilitating, and often lethal, symptoms for which there is no known cause or treatment, let alone a cure. In many cases, it’s merely a collection of symptoms,” said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, President and Scientific Director of TGen. “Through the C4RCD, TGen has a unique opportunity to significantly improve the lives of these children and their families.”

The Honorable Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer praised the new TGen initiative as a major step in meeting the healthcare needs of Arizonans, and as a fundamental building block of the state’s burgeoning biotechnology sector.

“With its new Center for Rare Childhood Disorders, TGen continues to position Arizona as a world-class leader in bioscience and research,” said Gov. Brewer. “More importantly, this program holds the promise of bringing much-needed certainty and hope to the lives of thousands of Arizona children and their families. I commend TGen for its pioneering work that is making a real difference in the lives of Arizonans.”

Resolving the plight of one 12-year-old Phoenix girl named Shelby helped pave the way for C4RCD. Shelby was once a wheelchair-bound patient who for nearly a decade had difficulty walking, talking, holding her head up, and who had difficulty swallowing, and even breathing.

Shelby’s sequenced genome showed she had a problem making dopamine, a key brain chemical that helps regulate movement, muscle control and balance. Within a few months of receiving a medication to address her dopamine deficiency, Shelby was able to do away with her wheelchair. Now, she can talk, walk; enjoy restaurants, shopping and school.

“For us, TGen has been a miracle,” said Shelby’s mother, Renee, who hopes TGen’s C4RCD will bring hope to other parents, as well. “I am truly ecstatic. Shelby and I are very happy about it. It gives parents a place to go when it may seem that they’ve lost all hope. The scientists at TGen are amazing.”

Often, there are just a few children, or even a single child, with a particular set of symptoms. Collectively, according to the National Institutes of Health, there are close to 7,000 rare diseases and about 25 million people in the U.S. have one.

“Too often, the parents of these children are left with nowhere to turn. They often are simply prescribed medications for their child, such as anti-seizure drugs, that only address the symptoms,” said Dr. David Craig, TGen’s Deputy Director of Bioinformatics and Co-Director of the C4RCD.

“At TGen, we now have the tools to sequence the entire genome of these children, in a relatively short time and at ever-lower costs. Through this examination of the billions of chemical letters that spell out each human being’s unique genome, and analyzing all the potential genetic changes, or mutations, we now have the ability to potentially identify the root cause of each child’s condition,” said Dr. Craig.

Understanding what is causing the disease or condition enables TGen to consider treatment options that could best help each child.

“Largely, these families have not had many answers. They’ve seen a lot of doctors. They’ve run a lot of tests. If they’re lucky, their disease might have a name,” said Dr. Matthew Huentelman, Head of TGen’s Neurobehavioral Research Unit and Co-Director with Dr. Craig of the C4RCD. “We hope to provide these families — first and foremost — with answers. We strongly believe those answers will be found in their genome.”

Once a genetic target is identified, C4RCD will look for an existing FDA-approved drug that could be repurposed to treat the rare disorder.

If there is no obvious approved drug, C4RCD will develop a custom screening approach to prioritize approved drugs in order of their potential effectiveness. In this fashion, it may be possible to help improve the quality of life for these children quickly without the time-consuming development of an entirely new pharmaceutical agent.

TGen’s C4RCD has four major components: 1) Clinical evaluation and genomic diagnosis. 2) Counseling, and optimizing conventional therapy. 3) Novel therapy development. 4) Community outreach.

Each child will be clinically evaluated and have their genome tested, including the use of whole genome sequencing, which spells out the entire 3 billion letters of each individual’s DNA genetic code.

“One of the important things is to collect available clinical information, and accurately define the phenotype, or problem, causing the child’s issues. That has to be framed very carefully, correctly. This initial step is critical in order to analyze the genome sequencing data,” said Dr. Vinodh Narayanan, Medical Director of C4RCD.

