BMS Cancer researcher presents technology developed to help personalize chemotherapy

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University biomedical sciences researcher Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio traveled to a national medical meeting in Chicago earlier this month to present a technology he and his colleagues think will help physicians personalize chemotherapy for cancer treatment.

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.Claudio’s presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology focused on ChemoID, a system he has developed with Marshall biology professor Dr. Jagan Valluri to measure the sensitivity of patients’ tumors to chemotherapy drugs.

“Oncologists every day face many challenges in determining the best course of therapy for an individual cancer patient,” says Claudio. “The basic problem is that patients with similar diagnoses don’t always respond to the same chemotherapy. This technology we have developed could help physicians select the appropriate chemotherapy for an individual patient—giving them an edge in the fight against cancer.”

He says ChemoID is the first chemosensitivity test for both cancer stem-like cells and bulk tumor cells.

According to Claudio, cancer stem-like cells are a small, resilient subset of cells found in tumors. Current anticancer therapies are imperfect because they target the tumor without treating the root of the cancer—the small subpopulation of these tumor-initiating cancer stem cells thought to be responsible for recurrences. The result is that the tumor often shrinks but soon grows back. In addition, the stem-like cells appear to be preferentially resistant to both standard chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

He says more evaluation of the technology is needed, but a clinical trial on a small number of patients found ChemoID 100 percent accurate in predicting which drug is more effective in treating patients affected by brain cancer if the cancer stem-like cells are evaluated.

The upshot for a cancer patient, he says, is that ChemoID may make possible personalized treatment by predicting the most effective drug combination to successfully target that specific patient’s cancer—increasing the chance the drugs will work and perhaps reducing side effects by helping the patient avoid unnecessary drugs.

Claudio acknowledged the contributions of Dr. Anthony Alberico, chairman of the Department of Neuroscience at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, for providing the clinical samples, as well as his co-investigators at the school of medicine, McKown Translational Genomic Research Institute and Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

###

Marshall hosting students from eight institutions for biomedical research internships

Ashlea and Dr. YuHUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Twelve undergraduate students from eight institutions are spending their summer doing biomedical research in Marshall University’s laboratories. The students are participating in nine-week programs sponsored by the West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE) and the university’s Summer Research Internship for Minority Students (SRIMS) program.

Dr. Elsa I. Mangiarua, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, directs the WV-INBRE summer program. She said both programs give participants the opportunity to do meaningful research and much more.

“Over the summer, these students will gain valuable, hands-on experience doing graduate-level research in the labs of some of Marshall’s finest scientists,” she said. “We also teach them how to share their findings at a scientific meeting and to network, all of which helps them build academic competitiveness for graduate school.”

Diana R. Maue, who coordinates the SRIMS program, agreed, adding, “It’s exciting that we are able to provide these in-depth, mentored research opportunities for very talented undergraduates, and it’s equally important that these programs promote awareness of graduate degree programs and careers in biomedical research. We are helping to develop a pipeline for training tomorrow’s scientists.”

Manny (front) and Hajer (back)While at Marshall, the interns are working in state-of-the-art facilities on research projects related to cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes, neuroscience, toxicology and environmental health, infectious diseases and bioinformatics. The students will present their research results at a symposium on July 29 at the university’s Memorial Student Center.

In addition to the formal research training they each receive from their Marshall faculty mentors, the interns are taking part in workshops and seminars about a variety of topics related to research and graduate education. Students in the two programs attend many of the same seminars and interact socially through a bowling outing, ice cream socials and other special events intended to help them get to know one another outside of the laboratory environment. 

Students participating in the WV-INBRE summer program include: 

  • Jaya Ale, University of Charleston (Dr. Eric Blough, mentor)
  • Joshua Easterling, University of Charleston (Dr. Elaine Hardman, mentor)
  • Bishnu Kafley, Berea College (Dr. Travis Salisbury and Dr. Jim Denvir, mentors)
  • Rebecca Martin, Davis and Elkins College (Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, mentor)
  • Hajer Mazagri, University of Charleston (Dr. Richard Egleton, mentor)
  • Noah Mitchell, Bluefield State College (Dr. Nalini Santanam, mentor)
  • Rishi Reddy, West Virginia State University (Dr. Larry Grover, mentor)
  • Anthony Schnelle, Wheeling Jesuit University (Dr. Monica Valentovic, mentor)
  • Linh Vu, University of Charleston (Dr. Gary Rankin, mentor)

The WV-INBRE program also sponsors summer fellowships for instructors. This year’s fellowship recipients are science teacher Olivia Boskovic of Huntington High School and Dr. Sobha Goraguntula, an assistant professor of chemistry at Alderson-Broaddus College. Boskovic is working in the lab of Dr. Emine Koc. Goraguntula’s mentor is Dr. Travis Salisbury.

