Archive for January, 2011

Researchers and GRA VentureLab startup collaborate on new treatment option for ovarian cancer

According to a posting on the Georgia Tech Newsroom Web page, researchers are exploring the use of magnetic nanoparticles engineered to capture cancer cells and the use of an outside-the-body filtration system to remove the captured cancer cells.  John McDonald, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Biology and chief research scientist of the Ovarian Cancer Institute and postdoctoral fellow Ken Scarberry are developing the system with GRA VentureLab company Sub-Micro.  The Georgia Research Alliance also has provided support for the underlying research.

In mice with free-floating ovarian cancer cells, a single treatment with an early prototype of the nanoparticle-magnetic filtration system captured enough of the cancer cells that the treated mice lived nearly a third longer than untreated ones. The researchers expect multiple treatments to extend the longevity benefit, though additional research will be needed to document that — and determine the best treatment options.

The researchers hope to have a prototype circulation and filtration device ready for testing within three years. After that will come studies into the best treatment regimen, examining such issues as the number of magnetic nanoparticles to use, the number of treatments and treatment spacing. If those are successful, the company will work with the FDA to design human clinical trials.  Read more>

January 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm Leave a comment

Molecules on the move

GRA Eminent Scholar Jeff Skolnick and his colleagues at Georgia Tech are using large-scale computer simulations to identify key factors affecting how molecules move within cells.  Understanding in detail inactions in the crowded environment within cells is a step that may lead to vital information for developing new therapeutic drugs and for better understanding how disease states develop.  The researchers hope ultimately to develop a complete simulation of cellular processes.  For a detailed look at their work, see John Toon’s article “Traffic in Cells” in Georgia Tech’s Research Horizons magazine (p 20-21).

January 26, 2011 at 4:41 pm Leave a comment

Cocaine, HIV/AIDS drug interactions may increase cardiovascular injury

Emory University researchers will use a new $5.7 million grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health to study the biochemical mechanisms behind cocaine and anti-viral drug interactions in mouse models of AIDS.  According to the study’s principle investigator, William Lewis, MD, “Research from our laboratory has shown that genetic products of HIV, along with anti-viral drugs, increase cells’ oxidative stress, which causes damage to the heart cells, eventually leading to heart failure.

“Cocaine, HIV/AIDS and antiretroviral nucleosides interact at multiple levels.  We want to understand which switches are being turned on and which are being turned off at the level of the gene.” 

GRA Eminent Scholar Michael Kuhar, Candler Professor of Neuropharmacology at the Emory School of Medicine will serve as a consultant to the study.

Read more here.

January 21, 2011 at 3:11 pm Leave a comment

MCG researchers exploring spice and dye as treatment for traumatic brain injury

According to a news release from the Medical College of Georgia, an old Indian spice and a dye whose cousin makes sports drinks blue are pointing scientists toward a better treatment for traumatic brain injuries or TBIs.  These injuries are rampant in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, occur on football fields and roadways and result in brain swelling that causes cell damage and symptoms ranging from headaches and confusion to seizures, slurred speech and death.

Vital research like this has been helped by investments from the Georgia Research Alliance in sophisticated research tools and world-renowned scientists who are part of the MCG Institute of Neuroscience.  The Institute’s director is GRA Eminent Scholar Robert Yu.  Other GRA Eminent Scholars at MCG who focus on the neurosciences are Lin Mei, a neurobiologist who investigates schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, and Joe Tsien, an expert in memory.

For the full TBI story, follow this link.

January 14, 2011 at 3:33 pm Leave a comment

AAAS elects three GRA Eminent Scholars as 2010 Fellows

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has elected GRA Eminent Scholars Cliff Baile (University of Georgia), Roberto Docampo (University of Georgia) and Don Giddens (Georgia Tech) as 2010 Fellows.  The January 11 announcement from the international organization dedicated to promoting science globally noted that the Fellows are selected for the “contributions to science and technology.”

The three join 13 GRA Eminent Scholars who were elected AAAS fellows in earlier years.  They are:  Rafi Ahmed (Emory), Barbara Boyan (Georgia Tech), Jean-Luc Bredas (Georgia Tech), Max Cooper (Emory), Russ Dupuis (Georgia Tech), Steve Harvey (Georgia Tech), Eric Hunter (Emory), Rob Maier (UGA), Vasu Nair (UGA), Jim Prestegard (UGA), Jeff Skolnick (Georgia Tech), Rick Trebino (Georgia Tech) and Ying Xu (UGA).

January 13, 2011 at 10:51 am 1 comment

Parasites that attack the especially vulnerable are subject of new GRA Distinguished Investigator’s research

Boris Striepen’s research can lead to the development of new drugs to treat parasitic diseases             

Boris Striepen

The Universtiy of Georgia  today announced that Boris Striepen, who studies AIDS-associated parasites, has been named a Georgia Research Alliance Distinguished Investigator. His appointment is part of a GRA initiative to recruit, retain and support top scientists who conduct research in next-generation vaccines and therapeutics.

According to the UGA news release, the parasites that are the focus of Striepen’s research can cause severe disease in infants, small children and individuals with weakened immune symptoms, such as those suffering from AIDS. The Striepen laboratory uses modern genetic approaches to investigate the unique biology of these parasites in an effort to identify specific targets for intervention.

“Boris has been instrumental in developing UGA’s Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases into one of the world’s premier centers for the study of parasitic diseases of humans, “ said Rick Tarleton, Distinguished Research Professor in the department of cellular biology. “His insights into the metabolism and basic cell biology of apicomplexan parasites that kill millions of people each year are translational and will lead to the development of new drugs. The GRA could not have chosen a more deserving candidate for this honor.”

January 7, 2011 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Finding biomedical research expertise in Georgia was never easier

For the past two years, the Georgia Research Alliance has led a project to help industry and universities find just the right collaborator for solving R&D challenges.  The result is iResearchGeorgia — an easy-to use, information-packed searchable database the includes detailed profiles of some 800 top biomedical scientists at eight leading Georgia research universities.  Follow this link to access a podcast to learn more.  Then link to the iResearch Georgia site and explore.

January 6, 2011 at 9:00 am Leave a comment