Posts Tagged ‘Emory University’

Larry H Bernstein, MD, …   received

http://No dishonour in depression/2013/06/23

Nature | Editorial

No dishonour in depression

The stigma associated with mental illness discourages investment in finding cures — even though the burden of the disorders on society is immense.

Comedian and writer Ruby Wax, a regular on British television, has clinical depression. In her book published last week, Sane New World (Hodder & Stoughton, 2013), she describes her struggles with different therapies and her fear of being ‘found out’. She is not alone. A 2010 survey in Europe revealed that 38% of people had a diagnosed mental disorder — including 7% with major depression. The proportion is likely to be similar in all populations, even in Africa, where psychiatric disease barely features on the health agenda.

The stigma attached to such disorders means that many people do not admit to their illness. The same stigma discourages investment, so that research funding is not proportional to the distress these disorders cause. Why lobby for better treatments for depression or schizophrenia when there are ‘real’ diseases out there, such as cancer?

Wax has been through the catalogue of available therapies and says that she has settled on an approach known as ‘mindfulness’, which helps to keep her depression under control. It may seem that the various therapies are inadequate, given that initial treatment of depression fails in 60% or more of cases. It is true that more treatment options are badly needed. Yet evidence-based cognitive behavioural therapies and drugs already developed by the pharmaceutical industry can work splendidly for long periods — if they are given to the right patients.

How do you recognize the right patients? Treatment decisions tend to be based on the preferences of physicians or their patients, often with a missionary zeal that gives no credence to the idea that a personalized approach would be more appropriate. Some hold that drugs have unacceptable side effects, whereas others say that cognitive therapy wastes time if the depressed brain is not first chemically lifted. It is becoming increasingly common to offer patients both treatments at once in the belief that drugs can prepare the brain to respond to cognitive therapy. That may be so, but it is also possible that the improved response rates are simply the result of catching two different populations.

The situation would improve drastically if simple tests could be developed to predict treatment outcome. Many exploratory clinical trials are now under way to search for biomarkers in genes or in the brain itself that might be predictive. This week sees the description of the first potential biomarker for discriminating between responders and non-responders to drugs or cognitive therapy in major depressive disorder (C. L. McGrath et al. JAMA Psychiatry http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.143; 2013).

“The stigma attached to mental disorders will fade when treatment becomes more effective.”

The study, led by neurologist Helen Mayberg of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, used positron emission tomography (PET) scans to measure metabolic activity in various brain regions of people with untreated depression (see also Nature http://doi.org/mtc; 2013). Patients were randomized into groups and treated for 12 weeks with either a commonly used antidepressant drug or cognitive behaviour therapy. The study’s results were clear-cut. Below-average activity in a brain area called the right anterior insula — which is linked with depression-relevant behaviours such as emotional self-awareness and decision-making — was associated with the patient showing a good response to cognitive behavioural therapy and a poor response to the drug. Above-average insula activity was predictive of the opposite.

This potential biomarker must still be tested in prospective clinical trials, which will assign patients to a treatment on the basis of their insula activity. It may fail. But if the biomarker comes up trumps, it could be transformative for many patients who would not have to endure two or three months of treatment trial and error.

If attitudes to mental illness do not change, even a successful biomarker of this type will have a hard time being accepted by health systems that foot the bills. Unlike a simple blood test, a PET scan is inconvenient because not all physicians have easy access to the technology and, at up to US$2,000 a shot, the procedure is not cheap. Although expensive treatments for other diseases and arguments about how to fund them are nothing new, this rational debate is harder for mental illnesses because of the irrational stigma that is attached to them.

Fifty years ago, the stigma surrounding cancer meant that physicians would sometimes lie to patients about the diagnosis from kindness. That has now faded because cancer is not always the death sentence it once was — thanks in part to the development of biomarkers that guide therapy. The stigma attached to mental disorders will also fade when treatment becomes more effective. But to break out of a vicious circle of underinvestment in a stigmatized disease area will require continued effort to get the problem recognized. This is a good week for that.

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(13 June 2013)


PET at NIH Clinical Center. General Electric (...

