Monday, March 31, 2008

Fuel cells use bacteria to make energy from waste

[Source: Jeremy Shere, Earth & Sky Radio Series] - Rittmann's work can genereate energy from waste in polluted water. (Credit: David Villa. Some rights reserved.)

Bruce Rittmann: There’s a tremendous amount of biomass out there in the world that’s going untapped, a huge renewable energy resource.

That’s Bruce Rittmann with the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. He and his colleagues are working on using bacteria to produce energy from the organic waste materials all around us.

Bruce Rittmann: Now we can get electrons out of organic material, put those electrons into the anode of a fuel cell and then the rest of the fuel cell works. So we get combustion-less, pollution-free electricity.

Rittmann said that as this technology develops, microbial fuel cells could tap into a vast source of renewable energy.

Bruce Rittmann: There’s a very large amount of biomass out there. If you look at it worldwide, if we could collect all the residual biomass waste materials —unused agricultural materials, things like that — capture them and convert them to electricity this way, we could meet something like 25% of the world’s current energy demand.

He said microbial fuel cells are in an early stage of development. But these scientists believe this technology will one day help decrease our dependence on fossil fuels.

Bruce Rittmann: So if we can get microbial fuel cells to work we can generate out society’s most valuable energy source, electricity, from renewable sources and without pollution, so it’s really the ideal way to go.

Rittmann explained that, in working with the development of any fuel cell, researchers are trying to take something that is, as he says, ‘rich in energy and electrons.’ The researchers try to extract the energy and electrons out without creating combustion.

A microbial fuel cell is a special class of fuel cell. It contains a biological film called a ‘biofilm’ that actually lives within the fuel cell.

Bacteria in the biofilms within fuel cells are useful because they have the ability to metabolize organic material. Some of them can actually transfer electrons to the anode of a fuel cell. The organisms that can do that are the key to the success of this technology.

Microbial fuel cells are capable of removing electrons from a large range of organic materials. ‘That’s what microorganisms do to do live,’ said Rittmann. Some of bacteria are capable of transferring electrons to an anode of a fuel cell, so that you get combustion-less, pollution-free electricity.

Furthermore, the organic material can come from biomass, giving humanity an alternative to petroleum and other nonrenewable energy sources.

Electric shocks boost plants' production of commercially useful chemicals

[Source: Mari N. Jensen] – Now for some "shocking" news about plants: Exposing plants to electricity can boost production of useful plant chemicals and may provide a cheaper, safer, and more efficient method for producing medicines, pesticides, and other commercially important plant-based materials, researchers in Arizona and Oklahoma report.

Researchers have known for years that plants can produce a diverse array of substances as part of their natural response to environmental factors such as microbial infection, sunlight, and chemical exposure. To boost levels of plant chemicals for commercial purposes, scientists have often turned to synthetic chemical additives as well as genetic engineering, which can be expensive and potentially harmful. A better method is needed, scientists say.

In the new study, Hans VanEtten of The University of Arizona in Tucson and his colleagues studied the effects of electricity on the ability of the pea plant to produce pisatin, an antifungal substance. They found that exposing pea plants to certain sub-lethal doses of electric current produced 13 times higher amounts of pisatin than plants that were not exposed to electricity. The researchers observed similar increases in plant chemicals produced by a variety of other plants when exposed to electricity. There were no adverse effects on the plants.

The article, "Sub-lethal Levels of Electric Current Elicit the Biosynthesis of Plant Secondary Metabolites" is scheduled for the April 4 issue of American Chemical Society's Biotechnology Progress, a bi-monthly journal. VanEtten's co-authors are Evans Kaimoyo, Catherine Wasmann and Joel L. Cuello of The University of Arizona; Lloyd W. Sumner of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Okla.; and Mohamed A. Farag, formerly of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and now at Cairo University in Egypt.

VanEtten and Cuello are members of UA's BIO5 Institute.

The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hans VanEtten
Professor of plant pathology
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona 85721
Phone: 520-621-9355
Fax: 520-621-7186

Friday, March 28, 2008

Staph 'detectives' pioneer new test

[Source: CYNDY COLE, Sun Staff Reporter] - The microbes responsible for staph infections and other illnesses sickening an estimated 10 million annually in the U.S. have new enemies at Northern Arizona University. Researchers here and at the University of Maryland have designed an inexpensive, 10-minute blood test that would be the first to detect staph and a few other infections. The groundbreaking discovery could lead to nonsurgical treatments for heart and joint infections, drug-resistant staph infections, bone infections and more. In short, it's an entirely new way to diagnose and fight chronic infectious diseases.

Northern Arizona University associate professors Jeff Leid and Tim Vail have helped design a test that checks for antibodies microbial networks, including the drug-resistant pathogen that makes staph infection a bigger domestic killer than AIDS, at an estimated 18,650 deaths annually.

That morning gunk on your teeth or the film on your shower curtain is a distant cousin of what they're seeking. That gunk is called biofilm, or colonies of microbial life bound together. "It develops kind of an armor," Vail said.

Biofilms are strong enough to survive anti-microbial agents, bleach, or strong antibiotics, which is a particular problem with staph and other infectious diseases that kill about 70,000 people annually in the United States. Vail and Leid's device seeks out biofilm via the blood and delivers results in about 10 minutes.

It could be used by implant makers to ensure products are sterile before implantation, to monitor the health of patients who have received artificial organ or joint implants, and to diagnose staph or yeast infections. Next, they are working on building nanoparticles -- possibly containing iron oxide, silica and specific antibodies -- that seek out specific biofilms, bind to them, and can be heated via an MRI to destroy the infection.

If this were to work, a patient receiving a heart device or knee replacement wouldn't need surgery to identify or eradicate some common infections. Tests of treatments in rabbits have been promising, said Leid, associate director of NAU's Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics, and he's been told the development could become a billion dollar enterprise. The test is simple to use and could be a part of rural clinics or third-world medicine. "It's not a complicated apparatus. It's not something that you'd have to pay half-a-million to have in a clinical lab," said Vail, an associate professor of biochemistry.

Cyndy Cole can be reached at 913-8607 or at

Biosensing Nanodevice To Revolutionize Health Screenings

[Source: ScienceDaily] — One day soon a biosensing nanodevice developed by Arizona State University researcher Wayne Frasch may eliminate long lines at airport security checkpoints and revolutionize health screenings for diseases like anthrax, cancer and antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Even more incredible than the device itself, is that it is based on the world's tiniest rotary motor: a biological engine measured on the order of molecules.

