MUSC sets new research record with 15% jump over 2019 see more
The Medical University of South Carolina has broken its own record as the state’s leader in garnering extramural funding for biomedical research. MUSC set a new high-water mark in FY2021, bringing in more than $328 million. The previous MUSC record for annual biomedical research funding was more than $284 million, set in FY2019.
“Being the state’s leader in biomedical research funding year after year is a significant accomplishment, and we applaud the passion and expertise of our dedicated scientists and their teams,” said David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, MUSC president. “Even so, reaching another record-breaking number is not an end in itself. The true impact of MUSC research is reflected in how we translate discoveries into new modalities of care and life-changing therapeutics. Research is a dynamic force that fuels how we fulfill our mission to lead health innovation for the lives we touch,” he added.
Lori McMahon Ph.D., vice president for Research, called the accomplishment outstanding, especially during a period when being awarded research grant funding has become more intensely competitive than ever before. No other publicly assisted academic institution in South Carolina consistently garners near $250 million in research funding year after year.
MUSC research focuses on a wide variety of areas including cancer, community health, drug discovery, health disparities, inflammation and fibrosis, neuroscience, oral health, stroke and addiction.
Health Sciences Center at Prisma Health awards Clemson grants for research on cancer treatment, genetics, patient care16 projects funded with generosity of Prisma Health team see more
The Health Sciences Center at Prisma Health has awarded Clemson University researchers 16 grants that range from projects on cancer treatments to the use of exoskeletons for health care providers.
The seed funding supports the mission of the center, a collaborative effort between Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, Furman University and Prisma Health to foster cooperative research.
Windsor Westbrook Sherrill, associate vice president of health research at Clemson University and chief science officer at Prisma Health, hopes that these projects will inform best practices within health care research and influence positive change within the health care system.
“This year’s submissions were phenomenal, and we look forward to seeing the results from these 16 funded projects. Having clinicians and academic researchers involved in these projects ensures that the research has the best chance of creating transformation in health care and health outcomes,” Sherrill said. “Since this program began seven years ago, several projects have received large federal funding and results have been implemented at Prisma Health, helping improve the care of their patients.”
Click here to read complete details about the one-year grant projects, including the names of Clemson and Prisma Health researchers.
Systems allow for a more comprehensive look into biological networks see more
No single gene causes uterine cancer, the fourth most common cancer among women, which is on the rise in the U.S.
That’s why Clemson University geneticist Allison Hickman’s research focused on identifying networks of genes involved in uterine cancer that could be potential targets for more effective drug therapies.
The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 66,000 women in the U.S. receive uterine cancer diagnoses this year. More than 12,500 women will die from the disease in 2022.
Using data from publicly available genomic databases, a mathematics-based distribution algorithm and Knowledge Independent Network Construction (KINC) software developed by her professor Alex Feltus in collaboration with Clemson alumnus and current Washington State University Assistant Professor Stephen Ficklin, Hickman built condition-specific biomarker systems for normal uterine tissue and two subtypes of uterine cancer — endometrial cancer, the most common type, and uterine carcinosarcoma, which is more rare, aggressive and deadly.
These systems allow for a more comprehensive look into the biological networks and pathways affected in uterine cancer than single-gene analyses done in previous studies.
“We’re looking for patterns. In this study, we were able to distinguish genes that had different relationships in uterine cancer than they did in normal uterine tissue,” said Hickman, who earned her Ph.D. in genetics from Clemson in December. “The ultimate goal is to gain a better understanding of what’s happening biologically at the cellular level in these cancers so it can lead to better treatment in the future.”
No one gene determines whether a person will develop cancer. Rather, it’s a complex system of genes.
Hickman’s study found 11 high priority genes associated with uterine cancer. Those genes are potential targets for drug therapies.
“We have the power now, for the first time in the history of science, to look at the entire system and find the pieces that are broken and then to begin to fix them. It’s not about finding the silver bullet for one gene,” Feltus said. “It’s about finding the cocktails from a treatment perspective for sets of genes.”