PET at NIH Clinical Center. General Electric (GE) Advance positron emission tomography (PET) scanner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Dr. Lev-Ari met  Emory Cardiologist, Arshed Quyyumi following his talk as Guest Speaker at Tufts, Cardiology Colloquium, Tufts Medical School, Boston in 8/2007. They corresponded about CVD and Stem Cell therapy post MI.


Emory Cardiologists Arshed Quyyumi And Javed Butler Join Stemedica Cardiology Division Scientific Advisory Board

Stemedica Cell Technologies, Inc., a leader in adult allogeneic stem cell manufacturing, research and development, announced today that Professors Arshed Quyyumi, MD, FRCP, FACC and Javed Butler, MD, MPH, FACC, FAHA of the Emory Clinical Cardiovascular Research Institute have agreed to join the Scientific Advisory Board for Stemedica’s Cardiology Division.

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) April 22, 2013

Stemedica Cell Technologies, Inc., a leader in adult allogeneic stem cell manufacturing, research and development, announced today that Professors Arshed Quyyumi, MD, FRCP, FACC and Javed Butler, MD, MPH, FACC, FAHA of the Emory Clinical Cardiovascular Research Institute have agreed to join the Scientific Advisory Board for Stemedica’s Cardiology Division.

Dr. Arshed A. Quyyumi has been involved in clinical translational research in cardiovascular diseases for over 25 years. His research focuses on vascular biology, angiogenesis, progenitor cell biology, mechanisms of myocardial ischemia, and the role of genetic and environmental risks on vascular disease. In 2001 he was appointed Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at the Emory University School of Medicine. In 2010, he was named Co-Director of the Emory Clinical Cardiovascular Research Institute (ECCRI). Dr. Quyyumi serves on the editorial boards of several national journals and is a reviewer for the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Study Sections. Dr. Quyyumi has authored more than 220 peer-reviewed publications and has been an invited speaker and session chair at many scientific meetings and conferences. During his academic career, Dr. Quyyumi has managed more than 50 NIH, industry-funded, or investigator-initiated projects, including numerous clinical trials.

Dr. Javed Butler’s research focuses on the disease progression, outcomes, and prognosis determination in patients with heart failure, with special emphasis on patients undergoing cardiac transplantation and left ventricular assist device placement. Before moving to Emory University where he is a professor of cardiology, he was Director for the Heart and Heart-Lung Transplant programs at Vanderbilt University. He also serves as the Deputy Chief Science Advisor for the American Heart Association. Additionally, he serves various editorial responsibilities for the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Journal of Cardiac Failure, American Heart Journal, Journal of the American College of Cardiology – Heart Failure, Heart Failure Clinics, Current Heart Failure Report, and Congestive Heart Failure. He is board certified in Cardiology, Internal Medicine, Advanced Heart Failure and Transplantation Medicine, and Nuclear Cardiology. Dr. Butler also serves on the Executive Council of the Heart Failure Society of America. He has published over 175 peer reviewed papers and has participated in over 50 federally funded and non-federally funded clinical trials. He has served on several steering committees, events committees and data safety monitoring committees for multi-center clinical trials.

Stephen Epstein, M.D., Chairman of the Medical & Scientific Advisory Board for Stemedica’s Cardiology Division, commented, “I am delighted to welcome Drs. Quyyumi and Butler to the cardiology team. I believe our collective breadth of experience will provide Stemedica with both perspective and direction as the company expands its efforts in cardiovascular medicine.”

Stemedica recently formed its Cardiology Division due to the considerable progress in the translational application of its ischemia tolerant adult allogeneic stem cells for cardiovascular diseases. The Company gained FDA approval for a multi-center Phase II clinical trial for intravenous treatment of AMI with its Stemedyne™ MSC product. Regulatory approval has also been granted to the National Medical Research Center in Astana, Kazakhstan for a Phase III trial with Stemedyne™ MSC. A Phase II clinical trial for chronic heart failure has begun at Hospital Angeles in Mexico. The Cardiology Division Scientific Advisory Board was organized to support these and future efforts.

Sergey Sikora, Ph.D., M.D., President of Stemedica’s Cardiovascular Division noted, “Emory has been one of the leaders in cardiology and we are honored to have physicians of Drs. Quyyumi and Butler’s statures participate with us in cardiovascular translational medicine.”