WV-INBRE is funded through a $16 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Marshall—in partnership with researchers at West Virginia University—received the award to help build expertise in biomedical research. 

Students in this year’s SRIMS program are:

  • Annesha King, University of the Virgin Islands (Dr. Emine Koc, mentor)
  • Ashlea Hendrickson, Oakwood University (Dr. Hongwei Yu, mentor)
  • Emmanuel Rosas, University of Texas at Brownsville (Dr. Richard Egleton, mentor)

Support for the SRIMS program comes from the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s Division of Science and Research.

Each student receives a stipend. Depending on the program in which they are participating, they may also receive room and board, lab fees, and reimbursement for travel to and from Marshall.

For more information about the WV-INBRE program, visit www.wv-inbre.org or contact Mangiarua at mangiaru@marshall.edu or 304-696-6211. For more information about the SRIMS program, visit www.marshall.edu/bms/future-students/summer-research-internship or contact Maue at maue1@marshall.edu or 304-696-3365.

 

Marshall Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program is well represented at Experimental Biology Meeting

Allison, Miranda, Kristeena

BMS Ph.D. students, Allison, Miranda, and Kristeena, take a time out from research to enjoy a Boston Red Sox game!

Marshall University’s Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate Program was well represented at the Experimental Biology Meeting that recently took place in Boston, MA. The annual national meeting involves over 14,000 scientists and exhibitors representing fields of study ranging from anatomy, physiology, pathology, and biochemistry to epigenetics, nutrition, cancer biology, and pharmacology. Some Marshall School of Medicine faculty and students were invited to give oral presentations of their research, while others were able to present their research during the poster sessions. The list of attendees is given below.

Oral presentations by:

Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.

Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D. -
Invited speaker for special session “Molecular Biology of Lung Malignancy” – Title: “Nicotine increases the expression of alpha7-nicotinic receptors (alpha7-nAChRs) in human squamous cell lung cancer cells via Sp1/GATA pathway”

 

 

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D.W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D. – Invited speaker for special session “What Comes First: The Food or the Nutrient?” – Title: “Whole foods or their bioactive components? Potential of walnuts in cancer prevention and treatment.” 

 

 

Maria Serrat, Ph.D.

Maria Serrat, Ph.D. – Invited speaker for special session “Bone Physiology under Environmental Stress” – Title: “Temperature effects on the growth plate and its vasculature”

 

 

 

Allison Wolf, Ph.D. CandidateM. Allison Wolf, BMS Ph.D. Candidate – Invited speaker for special session – Title: “Benzyl isothiocyanate enhances chemosensitivity and inhibits migration and invasion of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma”

 

 

 

 

Katie_Brown_EB

Katie Brown, M.S. – Invited speaker for special session “Molecular Biology of Lung Malignancy” – Title: “Inhibition of cholinergic signaling causes apoptosis in human bronchioalveloar carcinoma”

 

 

Ron, Miranda, Allison, Johannes, Kristeena_EB

Poster presentations by:
Miranda Carper, BMS Ph.D. Candidate
Johannes Fahrmann, BMS Ph.D. Candidate Christopher McNees, MU student 
Rounake Nande, BMS Ph.D. Student
Chris Racine, BMS Ph.D. Student
Kristeena Ray, BMS Ph.D. Student
Cody Stover, MU student
Brent Thornhill, MU graduate
Monica Valentovic, Ph.D., Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences’ Research Cluster Coordinator
Gary Rankin, Ph.D., Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences’ 
Research Cluster

Dr. Maria Serrat, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Pathology and researcher within the Neuroscience and Developmental Biology Research Cluster, had the opportunity to give an oral presentation as well as participate in a focus group that evaluated anatomy education material for a publisher. 