“A precise genetic or molecular diagnosis is of vital importance for the entire family of our patients. But that is just the beginning. We want to use this genetic information to understand more about the particular disorder, and develop novel approaches to treatment. That is what is going to differentiate us from other services — complete integration of the clinical center and the genomic research lab,” said Dr. Narayanan.

Dr. Trent said that there is a critical unmet need in the medical community, which only now can begin to be addressed through the advent of new genomic technologies.

“We continue to be amazed at the way families of children with debilitating conditions are able to find each other, share stories of their victories and of what is wrong, and try to come up with answers,” said Dr. Trent. “We hope to become an active partner and leader in these communities as we learn from the families and patients, and then try to come up with new and better answers for these children — today.”

For information about TGen’s Center for Rare Childhood Disorders, please go to c4rcd.org or call 1-855-343-8611.

Ivy Foundation

Ivy Foundation Contributes $10 Million To TGen For Research

The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation has awarded $10 million in grants for two groundbreaking brain cancer research projects at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

One $5-million-project is titled “Outliers in Glioblastoma Outcome: Moving the curve forward.” This five-year investigation seeks to discover why approximately two percent of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) patients — the outliers — live far beyond the average survival time of 18 months. GBM is the most common and aggressive form of malignant primary brain tumor; 98 percent of people diagnosed with GBM live less than 18 months.

“A major challenge with brain cancer is that people survive such a short time,” said Catherine (Bracken) Ivy, founder and president of The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation. “If this research enables patients to live longer, clinicians and researchers will gain a better understanding of how this disease works, which will bring us time to move closer to a cure.”

“The tireless and dedicated support of programs like the Ivy Foundation is helping transform ideas into medical reality,” said TGen President and Research Director Dr. Jeffrey Trent.

By precisely identifying the billions of molecular building blocks in each patient’s DNA through whole genome sequencing, TGen researchers hope to discover the genetic differences between those patients who survive only a few months, and those who survive longer because their brain cancer develops more slowly.

Using these genetic targets, TGen researchers will identify those patients most likely to benefit from the current standard of care, and those who might best benefit from alternative or new experimental treatments.

“If we can identify patients who will likely only survive a few months on current standard of care regimens we can then prioritize those patients for personalized clinical trials,” said Dr. David Craig, TGen’s deputy director of bioinformatics and one of the project’s principal investigators.

In the second $5-million project, “Genomics Enabled Medicine in Glioblastoma Trial,” TGen and its clinical partners will lead first-in-patient clinical trial studies that will test promising new drugs that might extend the survival of GBM patients.

This multi-part study will take place in clinics across the country and TGen laboratories.

This project begins with a pilot study of 15 patients, using whole genome sequencing to study their tumor samples to help physicians determine what drugs might be most beneficial.

To support molecularly informed clinical decisions, TGen labs also will examine genomic data from at least 536 past cases of glioblastoma, as well as tumor samples from new cases, developing tools that will produce more insight into how glioblastoma tumors grow and survive. TGen also will conduct a series of pioneering lab tests to measure cell-by-cell responses to various drugs.

“We expect to identify genes that play a crucial role in this cancer’s survival and that may be crucial to the survival of other types of cancer as well,” said Dr. Michael Bittner, co-director of TGen’s Computational Biology Division.

To get new treatments to patients as quickly as possible, this five-year study will include a feasibility study involving up to 30 patients, followed by Phase II clinical trials with as many as 70 patients. TGen intends to team with the Ivy Early Phase Clinical Trials Consortium that includes: University of California, San Francisco; University of California, Los Angeles; the MD Anderson Cancer Center; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; University of Utah; and the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.

The results of these clinical trials should not only help the patients who join them, but also provide the data needed for FDA approval and availability of new drugs that could benefit tens of thousands of brain cancer patients in the future.

