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NIH SBIR Funding Early Ventures: September 26, 2018 sponsored by Pennovation

Stephen J. Williams PhD, Reporter

Penn Center for Innovation (Pennovation) sponsored a “Meet with NCI SBIR” program directors at University of Pennsylvania Medicine Smilow Center for Translational Research with a presentation on advice on preparing a successful SBIR/STTR application to the NCI as well as discussion of NCI SBIR current funding opportunities.   Time was allotted in the afternoon for one-on-one discussions with NCI SBIR program directors.

To find similar presentations and one-on-one discussions with NCI/SBIR program directors in an area nearest to you please go to their page at:

https://sbir.cancer.gov/newsevents/events

For more complete information on the NCI SBIR and STTR programs please go to their web page at: https://sbir.cancer.gov/about

A few notes from the meeting are given below:

  • In 2016 the SBIR/STTR 2016 funded $2.5 billion (US) of early stage companies; this is compared to the $6.6 billion invested in early  stage ventures by venture capital firms so the NCI program is very competitive with alternate sources of funding
  • It was stressed that the SBIR programs are flexible as far as ownership of a company; SBIR allows now that >50% of the sponsoring company can be owned by other ventures;  In addition they are looking more favorably on using outside contractors and giving leeway on budgetary constraints so AS THEY SUGGEST ALWAYS talk to the program director about any questions you may have well before (at least 1 month) you submit. More on eligibility criteria is found at: https://sbir.cancer.gov/about/eligibilitycriteria
  • STTR should have strong preliminary data since more competitive; if don’t have enough go for  an R21 emerging technologies grant which usually does not require preliminary data
  • For entities outside the US need a STRONG reason for needing to do work outside the US

Budget levels were discussed as well as  the waiver program, which allows for additional funds to be requested based on criteria set by NCI (usually for work that is deemed high priority or of a specialized nature which could not be covered sufficiently under the standard funding limits) as below:

Phase I: 150K standard but you can get waivers for certain work up to 300K

Phase II: 1M with waiver up to 2M

Phase IIB waiver up to 4M

You don’t need to apply for the waiver but grant offices may suggest citing a statement requesting a waiver as review panels will ask for this information

Fast Track was not discussed in the presentation but for more information of the Fast Track program please visit the website  

NCI is working hard to cut review times to 7 months between initial review to funding however at beginning of the year they set pay lines and hope to fund 50% of the well scored grants

NCI SBIR is a Centralized system with center director and then program director with specific areas of expertise: Reach out to them

IMAT Program and Low-Resource Setting new programs more suitable for initial studies and also can have non US entities

Phase IIB Bridge funding to cross “valley of death” providing up to 4M for 2-3 years: most were for drug/biological but good amount for device and diagnostics

 

Also they have announced administrative supplements for promoting diversity within a project: can add to the budget

FY18 Contracts Areas

3 on biotherapies

2 imaging related

2 on health IT

4 on radiation therapy related: NOTE They spent alot of time discussing the contracts centered on radiation therapy and seems to be an area of emphasis of the NCI SBIR program this year

4 other varied topics

 

Breakdown of funding

>70% of NCI SBIR budget went to grants (for instance Omnibus grants); about 20-30% for contracts; 16% for phase I and 34 % for phase II ;

ALSO the success rate considerably higher for companies that talk to the program director BEFORE applying than not talking to them; also contracts more successful than Omnibus applications

Take Advantage of these useful Assistance Programs through the NIH SBIR Program (Available to all SBIR grantees)

NICHE ASSESSMENT Program

From the NCI SBIR website:

The Niche Assessment Program is designed to help small businesses “jump start” their commercialization efforts. All active HHS (NIH, CDC, FDA) SBIR/STTR Phase I awardees and Phase I Fast-Track awardees (by grant or contract) are eligible to apply. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis!

The Niche Assessment Program provides market insight and data that can be used to help small businesses strategically position their technology in the marketplace. The results of this program can help small businesses develop their commercialization plans for their Phase II application, and be exposed to potential partners. Services are provided by Foresight Science & Technology of Providence, RI.

Technology Niche Analyses® (TNA®) are provided by Foresight, for one hundred and seventy-five (175), HHS SBIR/STTR Phase I awardees. These analyses assess potential applications for a technology and then for one viable application, it provides an assessment of the:

  1. Needs and concerns of end-users;
  2. Competing technologies and competing products;
  3. Competitive advantage of the SBIR/STTR-developed technology;
  4. Market size and potential market share (may include national and/or global markets);
  5. Barriers to market entry (may include but is not limited to pricing, competition, government regulations, manufacturing challenges, capital requirements, etc.);
  6. Market drivers;
  7. Status of market and industry trends;
  8. Potential customers, licensees, investors, or other commercialization partners; and,
  9. The price customers are likely to pay.

Commercialization Acceleration Program  (CAP)

From the NIH SBIR website:

NIH CAP is a 9-month program that is well-regarded for its combination of deep domain expertise and access to industry connections, which have resulted in measurable gains and accomplishments by participating companies. Offered since 2004 to address the commercialization objectives of companies across the spectrum of experience and stage, 1000+ companies have participated in the CAP. It is open only to HHS/NIH SBIR/STTR Phase II awardees, and 80 slots are available each year. The program enables participants to establish market and customer relevance, build commercial relationships, and focus on revenue opportunities available to them.

I-Corps Program

The I-Corps program provides funding, mentoring, and networking opportunities to help commercialize your promising biomedical technology. During this 8-week, hands-on program, you’ll learn how to focus your business plan and get the tools to bring your treatment to the patients who need it most.

Program benefits include:

  • Funding up to $50,000 to cover direct program costs
  • Training from biotech sector experts
  • Expanding your professional network
  • Building the confidence and skills to create a comprehensive business model
  • Gaining years of entrepreneurial skills in only weeks.

 

ICORPS is an Entrepreneurial Program (8 week course) to go out talk to customers, get assistance with business models, useful resource which can guide the new company where they should focus on for the commercialization aspect

THE NCI Applicant Assistance Program (AAP)

The SBIR/STTR Applicant Assistance Program (AAP) is aimed at helping eligible small R&D businesses and individuals successfully apply for Phase I SBIR/STTR funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Participation in the AAP will be funded by the NCI, NINDS, and NHLBI with NO COST TO PARTICIPANTS. The program will include the following services:

  • Needs Assessment/Small Business Mentoring
  • Phase I Application Preparation Support
  • Application Review
  • Team/Facilities Development
  • Market Research
  • Intellectual Property Consultation

For more details about the program, please refer to NIH Notice NOT-CA-18-072.