Frasch works with the enzyme F1-adenosine triphosphatase, better known as F1- ATPase. This enzyme, only 10 to 12 nanometers in diameter, has an axle that spins and produces torque. This tiny wonder is part of a complex of proteins key to creating energy in all living things, including photosynthesis in plants. F1-ATPase breaks down adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to adenosine diphospahte (ADP), releasing energy. Previous studies of its structure and characteristics have been the source of two Nobel Prizes awarded in 1979 and 1997.

It was through his own detailed study of the rotational mechanism of the F1-ATPase, which operates like a three-cylinder Mazda rotary motor, that Frasch conceived of a way to take this tiny biological powerhouse and couple it with science applications outside of the human body.
An article authored by Frasch and his colleagues in the ASU School of Life Sciences details the technology that would allow this. Their publication "Single-molecule detection of DNA via sequence-specific links between F1-ATPase motors and gold nanorod sensors" was recently published in the journal Lab on a Chip, and featured in the online journal Chemical Biology.

What Frasch and his colleagues show is that the enzyme can be armed with an optical probe (gold nanorod) and manipulated to emit a signal when it detects a single molecule of target DNA. This is achieved by anchoring a quiescent F1-ATPase motor to a surface. A single strand of a reference biotinylated DNA molecule is then attached to its axle. The marker protein, biotin, on the DNA is known to bind specifically and tightly to the glycoprotein avidin, so an avidin-coated gold nanorod is then added. The avidin-nanorod attaches to the biotinylated DNA strand and forms a stable complex.

When a test solution containing a target piece of DNA is added, this DNA binds to the single complementary reference strand attached to the F1-ATPase. The DNA complex, suspended between the nanorod and the axle, forms a stiff bridge. Once ATP is added to the test solution, the F1-ATPase axle spins, and with it, the attached (now double-stranded) DNA and nanorod. The whirling nano-sized device emits a pulsing red signal that can then be detected with a microscope.

According to Frasch, the rotation discriminates fully assembled nanodevices from nonspecifically bound nanorods, resulting in a sensitivity limit of one zeptomole (600 molecules). Simply put, if it's not moving and flashing, it simply isn't relevant.

Moreover, Frasch says, "Studies with the F1-ATPase in my laboratory show that since it can detect single DNA molecules, it far exceeds the detection limits of conventional PCR [polymerase chain reaction] technology."

Such a detection instrument based on the F1-ATPase enzyme would also be "faster and more portable," he adds.

With support from Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz), Frasch will transfer his work from the bench to biotech, through establishment of a local company that utilizes the nano-sized F1-ATPase to produce a DNA detection instrument.

A prototype of the DNA detector is already in development. It is roughly the size of a small tissue box. Sampling would be as simple as taking a swab from an infected wound or a piece of baggage, dissolving it in a solution and placing a drop on a slide bearing reference F1-ATPases and their nanorods. Once in the instrument, red blinking signals emitted by rotating nanorods would let a computer know there's trouble, literally, in a flash.

SFAz funding has also enabled Frasch to extend the method to do protein detection at the single molecule level. This is novel because, unlike DNA, proteins can not be amplified artificially to improve the chances of detection.

"Rapid and sensitive biosensing of nucleic acids and proteins is vital for the identification of pathogenic agents of biomedical and bioterrorist importance," notes Frasch, who is also with the Center for Bioenergy and Photosynthesis in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "It also provides a new avenue through which to analyze genotypes and forensic evidence."

Adapted from materials provided by Arizona State University, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mayo Clinic cancer model to speed up drug research

[SOurce: Kate Nolan, The Arizona Republic] - Mayo Clinic Arizona scientists recently completed research that may speed development of new treatments for multiple myeloma, a common type of blood cancer.After a six-year effort, Mayo researchers in Scottsdale proved that a gene called MYC is instrumental in converting a benign tumor called MGUS into one that eventually becomes myeloma.A team of 12 scientists led by Dr. Leif Bergsagel were able to create a model of the disease in mice through genetic engineering. Bergsagel is a widely recognized authority on the genetic roots of the disease.

"This model helps us understand the genetic properties that lead to multiple myeloma and provides a framework for developing better therapies," Bergsagel said.Until this project, efforts to produce models that could genetically replicate the formation of myeloma had failed.

The model can streamline research in several ways.

• Scientists can observe the disease closely under various conditions.
• The model can identify the specific mutations that lead to cancer, which can help scientists better understand what's going on with patients.
• Researchers can test new treatments on real cancer cells, without human risk.

Solving an avian scourge could also provide benefits to human health

[Source: Arizona State University] - The old adage ‘a bird in hand is worth two in the bush’ may very well apply to a new vaccine project underway in the lab of ASU School of Life Sciences Professor Roy Curtiss, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology at the Biodesign Institute.

There, associate research scientist Melha Mellata is leading a USDA funded project to identify targets to develop a vaccine against a leading poultry disease, called avian pathogenic E. coli (APEC).

Mellata is an expert on understanding the genetic signposts of how certain kinds of E. coli turn deadly. “We have to understand how bacteria cause disease so that we can know the best way to fight them,” said Mellata.

According to the USDA, the two most common types of poultry infections are from the bacteria E. coli and Salmonella. Unlike in people, Salmonella is completely harmless to chickens.

But by attempting to solve the poultry scourge of APEC, Mellata and Curtiss are hopeful their ‘bird in hand’ project could ultimately provide a boost to protecting people against Salmonella, the leading cause of food-borne illness.

“What if you could get one vaccine to fight against a group of bacteria?” said Mellata. “We came up with a project where we would protect chickens, not only from E. coli infection but also Salmonella, and in doing so, improve human health.”

The U.S. has the leading poultry industry in the world, with an annual value of more than $50 billion and a poultry production forecast to continue its upward trend. E. coli infections are a big threat for the industry. The economic losses due to E. coli infections in broiler chickens were estimated to be more than $80 million in 2002.

Now, there is also considerable concern in the scientific community that APEC strains could become an emergent food pathogen. The poultry products are also a suspected source of a suite of infections called ExPEC (extra-intestinal pathogenic E. coli, which includes APEC), which have been associated with illnesses such as urethral infections, sepsis and meningitis.