Nikolai Tankovich, MD, PhD, FASLMS, President and Chief Medical Officer of Stemedica commented, “We are pleased by the impressive and promising outcomes that Stemedica’s adult stem cells are experiencing in cardiology. We view this area as critical for the success of Stemedica and have worked diligently to get the best experts to advise us in this field.”

About Stemedica Cell Technologies, Inc. http://www.stemedica.com
Stemedica Cell Technologies, Inc. is a specialty bio-pharmaceutical company that is committed to the manufacturing and development of best-in-class allogeneic adult stem cells and stem cell factors for use by approved research institutions and hospitals for pre-clinical and clinical (human) trials. The company is a government licensed manufacturer of clinical grade stem cells and is approved by the FDA for clinical trials in ischemic stroke, cutaneous photoaging and myocardial infarct. Stemedica is currently developing regulatory pathways for a number of other medical indications using adult allogeneic stem cells. The company is headquartered in San Diego, California.

For more information regarding Stemedica Cell Technologies, Inc., contact Dave McGuigan at dmcguigan (at) stemedica.com.


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Biomarker tool development for Early Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer: Van Andel Institute and Emory University

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Van Andel, Emory to Develop Early Pancreatic Cancer Dx

October 19, 2012

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Van Andel Institute and Emory University researchers will use a $2.3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to fund an effort to develop new biomarker tools that can aid in the early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

The Van Andel and Emory team plan to use gene expression studies and a shotgun glycomics approach to try to develop useful diagnostic tests for a certain carbohydrate structure that is prevalent in most, but not all, pancreatic cancer tumors.

In a shotgun glycomics approach, all of the glycans from a sample are tagged with a fluorescent tag and separated from each other to create a tagged glycolipid library. This library will be developed through gene expression studies on the tumor tissue.

“One of the most common features of pancreatic cancers is the increased abundance of a carbohydrate structure called the CA 19-9 antigen,” Brian Haab, head of Van Andel’s Laboratory of Cancer Immunodiagnostics, said in a statement.

Because CA 19-9 is attached to many different proteins that the tumor secretes into the blood it is used to confirm diagnosis of and to manage disease progression of pancreatic cancer. Tests for this structure have not yet been useful for early detection or diagnosis, however, because around 20 to 30 percent off incipient tumors produce low levels of CA 19-9.

“The low levels are usually due to inherited genetic mutations in the genes responsible for the synthesis of CA 19-9,” Haab explained. “However, patients who produce low CA 19-9 produce alternate carbohydrate structures that are abnormally elevated in cancer.”

This study aims to characterize and identify these glycans to improve the ability to detect cancer in patients with low CA 19-9 levels.

The research will integrate the use affinity reagents, a type of proteins called lectins, as well as shotgun glycomics, to detect these glycan structures and develop a diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer.

Because pancreatic cancer tends to spread before it is diagnosed and because of its resistance to chemotherapy, it has one of the lowest survival rates of any major cancer. It will affect more than 43,000 Americans in 2012 and will kill more than 37,000, according to NCI.

“We anticipate these new approaches advancing pancreatic cancer diagnostics as well as benefiting other glycobiology research in cancer,” Haab said.

Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Palo Alto Research Center, the University of Georgia, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center also are participating in the project.




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Reported by: Dr. Venkat S. Karra, Ph.D

Biophysicists unravel secrets of genetic switch

When an invading bacterium or virus starts rummaging through the contents of a cell nucleus, using proteins like tiny hands to rearrange the host’s DNA strands, it can alter the host’s biological course. The invading proteins use specific binding, firmly grabbing onto particular sequences of DNA, to bend, kink and twist the DNA strands. The invaders also use non-specific binding to grasp any part of a DNA strand, but these seemingly random bonds are weak.

Emory University biophysicists have experimentally demonstrated, for the first time, how the nonspecific binding of a protein known as the lambda repressor, or C1 protein, bends DNA and helps it close a loop that switches off virulence. The researchers also captured the first measurements of that compaction.

Their results, published in Physical Review E, support the idea that nonspecific binding is not so random after all, and plays a critical role in whether a pathogen remains dormant or turns virulent.

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