 

These programs are free for first time grant applicants and must not have been awarded previous SBIR

Peer Learning Webinar Series goal to improve peer learning .Also they are starting to provide Regulatory Assistance (see below)

NIH also provides Mentoring programs for CEOS and C level

Application tips

  1. Start early: and obtain letters of collaboration
  2. Build a great team: PI multi PI, consider other partners to fill gaps (academic, consultants, seasoned entrepreneurs (don’t need to be paid)
  3. They will pre review 1 month before due date, use NIH Project Reporter to view previous funded grants
  4. Specify study section in SF to specify areas of expertise for review
  5. Specific aims are very important; some of the 20 reviewers focus on this page (describes goals and milestones as well; spend as much time on this page as the rest of the application
  6. Letters of support from KOLs are important to have; necessary from consultants and collaborators; helpful from clinicians
  7. Have a phase II commercialization plan
  8. Note for non US clinical trials:  They will not fund nonUS clinical trials; the company must have a FWA
  9. SBIR budgets defined by direct costs; can request a 7% fee as an indirect cost; and they have a 5,000 $ technical assistance program like regulatory consultants but if requested can’t participate in NIH technical assistance programs so most people don’t apply for TAP

 

  • They are trying to change the definition of innovation as also using innovative methods (previously reviewers liked tried and true methodology)

10.  before you submit solicit independent readers

NCI SBIR can be found on Twitter @NCIsbir ‏

Discussion with Monique Pond, Ph.D. on Establishment of a Regulatory Assistance Program for NCI SBIR

I was able to sit down with Dr. Monique Pond,  AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow, Health Scientist within the NCI SBIR Development Center to discuss the new assistance program in regulatory affairs she is developing for the NCI SBIR program.  Dr Pond had received her PhD in chemistry from the Pennsylvania State University, completed a postdoctoral fellow at NIST and then spent many years as a regulatory writer and consultant in the private sector.  She applied through the AAAS for this fellowship and will bring her experience and expertise in regulatory affairs from the private sector to the SBIR program. Dr. Pond discussed the difficulties that new ventures have in formulating regulatory procedures for their companies, the difficulties in getting face time with FDA regulators and helping young companies start thinking about regulatory issues such as pharmacovigilence, oversight, compliance, and navigating the complex regulatory landscape.

In addition Dr. Pond discussed the AAAS fellowship program and alternative career paths for PhD scientists.

 

A formal interview will follow on this same post.

 

Other articles on this OPEN ACCESS JOURNAL on Funding for Startups and Early Ventures are given below:

 

Mapping Medical Device Startups Across The Globe per Funding Criteria

Funding Oncorus’s Immunotherapy Platform: Next-generation Oncolytic Herpes Simplex Virus (oHSV) for Brain Cancer, Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM)

 

Funding Opportunities for Cancer Research

 

Team Profile: DrugDiscovery @LPBI Group – A BioTech Start Up submitted for Funding Competition to MassChallenge Boston 2016 Accelerator

 

A Message from Faculty Director Lee Fleming on Latest Issue of Crowdfunding; From the Fung Institute at Berkeley

 

PROTOCOL for Drug Screening of 3rd Party Intellectual Property Presented for Funding Representation

 

Foundations as a Funding Source

 

The Bioscience Crowdfunding Environment: The Bigger Better VC?

 

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Live Notes From AACR TownHall on Precision Medicine January 21, 2016 in Philadelphia, PA: Background Information on Speakers

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

The Speakers:

Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc)

Chief Executive Officer
Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc)
​American Association for Cancer Research
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), is the chief executive officer of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the oldest cancer research organization in the world. Under her visionary leadership, membership has grown from about 3,000 members to 35,000 in 101 countries and the AACR’s portfolio of peer-reviewed scientific journals has increased from one to eight.

Chi Van Dang, MD, PhD

faculty photo

John H. Glick, M.D. Abramson Cancer Center Director’s Professor
Director, Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania

 

Selected Publications:

Koppenol WH, Bounds PL, Dang CV: Otto Warburg’s contributions to current concepts of cancer metabolism. Nature Reviews Cancer 11 (5): 325-337,2011.

Dang CV, Hamaker M, Sun P, Le A, Gao P: Therapeutic targeting of cancer cell metabolism Journal of Molecular Medicine 89 (3): 205-212,2011.

Seltzer MJ, Bennett BD, Joshi AD, Gao P, Thomas AG, Ferraris DV, Tsukamoto T, Rojas C, Slusher BS, Rabinowitz JD, Dang CV, Riggins GJ: Inhibition of Glutaminase Preferentially Slows Growth of Glioma Cells with Mutant IDH1. Cancer Research 70 (22): 8981-8987,2010.

Wang, JB, Erickson, JW, Fuji, R, Ramachandran, S, Gao, P, Dinavahi, R, Wilson, KF, Ambrosio, ALB, Dias, SMG, Dang, CV, Cerione, RA: Targeting Mitochondrial Glutaminase Activity Inhibits Oncogenic Transformation (vol 18, pg 207, 2010) Cancer Cell 18 (4): 397,2010.

Otto AE, Hurd TW, Airik R, Chaki M, Zhou W, Stoetzel C, Patil SB, Levy S, Ghosh A K, Murga-Zamalloa CA, van Reeuwijk J, Letteboer SJF, Sang L, Giles RH, Liu Q, Coene KLM, Estrada-CuzcanA, Collin RWJ, McLaughlin HM, Held S, Kasanuki JM, Ramaswami G, Conte J, Lopez I, Washburn J, MacDonald J, Hu J, Yamashita Y, Maher ER, Guay-Woodford L, Neumann HPH, Obermüller N, Koenekoop RK, Bergmann C, Bei X, Lewis RA, Katsanis N, Lopes V, Williams DS, Lyons RH, Dang CV, Brito DA, Zhang X, Dias MB, Nürnberg G, Nürnberg P: Candidate exome capture identifies mutation of SDCCAG8 as the cause of a retinal-renal ciliopathy. Nature Genetics 42 (10): 840-50,2010.

Dang CV: Glutaminolysis Supplying carbon or nitrogen or both for cancer cells? Cell Cycle 9 (19): 3884-3886,2010.

Wang JB, Erickson JW, Fuji R, Ramachandran S, Gao P, Dinavahi R, Wilson KF, Ambrosio ALB, Dias SMG, Dang CV, Cerione RA: Targeting Mitochondrial Glutaminase Activity Inhibits Oncogenic Transformation. Cancer Cell 18 (3): 207-219,2010.

Koh, CM, Bierberich CJ, Dang CV, Nelson WG, Yegnaubramanian S, De Marzo A: Myc and prostate cancer. Genes & Cancer 1 (6): 617-628,2010.

Fan J, Zeller K, Chen YC, Watkins T, Barnes KC, Becker KG, Dang CV, Cheadle C: Time-Dependent c-Myc Transactomes Mapped by Array-Based Nuclear Run-On Reveal Transcriptional Modules in Human B Cells. Plos One 5 (3): e9691,2010.

Dang CV: p32 (C1QBP) and Cancer Cell Metabolism: Is the Warburg Effect a Lot of Hot Air? Molecular And Cellular Biology 30 (6): 1300-1302,2010.

Nancy E. Davidson, MD

photo

Director, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

Hillman Professor of Oncology

Associate Vice Chancellor for Cancer Research

Distinguished Professor of Medicine

Richard I. Fisher, MD,

President and CEO

Cancer Center Director

Senior Associate Dean, Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Temple University

Robert C. Young, MD, Chair in Cancer Research

Richard Fisher, MD

Stephan A. Grupp, MD, PhD,director of the Cancer Immunotherapy Frontier Program, director of Translational Research for the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at CHOP and medical director of the Stem Cell Laboratory

Stephan A. Grupp, MD, PhD, is director of the Cancer Immunotherapy Frontier Program, director of Translational Research for the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at CHOP and medical director of the Stem Cell Laboratory.

Areas of Expertise: Development of engineered T cell therapies such as CTL019, Novel leukemia therapy, Stem cell transplants, Treatment of high-risk neuroblastoma

Working with our colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, we have recently opened a phase I clinical trial called CART19. We’re using genetically modified T cells in this trial to treat patients with B cell cancers such as ALL, B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), the adult disease chronic lymphocytic leukemia and other B cell malignancies. T cells have the potential to kill cancer cells, but in patients with cancer, they’re not doing their job. By modifying them we can make the cells behave differently so they’ll attack cancer cells, using an engineered targeting protein called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). Initial results show that this could be an effective therapy for patients with B cell cancers. Indeed, our initial results show some of the most powerful activity against cancer of any clinical trial testing engineered cell therapy to date. This has received international attention, and some of this work has been published recently in Science Translational Medicine and the New England Journal of Medicine.