Another human health ramification comes from work done by several research groups that have demonstrated that the poultry disease is also similar to other harmful E. coli, including the dreaded E. coli (O157:H7), which is responsible for human illness and death, typically from eating contaminated meat.

Antibiotics have long been the first line of defense to prevent APEC, but have lost their potency, as the bacteria have grown increasingly resistant to treatment.

“It’s becoming increasingly important to develop a vaccine to prevent bacterial infection in poultry,” said Mellata. “Poultry is not only a daily food staple, but less commonly known, also a key to human health. For example, the entire supply of flu vaccine production is made from eggs.”

Bacterial contamination resulted in half the U.S. flu vaccine supply being destroyed in 2004.

The difficulty in making a vaccine against Salmonella and E. coli is related to their genetic diversity. If the Curtiss research team is to be successful, the vaccine must be effective against a broad spectrum of E. coli and Salmonella groups.

In the past decade several researchers and commercial enterprises have developed Salmonella vaccines for animal health, but they are only effective against a few strains.

The Curtiss group has been a world leader in Salmonella-based vaccines. Curtiss’ international team alone has already developed two vaccines that are effective against Salmonella in livestock. By freeing animals from Salmonella, the vaccine is designed to prevent it from traveling down the food chain to people. His vaccine has received FDA approval for use with swine and poultry and is on the market.

The first step in vaccine development is to understand the molecular tricks bacteria use to elude a host’s immune system. Within the haystack of the E. coli bacterial genome, the research team has been focused on identifying the genes responsible for triggering its harmful effects.

But in order for the APEC vaccine to pull double duty, they must also demonstrate effectiveness against Salmonella. A key challenge of the project is to see if there is a common thread that can be found in E. coli and Salmonella-which genetically, are very distant cousins at best.

“The problem right now is understanding the virulence of APEC as well as Salmonella to find a way that will protect against all types of the bacteria,” said Mellata.

For the past generation, Curtiss has employed Salmonella as a Trojan horse against a variety of harmful pathogens. By using a similar approach, his team is currently developing a vaccine against bacterial pneumonia in a $15 million project funded primarily by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

For the USDA project, the APEC genes would be shuttled into the Salmonella bacteria in the hopes of triggering a protective immune response against both Salmonella and E. coli.

Mellata feels her team has many APEC gene targets they will use, and they are hard at work to identify several promising factors. The team hopes to have several candidates to test at the end of the three-year, $400,000 project, which will be completed in 2010.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Genome-wide Study Links Metabolic Changes With Early Onset of Alzheimer’s

[Source: TGen] - Researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and their colleagues today report a finding that correlates significant under-expression of genes in certain brain regions with the pattern of metabolic deficits in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s. The findings provide new information surrounding the development of Alzheimer's disease and identify novel targets to consider when developing methods to diagnose and treat the disease. The results appear on-line in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive disorder in which certain brain cells (called neurons) deteriorate, resulting in the loss of cognitive functions including memory, judgment and reasoning, movement coordination, and pattern recognition. In advanced stages of the disease, all memory and mental functioning may be lost. The progressive neurological disorder afflicts an estimated five million Americans, a number expected to triple by 2050.

“In the search for a cure for this common and devastating condition, the best hope lies in diagnosing who is at risk for the disease and treating it at its earliest stages,” said Dr. Dietrich Stephan, director of TGen’s Neurogenomics Division and the study’s senior author. “Through gene testing and functional brain imaging we can gauge an individual’s risk, and now we have a handhold into the biology underlying the earliest signs of the disease.”

Alzheimer’s is associated with reductions in regional positron emission tomography (PET) measurements of the cerebral metabolic rate for glucose. These reductions have been reported in specific areas of brains afflicted by Alzheimer’s. In collaboration with the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, Barrow Neurological Institute, Sun Health Research Institute and others, TGen researchers compared 80 metabolically relevant genes specific to the cell nucleus from the brains of Alzheimer’s disease cases and controls. Samples were drawn from different regions of the brain affected to varying degrees by the disease. The researchers employed cutting-edge genomic technology to analyze cells in specific regions of the brain that are affected by Alzheimer’s. The results indicated that changes in expression of key genes correlate with metabolic changes known to contribute to the origins of Alzheimer’s disease.

“This is a very interesting finding because it pinpoints the molecular factors that may drive or influence metabolic deficits that characterize the brains of Alzheimer’s patients,” said Dr. Winnie Liang, a research associate in TGen’s Neurogenomics Division and the study’s first author.
When compared with controls, the Alzheimer’s cases had significantly lower expression of 70% of nuclear-encoding metabolism genes in the posterior cingulate cortex, the area of the brain that is metabolically affected in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers found a 65% reduction in expression in the middle temporal gyrus, and a 61% reduction in the hippocampal CA1, both regions of the brain that are involved in memory functions. Additionally, the researchers found only a 16% reduction in the visual cortex, a brain region that is relatively spared by Alzheimer’s disease.

While it is still unclear whether these expression changes cause metabolic reductions that are detected using PET or if these changes result from decreased metabolic demands, the results from this study lend insight into the processes that may drive Alzheimer’s pathogenesis early on and before the onset of measureable cognitive deficits.

Rheumatoid arthritis aid may come from UA

[Source: ALAN FISCHER, Tucson Citizen] - A University of Arizona researcher's discovery may help millions of people who suffer from crippling rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr. Salvatore Albani is working on a safer, better and less expensive way to battle arthritis, the nation's leading cause of disability.

His discovery - a computer-designed peptide called dnaJP1 - could change the way physicians treat rheumatoid arthritis - the most debilitating type of arthritis that painfully inhibits joint function - and cut down potentially harmful treatment side effects patients can face.

Albani, director of UA's Arizona Arthritis Center, likened conventional treatments using drugs called immunosuppressants and biologics to suppress the effects of rheumatoid arthritis - RA - to a civil war where many good, innocent people are killed in the course of battle.

RA is an autoimmune disease, where the body's immune system, which normally protects the body from disease and infection, itself generates inflammation in joints, he said.

"It's like a civil war where the body turns against the body. The immune system turns against the body," Albani said.

