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  • sam patrick posted an article
    16 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.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    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.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Company investing $5 million and creating 91 new jobs see more

    KIYATEC, Inc. today announced plans to expand operations in Greenville County. The $5 million investment will create 91 new jobs.

    Founded in 2005, KIYATEC, Inc. is a commercial stage cancer diagnostics company born from technology developed at Clemson University, creating transformative solutions for cancer patients using functional precision oncology. KIYATEC, Inc. recently launched its first commercial assay 3D Predict™ Glioma for use in glioblastoma (commonly known as GBM) and other brain cancer patient care.

    The company established its Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified laboratory and began clinical studies in 2015, developing proprietary “ex vivo” 3D cell culture technology platforms to accurately model and predict patient-specific response to approved and investigational cancer drugs targeting a spectrum of solid tumors.

    “Securing testing capacity to bring our testing to thousands, then tens of thousands of cancer patients is a business decision that positions us to win and increases our competitive advantage. As a Greenville-based life sciences company, KIYATEC benefits from all this area has to offer including its highly-educated labor force, excellent quality of life for our employees, competitive cost profile and business-friendly environment,” said KIYATEC, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Matt Gevaert, Ph.D.

    Located at 2 N. Main Street in Greenville, KIYATEC, Inc.’s downtown facility will allow the company to expand its existing clinical testing operations and drug development services which are co-located with the Cancer Institute at nearby Prisma Health’s Memorial Campus. This new facility will be the anchor tenant of the city of Greenville’s new Innovation District.

    The new offices are expected to be operational by January 2022 and the CLIA-certified laboratory by April 2022. Individuals interested in joining the KIYATEC, Inc. team should visit the company’s website.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    7 years in a row for MUSC see more

    MUSC Health University Medical Center in Charleston was named by U.S. News & World Report for the seventh year in a row as the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina, with three of MUSC Health’s specialty areas ranking among the best in the entire country: ear, nose and throat; gynecology and cancer.

    Seventeen other MUSC Health programs are considered “high performing” specialties, procedures or conditions in the 2021-2022 U.S. News & World Report rankings: gastroenterology and GI surgery, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, aortic valve surgery, heart attack, heart bypass surgery, heart failure, back surgery (spinal fusion), hip replacement, kidney failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer surgery, pneumonia, stroke, colon cancer surgery,  rheumatology, orthopedics and urology.

    In addition, MUSC Health Florence Medical Center is designated as “high performing” in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure.

    “Once again, South Carolinians can take great pride and comfort in the knowledge that their only public, statewide hospital system is consistently cited as one of the best in the country,” said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MUSC Health CEO and MUSC vice president for Health Affairs, University. “It’s a transformational time in health care and these rankings are a testament to our care team’s commitment to ensure that our patients are receiving the right care, in the right place and at the right time. The achievements in our Charleston and Florence divisions made despite the pandemic should remind us all what’s possible through innovation, teamwork, and growth.”

    U.S. News & World Report unveiled the 32th edition of the Best Hospitals rankings at https://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings. Designed to help patients with life-threatening or rare conditions identify hospitals that excel in treating the most difficult cases, Best Hospitals 2021-22 includes consumer-friendly data and information on 4,750 medical centers nationwide in 15 specialties and 17 procedures and conditions. In the 15 specialty areas, 175 hospitals were ranked in at least one specialty. In rankings by state and metro area, U.S. News & World Report recognized hospitals as high performing across multiple areas of care.

    “I am so proud that U.S. News & World Report has recognized MUSC Health Florence Medical Center as high performing in four areas  – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure,” said Jay Hinesley, MUSC Health Florence Division CEO. “The last year has been a challenge for everyone in health care, and these recognitions are a true testament to all the hard work of our care team members and their dedication to our patients, families and communities. We are committed to continuing to preserve and optimize human life in South Carolina and beyond.”

