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.

Scripps Research Finds Link Among Fat, NAE Levels, and Longevity

Dietary restriction is a well-known way of extending lifespan and postponing age-related disease in many species, including yeast worms, flies and rodents. But not until a recent study by Scripps Florida investigator Dr. Matthew Gill did scientists have a clue about why.  The recent study identifies a new role for a biological pathway that not only signals the body’s metabolic response to nutritional changes, but also affects lifespan.  Read more about Dr. Gill’s research at Scripps Florida.

La Jolla Institute Launches New RNAi Center

The La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology has launched a new center that will focus on using RNAi to study the genetics involved in human diseases and to develop new therapies to combat those maladies.  

The center will undertake four initial lines of research that will leverage La Jolla’s expertise in immunology, focusing on how the body recognizes bacteria and viruses and battles infection. These studies include efforts to understand how the immune system can harm the body, and what genes cause autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

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.