Feltus used a spider web as an analogy. If you want to get rid of the web, you can clip one strand of the spider web, but it’s not likely to go away. But if you hit enough points on the spider web, the web will collapse.
The work of Hickman and other researchers in the field is important because scientists can see if therapeutics approved for other types of cancer target the same “broken genes.”
“Ultimately, and this is the true holy grail, if we know there are x number of broken genes in a patient’s uterine cancer, we can adjust those genes with small doses of drugs that target all of those broken genes at the same time as opposed to with one giant nuclear bomb of poison like a lot of cancer drugs we have right now,” Feltus said.
“One hundred years from now, there will be drugs that interact with most of the genes, so you’ll be able to design cocktails based on the genetic profile of the tumor,” he said.
Hickman first compiled data from two online public databases for genomic information: The Cancer Genome Atlas and the National Institutes of Health Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx project. She used Gaussian mixture models to build condition-specific gene co-expression networks for endometrial cancer, uterine carcinosarcoma and normal uterine tissue. She then incorporated uterine regulatory edges and investigated potential co-regulation relationships.
Hickman said that approach allowed for analysis of genes involved in more than one biological process and therefore have multiple expression patterns.
An article published in G3-Genes Genomes Genetics titled “Identification of Condition-Specific Biomarker Systems in Uterine Cancer” describes Hickman’s research. Other authors of the paper are Yuqing Hang and Rini Pauly.
Clemson researchers pursue cutting-edge science and targeted medicine to improve lifespan, quality see more
In the last 25 years, rigorous research, broad medical collaborations and lifesaving interventions have made huge strides for cancer treatment. That means survival rates are up across the board for almost all forms of cancer, including the two most common ones for South Carolinians: breast and prostate cancer.
As recently as the late 1990s, there were clinical trials, and there were heroic efforts, but there were very few effective treatments for combatting some of the most highly aggressive forms of cancer. Twenty-five years later, some of those same cancers have a more than 80 percent survival rate.
Clemson can point to health innovation through research that has played notable roles in improving health outcomes for patients statewide. And that’s because cancer intervention isn’t isolated to bedside care from a nurse or petri-dish analysis from the lab.
Today, cancer treatment is:
- Powered by huge data sets that build the artificial intelligence needed to identify root causes of and precision cures for cancer.
- Innovative approaches, such as precision radio frequency that targets cancer cells rather than an IV drip administering chemotherapy drugs.
- Cellular research to develop new methods of finding and eliminating cancer faster, more safely and more efficiently.
- Identifying and preventing the side effects of treatment drugs and improving quality of life for patients even as they and their health care teams aggressively fight cancer.
KIYATEC Announces Investment from Seae Ventures and Names Managing Partner Jason Robart to KIYATEC Board of DirectorsCancer testing innovator KIYATEC fits investor’s focus in disruptive healthcare technology see more
KIYATEC, Inc. announced today that it secured a $2.5 million investment from Boston-based healthcare service and technology venture capital fund Seae Ventures. The fund’s focus in disruptive healthcare technologies aligns with KIYATEC’s goal to fundamentally change the way cancer drugs are selected by providing oncologists with patient-specific evidence of response, prior to treatment initiation.
Although significant strides toward personalized medicine have been achieved in the past two decades, oncologists remain largely unable to predict treatment response for individual patients. As a result, many patients receive ineffective drug therapies, while unnecessarily experiencing toxic side effects and shouldering high cost of treatment. KIYATEC’s 3D-Predict platform and associated tests increase the patient-centric value of cancer drugs by informing oncologists’ pre-treatment cancer drug selection. Importantly, the platform also aids pharmaceutical companies by improving decision-making across drug lifecycles.
“We are grateful for Seae Venture’s ’yes’ to KIYATEC and welcome the addition of their managing partner, Jason Robart, to our board of directors. The fund’s healthcare industry relationships coupled with Jason’s personal experience with health insurance innovation will be beneficial as we implement our strategy to impact those who need it most – cancer patients and their providers,” said Matthew Gevaert, CEO and co-founder of KIYATEC.