    The U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals methodologies, in most areas of care, are based largely or entirely on objective measures such as risk-adjusted survival and readmission rates, volume, patient experience, patient safety and quality of nursing, among other care-related indicators.

    1. - U.S. News & World Report’s produced Best Hospitals with RTI International, a leading research organization based in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    More than 43,500 women are expected to die from breast cancer in 2021 see more

    Compliments of Greenville Journal

    A Clemson University study could lead to new immunotherapy for breast cancer. The study, according to the university, provides the foundation of using cells in our bodies to target cancer cells.

    Clemson researchers have used the immune system’s natural killer cells — which the body uses to fight off certain types of infections — to go after the breast cancer cells by bridging the two cells with a fusion of proteins the researchers developed.

    “The idea is to use this bifunctional protein to bridge the natural killer cells and breast cancer tumor cells,” said Yanzhang “Charlie” Wei, a professor in the College of Science’s Department of Biological Sciences. “If the two cells are brought close enough together through this receptor ligand connection, the natural killer cells can release what I call killing machinery to have the tumor cells killed.”

    Breast cancer kills 43,000 women each year in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society and one in eight women and one in 1,000 men will develop invasive breast cancer.

    “Very simply, cancer is uncontrolled cell growth. Some cells will become abnormal and have the potential to become cancer,” Wei explained. “The immune system can recognize these abnormal cells and destroy them before they become cancer cells. Unfortunately for those who develop cancer, the immune system is not working very well because of gene mutations and environmental factors. The result is that the cancer cells won the fight between the immune system and the tumors.”

    Clemson’s researchers focused on triple-negative breast cancer, the most lethal type of breast cancer, and prolactin receptors.

    Read the full article by clicking here...

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Predictive platform expansion into immunotherapy testing a boon for pharma see more

    KIYATEC, Inc. today announced that research published in the March 2021 Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy journal solidifies the foundation to characterize predictive accuracy in immune-oncology. By using a patient’s own tumor cells and infiltrating immune cells to model patient-specific biological complexity, KIYATEC’s platform achieves a fundamental requirement bridging drug discovery through post-approval clinical use. The future ability to accurately predict which patients respond to immunotherapy agents, prior to treatment, will spare non-responders from financial toxicity and drug-induced side effects.

    Immune checkpoint inhibitors that target programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) and programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) have only shown modest activity as monotherapies for the treatment of ovarian cancer. Approval for a patient’s use of these immunotherapies is based on the current paradigm of cancer drug selection, spanning genetic sequencing, gene expression and biomarkers. For many checkpoint inhibitor indications, only 10-30% of patients treated with these premium-cost drugs respond. The importance of checkpoint inhibitors meeting key clinical endpoints has recently been brought into focus in more than one cancer indication.

    Tessa DesRochers, PhD, KIYATEC Chief Scientific Officer said, “Our research highlights the significant steps that we have defined and those we have met to ultimately validate immune-oncology response prediction. While clinical prediction is still in progress pharmaceutical companies can today utilize our technology to make meaningful decisions during their drug development process.”

    The company has defined the four critical steps necessary to successfully predict immunotherapy response in the clinic. The latest research from KIYATEC demonstrates achievement of the first three: 1) development of a live cell co-culture test with patient-matched cells, 2) demonstration of sustained functionality of key infiltrating immune cells, and 3) characterization of dose-dependent and patient-specific cellular responses to immunotherapies. These three steps deliver what drug developers need today, strengthening KIYATEC’s basis for high value-added preclinical services. The fourth step will be to correlate the test results with patient immunotherapy endpoints in the clinic, enabling the prediction of patient-specific response to immunotherapies prior to treatment.

    KIYATEC’s platform is already predictive for chemotherapy and targeted agents. In December 2020, the company announced that unblinded use of KIYATEC’s test results to inform drug selection for recurrent brain cancer patients approximately doubled the expected clinical outcome. An earlier blinded clinical study, published in 2019, demonstrated that progression-free survival doubled for newly diagnosed ovarian cancer patients if they had received a drug treatment to which KIYATEC’s test results had predicted a response.