Expertise & Research Interests

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed malignancy in the Unites States and the second leading cause of cancer death in men. Early prostate cancers require androgen to survive and proliferate; this dependence is exploited in treatment for disseminated disease. Wherein androgen ablation in the first line of therapeutic intervention. Although these regimens are initially effective, tumors ultimately recur due to reactivation of androgen receptor (AR) signaling, causing treatment failure and patient morbidity.

Despite the importance of understanding androgen action in the prostate, little is understood about the mechanisms underlying androgen dependence, and the means by which the androgen requirement is bypassed in relapsed tumors. My lab is dedicated to delineating the molecular mechanisms that govern these events. We currently have four main projects in the lab:

1. Regulation of AR dependent gene expression and cellular proliferation by cell cycle crosstalk in prostate cancer

2. Impact of SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling factors on AR function and prostate tumorigenesis

3. Impact of cell cycle deregulation on therapeutic efficacy

4. Role of endocrine disrupting compounds in circumventing the androgen requirement

George C. Prendergast, PhD, President and CEO, Lankenau Institute for Medical Research

Photo of George Prendergast

By studying disease modifier genes we seek to develop new principles to treat cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders and cardiovascular disease. Currently most biomedical research focuses on understanding disease pathways. We seek to understand general disease modifier pathways that determine disease severity, an understudied area from which many useful drugs such as NSAIDs and statins are based. A major thrust of our present work focuses on modifiers of inflammatory processes which contribute significantly to the severity of many age-associated diseases. In our main project, we have developed a new class of drugs that recruit the immune system to eradicate a broad spectrum of advanced cancers, including breast, lung, skin, and pancreas tumors that are often refractory to chemotherapy. These drugs, called IDO inhibitors, are presently in Phase II clinical trials. In other projects, with our Lankenau colleagues we are developing new agents to treat autoimmune disorders, reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, and ameliorate diabetes.

Scientific Description

Our laboratory is interested primarily in cancer genes, cancer immunology and molecular therapeutics. We use transgenic mouse models and preclinical drug strategies to learn new ways to suppress cancer, focusing on long-term goals of improving strategies for cancer prognosis and treatment.

Localized tumors are often curable if they are detected before progression to invasive status, but many patients diagnosed with cancer already have invasive disease. What factors dictate malignant progression and how might they be therapeutically exploited? Molecular therapeutics that target key oncogene and tumor suppressor pathways show some clinical promise, but they have shown limited efficacy to date. Cancer modifier pathways that influence the immune microenvironment of tumor cells may strongly influence clinical course. Accordingly, new therapies we are developing are based on blocking enzymes that limit the ability of immune cells to destroy cancer cells or drive disease.

RhoB studies derive from our long-standing research on this member of the Ras/Rho superfamily in cancer cell signaling. Recent work in collaboration with Drs. Lisa Laury-Kleintop and Laura Mandik-Nayak at Lankenau has opened exciting new directions in studies of the role of RhoB in autoimmune and cardiovascular disease. A start-up company has been created to fund and advance the preclinical and clinical work needed to explore a provocative new therapy emerging from these novel directions, which in principle may be useful to treat one or more diseases in important areas of medicine.

Bin1 studies originating in cancer cell studies led us to discover that it regulates the immune modulatory enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO). Bin1 modifies inflammation in a variety of settings including cancer. Recently, in preclinical studies we found that its genetic blockade can limit the development of inflammatory bowel disease (colitis). Based on this finding, we are now investigating the use of Bin1 antibodies we have developed to treat this disorder.

IDO is a tryptophan catabolic enzyme that blocks T cell activation in physiological settings such as pregnancy and in many pathophysiological settings like cancer. IDO is very widely activated as a mechanism of immune escape by cancer cells. Genetic studies reveal that IDO is essential for inflammation-driven cancers, not only supporting immune escape but also angiogenesis and metastasis. We pioneered preclinical studies of IDO inhibitory drugs that can arrest tumor growth and enhance chemotherapeutic efficacy. Mechanistic studies of one clinical lead inhibitor, D-1MT (indoximod), will greatly assist ongoing Phase II studies of this drug. Translational studies including on an IDO-related gene called IDO2 discovered at Lankenau are currently a major focus of the laboratory.

 

 

Please Follow on Twitter @pharma_BI and @AACR using meeting #cbi16

 

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AACR and Philly New Media Present a Town Hall Discussion on Precision Medicine

Cancer Precision Medicine: Big Ideas in Research, Treatment, and Prevention

A Town Hall Forum will discuss the latest findings with regard to precision medicine, its impact currently in cancer treatment, and future directions, discussed by some of the preeminent cancer researchers and oncologists in the country. This unprecedented event is being hosted by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and Philadelphia Media Network – publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com.

Given the following speakers, this event will have a large focus on use of cancer immunotherapy as well as new targets in the precision medicine arena.

Register today: Philly.com/CancerEvent – Use the promo code “AACR” for discounted $45 tickets.

When: Thursday, January 21, 2016 • Program: 2 pm • Networking reception: 5:30 pm.

Where:  The College of Physicians of Philadelphia • 19 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia, Pa.

The event will be held in Philadelphia at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, home of the famous Mutter Museum.

Please follow the meeting coverage on @pharma_BI and using the following @ handle and # hastags of Twitter:

@AACR

@pharma_BI

@PhillyInquirer

#cbi16

#precisionmedicine

#endcancer

 

From Penn Medicine News Blog: Archives (please click on link below)

Penn’s Center for Personalized Diagnostics (CPD), which recently named Kojo S.J. Elenitoba-Johnson, MD, as its founding director, is diving deeper into cancer patients’ tumors with next generation DNA sequencing.

The genetic tests help refine diagnoses with greater precision than standard imaging tests and blood work by spotting known mutations that can inform the treatment plan. Since it launched in February 2013, the CPD has performed more than 4,000 advanced diagnostics, representing a wide range of cancers.  It’s also producing actionable findings: Of those tests, 75 percent found disease-associated mutations, revealing possible new treatment pathways.

This new CPD video helps breakdown how the process works, but a patient story can really help connect the dots. We’ve written about several people who benefited from the CPD, including one acute myeloid leukemia patient with an FLT3 mutation that made her a candidate for a targeted therapy, and another whose cholangiocarcinoma was successfully treated with a BRAF-targeted therapy after the mutation—typically associated with melanoma—was spotted.

ACC’s role as a national leader in personalized cancer care was also reinforced with the opening of the Center for Rare Cancers and Personalized Therapy in 2015.

Directed by Marcia Brose, MD, PhD, this virtual center enrolls patients into clinical trials based on genetic markers rather than tumor origin.  Patients with the same mutation, BRAF for instance, but different cancers, are part of the same clinical study investigating a targeted therapy.  A story, set to air on TV news affiliates across the country in the upcoming weeks, will feature a patient with a rare salivary tumor who ran out of treatment options, until a HRAS mutation identified through the CPD put him back on track, after switching to the drug tipifarnib. The patient responded well, and a recent scan revealed that his disease has stabilized.

“Philadelphia is a hotbed for healthcare innovation and groundbreaking scientific research—which becomes even more apparent as the ACC continues to move the needle in the precision medicine world,”Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) director Chi Van Dang, MD, PhD, said.  “Quickly evolving diagnostics and genetic tests, cancer vaccines, and powerful personalized therapies that use the body’s own immune system to fight off cancer: These are just a few of the medical advances being utilized today that are giving patients the greatest chance.”