Albani is working on an immune modulation therapy that "re-educates" the immune system to avoid causing inflammation, joint swelling and pain.

"We detect a mechanism which itself sustains inflammation; it perpetuates the inflammation," he said. "We break the loop. We re-educate the system to control those mechanisms of inflammation that generate the damage to the body."

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis, but RA is responsible for the vast majority of disabilities related to the disease. Arthritis and other rheumatic conditions, such as fibromyalgia and bursitis, cost $127.8 billion in the U.S. - including $2.3 billion in Arizona - in medical expenses and lost earnings in 2003, according to the CDC.

Biologic drugs designed to suppress the immune system have been used for 10 years to try to overcome the crippling effects of RA, said Dr. Berchman Austin Vaz, assistant professor of medicine at University Medical Center.

About 30 percent to 40 percent of RA patients do not respond to biologics and may benefit from the immune modulation therapy Albani is pursuing, Vaz said.

"There are still a substantial number we could benefit with the new therapies," he said.

The existing treatments can wipe out more than just the problem at hand, including the body's ability to protect itself from infection and disease.

"It is like going in with a tank. You kill them all; you also kill good, useful people," Albani said.

Drugs that suppress the immune system can also pose side effects and open the patient to other diseases, Vaz said.

"The major risk is infections. You are suppressing the immune system with these medications," he said.

A big local threat is valley fever, he said. Valley fever - or Coccidioidomycosis - is a fungal pneumonia with no cure that primarily strikes people in desert areas of southern Arizona and the San Joaquin Valley in California.

Preliminary results from a three-year study show that people taking biologics have a greater incidence of valley fever, Vaz said. His patients taking biologics have annual chest X-rays and blood tests as a precaution, he said.

Patients taking biologics are asked to seek medical care immediately if they have a fever or believe they may be developing an infection, he said.

Tucsonan Michael Hard has seen RA gradually take away his athleticism and mobility since the 1970s.

Hard, a retired bank executive, is taking a biologic drug that successfully treats the disease, but he must still remain extremely wary of the threat of infection.
When he feels the onset of a fever or infection, he checks in with his doctor, who gives him antibiotics when needed.

And any time he travels, Hard must take antibiotics with him, just in case something develops.

While biologics have been successful in giving patients their lives back, Vaz said, "The risk is low, but it is a real risk."

After researching the mechanism of how arthritis works, Albani came up with a new, safer way to fight the disease using a new type of biologic drug called dnaJP1. "We shift from suppression to tolerance," he said. "We teach the immune system to be tolerant of its own body."

The new treatment, which consists of a daily oral dose of the computer-designed synthetic peptide dnaJP1, acts as a natural dimmer on the immune system, which typically goes into overdrive when it starts producing RA inflammation. A peptide is a molecule made up of two or more amino acids and dnaJP1 has 15 amino acids.

Oral ingestion of dnaJP1 allows the body to tolerate the peptide and trigger the dimming response to break the loop of inflammation in the immune system, he said.

Some biologics are taken by needle, Albani said.

DnaJP1 has undergone Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials.

"The drug was proven safe, and showed encouraging signs of clinical efficacy while proving its ability to reverse the inflammatory response in the patient," he said.

Ten area residents were among the 160 people from around the nation participating in the Phase 2 clinical trial, said Dr. James Posever, rheumatologist at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center.

Posever, who led the local seven-month group study, said participants receiving dnaJP1 benefited.

"Many of them did quite well as time went forward," Posever said. "As for side effects, it was just about nil. It won't do anything to suppress the immune response against a cold or the flu or an infection. It doesn't blunt the body's response to foreign invaders."

Testing so far has been successful, but the U.S. Food and Drug administration requires that it be tested on more than 1,000 patients before it is approved for market, Albani said.

"I can't say this is something to give to patients tomorrow," he said. "It needs some more research."

The project has been academic-based so far, with funding from the National Institutes of Health and other organizations, but funding from sponsors such as major drug companies may be needed to get more testing done and to market the drug, he said.

It will likely be five years before FDA approval is granted and doctors can prescribe the medication, assuming corporate interest is found to sustain continued development, Albani said.

RA drugs can cost up to $15,000 a year, but dnaJP1 may be significantly less, offering savings to consumers, Albani said.

"This could open the treatment to many more people," Vaz said. "The more medications we have, the more the cost will come down."

The drug will be a pill taken once a day, and at some point RA sufferers may be able to discontinue the medication, Albani said.

"The peptide's effect may be long-lasting and induce tolerance," he said.

It might also be used in conjunction with existing RA drugs for optimal treatment, he said.

DnaJP1 takes time to work, and existing drugs can also be used initially until the peptide kicks in.

Catholic Healthcare West Arizona hospitals to host trial on stem cell treatment for heart disease

[Source: The Business Journal of Phoenix] - Catholic Healthcare West facilities in Arizona will become the first clinical trial sites for a Phase II study using muscle stem cells to repair heart muscle damage.

CHW signed an agreement with Advanced Cell Technology Inc. and received Institutional Review Board approval for the clinical trial, which is expected to begin enrollment soon. ACT's myoblast trial involves adult stem cell therapy for the treatment of heart disease.

The study is being led by principal investigator Dr. Nabil Dib, director of cardiovascular research for Chandler Regional Medical Center and Mercy Gilbert Medical Center. Enrollment will focus on patients who are not eligible for angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery, and who continue to have poor quality of life.

"We are excited to begin the trial, which has the potential to be a major advance for the field of regenerative medicine and, more importantly, to patients in need of care," said William M. Caldwell IV, chairman and CEO of ACT, which has facilities in California and Massachusetts.

"Currently, there are no treatment options available to correct heart failure, only those that can slow its progression," said David G. Covert, president and CEO of the CHW East Valley Service Area and Chandler Regional Medical Center, in a statement.

Phoenix panel urges an OK for GateWay college wet lab

[Source: Eugene Scott, The Arizona Republic] - GateWay Community College got one step closer Wednesday to building a multimillion-dollar project aimed at furthering Arizona's bioscience sector. The Phoenix Parks, Education, Bioscience and Sustainability subcommittee recommended that the City Council enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the college Wednesday to build a wet lab, a space allowing for affordable, innovative research to further the state's biotechnology industry."The goal is to fill an important gap that has been identified in the bioscience" field, said Jason Harris, deputy director of Phoenix's downtown development office.

