University of Washington joins industry-academia alliance to accelerate research in neuroscience

The University of Washington has joined the Alliance for Therapies in Neuroscience (ATN), a long-term research partnership between UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, Genentech (a member of the Roche group) and Roche Holding AG geared to transform the fight against brain diseases and disorders of the central nervous system.

Scientists develop blueprint for turning stem cells into sensory interneurons

Key takeaways:
• Just like the real thing. The stem cell–derived interneurons, which play a role in sensations like touch and pain, are indistinguishable from their real-life counterparts in the body.
• Tomorrow’s therapies. In addition to potential treatments for injury-related sensation loss, the discovery could lead to new methods for screening drugs for chronic pain.
• Moving forward. While stem cells from mice were used in the research, scientists are now working to replicate the findings with human cells.

Texas Biomed tapped for national ‘Dream Team’ developing antivirals against COVID-19 and other threats

Texas Biomedical Research Institute Professor Luis Martinez-Sobrido, PhD, an expert in virology, vaccines and antiviral research, has been recruited to collaborate with three of the nine Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) Centers for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern announced by NIH this spring.

UNH Research Finds Repurposed Drug Inhibits Enzyme Related to COVID-19

With the end of the pandemic seemingly nowhere in sight, scientists are still very focused on finding new or alternative drugs to treat and stop the spread of COVID-19. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at the University of New Hampshire have found that using an already existing drug compound in a new way, known as drug repurposing, could be successful in blocking the activity of a key enzyme of the coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

Harrington Discovery Institute Invites Proposals for 2023 Harrington UK Rare Disease Scholar Award

Harrington Discovery Institute® at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, and its registered UK charity Fund for Cures UK, Ltd. (Fund for Cures UK) have issued a call for proposals for the 2023 Harrington UK Rare Disease Scholar Award. In addition to grant funding, Harrington Discovery provides guidance and oversight in drug development, while intellectual property is retained by the scholar and their institution.

Mount Sinai Researchers Develop Novel Therapy That Could Be Effective in Many Cancers

Mount Sinai researchers have developed a therapeutic agent that shows high effectiveness in vitro at disrupting a biological pathway that helps cancer survive, according to a paper published in Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, in July.

Novel Method Predicts if COVID-19 Clinical Trials Will Fail or Succeed

Researchers are the first to model COVID-19 completion versus cessation in clinical trials using machine learning algorithms and ensemble learning. They collected 4,441 COVID-19 trials from ClinicalTrials.gov to build a testbed with 693 dimensional features created to represent each clinical trial. These computational methods can predict whether a COVID-19 clinical trial will be completed or terminated, withdrawn or suspended. Stakeholders can leverage the predictions to plan resources, reduce costs, and minimize the time of the clinical study.

How Cells “Read” Artificial Ingredients Tossed into Genetic Recipe

UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers discovered that the enzyme RNA polymerase II recognizes and transcribes artificially added base pairs in genetic code, a new insight that could help advance the development of new vaccines and medicines.

Memory Biomarkers Confirm Aerobic Exercise Helps Cognitive Function in Older Adults

Until now, systemic biomarkers to measure exercise effects on brain function and that link to relevant metabolic responses were lacking. A study shows a memory biomarker, myokine Cathepsin B (CTSB), increased in older adults following a 26-week structured aerobic exercise training. The positive association between CTSB and cognition, and the substantial modulation of lipid metabolites implicated in dementia, support the beneficial effects of exercise training on brain function and brain health in asymptomatic individuals at risk for Alzheimer’s.

Study Identifies Never-Before-Seen Dual Function in Enzyme Critical for Cancer Growth

In developing therapies for hard-to-treat breast and ovarian cancers in patients with BRCA gene mutations, scientists aim to identify ways to keep cancer cells from using DNA break repair pathways. New findings demonstrate a previously-unknown capability for polymerase theta (pol theta) – a key enzyme in this repair function – that shows promise as a new avenue for treatment development.

NYU, Columbia, and Takeda Form Research Alliance for Gastrointestinal and Liver Disorders

New York University, Columbia University, and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (“Takeda”) have formed a collaborative research alliance to begin and advance gastroenterology research programs, with the goal of developing new therapies for patients with gastrointestinal and liver disorders.

Guilt by Dissociation: Study Sheds Light on Serotonin in Autism

A study on serotonin, a mood-regulating molecule in the brain that regulates many brain synapses, is helping to unravel the puzzle surrounding its role in autism. The activity and regulation of the serotonin transporter (SERT), protein is critically dependent on a number of other proteins that tell the protein where to locate on nerve cells and how to act. Shifts in the transporter’s activity can significantly impact the ability of serotonin to act in the brain.

New Treatment Developed by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Shows Success in High-Risk Solid Tumors

In a breakthrough study, researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have shown that an enhanced treatment developed in their lab leads to long-term remissions in 80% to 100% of mice with drug-resistant or high-risk solid tumors. The research, which could soon lead to clinical trials, is described in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Ready to Join the Fight Against COVID-19

UPTON, NY—On July 29, 2020 the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory opened a new cryo-electron microscopy center, the Laboratory for BioMolecular Structure (LBMS), with an initial focus on COVID-19-related research. This state-of-the-art research center for life sciences imaging offers researchers access to advanced cryo-electron microscopes (cryo-EM)—funded by NY State—for studying complex proteins, as well as the architecture of cells and tissues.

A New Approach to Tailoring Cancer Therapy: Tapping Into Signaling Activities in Cancer Cells

The Weizmann Institute’s Dr. Ravid Straussman and colleagues developed a method that utilizes cellular signaling to determine the best treatment for a given tumor. The method can help tailor treatments and identify new drug-development targets. In fact, the team has already singled out a gene that serves as a target for treating BRCA-related breast cancers.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Awards and Appointments

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) announces its most recent awards and appointments for the institution’s physicians, scientists, nurses, and staff.

UTEP Research Reveals More About Path Bacterial Pathogen Travels to Cause Tuberculosis

Jianjun Sun, Ph.D., associate professor in UTEP’s Department of Biological Sciences, led the research on Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Sun’s lab has been investigating the mechanisms of Mtb pathogenesis for more than 10 years at UTEP with a specific focus on EsxA, which is a virulence factor essential for Mtb virulence and a preferred target for developing novel anti-TB drugs and vaccines.

‘Rushed’ Drug Development that Aims to Refill Pharma Firms’ Pipelines Is Less Likely to Succeed Because of Inter-organizational Friction

When a large pharmaceutical company experiences a drug trial failure and then tries to refill its pipeline by licensing a product created by another firm, such a “rushed innovation” is less likely to bring a product to market than one developed under normal, less hurried conditions. That’s because the hastily drawn licensing agreement between the two organizations leads to friction that drags development work to a halt.