For Media Inquiries see the following AACR contact information:

Julia Gunther
Assistant Director, Media and Public Relations
215-446-6896
Cell: 267-250-5441
Fax: 215-861-5937
julia.gunther@aacr.org
Gunther promotes the AACR’s meetings, journals, and initiatives to the media and the public.

Lauren Walens
Senior Manager, Media and Public Relations
215-446-7163
Fax: 267-765-1050
lauren.walens@aacr.org
Walens promotes the AACR’s meetings, journals, and initiatives to the media and the public. She also manages the AACR’s blog, Cancer Research Catalyst.

Lauren Riley
Senior Coordinator, Media and Public Relations
215-446-7155
Fax: 215-446-7291
lauren.riley@aacr.org
Riley is responsible for media relations promotion and support, conference newsroom logistics, writing and proofreading, website and news release copy, as well as office support for the Communications and Public Relations Department staff.

 

 

 

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Will President Obama’ s Cancer Immunotherapy Colloquium (dubbed Moonshot) mean Government is Fully Behind the War on Cancer or have we heard this before?

 

UPDATED on 12/13/2016

Greg Simon, White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force: Interview Q&A

Dec 12, 2016 | AnnouncementsQ&ASpeaker spotlights |

The following is an interview recently conducted by PMWC with Greg Simon, Executive Director at the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force. The discussion focused on the future of the Cancer Moonshot with the upcoming change of administration.

A status update on the Cancer Moonshot will be presented at the upcoming Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2017 Silicon Valley. To registerclick here.

http://www.pmwcintl.com/greg-simon-qa/

 

SOURCE:

From: Tal Behar <talb=pmwcintl.com@mail61.atl161.mcsv.net> on behalf of Tal Behar <talb@pmwcintl.com>

Reply-To: Tal Behar <talb@pmwcintl.com>

Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at 1:40 PM

To: Aviva Lev-Ari <AvivaLev-Ari@alum.berkeley.edu>

Subject: PMWC News – Late Breaking Interview – The White House Cancer Moonshot in Limbo

 

 

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D

potusmoonshotannouncementsotus

President Obama announces a “Moonshot” Program to create collaborations aimed at developing immunotherapies to cure cancer by 2020 at his last State of the Union Address. Vice President Biden will lead the effort.

 

From Cancer Letters

  • Obama Announces Moonshot to Cure Cancer
  • When Moonshots Collide
  • Soon-Shiong Says FDA & NCI are Onboard For His Moonshot; Feds Deny Involvement

Obama Announces Moonshot to Cure Cancer

President Barack Obama announced a moonshot aimed at curing cancer, a project to be led by Vice President Joe Biden.

The United States can do “so much more,” Obama said in his seventh and final State of the Union address Jan. 12. “Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources they’ve had over a decade.

“Tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past 40 years, I’m putting Joe in charge of mission control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save—let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.”

  When Moonshots Collide

Did Patrick Soon-Shiong attempt to scoop President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address?

Several days before Obama announced the federal government’s moonshot to cure cancer, Soon-Shiong put out a draft press release, claiming that the White House, NIH, FDA and pharmaceutical companies have united in “Cancer MoonShot 2020,” an immunotherapy clinical trials program he devised.

Soon-Shiong, founder and CEO of NantWorks and the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute of Molecular Medicine, ultimately announced his moonshot on Jan. 11, a day before Obama announced his.

Conversation with The Cancer Letter

Soon-Shiong Says FDA & NCI are Onboard For His Moonshot; Feds Deny Involvement

Government agencies said the biotechnology billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong had overstated the extent of their involvement in “Cancer MoonShot 2020,” the immunotherapy clinical trials program he put together.

In an in-depth conversation with Matthew Bin Han Ong, a reporter with The Cancer Letter, Soon-Shiong said that while his program doesn’t seek federal funds, it has the support of NCI and FDA officials.

Soon-Shiong said he and Vice President Joe Biden met to discuss their interlocking missions and are now pursuing them.

 

From the AACR website

AACR Thanks President Obama and Vice President Biden for Their Strong Commitment to Cancer Research and Biomedical Science in State of the Union Address

1/12/2016

PHILADELPHIA — The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) applauds and commends President Obama and Vice President Biden for their dedication in the fight against cancer discussed during tonight’s State of the Union address.

The AACR looks forward to working with the administration and Congress to make faster progress against cancer so that we might achieve the goal that Vice President Biden outlined during his speech in the Rose Garden Oct. 21, 2015, specifically that now is the time to make an “absolute national commitment to end cancer as we know it today.”

“We have indeed reached an inflection point, where the number of discoveries that are being made at such an accelerated pace are saving lives and bringing enormous hope for cancer patients, even those with advanced disease,” said AACR President José Baselga, MD, PhD, physician-in-chief and chief medical officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “Now is the time for a major new initiative in cancer science that supports and builds upon our basic science foundation while translating these exciting scientific discoveries into improved treatments for cancer patients, such as in the areas of genomics, precision medicine, and immuno-oncology. Tonight’s State of the Union address underscores the importance of collaborations if we are to achieve the vision that President Obama has outlined.”

To that end, on Jan. 8, a group of 15 AACR members, led by Baselga and comprising a number of AACR Board Members, and other AACR leaders from nine states and 10 of the top cancer centers and medical institutions in the U.S., met with Vice President Biden’s senior staff to discuss the state of cancer research, as well as Vice President Biden’s commitment to leading in this important issue.

From Philly.com

Biden to open effort to fight cancer Friday at Penn

 

011316_Biden-SOTU

US Vice President Biden will meet with University of Pennsylvania researchers to discuss the new Moonshot program to eliminate cancer. Photo from http://www.philly.com

 

Jonathan Tamari

Posted: Wednesday, January 13, 2016, 4:14 PM

image: http://media.philly.com/designimages/partnerIcon-Inquirer-2014.jpg

WASHINGTON – Vice President Biden will launch his effort to find a cure for cancer Friday in Philadelphia, with a visit to Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center at the school’s Perelman School of Medicine.

Biden announced the visit in an online post Tuesday night, when the call to cure the disease was one of the highlights of President Obama’s State of the Union speech.

“It’s personal for me. But it’s also personal for nearly every American, and millions of people around the world,” said Biden’s post on Medium. The vice president’s son Beau died of brain cancer at the age of 46 last year.

Biden compared the effort to President Kennedy’s call to go to the moon.

“From my own personal experience, I’ve learned that research and therapies are on the cusp of incredible breakthroughs,” Biden wrote. “The goal of this initiative — this “Moonshot” — is to seize this moment.”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/capitolinq/Biden-to-open-effort-to-fight-cancer-Friday-at-Penn.html#sQFbeebwSDM17S0d.99

 

Biden to tour labs, meet cancer researchers at Penn

 

Vice President Biden is scheduled to spend part of Friday afternoon at the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center, the first stop on his quest for the United States to cure cancer. President Obama announced the new “Moon Shot” mission during his State of the Union address Tuesday night, comparing it with John F. Kennedy’s 1961 declaration to Congress that the nation would land a man on the moon by the end of the decade.Biden’s 3 p.m. visit includes a tour of laboratories and a roundtable discussion with researchers at the Smilow Center for Translational Research and the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, both 3400 Civic Center Blvd. The events are not open to the public but are likely to cause some disruption.

In an internal e-mail Thursday afternoon, Garry Scheib, CEO of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, told employees that parts of the building would be emptied for security reasons from 11 a.m. through evening. “In addition, the Secret Service will temporarily close roadways near our campus to allow for secure transport of the Vice President,” Scheib wrote.