    “We are optimistic about the growing need for more effective pairing of immunotherapies and patients, particularly given recent developments in this multi-billion-dollar market,” said Matthew Gevaert, PhD, CEO and Founder of KIYATEC. “The expansion of our predictive platform beyond chemotherapy and targeted agents has the potential to change how patients are selected for life-saving treatments.”

    Appleton, K.M., Elrod, A.K., Lassahn, K.A. et al. PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors in combination with olaparib display antitumor activity in ovarian cancer patient-derived three-dimensional spheroid cultures. Cancer Immunol Immunother 70, 843–856 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00262-021-02849-z

     

    About KIYATEC

    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.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Key evidence to be presented at AACR 2020 see more

    KIYATEC, Inc. today announced that it will present data at the 2020 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting, June 22-24, revealing how its 3D cell culture models characterize ex vivo tumor response and immunoreactivity to immune checkpoint inhibitors (i.e. PD-1, PD-L1 inhibitors) in solid tumors. These emerging capabilities address a significant unmet need in both preclinical drug development and clinical decision-making in oncology.

    PD-1/L1 inhibitors have experienced meteoric growth over the last decade, offering hope to hundreds of thousands of cancer patients every year in the US alone. However, typically no more than 25-30% of eligible cancer patients who receive PD-1/L1 inhibitors actually respond to them. Given that the direct costs associated with PD-1/L1 therapy can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars per patient, KIYATEC believes that pre-treatment, patient-specific PD-1/L1 response prediction could one day offer clinicians, patients and payers a more objective basis for determining PD-1/L1 inhibitor patient eligibility vs. today’s commonly used population-based biomarkers. 

    Evidence presented by KIYATEC at AACR 2020 will highlight findings of the company’s ability to detect dose-dependent response to checkpoint blockade and corresponding correlation with immune cell activation in high-throughput ex vivo 3D tumor spheroid models. KIYATEC believes these recent advances may represent key building blocks toward the eventual development and validation of clinical assays capable of accurate pre-treatment, patient-specific prediction of response to immuno-oncology drugs. 

    “We’re constantly innovating and expanding the capabilities of our 3D cell culture technologies to reduce the cost and risk of preclinical drug development for our immuno-oncology customers,” said Matthew Gevaert, CEO of KIYATEC. “As we continue to make these advances in immuno-oncology drug response on higher-throughput platforms, we can begin to envision a time when such capability would inform clinical decision-making for cancer patients as well.”

    KIYATEC’s poster presentations at AACR 2020 are as follows:

    Title: Multifaceted functional assessment of checkpoint inhibitor efficacy using 3D tumor spheroids

    • Abstract: 7397 / Poster: 315 / Session: 3D & Tissue Recombinant Models / June 22-24

     

    Title: PARP inhibition in combination with pembrolizumab enhances cytotoxicity in ovarian cancer patient-derived 3D spheroids

     

    Title: The perfused 3DKUBETM rare tumor assay models in vivo drug response

    • Abstract: 7132 / Poster: 2244 / Session: Immune Checkpoints 2 / June 22-24

     

    About KIYATEC, Inc.

    KIYATEC leverages its proprietary ex vivo 3D cell culture technology platforms to accurately model and predict response to approved and investigational cancer drugs targeting a spectrum of solid tumors. 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. 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. To learn more about KIYATEC, visit www.kiyatec.com.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    KIYATEC adds to its Board of Directors see more

    KIYATEC, Inc. today announced the appointment of Bruce Nash, MD, MBA, to its Board of Directors. Dr. Nash brings over 30 years of executive-level healthcare experience in the managed care, hospital and medical group practice settings. Currently, he serves as Chief Physician Executive and Senior Vice President at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, one of the nation’s leading health insurance plans. During his career, Dr. Nash has held executive leadership positions in both managed care (Kaiser Permanente, Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan) and healthcare (Northern Berkshire Health System, North Adams Regional Hospital) organizations. 