“Working with physicians, the project will aim to get new drugs to patients faster, deliver combinations of drugs that might be more effective than using a single drug, quickly identify which therapies don’t work, and accelerate discovery of ones that might prove promising for future development,” said Dr. John Carpten, TGen’s deputy director of basic science, director of TGen’s Integrated Cancer Genomics Division, and another of the project’s principal investigators.

In addition to helping patients as quickly as possible, the projects should significantly expand Arizona’s network of brain cancer experts.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity to find more solutions for the patient diagnosed with brain cancer,” said Ivy, who also is working to establish additional clinical trials in the Phoenix area, giving local patients more treatment options. “The clinical trials are very exciting because they can impact the patient today.”

For more information on the Ivy Foundation, visit their website www.ivyfoundation.org.

Anne Rita Monahan Foundation

Anne Rita Monahan Foundation's Tea For Teal Event To Raise Money For Ovarian Cancer Research

The Anne Rita Monahan Foundation’s 4th annual Tea For Teal event will raise money for ovarian cancer research.


The American Cancer Society projects that 22,280 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012.

Statistically, 15,500 of them will die.

The Anne Rita Monahan (ARM) Foundation wants to change those numbers. The foundation is run entirely by volunteers who are dedicated to raising money for ovarian cancer research.

Anne Rita Monahan was an Arizona businesswoman. She began having physical pains in 1990 that was diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and repeatedly misdiagnosed for more than a decade. In 2001, an obstetrician/gynecologist found tumors on both of her ovaries. Because of the delayed proper diagnosis, her cancer had spread. She started the foundation in 2007 with the hopes of simultaneously fighting the disease and spreading awareness. After a total hysterectomy, several rounds of chemotherapy and various other surgeries, Anne lost her battle with the ovarian cancer on May 13, 2009.

This September will mark ARM’s 5th anniversary and the 4th annual Tea for Teal event.

Tea for Teal is a two-part event that will be held on September 29 at the Doubletree Paradise Valley Resort in Scottsdale. The first part is tailored towards women, but men are welcome as well. It features a silent auction and raffle, pop-up shops, purse auction and networking opportunities. The event has raised more than $70,000 over the past three years, with a goal of reaching $100,000 to be donated to the Translational Genomics Research Institute. They hope to meet the goal this year.

Money is raised through the purchase of tickets to the event. And individual ticket costs $60. A table for 10 costs $500.

Anne Rita Monahan FoundationIn addition to ticket purchases, Stella & Dot will be in attendance, donating 100 percent of its proceeds back to the foundation.

Part two of the event is a full-service English tea during which an outstanding ovarian cancer crusader will be acknowledged.

The Anne Rita Monahan Crusader Award recognizes a person who has made exceptional contributions towards cancer awareness.

Anne Rita Monahan Foundation“Are they a crusader? What have they done? [We look at] the breadth of what they have done,” says Rachel Brockway, co-chair of ARM for the last four years.

In addition, ARM has started a scholarship program.

“With the approval of our foundation, we will be giving two scholarships: one undergraduate and one graduate. [They are] for students who are interested in a healthcare field, people who are specifically looking [into] ovarian research,” says Brockway, who has been involved in the foundation since its establishment.

Brockway hopes that the fundraisers and money donated will help raise awareness and promote research.

“It’s one of the most often misdiagnosed forms of cancer,” Brockway says. “Our mission is for ovarian cancer research and awareness so women know the symptoms of ovarian cancer. A lot of times when it is diagnosed it is caught in the later stages, which is why it is so deadly.”

For more information on the Anne Rita Monahan Foundation, Tea for Teal, the 2012 Crusader Award, and signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, visit anneritamonahan.org.

University of Arizona College of Medicine

UA College Of Medicine Health Sciences Education Building Celebrates “Topping Out”

Health Sciences Education Building, UA College of MedicineA major Downtown Phoenix development project hit a big milestone October 5, 2011 with the “topping out” of construction of the Health Sciences Education Building on the campus of the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

The final beam of the building was ceremoniously lifted and secured at its highest point with workers and college staff and faculty celebrating midday Wednesday.