– Don Sapatkin
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/health/20160115_Biden_to_visit_Penn_cancer_center_Friday_afternoon.html#vCpr4Hfu2AGYLSoX.99

 

Billionaire pulls together drugmakers, IBX for cancer collaboration

A billionaire medical entrepreneur has pulled together several drugmakers and Philadelphia-based Independence Blue Cross to speed development of what researchers hope could be a powerful weapon against cancers – potent combinations of new drugs that harness the body’s immune system.

So-called immunotherapies help disease-fighting cells attack tumors. Yet researchers believe they may work best when two, three, or more of the drugs are used together – overwhelming a tumor’s cellular defenses with attacks from all sides.

The group – called the National Immunotherapy Coalition – brought together by Patrick Soon-Shiong calls itself Moon Shot 2020. The name spun out of conversations Soon-Shiong had last year with Vice President Biden, whose son Beau died of cancer in May. In his October announcement that he was not running for president, Biden suggested a project of moon-shot proportions would be needed to defeat cancer.

A controversial figure in oncology research circles because of his self-promotion, Soon-Shiong made his fortune by inventing the cancer drug Abraxane in the early 1990s. California-based Amgen and New Jersey-based Celgene have joined the effort. Early reports suggested Pfizer, Merck, and GlaxoSmithKline might participate, but other reports indicated they had not as of Monday.

Independence Blue Cross said in a statement Monday that it entered into an agreement with NantHealth, one of Soon-Shiong’s companies, to cover next-generation whole genome sequencing, which is a test designed to detect gene mutations that may serve as markers to help doctors choose cancer treatment.

Independence said its agreement with NantHealth involves a “very specific and complex lab study” related to certain types of cancer. The test will be covered for members with “specific conditions including rare cancers, tumors in children, metastatic cancer of unknown primary, primary brain cancer, triple negative breast cancer, and metastatic cancer where conventional therapies have been exhausted and patients remain candidates for further therapy. Coverage for the testing will be available to eligible members of Independence commercial plans in March 2016.”

As for the National Immunotherapy Coalition, Independence said members referred by their oncologist for participation in one of the approved Moon Shot 2020 clinical trials will be eligible for coverage for the routine patient care costs related to the trial. The coverage includes all routine services required for the patient – such as blood tests, supportive medications, and surgical interventions.

“Independence Blue Cross is committed to bringing state-of-the-art advances in oncology to our members and making care accessible and affordable,” Daniel J. Hilferty, president and CEO, Independence Blue Cross, said in the statement. “Decisions around cancer care are complex and personal. We’re focused on supporting Independence members and their oncologists by offering coverage for this innovative approach to treating cancer. Whole genome sequencing is one more option to help inform a personalized, effective treatment plan.”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20160112_Billionaire_pulls_together_drugmakers__IBX_for_cancer_collaboration.html#XuXeFCydClgRsX0W.99

 

This is a Great Announcement But What is the History of the Government and THE WAR on CANCER? (Have we heard this before?)

 

The War on Cancer (launced by US President Nixon in the early 1970’s) has been discussed on this site from a historical perspective

2013 Perspective on “War on Cancer” on December 23, 1971

 

as well as the further needs the cancer field needs from this governmental effort

War on Cancer Needs to Refocus to Stay Ahead of Disease Says Cancer Expert

World facing cancer ‘tidal wave’, warns WHO

 

A summation of these efforts would say we have achieved great results in reducing the burden of cancer (through smoking cessation, early screening programs, better education, as well as therapeutic advances) however as the worldwide populace ages we are, and will see, a “rising tidal wave” of cancer incidence across the globe, and cancer researchers are feeling we are at an important precipice on this war, one which could be lost.

And the program which both President Obama and Vice President Biden are suggesting, the power would be a massive collaboration between government, academia, industry, and patient advocacy will certainly produce positive results.

However these efforts have been ongoing as with the University of Pennsylvania-Novartis deal to work together on CAR-T therapies for leukemias as well as other cancers

New Facility Poised to Accelerate the Research and Development of Personalized Cellular Cancer Therapies

 

as well as other academic-industry partnerships in immuno-oncology.

There have been other such announcements in recent years (mainly to draw in research $ or assist in forming academia-industry partnerships) such as:

NCI sets goal of eliminating suffering and death due to cancer by 2015.

 

In 2003 then NCI president Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach announced, after discussions with leaders in the field, that

“I have proposed a challenge goal for the field of cancer research- to eliminate suffering and death due to cancer by 2015. I issued this challenge because I believe we are at a ‘strategic inflection’ in oncology…”

Later in early decade of 2010 another program began to help make a push to recoup some of the government research $ lost to budgetary constraints on the NIH

STAND UP TO CANCER

stand-up-2-cancer

This program has met much success in raising money, awareness, and clinical trial enrollment (following shows current stats from the organization site)

Founded: May 28, 2008
Funds Pledged since inception: Over $370 Million
Number of scientists participating in SU2C-funded research: Over 1000
Clinical Trails funded by SU2C planned, initiated or completed: Over 160
Patients enrolled in SU2C supported Clinical Trials: Over 6,000 patients
Number of institutions joining in SU2C’s collaborative mission: 129

However, although it has grown the cancer research world encompasses a greater number than they can provide for.

 

In short, there has been no government effort much like Nixon’s War on Cancer, which took an obscure disease at the time and not only put it in the limelight but probably the most powerful result was the creation of the National Cancer Institute, thereby developing a framework to promote cancer research for the next century. President Obama should be applauded for this effort yet the real test for the Moonshot program will be to create, much like the NCI did, a self-perpetuating system by which continued further advancement can be made.

 

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Multiple factors related to initial trial design may predict low patient accrual for cancer clinical trials

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

UPDATED 5/15/2019

A recently published paper in JCNI highlights results determining factors which may affect cancer trial patient accrual and the development of a predictive model of accrual issues based on those factors.

To hear a JCNI podcast on the paper click here

but below is a good posting from scienmag.com which describes their findings:

Factors predicting low patient accrual in cancer clinical trials

source: http://scienmag.com/factors-predicting-low-patient-accrual-in-cancer-clinical-trials/

Nearly one in four publicly sponsored cancer clinical trials fail to enroll enough participants to draw valid conclusions about treatments or techniques. Such trials represent a waste of scarce human and economic resources and contribute little to medical knowledge. Although many studies have investigated the perceived barriers to accrual from the patient or provider perspective, very few have taken a trial-level view and asked why certain trials are able to accrue patients faster than expected while others fail to attract even a fraction of the intended number of participants. According to a study published December 29 in the JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, a number of measurable trial characteristics are predictive of low patient accrual.

Caroline S. Bennette, M.P.H., Ph.D., of the Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy Program, University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues from the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center analyzed information on 787 phase II/III clinical trials sponsored by the National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN; formerly the Cooperative Group Program) launched between 2000 and 2011. After excluding trials that closed because of toxicity or interim results, Bennette et al. found that 145 (18%) of NCTN trials closed with low accrual or were accruing at less than 50% of target accrual 3 years or more after opening.

The authors identified potential risk factors from the literature and interviews with clinical trial experts and found multiple trial-level factors that were associated with poor accrual to NCTN trials, such as increased competition for patients from currently ongoing trials, planning to enroll a higher proportion of the available patient population, and not evaluating a new investigational agent or targeted therapy. Bennette et al. then developed a multivariable prediction model of low accrual using 12 trial-level risk factors, which they reported had good agreement between predicted and observed risks of low accrual in a preliminary validation using 46 trials opened between 2012 and 2013.