Johannes at Poster

Serrat said she was happy to see Marshall well represented at the meeting and that “the large number of Marshall attendees says a lot about the expanding research emphasis of our institution.”

Kristeena at Poster

Carper at Poster

 

 

Marshall’s BMS students recognized at the national level

Marshall’s BMS students recognized on a NATIONAL level for their recent Young Adult Science Café! The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology posted a press release on their Public Outreach website. Check it out: www.asbmb.org/PublicOutreach/Templates/PubOutreachDefault.aspx?id=40020

Study focuses on potential lung cancer therapies

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Scientists from Marshall University, Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.along with colleagues at Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, have completed a study that may eventually help lead to the development of new treatments for lung cancer.

Their results were published in the Feb. 15 issue of Cancer Research, the most frequently cited cancer journal in the world.

At Marshall, Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology in the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, worked on the study with her research team of Jamie Lau, Kathleen Brown and Brent Thornhill, and undergraduate students Cody Stover and Christopher McNees.

Researchers in Dasgupta’s lab explore how the various components of tobacco, especially nicotine, advance the progression of lung cancer.                                       

Dasgupta said this study focused on a specific type of lung cancer called bronchioalveolar carcinomas, or BACs, which are known to be associated with smoking. She and the other scientists working on the project looked at the cellular pathways through which nicotine—the addictive component in cigarettes—promotes the growth and survival of BACs. 

According to Dasgupta, nicotine itself is not a carcinogen, but studies have shown it can induce the growth and metastasis of lung cancers. It can also protect lung cancer cells against the beneficial effects of chemotherapy.

She said, “In this study, we found that nicotine raised the levels of specific neurotransmitters, or ‘chemical messengers,’ in human BACs. When we used a drug, vesamicol, to interrupt the neurotransmitters’ pathways, the nicotine-induced growth of these carcinomas was significantly suppressed. Our findings are important because they indicate that agents like vesamicol may be useful in the treatment of human lung cancers.” 

More information about the research is available online at http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/73/4/1328.abstract?sid=c29c4530-21a3-4652-a977-23b25019258a.

The study was funded in part by a Young Clinical Scientist Award from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute.

For more information, contact Dasgupta at dasgupta@marshall.edu or 304-696-3612.

###

Funding for collaborative medical research announced at Marshall University

Translational research aims to transfer discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside quickly

Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine officials today announced $150,000 in funding for six research grants associated with the school’s translational medicine research program.

The Marshall Health Translational Pilot Grant program, created in 2012, encourages collaborative research between basic scientists and clinical physicians in an effort to speed up the process of laboratory discovery to clinical application for patients.  The grants are funded by Marshall Health.

“We are very pleased that Marshall Health has created this grant program to stimulate research efforts,” said Richard M. Niles, Ph.D., senior associate dean for Biomedical Sciences at the School of Medicine. “Moving Marshall to the next level of medical research takes vision, commitment and of course, funding.  This grant allows 12 researchers, as well as medical residents and students, the opportunity to explore very diverse areas.”

Marshall Health is the faculty practice plan for the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and supports the clinical, educational, research and services missions of the school.  Beth Hammers, executive director of the organization, says the pilot grant program provides one year of support at $25,000 for each grantee, with additional funding based on progress of the research.

“Medical research is essential to the development of new medical treatments and cures for patients,” Hammers said.  “We are thrilled to help stimulate a robust, viable grant program which pairs basic scientists from Marshall University with School of Medicine physicians to work on projects which will lead to the betterment of our community.”

