Progenesis to be featured at international biosciences conference

The following story from the Marshall University Research Corporation (MURC) features Progenesis Technologies, co-founded by Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program professors Dr. Hongwei Yu and Dr. Richard Niles. Progenesis is a research and development company focused on demonstrating the feasibility of manufacturing its genetically-engineered bacterial alginates on an industrial scale. It is one of the “high-tech spinout companies” from Marshall University mentioned in the article.

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Bio International Convention
The largest annual global event for the biotechnology industry, the BIO International Convention attracts an audience of more than 15,000 biotech business leaders, scientists, executives and investors from around the world.

Dr. John Maher, Marshall’s vice president for research, says the Bioscience Association of West Virginia (BioWV)—along with the West Virginia Development Office and the Biotech Alliance of the Huntington Area Development Council (HADCO)—is hosting a West Virginia Pavilion at the convention.

Maher, who is also vice-chairman of BioWV, said the Marshall-related companies to be featured at the pavilion include Vandalia Research, Progenesis Technologies and Cordgenics. All three businesses were founded based on technologies developed at Marshall and are headquartered in the state.

“The West Virginia Pavilion will highlight key participants in our state’s life sciences community,” he said. “There is a great deal of very exciting biotechnology work happening here at Marshall and we are pleased to have this opportunity to share it with conference attendees from the rest of the country and around the world.”

Bryan Brown, executive director of BioWV, added, “Not only will the West Virginia Pavilion highlight the outstanding bioscience companies in West Virginia and the excellent biomedical research at our major universities, we will also showcase all the state has to offer in terms of quality of life and increased business competitiveness to our colleagues from the rest of the country and around the world. We hope that participation in this event will help to attract new entrepreneurs, inventors, researchers, investors and businesses to West Virginia.”

BIO International Convention attendees include a mix of biotechnology, pharmaceutical, plant and life science, medical diagnostic, instrumentation and technology companies of all sizes, including the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the world. Also represented are economic development organizations and businesses that support the industry, including law firms, service providers, investors, and suppliers of laboratory equipment and products. Representatives from more than 200 universities and academic communities also attend for networking, educational sessions and collaboration opportunities. There is a strong international attendance, with participants from approximately 60 countries.

Marshall University is a founding member of the Bioscience Association of West Virginia. 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. To advance this mission, BioWV provides educational, networking and commercial opportunities for its members, and serves as an educational and information resource to advance public understanding about the bioscience industry. For more information, visit www.biowv.org.

M. Allison Wolf, Ph.D. Candidate

M. Allison Wolf, Ph.D. candidateThis month’s student spotlight focuses on M. Allison Wolf, a Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program. Allison currently serves as the President of the Graduate Student Organization and has actively been involved in disseminating her research over the past few years. Allison has been active in the GSO throughout her time as a student in the program.

Allison studies the anticancer effects of isothiocyanates—a natural compound extracted from cruciferous vegetables—on head and neck cancer. Her work shows that the compound both inhibits head and neck metastasis and greatly increases sensitivity to chemotherapy in therapy-resistant head and neck cancers. Allison works in the lab of Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, an associate professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology and Surgery at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Allison presented this year at Experimental Biology in San Diego.

Congratulations, Allison, for being our Spotlight Student!

Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio explores gene therapy ‘cocktail’ for feline fibrosarcoma

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A team of researchers led by a Marshall University faculty member has found that a gene therapy “cocktail” may hold the key to treating feline fibrosarcoma—an aggressive type of cancer that affects thousands of cats in the U.S. each year. Current therapies for the disease are often ineffective for long-term tumor eradication.

The research was conducted by Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, associate professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology and Surgery at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, and colleagues from the McKown Translational Research Institute at the school of medicine, the university’s Department of Biology, the Martin Veterinary Clinic in Ashland, Ky., and the University of L’Aquila in Italy.

According to Claudio, there are two types of feline fibrosarcomas. The most common type has been linked to the use of vaccines administered to prevent rabies and feline leukemia, and occurs at the site of the injection. The second type appears to occur spontaneously, without any known external cause.