The researchers conclude that “Systematically considering the overall influence of these factors could aid in the design and prioritization of future clinical trials…” and that this research provides a response to the recent directive from the Institute of Medicine to “improve selection, support, and completion of publicly funded cancer clinical trials.”

In an accompanying editorial, Derek Raghavan, M.D., Levine Cancer Institute, writes that the focus needs to be on getting more patients involved in trials, saying, “we should strive to improve trial enrollment, giving the associated potential for improved results. Whether the basis is incidental, because of case selection bias, or reflects the support available to trial patients has not been determined, but the fact remains that outcomes are better.”

###

Contact info:

Article: Caroline S. Bennette, M.P.H., Ph.D., cb11@u.washington.edu

Editorial: Derek Raghavan, M.D., derek.raghavan@carolinashealthcare.org

Other investigators also feel that initial trial design is of UTMOST importance for other reasons, especially in the era of “precision” or “personalized” medicine and why the “basket trial” or one size fits all trial strategy is not always feasible.

In Why the Cancer Research Paradigm Must Transition to “N-of-1” Approach

Dr. Maurie Markman, MD gives insight into why the inital setup of a trial and the multi-center basket type of  accrual can be a problematic factor in obtaining meaningful cohorts of patients with the correct mutational spectrum.

The anticancer clinical research paradigm has rapidly evolved so that subject selection is increasingly based on the presence or absence of a particular molecular biomarker in the individual patient’s malignancy. Even where eligibility does not mandate the presence of specific biological features, tumor samples are commonly collected and an attempt is subsequently made to relate a particular outcome (eg, complete or partial objective response rate; progression-free or overall survival) to the individual cancer’s molecular characteristics.

One important result of this effort has been the recognition that there are an increasing number of patient subsets within what was previously—and incorrectly—considered a much larger homogenous patient population; for example, non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) versus EGFR-mutation–positive NSCLC. And, while it may still be possible to conduct phase III randomized trials involving a relatively limited percentage of patients within a large malignant entity, extensive and quite expensive effort may be required to complete this task. For example, the industry-sponsored phase III trial comparing first-line crizotinib with chemotherapy (pemetrexed plus either carboplatin or cisplatin) in ALK-rearrangement–positive NSCLC, which constitutes 3% to 5% of NSCLCs, required an international multicenter effort lasting 2.5 years to accrue the required number of research subjects.1

But what if an investigator, research team, or biotech company desired to examine the clinical utility of an antineoplastic in a patient population representing an even smaller proportion of patients with NSCLC such as in the 1% of the patient population with ROS1 abnormalities,2 or in a larger percentage of patients representing 4%-6% of patients with a less common tumor type such as ovarian cancer? How realistic is it that such a randomized trial could ever be conducted?

Further, considering the resources required to initiate and successfully conduct a multicenter international phase III registration study, it is more than likely that in the near future only the largest pharmaceutical companies will be in a position to definitively test the clinical utility of an antineoplastic in a given clinical situation.

One proposal to begin to explore the benefits of targeted antineoplastics in the setting of specific molecular abnormalities has been to develop a socalled “basket trial” where patients with different types of cancers with varying treatment histories may be permitted entry, assuming a well-defined molecular target is present within their cancer. Of interest, several pharmaceutical companies have initiated such clinical research efforts.

Yet although basket trials represent an important research advance, they may not provide the answer to the molecular complexities of cancer that many investigators believe they will. The research establishment will have to take another step toward innovation to “N-of-1” designs that truly explore the unique nature of each individual’s cancer.

Trial Illustrates Weaknesses

A recent report of the results of one multicenter basket trial focused on thoracic cancers demonstrates both the strengths but also a major fundamental weakness of the basket trial approach.3

However, the investigators were forced to conclude that despite accrual of more than 600 patients onto a study conducted at two centers over a period of approximately 2 years, “this basket trial design was not feasible for many of the arms with rare mutations.”3

They concluded that they needed a larger number of participating institutions and the ability to adapt the design for different drugs and mutations. So the question to be asked is as follows: Is the basket-type approach the only alternative to evaluate the clinical relevance of a targeted antineoplastic in the presence of a specific molecular abnormality?

Of course, the correct answer to this question is surely: No!

– See more at: http://www.onclive.com/publications/Oncology-live/2015/July-2015/Why-the-Cancer-Research-Paradigm-Must-Transition-to-N-of-1-Approach#sthash.kLGwNzi3.dpuf

The following is a video on the website ClinicalTrials.gov which is a one-stop service called EveryClinicalTrial to easily register new clinical trials and streamline the process:

 

UPDATED 5/15/2019

Another possible roadblock to patient accrual has always been the fragmentation of information concerning the availability of clinical trails and coordinating access among the various trial centers, as well as performing analytics on trial data to direct new therapeutic directions.  The NIH has attempted to circumvent this problem with the cancer trials webpage trials.gov however going through the vast number of trials, patient accrual requirements, and finding contact information is a daunting task.  However certain clinical trial marketplaces are now being developed which may ease access problems to clinical trials as well as data analytic issues, as highlighted by the Scientist.com article below:

Scientist.com Launches Trial Insights, A Transformative Clinical Trials Data Analytics Solution

The world’s largest online marketplace rolls out first original service, empowering researchers with on demand insights into clinical trials to help drive therapeutic decisions

SAN DIEGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Scientist.com, the online marketplace for outsourced research, announced today the launch of Trial Insights, a digital reporting solution that simplifies data produced through clinical trial, biomarker and medical diagnostic studies into an intuitive and user-friendly dashboard. The first of its kind, Trial Insights curates publicly available data nightly from information hubs such as clinicaltrials.gov and customizes it to fit a researcher or research organization’s specific project needs.

Trial Insights, new clinical trial reporting solution, allows researchers to keep track of the evolving landscape of drugs, diseases, sponsors, investigators and medical devices important to their work.

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“Trial Insights offers researchers an easy way to navigate the complexity of clinical trials information,” said Ron Ranauro, Founder of Incite Advisors. “Since Trial Insights’ content is digitally curated, researchers can continuously keep track of the evolving landscape of drugs, diseases, sponsors, investigators and medical devices important to their work.”

As the velocity, variety and veracity of data available on sites like clinicaltrials.gov continues to increase, the ability to curate it becomes more valuable to different audiences. With the advancement of personalized medicine, it is important to make the data accessible to the health care and patient communities. Information found on the Trial Insights platform can help guide decision making across the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and contract research organization industries as clinical trial data is a primary information source for competitive intelligence, research planning and clinical study planning.

“We are extremely excited to launch the first Scientist.com exclusive, original service offering to our clients in the life sciences,” said Mark Herbert, Scientist.com Chief Business Officer. “Our goal at Scientist.com is to help cure all diseases by 2050, and we believe solutions like Trial Insights, which greatly simplifies access to and reporting of clinical trial data, will get us one step closer to reaching that goal.”

source: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190416005362/en/Scientist.com-Launches-Trial-Insights-Transformative-Clinical-Trials?utm_source=TrialIO+List

 

Other article on this Open Access Journal on Cancer Clinical Trial Design include:

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Early Diagnosis

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

This post contains a curation of all Early Diagnosis posts on this site as well as a curation of the Early Detection Research Network.

Early Research Detection Network (EDRN)

Welcome to EDRN

The Early Detection Research Network (EDRN), an initiative of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), brings together dozens of institutions to help accelerate the translation of biomarker information into clinical applications and to evaluate new ways of testing cancer in its earliest stages and for cancer risk.

Getting Started…

Check out the EDRN Highlights — a listing of our accomplishments and milestones.