The college at 40th and Washington streets hopes to use $792,000 of bond money to build the bioscience incubator research laboratory. GateWay initially would commit $2 million to the project before obtaining additional funding to expand the lab. "I see it as an essential part of building the programs here, so I'm grateful that you're making the investment," Councilwoman Maria Baier said. The lab will be at least 5,000 square feet and feature nine labs. It is one of several multimillion-dollar projects proposed for GateWay over the next several years. A major goal of the city is that the facility would attract researchers with little funding. The research will then bring much-valued dollars to the area. "That individual that has the idea, but might not necessarily have the space to accomplish the idea," GateWay President Eugene Giovannini said. Giovannini said the college has already been in discussions with companies interested in working in the lab. Researchers will also have access to legal and business experts who can help them with the non-science aspects of their projects.The lab would also strengthen GateWay's health-care programs by allowing students to work with researchers and scientists. Its proximity to the Phoenix Biomedical Campus and other research campuses was strategic, city staff said. Growth in Arizona's bioscience industry sector is double the growth nationally, according to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Arizona bio biz groups merge

[Source: Michelli Murphy, Arizona Daily Star] - The regional groups aimed at advancing Arizona's biosciences industry have come together to form one statewide entity.

The Tucson-based BioIndustry Organization of Southern Arizona, known as Bio-SA, has merged with the Phoenix-based Arizona BioIndustry Association, called AZBio, and a new board of directors has been selected.

The AZBio board includes representatives from Northern, Central and Southern Arizona, and is headed by paid staff members — Bob Eaton, president and CEO, and Natascha Hebell-Fernando, chief operating officer.

The effort to integrate the groups began last summer, said Michael Cusanovich, Bio-SA president and AZBio a board member.

Past efforts have failed because they would have turned Southern Arizona into an outpost while focusing on growth in the Phoenix area, Cusanovich said.

The new structure is a partnership, giving all three groups equal say, he said. "We finally discovered a model that works."

AZBio now has three regional chapters, based in Flagstaff, Phoenix and Tucson. Each is responsible for promoting local biotech growth and will continue to host events for area companies.

AZBio has about 110 members, but that number will continue to rise as companies renew memberships, Eaton said.

It will rise much more after all the Bio-SA members are included, Cusanovich said.

Bio-SA has 75 to 80 members, which renew their yearly memberships based on the month they joined. Because AZBio processes renewals each January, not all the former BIO-SA members have been officially included.

"It's a transition period. By January, everything will be set," Cusanovich said.
The new structure will allow Arizona's biotech associations to "operate in a unified way to provide advocacy for the industry," Eaton said.

The initial board is made up of three representatives from Northern Arizona, six from the greater Phoenix area and six from Southern Arizona.

The board also can include up to six at-large members. Saundra Johnson, executive vice president of the Flinn Foundation, is the only one currently elected.

In 2002, the Flinn Foundation commissioned the Battelle research group to create Arizona's Bioscience Roadmap, a 10-year plan to accelerate biotech-industry growth.

The foundation's latest progress report highlights substantial gains for the state's biotech industry.

From 2002 to 2006, bioscience employment grew 18.5 percent. That translates to an additional 12,600 jobs, creating a total of 80,909 jobs.

In the same period, wages of bioscience workers increased 25 percent for an average annual salary of $48,674.

The number of bioscience establishments also grew, rising from 639 to 745, an increase of 16.6 percent.

Biotech growth should accelerate with the merger of the state's biotech groups, said Bob Hagen, Southern Arizona Tech Council chairman.

More can be accomplished when the state speaks with a unified voice, said Hagen, whose organization is an umbrella group for the local tech clusters.
Allowing Bio-SA to maintain its regional presence makes the merger a "win-win situation," Hagen said.

● Contact NASA Space Grant intern Michelli Murphy at 573-4197 or at

Arizona Programs Pledge $41.5M for Biotech

[Source: BioRegion News, Alex Philippidis] - A pair of new financing programs totaling $35 million marks the most ambitious effort by Arizona’s life sciences community to quench the thirst for startup capital that has long frustrated early-stage companies seeking to spin out of the state’s research universities.

Life sciences leaders and investors in the Phoenix area have joined to launch a private $20 million venture capital fund intended to finance startups in mostly mid- to late- pre-clinical phases of developing treatments and prevention of cancer and diseases of the central nervous system. The Translational Accelerator, called TRAC for short, will award between $500,000 and $2 million to early-stage companies that are either located in Arizona or planning to relocate to the state.

Another $14 million will be made available by Abraxis Bioscience for startup life sciences businesses focusing on diagnostics, prognostics, therapeutics, and medical devices and services. The capital will be distributed through Catapult Bio, a new nonprofit organization the biotech company is forming with the Translational Genomics Research Institute Accelerators, with help from government leaders and a public-private regional economic development group.

Both programs are designed to fill a capital gap in Arizona that some say has hindered spinouts of TGen and the state’s research universities from growing in the state. The gap exists as companies evolve from their earliest phases, where subsidies can range from government or corporate grants to angel capital, money from family and friends, or even personal capital; and the later stages of clinical trials, when startups typically begin drawing interest from venture capital firms or pharma giants interested in acquiring the fledgling firms’ technologies.

That gap can impede the hiring of a management team, the crafting of a marketing strategy, and even the completion of clinical trials, which is why until recent years, many Arizona life sciences startups moved out of state, to areas richer in capital, such as Texas and especially California, observers have noted.

“TRAC is trying to address the gap you see around the country, even in San Diego or Boston, of the lack of seed or pre-seed venture capital, the $500,000 to $2 million size deals,” Walt Plosila, vice president of Battelle’s Technology Partnership Practice, told BioRegion News. Battelle compiled a series of reports outlining an Arizona life sciences strategy for the Phoenix-based Flinn Foundation, an investor in TRAC.

“Arizona gets about one-half of 1 percent of all national venture investments. Even in having a good year, it’s very small relative to its share of the population in the country. It should be getting more like 2 percent if it were like its population base,” Plosila said in an interview.