The investigators and their projects are listed below:

Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Dr. Anthony Alberico, Department of Neuroscience – “Chemotherapy resistance and sensitivity testing in tumors of the central nervous system”

Dr. Elaine Hardman, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Dr. James Jensen, Department of Surgery – “Feasibility and Safety of Nutritional Supplementation with Omega-3 Fatty Acids to Reduce Prostate Specific Antigen Rise in Men with Biochemical Failure after Prostatectomy or External-Beam Radiotherapy”

Dr. Nalini Santanam, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, and Dr. Paulette Wehner, Department of Cardiology – “Perivascular Fat Relation to Hypertension—Appalachian Heart Study”

Dr. Nalini Santanam, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, and Dr. Abid Yaqub, Department of Medicine, Endocrinology Section – “Impact of Technology-based Behavioral Intervention on Molecular and Clinical Parameters in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes”

Dr. Monica Valentovic, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, and Dr. Brenda Dawley, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology – “Prenatal Exposure to Heavy Metals and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) Alter Umbilical Cord Blood Levels of Thyroid Hormone and Vitamin D”

Dr. Hongwei Yu, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Dr. Yoram Elitser, Department of Pediatrics – “Investigate the distribution of segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB) in American children and the presence of SFB with childhood diseases”

Other current translational research under way at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine includes a partnership with the University of Kentucky (UK) as part of the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards program, which also is aimed at speeding the time for laboratory discoveries to benefit patients.

In 2011, UK and its partners received $20 million for the program to support research at UK’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science, making Marshall part of a select national biomedical research network.


Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304.746.1964, or Leah C. Payne, Director of Public Affairs, Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, 304-691-1713

Marshall experts to speak at state biosciences summit

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Several Marshall University representatives are among more than 20 life science experts who will share experiences and discuss strategies for successfully growing the state’s bioscience industry during the upcoming West Virginia Bioscience Summit.

Sponsored by the Bioscience Association of West Virginia (BioWV), the summit will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 :30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Marriott Town Center in Charleston. The annual event brings together members of the state’s bioscience community with policy and opinion leaders, economic developers and others who are interested in learning more about how to grow and nurture the industry.

At the summit, Dr. John Maher, Marshall vice president for research, will join representatives from the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, West Virginia State University, the University of Charleston and West Virginia University on a panel highlighting research being conducted in the state.

“The BioWV Summit is a tremendous opportunity to bring attention to the significant economic development happening via West Virginia’s life sciences community,” said Maher. “At the other end of the pipeline we have a great deal of exciting biotechnology work happening here at Marshall and we are pleased to have this chance to share it with our colleagues and friends from around the state and region.”

Dr. Nader Abraham, vice dean for research at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, is on the program to share information about clinical trials at Marshall, and the assistant director of Marshall’s Technology Transfer Office, Amy Melton, will participate in a panel discussion about commercialization opportunities and recent changes in U.S. patent law.

In addition, representatives of two Marshall spinout companies, Derek Gregg of Vandalia Research and Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio of Cordgenics, are scheduled to be on a panel of bioscience company representatives and funders who will discuss the challenges of raising capital and creating an environment for life science growth in the state. Gregg and Claudio both founded their companies on technology they developed in the university’s labs.

A host of industry leaders, policy-makers and other experts also will participate in the conference, including the following:

•           Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (invited);

•           Fritz Bittenbender, Vice President, Alliance Development and State Government Relations, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO);

•           Jeff May, Vice President, Product Strategy, Mylan North America;

•           Dr. Paul Hill, Chancellor, West Virginia Higher Education Commission;

•           Jeff Trewhitt, Senior Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

The summit’s keynote speaker will be Dr. David Scholl, who helped grow Athens, Ohio-based Diagnostic Hybrids into a $100 million biotech company. He is now a partner in a regional venture capital firm and is involved with the billion-dollar Ohio Third Frontier program.

Gregg, who serves as the chairman of BioWV, said, “A successful life science industry begins with research, which then leads to discoveries. Those discoveries provide the basis for company development and economic growth for the state. West Virginia is having success but there is much more that can be done to help grow this industry within our borders.

“The bioscience industry is creating new technologies—pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, medical technologies, chemical processes and more—that not only advance science but provide high-wage jobs to West Virginia residents. This conference will bring people together to highlight what is currently under way and to discuss how we can grow the industry.”

In addition to BioWV, summit sponsors include BIO, PhRMA, Mylan, Pfizer, Fisher Scientific, Amgen, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, West Virginia Small Business Development Center and TechConnect West Virginia. BioWV also receives funding through a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. 

Marshall University is a founding member of BioWV. The purpose of the association is to promote and strengthen the bioscience industry in the state by developing a cohesive community that unites biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device and research organizations.

For more information or to register for the summit, visit www.biowv.org.

###