 

► Scientific Components ► For Public, Patients, Advocates
► Collaborative Opportunities (how to join EDRN) ► For Researchers

Highlights

Highlights of the accomplishments of the Early Detection Research Network.

A brief list of major EDRN-developed assays that have been adapted for clinical use is described in the table below:

Detection/Biomarker Assay Discovery Refine/Adapt for Clin Use Clinical Validation Clinical Translation
Blood proPSA FDA approved
Urine PCA3 FDA approved
OVA1™ for Ovarian Cancer FDA approved
ROMA Algorithm for CA125 and HE4 Tests for Pelvic Mass Malignancies FDA approved
Blood/DCP and AFP-L3 for Hepatocellular Carcinoma FDA approved
Blood GP73 Together with AFP-L3 used  for monitoring cirrhotic patients for HCC in China
MiPS (Mi Prostate Score Urine test), Multiplex analysis of T2-ERG gene fusion, PCA3 and serum PSA In CLIA Lab
FISH to detect T2S:Erg fusion for Prostate Cancer In CLIA Lab
GSTP1 methylation for repeat biopsies in prostate cancer In CLIA Lab
Mitochondrial deletion for detection of prostate cancer In CLIA Lab
Somalogic 12-marker panel for Lung Cancer In CLIA Lab
80-gene panel for Lung Cancer In CLIA Lab
Vimentin Methylation Marker for Colon Cancer In CLIA Lab
Galectin-3 ligand for detection of adenomas and colon cancer In CLIA Lab
8-gene panel for Barrett’s Esophagus In CLIA Lab
SOPs for Blood (Serum, Plasma), Urine, Stool Frequently used by biomarker research community
EDRN Pre/Validation Specimen Reference Sets (specimens from well characterized and matched cases and controls from specific disease spectra) Frequently used by biomarker research community

Since its inception in 1999 EDRN has achieved several key milestones, summarized below:

1998 through 2000: Inception and Inauguration of EDRN

2001 to 2003: Meeting the Challenges to Harness and Share Emerging Scientific Knowledge

  • EDRN Second Report, Translational Research to Identify Early Cancer and Cancer Risk, October 2002, http://edrn.nci.nih.gov/docs.) published.
  • EDRN joined the Gordon Research Conferences to co-host the New Frontiers in Cancer detection and Diagnosis in 2002.

 

  • Guidelines Set for Studies Measuring Biomarker Predictive Power Journal of National Cancer Institute (Vol. 93, No. 14, July 18, 2001).
  • EDRN Associate Membership Program Initiated: This novel approach to make EDRN inclusive has been extremely successful. EDRN has now more than 120 Associate Members who are significantly contributing to EDRN efforts in biomarker discovery, development and validation.

2003 to 2004: Network Surges Ahead in Real-time

  • Collaborative Discovery and Validation Projects:  More than 100 collaborative projects spanned the various organ sites. These projects are monitored through the EDRN’s electronic System Information System (eSIS).
  • EDRN Virtual Specimen Bank and Validation Management System Launched: The EDRN Virtual Specimen Bank, also known as ERNE knowledge system, was deployed to 10 institutions in early 2003, allowing a common web-based query to search for available specimens across the EDRN Clinical Epidemiology and Validation Centers https://ginger.fhcrc.org/edrn/imp/GateServlet?pwd. VSIMS was created to allow multiple studies to be administered efficiently by minimizing development time with standardization of information and data management across multiple activities and research sites. This system encompasses all the security features of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-required auditing systems.
  • Partnership on the Plasma Proteome Project (PPP) Initiative of the Human Proteome Organization (HUPO): PPP project was initiated to evaluate multiple technology platforms, develop bioinformatic tools and standards for protein identification, and create a database of the plasma proteome. The entire study was published in the August issue of the journal Proteomics August 2005, Volume 4 (4), pp 1045-1450.

2005 to 2008: An Investment in Prevention

  • In late 2006, EDRN’s Program for Rapid, Independent Diagnostic Evaluation (PRIDE), was established (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-CA-07-003.html ) as an administrative means to assist extramural investigators in successfully conducting cross-laboratory validation of biomarkers. Ten applications have been reviewed and five are being supported.
  • EDRN underwent external reviews in 2007 and 2008.
  • The Canary Foundation, Palo Alto, CA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with EDRN, NCI on supporting prostate cancer surveillance network of investigators from seven institutions. The tissue and serum will be collected during a three-year period and will be made available to extramural scientists for discovery and validation research.
  • The Lustgarten Foundation, N.Y., funded 6 institutions to generate monoclonal antibodies and associated hybridoma cell lines for pancreatic cancer antigens (biomarkers) identified by EDRN and non-EDRN investigators. These resources will be stored at the NCI-Frederick Facility for distribution to extramural investigators.

2009 to 2011: Realizing Investment for Clinical Use

  • Two biomarker tests approved by FDA and two IVDs pending FDA review.
  • Six biomarker tests offered by CLIA labs.
  • One biomarker test approved for clinical use outside the USA

A Curation of Posts on Early Detection of Cancer and Other Early Detection Networks is Included Below

 

BRCA 1 and 2 and Early Detection of Cancer

Early Detection of Prostate Cancer: American Urological Association (AUA) Guideline

Mechanism involved in Breast Cancer Cell Growth: Function in Early Detection & Treatment

Warning signs may lead to better early detection of ovarian cancer

Cancer Detection

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

China, India, and Russia account for 46% of all new cancer cases globally, as well as 52% of cancer-related mortality per 4/2014 Lancet Oncology article

 

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Heroes in Medical Research: Dr. Robert Ting, Ph.D. and Retrovirus in AIDS and Cancer

Curator and Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

This is the second posting in this series in which I highlight the basic research which led to seminal breakthroughs in the medical field, brought on by the result of basic inquiry, thorough and detailed investigation, meticulously following the scientific method, and eventually leading to development of important medical therapies.

In his autobiography, Virus Hunting: AIDS, Cancer & the Human Retrovirus: A Story of Scientific Discovery, Dr. Robert Gallo, M.D. describes a wonderful story of the history behind, scientific biographies, and chronology of the discoveries which led he and his colleagues (including co-discoverer Dr. Luke Montagnier) to recognize retroviruses (in particular HIV) as the leading culprit for the cause of AIDS and in the etiology of Kaposi’s sarcoma.   For anyone who appreciates the history behind scientific discoveries and appreciates learning about the multitude of individual efforts which are the crux of seminal research, this book is a must read.

Recommendations from the back cover include:

Virus Hunting will be read and reread, for years to come.” —New York Newsday

“Provides a human, revealing look into the arcane, usually secret confines of laboratory science.”

Martin Delany, Project Inform

..as well as others.

While a fascinating aspect of this book is the description, like fitting pieces of a puzzle, of the important discoveries throughout history which are the necessary foundations for further investigations and discoveries, more important is a telling, personal narrative of the people involved in those initial and subsequent discoveries.  In fact, the book has over 396 colleagues, mentors, technicians, students, and even critiques who are given credit, in one form or another, for the ultimate discovery of HIV as a causative agent for the development of AIDS. The book is a literal Who’s Who in Science and shows how important personal collaboration and friendships are in the process of scientific discovery.

In 1972, Dr. Seymour Perry had appointed the young Dr. Robert Gallo as head of a new department, the Human Tumor Cell Biology Branch, renamed the Laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology.  The lab was carrying on the work on tRNA that Dr. Gallo had performed in Dr. Sid Perska’s group at NIH.  However, with the help of new lab members Dr. David Gillespie, Dr. Flossie Wong-Staal, and Dr. Marjorie Robert-Guroff the lab focused on the search for disease-causing retroviruses, especially in human leukemias.  This was, in part, due to conversations with Dr. Robert Huebner and Todaro, who insisted that

“within the genetic makeup of this endogenous retroviral material was, they suggested, a special gene, the oncogene, that was the parent of the cancer-causing protein”

which may explain some of the early work by Rous concerning the Rous sarcoma virus.