Plosila is a key figure in the development of Arizona’s life sciences industry from a nascent cluster earlier this decade. In 2002, Plosila authored the Arizona Bioscience Roadmap, which identified lack of capital as a key challenge for the industry to surmount. Last December, Plosila completed Growing Northern Arizona’s Bioscience Sector: A Regional Roadmap. That report, which can be read here, detailed the strengths and challenges of the life sciences industry in northern Arizona [BioRegion News, Nov. 26, 2007]. The roadmap identified a host of issues hampering the region, from a lack of affordable housing, to the needs for more facilities, more technology commercialization, more entrepreneurs, and more students willing to stay in the region and build careers within the industry [BioRegion News, Nov. 26, 2007].

In a follow-up report to the roadmap released late last year, Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap: Toward 2012 — Progress and Directions Toward the Future, Plosila and Battelle reported that three segments comprising the state’s medical device industry — medical/healthcare products, medical/healthcare services and biotech equipment — accounted for most of the nearly $80 million in VC investment recorded for Arizona during the first three quarters of 2007. The state was on pace to more than double the $40 million in life sciences capital recorded for Arizona in 2006, and to enjoy its best total of capital since all of 2002, when about $110 million was awarded.

Most of those dollars are later-stage, not the seed stage of financing, and much of that money comes from VC firms outside Arizona, Plosila noted.

“Arizona-based venture firms, which have invested more and more in biosciences in the last 10 years, don’t have much in the way of new dollars to invest. The monies they’ve got left are to reinvest in the next stage of their current investments. They don’t have much in the way of new dollars to invest,” Plosila told BRN.

Figures by two venture capital market trackers, however, reveal a mix of strengths and weaknesses in the ability of Arizona startups to raise venture capital.

According to the quarterly MoneyTree Report, produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, with Thomson Financial data, seven Arizona life sciences companies raised a total $31 million in capital all of last year, up from five companies raising a total $23.6 million in 2006.

But MoneyTree also showed how medical device investment propelled the state’s life science capital growth. Four medical device firms received a total $18.8 million in 2007, from two collecting $7.2 million a year earlier. The state’s biotech segment dipped during that period, from $16.4 million in 2006 to $12.2 million in 2007, even as the number of deals stayed flat at three.

Medical device deals accounted for all of the VC activity recorded for the Phoenix metro area by Dow Jones VentureSource, formerly VentureOne. During 2007, the region racked up $37.7 million in two device deals, more than double the $16.8 million in four deals recorded in 2006.

“Arizona is building a critical mass of companies, so there’s more interest from the national venture industry,” Plosila added. And the state benefits from its proximity to the nation’s top state for life sciences investment: “It’s easier for California venture firms to invest in Arizona than going to Texas or Florida.”

Planting a Seed

TRAC has already done some investing of its own, namely a seed investment of an undisclosed amount in Silamed, which will use the funding toward pre-clinical work as well as its business plan and investor presentation. TRAC is trying to form a syndicate with venture firms from outside Arizona interested in teaming up on a future series A financing round later this year.

Eric Tooker, president of Medical Consultant Services and one of TRAC’s four managers, told BioRegion News the program is close to crafting financing agreements for two or three additional companies: “Within the next two months, it’s likely that we’ll make announcements.”

Most of TRAC’s investments will be at the smaller end of the $500,000 to $2 million range, so the fund can spend larger amounts of capital for follow-on financing rounds. TRAC’s assistance will vary with the needs of the companies it funds, Tooker said.

“For some companies, it’s going to be pre-angel or instead of angel funding. And then, in some other companies that already have seed investment, we will be really their first Series A financing,” Tooker said in an interview. “There are several companies that we’re interested in where we’re going to put in a seed investment. That money is going to be used to get them investment ready.”

One challenge TRAC will work to address, he said, is the region’s dearth of locally based venture capitalists specializing in life sciences investments. While Arizona is home to many high net worth individuals, most of them made their fortunes in industries outside the biotech, pharmaceutical, or medical device industries: “That is one reason why it was so difficult, and we had to do so much work, to get the TRAC fund off the ground.

“Our fondest hope is that the success of the TRAC fund will show that you can invest in life sciences in Arizona, and that that’s a good investment,” Tooker added.

TRAC will likely make between eight to 10 investments initially using the $20 million fund. Once that money is all spoken for, TRAC plans to launch another fund aimed at similar startups, with help from VC firms from outside Arizona that are interested in expanding into the state.

Joining Tooker in managing TRAC are John Bentley, a partner with Grayhawk Venture Partners; Richard Love, a former senior TGen executive and ex-CEO of ILEX Oncology; Dan Von Hoff, chief scientific officer of Scottsdale Healthcare, and TGen’s physician-in-chief and director of its translational drug development division.

Investors in TRAC include the Flinn Foundation, which has long worked to advance the growth of life sciences in Arizona. “Our total support on that will probably max out at $2 million,” John Murphy, president and CEO of the Flinn Foundation, told BioRegion News.

That’s a fraction of the total $20 million TRAC fund, and less than 1 percent of Flinn’s investment endowment portfolio of $210 million.

“There is an increased pool of candidate discoveries coming out of the research laboratories,” Murphy said — especially TGen, which opened its main Phoenix lab in 2005, and a second $46 million facility, TGen North, in Flagstaff, Ariz., last April: “The pipeline is starting to perk.”

Flinn got involved in TRAC, Murphy said, after speaking with several VCs from outside Arizona but familiar with the state, asking them why they had not participated in financing deals there. The VCs told Flinn they were wanted see more deals done in the state, preferably by local investors.

“We were asked, ‘Why not locals investing in? If so many of you leaders in Arizona believe in the product and what you’re doing, why are you not invested in validating this proof-of-concept?’ ” Murphy said.

Murphy said TRAC and Catapult Bio were not a result of the state’s $1 billion budget shortfall, which has triggered fears in life sciences circles that Gov. Janet Napolitano and state officials will respond in part by cutting spending for the state agency created to promote the life sciences, Science Foundation Arizona. That’s because state funding has tilted more toward research and workforce development than capital formation.

Arizona officials last year approved a four-year, $100 million funding schedule for SFAz, which is modeled after a similar program in Ireland. Earlier this month Mary Harney, an Irish member of Parliament on a fact-finding mission for her government, visited Arizona and urged lawmakers not to balance the budget by cutting SFAz.

Beyond Parochialism

Napolitano’s office announced the creation of Catapult Bio, since it was a partner in the creation of that program, joining the city of Phoenix and the public-private Greater Phoenix Economic Council in working with TGen with Abraxis.

