Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New URL for the Arizona Bioscientist

The Arizona Bioscientist URL has been moved the the Flinn Foundation's home page.

Please access news and information about Aizona's Research in the Biosceinces at:

Bio Briefs (Research): www.flinn.org/bio-briefs/topic/Research

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Arizona's TGen joins with Michigan's Van Andel Research Institute in alliance promoting worldwide science and health

[Source: TGen] - The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) will forge a strategic alliance that will enable both to maximize their worldwide contributions to science and health.

The non-profit researcher institutes jointly announced today the initiation of an "alliance and affiliation agreement."

The partnership between Phoenix, Ariz.-based TGen and Grand Rapids, Mich.-based VARI will enable both institutes to speed up their mutual goals of moving research discoveries about cancer and other debilitating medical conditions as quickly as possible from laboratories to patient care.

"Combining many of the scientific, educational, financial and business potentials of TGen and VARI will advance the research of both institutions and enhance the economic development of both Arizona and Western Michigan," said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, President and Scientific Director of TGen since its founding in 2002.

"This alliance will elevate both organizations in the world of scientific research," said Dr. Trent, who will retain his roles at TGen, but upon implementation of the agreement also will become President and Research Director of VARI.

VARI is the research arm of the Van Andel Institute (VAI), established in 1996 as a philanthropic research and educational organization by the late Jay and Betty Van Andel.
"We are excited to welcome Dr. Trent and TGen as they combine forces with us in our mission to conquer cancer and human disease," said VAI Chairman and CEO David Van Andel. "This alliance demonstrates that VARI and TGen are at the forefront of redefining a borderless, collaborative, national and international scientific community that transcends geographical limitations."

The alliance combines the groundbreaking basic research expertise of VARI with the cutting-edge translational genomics and analysis of TGen.

Dr. Trent will replace Dr. George Vande Woude, who in 1998 was appointed the founding Director of VARI.

"The search for a new director has ended with the best possible results - a renowned, research director in Dr. Trent, who will now lead VARI, and an alliance that strengthens two of the nation's fast-emerging leaders in biomedical research," David Van Andel said.

Dr. Vande Woude, a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, will remain at VARI as head of the Laboratory of Molecular Oncology. Dr. Vande Woude, who held top-level administrative posts at the National Cancer Institute since the early 1980's, will be able to achieve a long-held desire to return to the lab full-time.

"This is a great moment for both Institutions. I have known Dr.Trent professionally for nearly 20 years and have always admired him as one of the nation's leading scientists. One of Dr. Trent's greatest attributes is bringing together researchers from many disciplines to work on problems that will improve human health," Dr. Vande Woude said.

TGen is dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders, diabetes and infectious diseases. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research, in which investigators unravel the genetic basis of complex diseases and medical conditions.

VARI opened its facility in 2000. Its 18 research laboratories are primarily dedicated to molecular cancer research, but it also focuses on conditions such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease, osteoporosis, and heart disease. VARI will open a 240,000 square-foot building expansion this fall, which will allow it to broaden its efforts to include additional neurological disorders and chronic illnesses. VARI's primary work has been in basic research - looking for what occurs to cause disease in individual cells, and using that information to identify "biomarkers" that can help predict and diagnose diseases, and lead to the development of safer, more effective drugs.

"VARI is on the verge of expanding its already strong basic research programs and implementing further translational research," said Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, TGen's Physician-In-Chief and a world-renowned cancer scientist.

"TGen is poised to translate the discoveries generated in laboratories from both organizations into real solutions for patients," said Dr. Von Hoff, who also is Chief Scientific Officer of TGen Clinical Research Services at Scottsdale Healthcare. "This is a terrific opportunity to work together and increase our chances of making a difference for our patients."

Both TGen and VARI are relatively young organizations that have triggered regional growth of the life sciences and biomedical industries in Arizona and Western Michigan.

Both organizations have a strong focus on cancer, collaborations and expansion locally, nationally and internationally.

The "alliance and affiliation agreement" is expected to become effective July 1, 2009.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

RECOMB: The 13th Annual International Conference on Research in Computational Molecular Biology May 17-21

Registration is now open for the RECOMB 2009, the 13th Annual International Conference on Research in Computational Molecular Biology. The conference is hosted by the BIO5 Institute and will be held in Tucson. Keynote presenters scheduled to date include: Carlos Bustamante, Cornell University; Eran Halperin, Navigenics; Michael Hammer, The University of Arizona; Joanna Mountain, 23andMe; Stephen Quake, Stanford University; Pardis Sabeti, Harvard University; and Michael Snyder, Yale University. RECOMB is a well-established scientific conference bridging the computational, mathematical, and biological sciences. More information: http://www.bio5.org/recomb2009/

Arizona Board of Regents approves new cancer prevention company

The Arizona Board of Regents gave approval for a UA researcher to take on part ownership of the new Tucson company Cancer Prevention Pharmaceuticals (CPP). CPP's work may one day help prevent colon cancer in those at high risk for the disease. UA Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy Eugene Gerner will run CPP with his colleague Frank L. Meyskens, Jr., Professor of Medicine and Director of the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California in Irvine. Gerner is a member of UA's BIO5 Institute and the Arizona Cancer Center. (Read More)

Renowned researcher Dr. Fernando Martinez to lead UA’s BIO5 Institute

One of the most highly regarded researchers worldwide in childhood lung diseases, Fernando Martinez, has accepted the position of interim director for the BIO5 Institute at The University of Arizona (UA) beginning February 9, 2009. Dr. Martinez is the Swift-McNear Professor of Pediatrics, the director of the UA College of Medicine's Arizona Respiratory Center, and a long time BIO5 faculty member. (Read More)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Atrium Innovations acquires Arizona-based Nutri-Health Supplements

[Source: StockHouse.com] - Quebec-based Atrium Innovations (TSX: T.ATB, Stock Forum) announced Monday morning that it has acquired Nutri-Health Supplements, LLC of Arizona.