Enter in Gallo’s good friend Dr. Bob Ting.  Dr. Gallo had known Dr. Ting socially since 1966, shortly after Gallo had arrived at NIH.  Dr. Bob Ting was a well-established NCI investigator, who was doing work on DNA and RNA oncogenic viruses of animals.  Originally from a large and wealthy family in Hong Kong, Dr. Ting had worked with Nobel Prize winners Salvatore Luria (who worked on phages) and Renato Dulbecco, who, along with his well-known cell culture media, had made the seminal discoveries that led to our knowledge how some DNA viruses can transform normal animal cells into neoplastic-like cells in culture.

Bob Ting gave a talk on these oncogenic viruses and Gallo was very interested in his observations that oncogenic viruses like Rous and Maloney, could transform cells in vitro in a matter of days.

A friendship developed between the two over tennis matches and Chinese food.  During this time, Dr. Ting made the important suggestion that they both collaborate and use the viral systems developed by Dulbecco.  Ting also introduced him to RNA viruses, Dr. Robert Huebner, and Dr. Howard Temin.  It was, in part, due to these associations that Gallo started looking, in earnest, at the possibility of RNA retroviruses in leukemias. Thus, just like the internet today, connections and networking provided new insights into current research, and helped lead the advent of new discoveries, therapies, and scientific disciplines.

Therefore, “after some late-night discussion with Bob Ting, I decided to enter the fray. My own laboratory, … would immediately be set up to compare the properties of reverse transcriptase enzymes from many different animal retroviruses”.

Although the rest is more history, this early friendship, collaboration, and mentoring by Bob Ting had “transformed” Gallo’s research efforts to set him up to make some of the important discoveries eventually leading to the discovery of the role of HIV in AIDS.

A video interviewing Dr. Gallo can be found here:

VIEW VIDEO

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELRlXLGWu4I

A very nice writeup/obituary for Dr. Ting was written by Patricia Sullivan of the Washington Post and is included below.

Robert Ting, 77; Biotech Pioneer

ME/Ting-ob

Dr. Robert Ting’s biotech company in Rockville developed the first FDA-approved diagnostic test kits to test for HIV antibodies. (By Gerald Martineau — The Washington Post)

 

By Patricia Sullivan

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 22, 2006

Robert C.Y. Ting, 77, a research scientist who started one of the early biotechnology companies in the Washington area, died Sept. 11 of complications after cardiac surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland.

Dr. Ting founded Biotech Research Laboratories Inc. in Rockville in 1973, producing cells for government scientists to use in research. Eleven years later, his firm obtained a federal license to develop and produce the first FDA-approved diagnostic test kits for HIV antibody confirmation.

Robert C. Gallo, who co-discovered the HIV virus as the cause of AIDS, called Dr. Ting a pioneer in the field who popularized the term “biotechnology” when he moved from research to entrepreneurship.

“He introduced me to virology, and he did it twice,” said Gallo, director of the Institute of Human Virology in Baltimore. The men had known each other since the 1960s, and while playing tennis one day, Dr. Ting advised the cancer researcher to look at new research in viruses. Later, when Gallo was studying leukemia, Dr. Ting directed him to animal research in leukemia. “First he showed me how viruses change cells. Then he introduced me to retrovirology. . . . I went into retrovirology solely because of those discussions with Bob Ting on tennis courts,” Gallo said.

Dr. Ting, whom Gallo described as a quiet, modest man, was born in Shanghai, the son of a physician to Gen. Chiang Kai-Shek. His family fled the country during the Japanese invasion of China during World War II and moved to Hong Kong. Soon after, he moved to the United States, where he received a bachelor’s degree and in 1956 a master’s degree in genetics from Amherst College.

He received a doctoral degree in microbiology and biochemistry from the University of Illinois in 1960 under Salvador E. Luria, who later won the 1969 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology. Dr. Ting spent the next two years on a postdoctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology, working with Renato Dulbecco, who later won the 1975 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology. Their work focused on how viruses cause tumors.

“A lot of molecular biology developed from this,” Dr. Ting told The Washington Post in 1984 from his Rockville office, cluttered with scientific journals, awards and a large blackboard. “There was so much evidence in animal systems [that viruses cause tumors], that the next question was obvious — can you find the equivalent in humans.”

Dr. Ting joined the National Institutes of Health in 1962 as a visiting fellow and then a senior research scientist at the National Cancer Institute. From 1966 to 1968, he was an associate editor for the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In 1969, he joined Litton Bionetics Inc. in Rockville as director of experimental oncology, leading a project funded by the institute to search for viruses in human leukemia patients. He became scientific director of the cancer research branch the next year.

With academic, government and private business experience under his belt, Dr. Ting decided to go into business on his own and in 1973 started Biotech Research Laboratories in Rockville. It was a profitable supplier of research services and supplies until 1981, when it went public and produced the HIV diagnostic test kits. It became one of the most successful public biotech companies in the area in the mid-1980s.

The Economic Development Board of Singapore invited him to return to Asia to start a biotech company, which he did in 1985, forming Diagnostic Biotechnology Ltd. He also joined the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology at the National University of Singapore, which Gallo called “the most prominent Asian academic biotechnology center.”

He returned to the United States in 1998 to join the board of Cell Works Inc. in Baltimore, and became chair and chief executive of a joint venture, Cell Works Asia Limited, in 2000.

Most recently, Dr. Ting was the founding president and chief executive of Profectus Biosciences Inc. of Baltimore, previously known as Maryland BioTherapeutics Inc.

Dr. Ting was past chairman of the F.F. Fraternity, one of the oldest Chinese fraternities in the United States. He was also a member of the Organization of Chinese Americans in the D.C. area since its inception in the early 1970s. He enjoyed tennis, golf, ballroom dancing and international travel. He also was a wine connoisseur.

Survivors include his wife of 44 years, Sylvia Han Ting of Potomac; three children, Anthony Ting of Shaker Heights, Ohio, Andrew Ting of Beverly, Mass., and Jennifer Chow of Potomac; seven sisters; and seven grandchildren.

An obituary written from his son Anthony can be found here:

https://www.amherst.edu/aboutamherst/magazine/in_memory/1953/robertting

Sources:

http://www.amazon.com/Virus-Hunting-Retrovirus-Scientific-Discovery/dp/0465098150

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/21/AR2006092101936.html

Other articles/postings related to this topic and HIV on this site includes:

Heroes in Medical Research: Barnett Rosenberg and the Discovery of Cisplatin

History of medicine, science, and society: 200 Years of the New England Journal of Medicine

Why did Pauling Lose the “Race” to James Watson and Francis Crick? How Crick Describes his Discovery in a Letter to his Son

John Randall’s MRC Research Unit and Rosalind Franklin’s role at Kings College

Interview with the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA: Watson on The Double Helix and his changing view of Rosalind Franklin

Otto Warburg, A Giant of Modern Cellular Biology

Inspiration From Dr. Maureen Cronin’s Achievements in Applying Genomic Sequencing to Cancer Diagnostics

Nanotechnology and HIV/AIDS treatment

HIV vaccine: Caltech puts us One step further

Getting Better: Documentary Videos on Medical Progress — in Surgery, Leukemia, and HIV/AIDS.

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