Catapult Bio is one of two programs totaling $21.5 million being funded by Abraxis; the other launches a National Personalized Healthcare Network, created to increase personalized medicine clinical trials.

Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council — which promotes economic development in Phoenix, its county of Maricopa and 18 member communities — said his group will market and promote Catapult Bio as a virtual technology accelerator: “It’s not going to be defined by a building and a space. It’s not going to be defined be a single relationship.”

While TGen is based in Phoenix, Catapult Bio will not be limited to helping its spinouts, but will assist a variety of life sciences companies interested in growing elsewhere in the state, Broome said. To that end, Catapult Bio will work with a variety of research institutions and healthcare providers statewide — including the University of Arizona Medical School, the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, Barrow Neurological Institute of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Mayo Clinic Arizona in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Scottsdale Healthcare.

“It’s going to be the launch pad for bioscience enterprises throughout the region and throughout the state of Arizona,” Broome said.

Catapult Bio will even look beyond state borders, he added, by working with California’s universities and research institutes. “When you think about how science and technology enterprises are built, they’re often built in multiple locations. Our philosophy is, ‘How can we strengthen California’s science and technology market, because we’re right next to California, and that benefits us?’

“There’s nothing that says we wouldn’t help a science-based enterprise in California do well. That’s not going to be our primary function, which will be to build up greater Phoenix and Arizona. But the goal is to be world-class, the goal is to be global, and not to be captured in a parochial mindset.”

Catapult Bio and TRAC leaders say they will look to distribute funding to companies across the state, though Murphy cautioned that TGen spinouts are likely to locate near the institute’s main Phoenix lab, while Tucson can expect a share of companies because that region has developed the state’s most extensive base of angel capital investors.

That base should grow, Murphy said, now that Swiss-headquartered Roche on Feb. 19 completed its $3.4 billion acquisition of Tucson-based Ventana Medical Systems, a move designed to improve the pharma giant’s medical diagnostics business. Roche has promised to keep Ventana’s current operations and more than 600 employees in Tucson.

Roche is one of three pharma giants with significant operations in Arizona. Sanofi-Aventis is expanding its Oro Valley, Ariz., campus, while Merck’s capital entity has invested $10 million in Series C financing in another Tucson company, High Throughput Genomics. Murphy said the pharma companies are likely to take interest in the technologies of TGen spinouts, which in turn should spark investor interest in Arizona startups, with help from the two new capital programs.

“We believe that the combination of Catapult and its finish line fund, and TRAC funding will sow the seeds to take the potential spinoffs here to the next level,” Murphy said.

Institutional networks lays groundwork for biotech boom

[Source: Kate Nolan, The Arizona Republic] - If Arizona's long-predicted biotech boom ever happens, one thing the Northeast Valley will be able to say is: "We're ready."The biomedical industry here has more strategic alliances than the United Nations Security Council. Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale Healthcare, University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the International Genomics Consortium - all are networked through a system of pacts and contracts.

Some of the deals have born even more entities, such as MAC5, a collaboration by Mayo and ASU's Biodesign Institute; and TD2, a Mayo-TGen deal.With those links in place, it seemed like a re-run recently when Mayo Clinic and TGen announced a new research collaboration. Didn't they already do that in 2003? Back then, TGen and the entire Mayo organization - which includes a giant headquarters in Minnesota and a smaller one in Florida, in addition to local campuses in Phoenix and Scottsdale - agreed to explore possible collaborations.

Deal ensures cancer research

The new deal, said Dr. Rafael Fonseca, who heads the Arizona division of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, is a whole lot tighter. And is focused only on cancer."We had to find ways to enhance our relationship with TGen," he said, sounding curiously like a listing on eHarmony. What they came up with appears to be the institutional version of moving in together.In the new deal, 30 TGen researchers will become members of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, one of the 39 comprehensive cancer centers sanctioned by the National Cancer Institute, which also signs off on the doctors and researchers named as members.Mayo's triple-site cancer center has 300 members, so TGen's scientists will constitute 10 percent.The deal not only plays to each institution's needs and strengths, but constitutes a sort of pre-nuptial agreement that could save the relationship in future endeavors."All institutions are protective when it comes to intellectual property," said Fonseca. Typically in collaborations, researchers come up with a project and then arduously have to draft an agreement vetted by lawyers; it can take a while."Having an existing relationship, with templates for these agreements," speeds things up, Fonseca said. But that's merely a convenience.

Goal: Quick patient treatment

Fonseca said the core reason the cancer center and TGen are exchanging vows is their mutual goal: getting treatments to patients faster."The word synergy is used sometimes quite loosely, but this is one case where it really applies," he said.Fonseca, known for his research in multiple myeloma, has worked with TGen researchers since coming to Mayo Scottsdale five years ago."I was the main broker for making this happen," he said. He wanted his colleagues to know what TGen can do."They are a powerhouse in research abilities and tools. They can sequence more genes than anybody in the world. They have a high through-put way of shutting down thousands of genes at once," he said with a fervor that, to the unschooled, translated to: Whatever he's talking about, it must be Big Time in medical research."Mayo clearly has top abilities at the clinical level. It's a perfect marriage," Fonseca said.For him, research has to pass the "handshake test," meaning it must have a "human set of information" connected to it.

Focus kept on the patients

"The Mayo-TGen collaboration will always be based on 'why.' Why isn't this patient doing better? Why has this patient changed? I'm actually very passionate about this," Fonseca said."Trent is also obsessed with making the link to the bedside," he said, referring to Dr. Jeffrey Trent, the internationally recognized scientist who conceived of TGen and is now its president and scientific director."Jeff says TGen isn't a technology-driven company. He's more like: I have this technology and these scientists. Can't we help predict who will relapse from a tumor? "We think that's huge. That's why we could align so well," Fonseca said.He expects to start naming TGen members to the cancer center in January.Trent will be among them.

ASU scientist to study germs in space

[Source: Ken Alltucker, The Arizona Republic] - Never has an aggressive strain of salmonella made somebody feel so good. Arizona State University scientist Cheryl Nickerson gained national attention for a study last fall that found that salmonella germs became more deadly in space. Now, with today's scheduled launch of space shuttle Endeavor, the ASU-led team will study space germs and potential ways to protect astronauts from illness. Nickerson, a member of ASU Biodesign Institute's Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, said she is excited because it's unusual to get a chance to duplicate a study in space.