The investment comes on the heels of other recent announcements of success for KIYATEC. The first release of the 3D-PREDICT clinical study data in late 2020, combined with the more recent March 2021 publication demonstrating platform expansion into immuno-oncology, highlight the rapid and disruptive nature of KIYATEC’s progress. The company’s platform has been shown to be clinically predictive for patient-specific response to chemotherapy and targeted agents, and it has been analytically validated in both ovarian cancer and high-grade gliomas.
Robart said, “KIYATEC has the potential to significantly improve outcomes for patients and their providers, not just for one cancer type, but across many solid tumors. We’re excited about the science, the team and the potential. We welcome KIYATEC into our portfolio of companies and I’m thrilled to join its board of directors.”
KIYATEC leverages its proprietary ex vivo 3D cell culture platforms to accurately model and predict response to approved and investigational cancer drugs targeting a spectrum of solid tumors. The platforms are positioned to address the gap-defining limitations of current cancer drug selection. The company’s Clinical Services business is currently engaged in the validation of clinical assays as well as investigator-initiated studies in ovarian cancer, breast cancer, glioblastoma and rare tumors, in its CLIA-certified laboratory. The company’s Drug Development Services business works in partnership with leading biopharmaceutical companies to unlock response dynamics for their investigational drug candidates across the majority of solid tumor types.
KIYATEC Announces $3 Million Initial Closing of Series B2 Preferred Stock Financing and New Investor LabCorpKIYATEC closes on new round of financing see more
GREENVILLE, SC. – May 1, 2019 – KIYATEC, Inc. today announced the initial $3 million closing of the company’s series B2 financing round. The round was led by VentureSouth and included LabCorp® (NYSE: LH).
“This validation and confidence by our investors, coupled with the exciting progress of our clinical trials, puts us on the path toward the next phase of growth and development,” said Matthew Gevaert, CEO of KIYATEC. “We are particularly excited to welcome LabCorp as a new investor because of the depth and breadth of their expertise in oncology. With the preclinical and clinical development strengths of LabCorp’s Covance Drug Development business, and their corporate position as a world leader in clinical testing, there is great potential synergy across the many ways KIYATEC’s technology can be used to improve cancer care.”
Proceeds from the financing will go toward KIYATEC’s ongoing clinical study, 3D-PREDICT, to validate KIYATEC’s proprietary assay as a patient-specific predictor of response to cancer therapies for solid tumors. The test analyzes a patient’s live cancer cells, grown in KIYATEC’s laboratory within a biologically relevant 3D microenvironment, to determine whether those cells respond to guideline-recommended cancer drugs. The 3D-PREDICT study is a fully prospective, multi-institutional effort to validate the predictive accuracy of the test and correlate response predictions to clinical outcomes among patients with newly diagnosed and relapsed ovarian cancer, glioblastoma and certain rare tumors.
The company has gained significant momentum in 2019. Recently, at the 110th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), KIYATEC demonstrated leading capabilities in modeling and predicting response to immuno-oncology therapies including checkpoint inhibitors. On April 10, KIYATEC was one of 20 companies recognized nationally on Capitol Hill as part of the 2019 University Innovation & Entrepreneurship Showcase. In the first quarter of 2019, KIYATEC added three clinical sites to its 3D-PREDICT study and expects to continue its momentum by adding additional sites in the second and third quarters.
About KIYATEC, Inc.
KIYATEC is dedicated to accurately modeling and predicting cancer patient response to drug therapies, using ex vivo 3D cell culture technology, in order to inform clinical decision making and drive drug development. Our predictive clinical tests provide oncologists with patient-specific response profiles to current standard of care drugs prior to treatment selection. Our predictive 3D models are being used by leading biopharmaceutical companies to increase the success of their preclinical and clinical drug development programs as they develop the cancer therapies of the future. www.kiyatec.com.