Noninvasive Liquid Biopsies Rapidly, Accurately Determine Response to Cancer Treatment

Results of two clinical studies have added to evidence that blood-based liquid biopsies can accurately track lung cancer treatment responses by measuring circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) during immunotherapy and related treatments. “There is an unmet clinical need for real-time, noninvasive detection of tumor response to targeted and immune checkpoint blockade treatments,” says Victor Velculescu, M.D., Ph.D., co-director of cancer biology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. “Our studies suggest that tests using blood samples will change the way cancer patients will be treated by helping to evaluate therapeutic responses more quickly and accurately, and avoid unneeded toxicity or ineffective … Continue reading

Tips for Communicating Science Results to the Public

A recent meeting about the disconnect between scientific and public beliefs points to ways researchers can improve how they communicate with skeptics Article courtesy of Kari Fischer, The Scientist Magazine   Recent headlines about measles outbreaks across the country, despite the availability of an effective vaccine, make it hard to escape the feeling that widespread rejection of science is on the rise. Whether it be climate change debates, vaccine fears, or skepticism of genetically engineered crops, the media is full of stories about those who distrust the conclusions or motivations of the scientific community. And yet, these contemporary hot-button issues are part of a … Continue reading

Funding Opportunity: NCATS Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program

Application deadline: Apr. 5, 2019, 5:00 p.m. local time NCATS invites small businesses and academic researchers to apply for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. SBIR: PA-18-574   & STTR: PA-18-575 Small businesses and research organizations involved in commercializing innovative medical technologies are encouraged to apply. NCATS is particularly interested in applications that address research areas relevant to any stage of translation, from target validation through pre-clinical and clinical evaluation, to intervention implementation and dissemination, including: Drug Discovery and Development Biomedical, Clinical and Health Research Informatics Clinical, Dissemination and Implementation Research SBIR and STTR applicants can apply … Continue reading

Limited Submission Funding Opportunities Feb 21

The Office of the Vice Provost for Research (VPR) is pleased to announce the following Limited Submission opportunities available to the Johns Hopkins University community. Click Here to Apply NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR FEBRUARY 11, 2019 Sponsor Program Limit Maximum Award Amount   Internal Application Due Date     Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research     New Innovator Research Award   2 $300,000 2/19/2019 National Science Foundation (NSF)   Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Computing in Undergraduate Education (IUSE: CUE)   2 $350,000 3/26/2019 National Institutes of  Health (NIH)   Shared Instrumentation Grant (SIG) Program (S10 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)   … Continue reading

Immunotherapy Appears Better Than Chemotherapy for Aggressive Type of Skin Cancer

Immunotherapy drug treatment for Merkel cell carcinoma shows better responses, longer survival, leads to FDA approval of drug.   The first study of the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab as the initial treatment for patients with a rare but aggressive form of skin cancer known as Merkel cell carcinoma reports better responses and longer survival than expected with conventional chemotherapy. The study, co-led by Suzanne Topalian, M.D., associate director of the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, is the longest observation to date of Merkel cell carcinoma patients treated with any anti-PD-1 immunotherapy drug used in … Continue reading

Apply for the March 12 Informatics Consultation Session

The ICTR Informatics Core (i2c) piloted a new informatics consult service for researchers this month. Researchers preparing to submit a grant or preparing their IRB protocol and need information and guidance regarding data, technology, and related cost and governance matters are encouraged to apply for this free consult service. During the pilot period we will hold one 90 minute informatics consult session each month with up to three study teams attending each informatics consult session. The informatics consult sessions will be attended by Dr. Christopher Chute, Diana Gumas, and invited guests as required to address the specific questions being posed by the study … Continue reading

Mouse Studies Advance Search for New Class of Antidepressants

Drug developed at Johns Hopkins targets brain chemical distinct from other antidepressants on the market In experiments with mice, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine report a promising advance in the search for a new class of drugs to treat major depression. A compound developed by the Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery Group targets a chemical in specific cells of the mammalian brain, and eases signs of social avoidance and depression in rodents, without some of the toxic side effects that have bedeviled its parent compound. Most of the antidepressant drugs on the market target serotonin or norepinephrine neurotransmitters—chemical messengers in the … Continue reading

Male Sex Hormones Have a Role in Asthma

Study shows prevailing theory about lung inflammation may be incorrect In what they consider a surprise finding, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers have demonstrated a key role for male sex hormone “signaling” in inducing—rather than suppressing—allergic lung inflammation in a mouse model of asthma. The new study, they say, underscores the importance of appreciating sex differences and the role of sex hormones in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, and stresses the value of a personalized and precision medicine approach to clinical care for asthma specifically. The mouse study, described Oct. 10 online in the Journal of Immunology, shows that in … Continue reading

New Computer Program Reduces Spine Surgery Errors Linked to “Wrong Level” Labeling

Pilot study shows ‘LevelCheck’ program may prevent operating on wrong spinal segment   Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine report that a computer program they designed may help surgeons identify and label spinal segments during real time operating room procedures and avoid the costly and potentially debilitating consequences of operating on the wrong segment. The current study builds on previously described work—published in April 2015 and March 2016—on the algorithm dubbed LevelCheck, which was designed and developed by Jeffrey Siewerdsen, Ph.D., professor of biomedical engineering, computer science and radiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and founder of the … Continue reading

New Tips on Basic Research: Speeding Proteins and How Smell Affects Behavior

Protein breaks cell’s speed limit Individual rhomboid proteins being tracked in a human cell. As researchers watched these proteins travel, they found that many were moving more quickly than they “should” be able to based on the known physics of the cell (traced in red). They found that the rhomboid protein’s unique shape allows it to warp it’s environment, allowing it to move quickly from one target to another. (Credit: Siniša Urban)   Johns Hopkins researchers have found that rhomboid enzymes, which are special proteins that cut other proteins, are able to break the “cellular speed limit” as they move … Continue reading

Research Pushes Back on Benefits of Compounded Topical Pain Creams

Marketed and prescribed for a variety of muscle and nerve conditions, compounded topical pain creams and gels work about as well as placebos, study shows In an effort to reduce chronic pain, many people look for hope by paying $20 to thousands of dollars for a tube of prescription topical pain cream or gel. Now, results of a rigorous federally funded study mandated by Congress shows no statistically significant difference between relief offered by these creams and placebos, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. A report of the study is published in … Continue reading