"We're getting a rare and unique opportunity to independently validate the results of our (earlier) biological experiment," said Nickerson, who is in Florida preparing for the shuttle launch.

Nickerson will seek to confirm her earlier experiment that concluded some germs become more deadly in space. Last fall, Nickerson's team found that salmonella typhimurium in space was three times as likely to trigger disease compared to bacteria samples grown on Earth. The experiment involved placing one dozen coffee-can sized containers aboard the space shuttle in 2006. The follow-up experiment, conducted at NASA's request, will seek to duplicate the earlier study. It will also examine whether different mineral concentrations have the potential to prevent or lessen sickness in astronauts. Earlier studies have shown that space flight weakens the immune system. So the combination of stronger germs and a weaker immune system means that astronauts face greater risk of illness. "We think we have identified a novel way to turn down or turn off increased disease-causing potential of salmonella in flight," Nickerson said. She said the long-term goal of studying salmonella, a leading cause of food-borne illness, is to develop a vaccine that could benefit astronauts, the elderly or others with weakened immune systems. She said such a vaccine could be years away, but the ASU team believes it has developed a protein-based switch that may be a useful target.

Other members of the ASU research team include James Wilson, Laura Quick, Richard Davis, Emily Richter, Aurelie Crabbe and Shameema Sarker. Others will conduct experiments testing bacteria, too.

Scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and Montana State University will test three types of bacteria linked to illnesses such as pneumonia, meningitis and swimmer's ear. Nickerson said NASA informed her two months ago that she would be able to participate in the Endeavor mission. Unlike past experiments that required grants, NASA is paying for costs associated with the mission, she added.

GateWay CC hopes to build wet lab

[Source: Eugene Scott, The Arizona Republic] - GateWay Community College hopes to use nearly $800,000 of bond money to build a bioscience incubator research laboratory.The "wet lab" would be a minimum of 5,000 square feet and at the campus location on 40th and Washington Streets. On Wednesday, the city's Parks, Education, Bioscience and Sustainability subcommittee is expected to recommend that the Phoenix City Council enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the college.

A wet lab is a research space where chemicals and other subjects being tested require water, ventilation and suitable plumbing. City officials hope the lab's proximity to the Phoenix Biomedical Campus and other researchers will help spur the city's growth in the bioscience sector."This space will be coupled with the kind of support that other organizations around the Valley have wanted to provide for bioscience research around the Valley," said Rick Naimark, deputy city manager. One of the "missing links that we don't have here is inexpensive space for small startup ventures ideas to germinate," he said. "This really is a great opportunity to fill that gap.

"Staffers said growth in Arizona's bioscience industry sector is double the growth nationally, according to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. A major goal of the city is that the place would be utilized by new ideas with little funding. Research brings in much-valued dollars to the area."You'll be able to continue on with your research towards the product and your ideas and help make them marketable," Naimark said.

Researchers will also have access to legal and business experts that can help them with the non-science aspects of their projects.GateWay would dedicate $2 million to the project and plans to obtain additional funding to expand the lab. City staff recommends using $792,000 in Life Science Research Park bonds to reimburse the college for costs. Construction would end by July 15, 2009. Gateway will design and build the lab and plans to lease space at below-market rates. The college will fund the lab's operations and maintenance for at least 25 years while providing the city with an annual progress report.

Susie Pulido, director of institutional advancement at Gateway, said the college responded to a request for proposals to build the wet lab after hearing about the need for affordable research space."GateWay being responsive to the community felt it was our mission and our goal to enhance this area. And it complements our very established health care programs," Pulido said. "As an education institution in the city of Phoenix, we felt this was a win-win for the state, our students and certainly the workforce." The college desires to be a major birthplace of innovation in Arizona.

Establishing a workplace for students and researchers to further explore untapped areas will move Gateway closer to its goals. "We have numerous bioscience programs and this just enhanced what we are doing to be able to create a model that has start up incubator companies in them and training workforce under the same roof," she said. "It is a very exciting and unique model for the state."Arizona has put a lot of money into attracting research scientists, Pulido said. These professionals will need support staff and collaborators. "For each scientist we bring in town, they are going to require technicians in their workforce as their studies and what they are working on begins to grow and spin-off companies begin to exist in the Valley," she said.

Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium Annual Conference - May 30, 2008

Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium
Annual Conference - May 30, 2008
The Renaissance Hotel - Glendale, Arizona
Glendale Avenue and Loop 101 (Next to University of Phoenix Stadium)


The Annual Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium Conference will take place at the Renaissance Hotel in Glendale, Arizona Phoenix, May 30, 2008. We are anticipating more than 500 researchers, clinicians, caregivers, and other professionals in attendance for the Conference, which will include a public awareness forum in the morning and the scientific session in the afternoon. The Conference will provide an excellent opportunity to interact with our keynote speaker Dr. David Holtzman, our renowned External Scientific advisors and colleagues and associates from around the state.

We encourage all researchers to submit one or more abstracts of work performed during the past year, even if it has been or will be presented at another meeting.


Everyone will be able to present their work at the meeting in poster form, and several studies will be selected for oral presentations during the data blitz session.

We invite everyone to not only submit one or more abstracts but also to attend the meeting. You can REGISTER FOR THE MEETING by going to

We invite researchers affiliated with the Consortium and its member institutions and other colleagues to submit abstracts on topics relevant to Alzheimer’s disease, aging and disorders of aging, and cognitive neuroscience.

Please submit abstracts as attachments via email to Ann at The deadline for submission is March 21, 2008. A review committee will inform speakers of acceptance of their abstract for oral presentation. If you have questions please call 602-239-6901 or 602-239-6525.

CONFERENCE REGISTRATION INFORMATION: All researchers are welcome to attend. There is no charge for attendance. You do not have to be presenting a paper in order to attend and, all fellow colleagues and other interested individuals are welcome. Lunch will be provided. Please email us with the following information to indicate that you will be submitting an abstract and attending the meeting.

Attendee’s Name: _______________________Affiliation: _________________Email address:________________


You can make reservations at the Renaissance Hotel for sleeping rooms (623.937.3700) at the rate of $165/night. Hotel costs must be covered separately by each researcher / institution.