NIH: without budget cuts, we’d have Ebola vaccine

By Fiona Barry, 22-Oct-2014

The head of the US National Institutes of Health has said the organisation would have developed a finished Ebola vaccine by now if its funding had not been slashed over the last decade.

NIH Announces Discovery of Promising Drug Target to Prevent S. aureus Infections

ScienceDaily February 10, 2013.   National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists have identified a promising lead for developing a new type of drug to treat infection caused by Staphylococcus aureus, notable drug-resistant pathogen. They have discovered a transport system for toxins that are thought to contribute to severe staph infections – phenol-soluble modulins (PSMs). The transport system, Pmt, is common to all S. aureus PSMs and critical for bacterial proliferation and disease development in a mouse model. Their experiments suggest that a drug interfering with Pmt’s function could not only prevent production of the PSM toxins, but also directly lead to bacterial death. This research is reported in Nature Medicine.

NIH News: IOM Report on the Complexities of Translating “Omics” Into Treatment

WASHINGTON — Genomics, proteomics, and other branches of molecular bioscience offer the prospect of greater precision in medical care, but some clinical tests based on “omics” research have proved invalid and highlighted the challenges of dealing with complex data.  To enhance the translation of omics-based discoveries to clinical use, a new report by the Institute of Medicine recommends a detailed process to evaluate whether the data and computational steps underlying such tests are sound and the tests are ready to be used in clinical trials.  The proposed process defines responsibilities and best practices for the investigators, research institutions, funders, regulators, and journals involved in development and dissemination of clinical omics-based technologies.

Research on Use of Snake-Venom Peptide for Heart Attack Treatment

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded a $2.5 million grant to Mayo Clinic’s Cardiorenal Research Laboratory to conduct a highly innovative research project, “Cardiovascular Peptides and Myocardial Infarction.” The research will seek to further understand the potential of a novel, engineered guanylyl cyclase (GC) activator, cenderitide, to reduce the level of cardiac and renal injury following a myocardial infarction, or heart attack. Researchers will try to determine whether the therapy could help prevent deterioration of cardiac and renal function following a heart attack, and potentially reduce further heart failure in the future in treated patients.

Mayo researchers invented cenderitide to activate two different subtypes of GC receptors, which uniquely differentiates cenderitide from other GC stimulating peptides. Cenderitide, a designer peptide derived from the venom of the green mamba snake, may aid in the preservation of cardiac and renal function following serious cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and acute decompensated heart failure. 

See the announcement at the Mayo Clinic website.

 

New Study Sheds Light On Critical Nature Of DNA Methylation On Brain Development

For the first time, scientists have tracked the activity, across the lifespan, of an environmentally responsive regulatory mechanism that turns genes on and off in the brain’s executive hub. Among key findings of the study by National Institutes of Health scientists: genes implicated in schizophrenia and autism turn out to be members of a select club of genes in which regulatory activity peaks during an environmentally-sensitive critical period in development. The mechanism, called DNA methylation, abruptly switches from off to on within the human brain’s prefrontal cortex during this pivotal transition from fetal to postnatal life. As methylation increases, gene expression slows down after birth.

Read about it in NIH News.

National Cancer Institute Creates New Proteomics Consortium

The new  “Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium” (CPTAC) program will add to NCI’s ongoing initiatives in molecular cancer and genomics, such as The Cancer Genome Atlas, by seeking to define proteins translated from cancer genomes so that they may enable researchers to link genotype to proteotype and phenotype.

The partners include a Cancer Proteomic Center at Washington University, St. Louis, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Boise State University; a Center for Application of Advanced Clinical Proteomic Technologies for Cancer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; a center for Proteo-Genomic Discovery and Prioritization and Verification of Cancer Biomarkers at The Broad Institute and at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; and two Proteome Characterization Centers, one at Johns Hopkins University and one at Vanderbilt University.

The CPTAC network will pursue four central objectives: identifying and characterizing the proteins from tumor and normal tissue specimens; integrating genomic and proteomic data from analysis of common cancer biospecimens; development of assays for proteins that may be potential biomarkers; and performing testing of verification assays in relevant cohorts of biospecimens.

