Winter 2013 Newsletter
Winter 2013 Newsletter
Research in Your Backyard
Panel Discussion and New Report Highlight Benefit of Vermont Clinical Trials for Patients, State Economy
Working with Vermont research institutions, including the University of Vermont and Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, the nation’s biopharmaceutical research companies have conducted 566 clinical trials of new medicines since 1999, according to a new report released today and highlighted at a panel discussion in Burlington. According to the latest data from 2011, this activity also generated $267 million per year in economic activity in the state.
The “Research in Your Backyard: Pharmaceutical Clinical Trials in Vermont” report and cutting-edge research by Vermont scientists were the focus of the event, with Governor Shumlin providing keynote remarks. Sponsored by Vermont Biosciences Alliance, the University of Vermont, Fletcher Allen Health Care and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the panelists included several University of Vermont disease researchers, patient advocate Michael O’Connor, past president of the Vermont Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, Green Mountain Antibodies Inc. President and Vermont Biosciences Alliance Chairman Bill Church and PhRMA Executive Vice President Bill Chin.
The report shows that over half of the medicines clinically tested by biopharmaceutical companies and research collaborators in Vermont have targeted the nation’s most debilitating chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, asthma and mental illnesses. And in 2011, the biopharmaceutical research sector supported nearly 1,500 jobs in the state, including clinicians at local institutions that conduct clinical trials.
“We want to attract these trials to our state, considering the benefits of clinical research to patients and the local institutions that conduct trials,” said Governor Shumlin. “These companies allow talented researchers in Vermont to help develop new treatments for cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses in need of new treatments. Our scientists are part of an important ongoing effort to improve care for patients around the world.”
“The broad availability of clinical trials in Vermont results from a very productive relationship between the Academic Medical Center and industry. This has insured that promising novel treatments are locally available and that our community benefits from these emerging therapeutic opportunities,” said Ira M. Bernstein M.D., John Van Sicklen Maeck Professor and Chair, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and Senior Associate Dean for Research, University of Vermont College of Medicine
Biotechnology treatments in Vermont trials include a monoclonal antibody for lymphoma that is being tested at Mountainview Medical in Berlin and Fletcher Allen Health Care Medical Center. A monoclonal antibody for treating idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is also being tested in the state, as is a recombinant fusion protein for age-related macular degeneration.
“Vermont is contributing to the advancement of science in very real, tangible ways through its clinical trial work with our companies,” said Dr. Bill Chin. “New medicines are only possible through collaboration, and Vermont demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships to elevate science and bring medicines to patients. These collaborations bring life-saving, life-enhancing biopharmaceutical discoveries to patients in need.”
The report shows that 48 chronic disease trials in the state, including 20 for cancer and 10 for heart disease, are still active and recruiting patients.
“It is important for patients and their doctors to be aware of clinical research in their communities,” said Chin. “Greater awareness and understanding about clinical trials would allow them to explore participating in the research, and the new report provides a helpful step for getting more information about Vermont’s active trials.”
Get more information on the report, including locations of Vermont clinical trials, here.
VBSA: Connect With Us
Join the VBSA
Expand your professional network and keep current on news and opportunities in bioscience right here in Vermont. Tiered membership dues for businesses, individuals, educational and public service organizations are available and membership is free for students and teachers at the elementary and high school levels.
Check our website for more on the benefits of joining the VBSA and to sign up. (http://vtbiosciences.org/join)
Haemtech Assay Validated for FDA-Approved IGIV Drug
Haemtech Biopharma Services’ thrombin generation assay (TGA) was developed to assess the thrombogenic potential of solutions. According to Richard Jenny, HBS’s President and CEO, “There has been an increasing push by regulatory authorities for plasma-based biotherapeutics manufacturers to improve upon methods used to determine the thrombogenic potential of their products. We believe the validation of this assay to be a significant step toward our ability to help all manufacturers meet this goal. We can now use our experience to offer TGA assay development, validation and implementation services to all plasma-derived drug product manufacturers looking to satisfy regulatory requirements”.
Applying Lessons from Silicon Valley to Life Science Startups
Steve Blank is a (mostly) successful entrepreneur, turned entrepreneurship author and teacher—he is widely considered an expert in launching successful technology companies. The National Science Foundation Innovation Corps is based on ideas developed by Steve Blank and his free online course How to Build a Startup. He calls his system “Lean Launchpad”. Over the last few months, he has been involved with an in-person Lean Launchpad for Life Sciences & Healthcare class offered at UCSF. His blog includes several entries describing the course content and lessons learned. It’s a must-read for anyone considering entering the bioscience start-up space.
BioTek Instruments Wins Again (and Again)
For the second year in a row, BioTek Instruments was selected as winner of the SelectScience “Scientists’ Choice Award for Best Drug Discovery Product”. This year their new Cytation™3 Cell Imaging Multi-Mode Reader was the winner (last year it was their Synergy™ NEO HTS Multi-Mode Microplate Reader).
Read the press release here.
The Cytation3 was also one of three winners of the the first annual New Product Innovation Award, given by MipTec organizers at the 2013 MipTec Conference & Exhibition in Basel, Switzerland.
Read the press release here
News from UVM
SPARK VT Initiative Seminar Series Now Available Online
The UVM College of Medicine SPARK pilot program provides small grants to researchers with ideas that can move quickly “from bench to bedside”. Part of the program was a series of seminars on a wide range of topics related to commercializing scientific know-how. These seminars are now available online at the College of Medicine website. Click here and look for the topics that interest you on the right-hand sidebar.
Food additive shows promise in slowing aggressive brain cancer cells
Dr. Diane Jaworski’s laboratory in the UVM Department of Neurological Sciences has recently identified a novel, safe chemotherapeutic adjuvant that shows promise in treating gliomas, highly malignant tumors that originate in the glial cells of the brain. Despite multimodal therapy, the prognosis for cancer patients with glioblastoma, the most aggressive glioma type, remains poor due, in part, to the presence of chemotherapy and radiation resistant glioma stem cells.
Dr. Jaworski’s strategy is based on the low acetate bioavailability levels that characterize not only glioma cells, but most cancer cells. They have recently filed a patent application for the use of Triacetin (glyceryl triacetate, GTA), which can pass through the blood-brain barrier, as a way to increase chemotherapy effectiveness in slowing the growth of gliomas and increasing survival. GTA shows minimal toxicity to noncancerous cells in vitro and has a track record of safe use in human infants. According to Jaworski, “Acetate supplementation may prove to be a novel efficacious therapeutic strategy for glioma treatment since it acts at the intersection of epigenetics and metabolism, two hallmarks of aggressive tumor growth.”
Read more about Dr. Jaworski’s triacetin research here
License this technology through the UVM Office of Technology Commercialization
UVM Recruiting for an Outpatient Dengue Vaccine Study
The University of Vermont Vaccine Testing Center is conducting a Phase 1 evaluation of a single Dengue fever vaccine that may provide immunity against all four types of Dengue virus. Currently, there is no vaccine available to prevent this mosquito-born viral illness that causes 10–100 million cases of the disease every year. Infection with the virus may provide long-term immunity to that specific type, but does not protect against the other three types. This study will evaluate how well the vaccine promotes anti-Dengue antibody production and its safety. Participants will be involved with the study for one year and will receive two doses of live attenuated virus, six months apart.
The UVM center is actively looking for study volunteers.
Check out frequently asked questions about the study here.
Learn more about becoming a volunteer here.