The study at Marshall focused on the more rare, non-vaccination site fibrosarcomas, which have been found to be associated with genetic alterations. It seemed a natural fit for Claudio, whose research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms governing the growth of cancers to help develop new strategies for treatment.

“Gene therapy, which we study in my lab, uses genetic and cell-based technologies to treat disease,” he said. “Essentially, we were able to develop a cocktail of adenoviruses carrying functional therapeutic proteins that can be used to eliminate this deadly disease.”

Claudio pointed out that more studies need to be done to determine if his lab’s findings could also be applicable to cases of vaccine-induced fibrosarcomas.

The research was published yesterday in the journal PLoS ONE. The full article, “Targeting a newly established spontaneous feline fibrosarcoma cell line by gene transfer,” is available online at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0037743.

Claudio is in Italy this week to present three invited lectures about his research. He will be speaking at the National Cancer Institute and the CEINGE Institute in Naples, and at the meeting “Fragment of history:  Seminar on the oral medicine of the past and of the future” in Sorrento.

For more information, contact Claudio at claudiop@marshall.edu or 304-696-3516.

CDDC announces 2nd Regional Research Symposium award winners

Madhukar Kolli, BMS Ph.D. CandidateOn March 23, 2012, the Marshall University Cell Differentiation and Development Center (CDDC) held its second annual regional research symposium. The CDDC symposium focused on bioinformatics and the ways in which it is used to study the molecular interactions involved in the regulation of gene expression.

The event involves poster presentations, scientific talks, and awards. The following are the recipients of this year’s awards:

  • Undergraduate winner: Clayton Crabtree (from Dr. Dasgupta’s lab)
  • Graduate winners: M. Allison Wolf and Sarah Mathis (both from Dr. Claudio’s lab)
  • Graduate runners-up: Madhukar Kolli (from Dr. Blough’s lab) and Gargi Bajpayee (a medical student who researched in Dr. Santanam’s lab)

The CDDC was formed in 2007 and seeks to enhance the research environment on the Marshall campus and throughout West Virginia. Although its research interests are diverse, the center focuses on the epigenetic mechanisms linked to cell differentiation and development.

Award winners pictured:

Right: Madhukar Kolli
Directly below (from left to right): M. Allison Wolf and Sarah Mathis
Bottom photo: Gargi Bajpayee

Allison Wolf and Sarah Mathis, Ph.D. candidates

Dr. Claudio’s most recent study receives wide press coverage

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.Dr. Claudio’s most recent study, “Cadmium Induces p53-Dependent Apoptosis in Human Prostate Epithelial Cells,” has received wide press coverage since its publication. The following sources have highlighted his work:

http://www.wvpubcast.org/newsarticle.aspx?id=24574

http://www.wowktv.com/story/17210933/marshall-university-study-may-lead-to-advancement-in-prostate-cancer-treatments

http://www.healthcanal.com/cancers/27717-Study-may-lead-new-treatments-for-prostate-cancer.html

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-03-treatments-prostate-cancer.html

http://www.bio-medicine.org/biology-news-1/Marshall-University-study-may-lead-to-new-treatments-for-prostate-cancer-24237-1/

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/cadmium-implicated-in-prostate-tumours/story-e6frgcjx-1226307489399

http://www.sciencenewsline.com/medicine/summary/2012032117500036.html

The first link is an excellent interview by WV Pubcast with Dr. Claudio that includes a downloadable mp3.

Congratulations, Dr. Claudio! Refer back to this article over time, as this list is sure to grow.

24th Annual Research Day hosted at Marshall University School of Medicine

M. Allison Wolf, Ph.D. candidateOn March 20th, the Marshall University School of Medicine hosted its 24th Annual Medical School Research Day. This medical-school wide event, which also encompasses the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, is one of the few times in the academic year that everyone in the school community gathers to learn about the research taking place at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine (JCESOM).

The event included nearly 80 research presentations and a keynote speech by Dr. William Thies, the Chief Medical and Science Officer for the National Alzheimer’s Organization. The goals of Research Day include giving participants an opportunity to formally present their research, involving the community in the ongoing research being performed at JCESOM, and encouraging Continuing Medical Education in clinical research.