The $129M, 264,000 SF building – being built in a joint venture by DPR Construction and Sundt Construction, Inc. – will allow the state to take the next step in expanding its medical education facilities.

The new six-story building will house administrative offices, lecture halls, classrooms, class laboratories and a learning resource center. CO Architects is the design and executive architect; Ayers Saint Gross is associate architect and master planner.

The College of Medicine-Phoenix plans to expand its class size and add instruction as Northern Arizona University will also bring a physician’s assistant and physical therapy programs to the Health Sciences Education Building. 


In its fifth year in Downtown Phoenix, the College of Medicine currently anchors the campus with 192 medical students, admitting 48 per year. After the completion of the Health Sciences Education Building in 3Q 2012, the university plans to admit up to 80 students per class and eventually reach a capacity of 120 per class to address the critical need for physicians in Arizona.

Also on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus are the UA College of Pharmacy and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, the headquarters of the Translational Genomics Research Institute and International Genomics Consortium, and Arizona Biomedical Collaborative building.

For more information about the Health Sciences Education Building, visit ahsc.arizona.edu.

Health Sciences Education Building, UA College of Medicine

Who To Watch: Dr. Jeffrey M. Trent

Dr. Jeffrey M. Trent
President and Research Director
TGen

Since it was founded in 2002, the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) has been helping people with neurological disorders and such diseases as cancer and diabetes through business spin-offs and commercialization of its research. Today, TGen’s president and scientific director, Dr. Jeffrey M. Trent, believes this Phoenix nonprofit has built an “underlying bioscience engine” in Arizona.

In fact, with TGen helping to attract and retain a knowledge-based work force, Arizona’s bioscience-research sector has held its own during the recession and even expanded. “As far as jobs are concerned, bioscience is still an area that shows growth in Arizona,” Trent says. That doesn’t mean the recession did not affect the bioscience sector as a whole.

“The area that has fallen the furthest is venture capital to seed new company formation,” Trent says. “There is no question Arizona has been behind the curve in venture capital for biomedical science.”

Last year, TGen announced the formation of its 10th business, but Trent says the organization must “look around the world for funding for these companies.” This is a national problem, he adds, but he is optimistic it will improve this year. Philanthropic donations for bioscience research also slowed during the economic downturn, but Trent already sees a return of that type of funding and is hopeful it will continue to gather momentum this year.
Still, TGen has managed to prosper.

“In less than three years, we doubled our economic impact, doubled employment and increased commercial activities 375 percent,” Trent says. “The biomedical sector and nonprofits are being hit as hard as anyone (by the recession), but we were able to not only maintain, but also to grow the last two or three years.”

In an independent analysis, Tripp Umbach, a Pittsburgh research firm, concluded that TGen generates an annual economic impact of $77.4 million, including spin-off businesses and commercialization. TGen’s economic clout is expected to reach $321.3 million annually by 2025, according to Tripp Umbach. Again, including business formation and commercialization in its calculations, Tripp Umbach reported that TGen produced $5.7 million in state taxes, created 461 full-time jobs and generated $14.07 for every dollar invested by the state in 2008.

In addition to federal funding and donations, and grants from businesses, foundations and individuals, TGen receives $5.5 million a year from state tobacco taxes. In 2025, the state’s return on investment is expected to reach $58.42 per dollar invested, tax revenues are estimated to climb to $27.4 million, and TGen is expected to generate more than 4,000 jobs when business and commercialization activities are factored in.

TGen reached several milestones last year, but from Trent’s point of view, the standout was its affiliation with the Van Andel Research Institute, a global organization headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich.

“This affiliation brings a remarkably complementary scientific skill set under one roof,” Trent says. “Van Andel is basically a discovery engine and TGen gets to capture that and move it to a new test or treatment for patients. We are constantly renewing information that we can pull toward the patient.”

www.tgen.org


Arizona Business Magazine

January 2010