Atrium acquired NHS for a first consideration of US$23.9 million, with additional earn-out payments structured based on NHS' 2009 and 2010 EBITDA growth, says the company.
NHS owns proprietary Multi-Probiotic blends which include 16 probiotic strains that are “matrix encapsulated to survive stomach acid and deliver a high concentration of active cell cultures per capsule,” says Atrium.

"Buying Nutri-Health marks our first acquisition into the DTC segment with a company aligned with our values and objectives. NHS allows us to acquire complementary expertise in this market segment in which we had a limited business presence until now. This opens the door to promising, synergistic development opportunities within Atrium," said Pierre Fitzgibbon, president and chief executive officer of Atrium.

Atrium develops, manufactures and markets products for the health and nutrition industries. NHS markets, via multi-channel distribution, specialty niche products endorsed by health professionals.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Breast Cancer: Diet High In Vegetables, Fruit And Fiber May Cut Risk Of Cancer Recurrence In Women Without Hot Flashes

[Source: ScienceDaily ] - A secondary analysis of a large, multicenter clinical trial has shown that a diet loaded with fruits, vegetables and fiber and somewhat lower in fat compared to standard federal dietary recommendations cuts the risk of recurrence in a subgroup of early-stage breast cancer survivors – women who didn't have hot flashes – by approximately 31 percent. These patients typically have higher recurrence and lower survival rates than breast cancer patients who have hot flashes.

The study team, led by researchers at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego, along with six other sites, including the University of California, Davis, reported its results online December 15, 2008, in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The results come on the heels of a report last year on the findings of the original study, the Women's Healthy Eating and Living Trial (WHEL), which compared the effects of the two diets on cancer recurrence in more than 3,000 early-stage breast cancer survivors. That study showed no overall difference in recurrence among the two diet groups.

"Women with early stage breast cancer who have hot flashes have better survival and lower recurrence rates than women who don't have hot flashes," said Ellen B. Gold, Ph.D., professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences and first author of the study. "Our results suggest that a major change in diet may help overcome the difference in prognosis between women with and without hot flashes."

"Our interest in looking at this subgroup came because hot flashes are associated with lower circulating estrogen levels, while the absence of hot flashes is associated with higher estrogen levels. Reducing the effect of estrogen is a major treatment strategy in breast cancer," said the WHEL study principal investigator John P. Pierce, Ph.D., Sam M. Walton Professor for Cancer Prevention and director of Cancer Prevention and Control at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and the Moores UCSD Cancer Center. "It appears that a dietary pattern high in fruits, vegetables and fiber, which has been shown to reduce circulating estrogen levels, may only be important among women with circulating estrogen levels above a certain threshold."

About 30 percent of the original group of 3,088 breast cancer survivors did not report hot flashes at study entry. The women had been randomly assigned to one of the two diets between 1995 and 2000 and were followed until 2006. About one-half (447) of the "no hot flashes" group were randomized to the special, "intervention" high-vegetable fruit diet while the other half (453) was given the generally recommended diet of five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The team found that those on the intervention diet had a significantly lower rate of a second breast cancer event (16.1 percent) compared to those eating the government-recommended five-a-day dietary pattern (23.6 percent).

The dietary effect was even larger (a 47 percent lower risk) in women who had been through menopause.

According to Pierce, another possible mechanism has been proposed recently for why this diet may have affected only 30 percent of the WHEL study population. Women with estrogen receptor-positive cancers usually receive hormone therapy (tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors) aimed at combating the effect of circulating estrogen. However, more than 30 percent of these women appear to have a gene-drug interaction that prevents them from getting an effective dose of this therapy.

"This hypothesis says that if the endocrine therapy is working, no further reduction in estrogen levels would be needed," said Pierce. "If your genes are preventing you from getting a therapeutic dose, then following this rigorous dietary pattern may reduce estrogen levels enough to reduce risk." Because this is speculation, he said, the research team will be using biological samples collected throughout the study to further investigate the mechanisms behind the study diet's protective effects.

Other co-authors include: Cheryl Rock, Ph.D., Barbara Parker, M.D., Lisa Madlensky, Ph.D., Loki Natarajan, Ph.D., Linda Wasserman, M.D., Vicky Jones, M.D., Gail Laughlin, Ph.D., Nazmus Saquib M.D., Ph.D., Sheila Kealey MPH, Shirley Flatt, Jennifer Emond and Minya Pu, UCSD; Joanne Mortimer, M.D., City of Hope; Marcia Stefanek, Ph.D., Stanford University; Bette Caan, Dr.P.H, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, Cynthia Thomson, Ph.D., University of Arizona, Njeri Karanja, Ph.D., Kaiser Permanente, Portland, OR; Richard Hajek, Ph.D., M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.