The network will aim to integrate genomics and proteomics efforts to detect and quantify protein products that correspond to splice variants, mutations, insertions, deletions, rearrangements, copy number aberrations, or epigenomic changes.

The researchers also will use a “mapping proteome to genome” approach to generate an inventory of the detectable proteins in a tumor.

Tribute to Dr. Bernadine Healy MD 1944-2011

by: Nancy Walsh (of MedPage Today)  |  August 10, 2011
In 1991, not long after she assumed the directorship of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Bernadine Healy wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine, “Decades of sex-exclusive research have reinforced the myth that coronary artery disease is a uniquely male affliction and have generated data sets in which men are the normative standard.”She cited the Veterans Administration Cooperative Study, the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, and the U.S. Physicians Study, the last of which demonstrated the benefits of prophylactic aspirin in preventing myocardial infarction and included 22,000 men — but not one woman.”The extrapolation of these male-generated findings to women has led in some cases to biased standards of care and has prevented the full consideration of several important aspects of coronary disease in women,” Healy wrote. She termed this male-only research attitude the “Yentl syndrome,” referring to a 19th century character in a story by Isaac Bashevis Singer who disguised herself as a man in order to go to school for Talmudic study. “Being ‘just like a man’ has historically been a price women have had to pay for equality,” she wrote.Twenty years later, it seems hard to believe that women then were largely excluded from clinical trials. Healy, who died this week from brain cancer at age 67, dedicated a large part of her career to directing the focus of healthcare research away from its male exclusivity. She insisted that any studies funded by the NIH include women if appropriate.

While at the NIH, she spearheaded the Women’s Health Initiative, which was intended to investigate the major health problems of postmenopausal women, particularly heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. The program was launched with $625 million in funding and included more than 160,000 women. Among other findings, the initiative showed that hormone therapy actually was harmful, rather than beneficial as had been assumed.
Dr. Healy recalled that a major obstacle in her career was just being admitted to medical school (Harvard), “at a time when women were seen as an exceptional and questionable addition to the profession.” Her crusade to bring women’s health to the attention of the public and the medical establishment was a singular achievement. The women of America owe her a very large debt.

President’s NIH Proposed Budget Highlights Genomics, Translational Efforts

In The National Institutes of Health’s $31.83 billion budget proposal for 2012, NIH Director Francis Collins said the institute plans to focus much of its efforts on leveraging new genomics technologies in disease and health research and translational science, and in pursuing goals in personalized medicine.

Collins said the funding, an increase of 2.4 percent over the most recent budget to pass (2010), “will enhance NIH’s ability to support research that prolongs life, reduces disability, and strengthens the economy.”

The White House yesterday unveiled its budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2012 — a plan aimed at cutting spending in general by trimming in targeted areas, but which includes moderate increases for funding and supporting research and development.

Research-oriented groups appreciated that the President and his budget team spared science funding while making cuts to other programs.

NIH Board Approves New Translational Institute

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins says the agency has taken a “bold step”  deciding to create a new NIH center that will focus on advancing translational medicine and therapeutics (TMAT), and which will have major implications for the National Center for Research Resources.

The new center’s mission will be to support, foster, and catalyze TMAT research and serving as a resource for the business sector.   It will do so by taking over several of NCRR’s current programs, the TMAT Working Group of NIH’s Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) agreed yesterday.  The TMAT center arose out of the scientific need for new approaches and avenues for getting medicine from the lab to the clinic more swiftly and cost-effectively. Collins aims to have the center funded by the 2012 fiscal year.

NIH Symposium in 100 Years of Sickle Cell Research

Registration is open for the James B. Herrick Symposium: 100 Years of Sickle Cell Research, on November 16-17, 2010, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland.

 The trans-NIH symposium will commemorate the 100th anniversary of Dr. James Herrick’s initial description of sickle cell anemia by convening leading sickle cell experts to celebrate research advances and explore promising new scientific opportunities.  The symposium also will provide an opportunity for the NIH to honor the contributions of the many individuals with sickle cell disease who have, through their participation in clinical studies, made progress possible.

 For more information, please visit the symposium website,  http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/meetings/James-Herrick-Sicklecell/index.htm,