Taking aim at the troublesome bottleneck between academic biomedical discoveries and clinical applications suitable for commercial development, UMass Medical School has joined the university partnership of BioPontis Alliance. With the agreement, UMMS and BioPontis will collaborate to identify innovative biomedical breakthroughs made at UMMS that have the potential to become viable treatments for cancer, neurological disorders and other diseases.
A team of scientists, including faculty at UMass Medical School, have discovered a gene that influences survival time in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). The study, published in Nature Medicine, describes how the loss of activity of a receptor called EphA4 substantially extends the lifespan of people with the disease. When coupled with a UMMS study published last month in Nature identifying a new ALS gene (profilin-1) that also works in conjunction with EphA4, these findings point to a new molecular pathway in neurons that is directly related to ALS susceptibility and severity.
Reflectance Medical Inc., a biomedical device company built on the work of founder Babs Soller, PhD, professor emeritus of anesthesiology and surgery, has received FDA clearance for its initial product, the CareGuide Oximeter. The device is the first FDA-approved product that can monitor oxygen levels in the muscle tissue of patients, with uses ranging from pediatric and intensive care monitoring to assessment of patients with traumatic injury or cardiovascular problems.
The UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science awarded UMass Life Sciences Moment Fund grants to four teams of investigators from UMMS and other campuses.
The UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science has named David McManus, MD, the 2012 Clinical Research Scholar and awarded three Pilot Project Program Awards.
Scientists at UMass Medical School are studying an old-world disease to gather new insights into the human innate immune system. Using the bubonic plague as a model system, researchers have pinpointed a gene critical to detecting and responding to the bacteria. The work, described in the journal Immunity, suggests that activation of the NLRP12 gene could be a therapeutic target to stimulate the innate immune system against other pathogens. Efficient evasion of the innate immune system is a key evolutionary component of the virulence of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague. Those same factors that contribute to Y. pestis’s deadly history, though, make it a unique model for understanding how the innate immune system protects us from bacterial infection.
Joan Greffrath of Worcester is treating her breast cancer diagnosis the way her mother approached her own battles with cancer: with humor and grace. Her positive attitude explains why she considers it “a gift” to participate in a new clinical trial for breast reconstruction after mastectomy being conducted by John Castle, MD, clinical assistant professor of surgery and plastic surgery director at the UMass Memorial Comprehensive Breast Center.
Brian P. O’Sullivan, MD, has been named the director of the newly established Bioethics Core. Envisioned when planning began as part of the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science, the Bioethics Core will lead educational and research efforts as they relate to bioethics.
Kate Lapane, PhD, has been appointed associate dean for clinical and population health research and director of the CPHR training program.
UMass Medical School received three awards totaling more than $2 million from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), more than any other institution in the country. The grants will fund a study of evidence-based, informed decision making for cancer screening tests; the development of an adaptive computer system for personalized health communication in smoking cessation; and the creation of clinical practice guidelines for screening lung and prostate cancers. The awards are part of PCORI’s Pilot Projects Program, which supports projects that encourage patient involvement in various aspects of the research and dissemination process.