The presenters included professors, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, medical students, and residents. On the ground floor of the Marshall Medical Center, dozens of research projects were presented. According to Dr. Richard Niles, Senior Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Education, the research presented ranged from Vitamin D3 supplementation to chili peppers and small cell lung cancer.

The following members of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program participated:

  • Dr. Piyali Dasgupta
  • Dr. Jung Han Kim
  • Flavia De Carlo, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio’s lab
  • Johannes Francois Fahrmann, a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Elaine Hardman’s lab
  • Rounak Nande, a Ph.D. student in Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio’s lab
  • Aaron Dom, a medical student and former Medical Sciences Master’s student researching in Dr. Piyali Dasgupta’s lab
  • M. Allison Wolf, a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio’s lab
  • Meagan Valentine, a Ph.D. student in Dr. Simon Collier’s lab
  • Miranda Carper, a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio’s lab
  • Sarah Mathis, a Ph.D. student in Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio’s lab

The event followed an Alzheimer’s Disease Symposium, which took place on March 19th. Dr. Richard Egleton of the BMS Graduate Program was a guest speaker.

A few members of the BMS Graduate Program also received honors for their presentations at Research Day. M. Allison Wolf’s poster, entitled “Benzyl isothiocyanate targets chemoresistant and metastatic head and neck cell carcinoma cells,” won in the Poster Basic Science category. A researcher in Dr. Piyali Dasgupta’s lab, Clayton Crabtree, won in the Oral Basic Science category for his presentation, “Capsaicin induces apoptosis in human small cell lung cancer via the TRPV pathway.”

To learn more about the 24th Annual Research Day, look to the event website: http://musom.marshall.edu/research/. You can also download the following pdf documents directly:

Research Day 2012 Syllabus

Research Day 2012 Winners

Study by Dr. Claudio may lead to new treatments for prostate cancer

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.A recent study conducted at Marshall University may eventually help scientists develop new treatments for prostate cancer, the most common malignancy in American men.

The study, which focused on the effects of cadmium on the prostate, was conducted by Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, an associate professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, and an international team of colleagues from the University of L’Aquila and the National Cancer Institute in Italy, and the University of Colorado Denver and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in the United States.

An extremely toxic metal found in industrial workplaces, cadmium is commonly used in electroplating and is a key component in batteries and some paints. It is also found in cigarettes and some food supplies.

According to Claudio, scientists believe the prostate may be a target for cancer caused by cadmium, although the underlying mechanisms have been unclear.

“In our study, we investigated the effects of cadmium exposure in normal and in tumor cells derived from human prostate tissue,” he said. “We were able to demonstrate the molecular mechanisms cadmium uses to induce carcinogenesis in the prostate.”

Claudio, who said he has spent the last 15 years conducting research to understand the crosstalk between the factors that contribute to cancer progression versus those that protect from it, says this study is important because once those molecular mechanisms are understood, new therapies can be tailored to treat prostate cancer.

He added, “The focus of work in our laboratory is to understand the molecular mechanisms governing malignant transformation in order to tailor novel therapeutic strategies. To effectively design novel biological drugs, a thorough understanding of the mechanism of cancer pathogenesis is required. Our study will contribute to the body of knowledge available to science and may lead to exciting new treatments for this common cancer.”

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The research was published today in the journal PLoS ONE. The full article, “Cadmium Induces p53-Dependent Apoptosis in Human Prostate Epithelial Cells,” is available online at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0033647. You can also read more about this story at the following links:

http://www.wowktv.com/story/17210933/marshall-university-study-may-lead-to-advancement-in-prostate-cancer-treatments
http://www.healthcanal.com/cancers/27717-Study-may-lead-new-treatments-for-prostate-cancer.html
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-03-treatments-prostate-cancer.html
http://www.bio-medicine.org/biology-news-1/Marshall-University-study-may-lead-to-new-treatments-for-prostate-cancer-24237-1/
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/cadmium-implicated-in-prostate-tumours/story-e6frgcjx-1226307489399
http://www.sciencenewsline.com/medicine/summary/2012032117500036.html

The study was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.

For more information, contact Claudio at claudiop@marshall.edu or (304) 696-3516.