    Dr. Nash serves on the boards of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation and the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI), while also serving on the Board of Strategic Advisors at the Excel Venture Management Fund and the Clinical Advisory Group at the Blue Venture Fund.  He is a board-certified physician who completed his residency training at Duke University. Bruce earned his MBA in Health Sector Management from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

    “We are delighted to welcome Dr. Nash to KIYATEC’s Board of Directors,” said Robert Silverman, Chairman of the Board of Directors of KIYATEC. “Bruce’s relevant experience and vision as both a clinician and an expert in managed care will provide tremendous value as KIYATEC moves forward in the development of our predictive clinical tests to improve cancer patient care and outcomes.”

    The addition of Dr. Nash to the KIYATEC Board of Directors comes as the company’s evidence development efforts continue to gain momentum:

     

    About KIYATEC, Inc.

    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 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

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Subject matter leaders from across Palmetto State to cover what businesses need to know see more

    March 9, 2020 – SCBIO will host a full day program March 17 -- Life Sciences Boot Camp: Insights on SC’s Fastest-Growing Industry – to inform and update businesses and professionals from across the state on opportunities, trends and issues facing South Carolina’s fastest-growing industry segment.

    To be held at the SC Hospital Association’s Yates Conference Center in Columbia, the program will run from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. and will feature a light breakfast followed by presentations from over 15 noted life sciences industry leaders.  Confirmed topics and speakers include:

    • Best Practices in Life Sciences Recruiting & Retention – addressing how the state’s life sciences leaders are attracting, training and retaining top talent will be Lou Kennedy, CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals; Shawn Regan, CEO of Rhythmlink; Andrew Lee, Founder of IMCS, and Matt Vaadi, CEO of ERG
    • Partnering Effectively with Higher Education & Research Universities – ways to tap into the wealth of resources, knowledge and experience prevalent in the state’s higher education and research universities will be explained by a panel comprised of Anthony Herrera, Executive Director of Furman University Entrepreneurship & Innovation; Angela Lockman, Director of Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives for Clemson University; Chad Hardaway, Assoc. Director of the University of South Carolina Office of Economic Engagement; Carol Moore, President of Columbia College; and Michael Rusnak, Executive Director, MUSC Foundation for Research Development
    • Accessing Capital to Grow Your Life Sciences Organization – the secrets to finding capital to grow and expand your organization, from start-up to growth company, will be unveiled by John Osborne, Principal with Good Growth Capital; Jill Sorensen, Executive Director of SC Launch; and Tyler Tatum of 3Phase SC
    •  Attracting & Retaining Life Sciences Organizations – three economic development experts will share how the Palmetto State is going about growing the life sciences industry here, and what plans are to make it even more attractive tomorrow.  Speaking will be Stephanie Few, Partner with Womble Bond Dickinson; Jeremy Migliara, Shareholder with Elliott Davis; and Will Clarke, Manager with Elliott Davis
    • Protecting Your Life Sciences Organization from Cybercrime – will be addressed by cybersecurity expert Delano Collins, Vice President of Cybersecurity with Corsica Technologies.  He’ll address how planning defense in depth -- from network and systems security to industry compliance and employee training -- can set organizations up for security and success.

    SCBIO Investor Organizations receive one registration at no charge, and additional attendees from Investor organizations as well as SCBIO registered Members pay only $50 for the program.  The general public and Non-Members can attend for just $100.  Fees include the full program, plus a light breakfast and lunch. To register or for more details, visit the Events page at www.SCBIO.org/.  Interested students and media members are invited to attend, with advance registration, at no cost.

    SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven public/private economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state.  The industry has an $11.4 billion annual economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 675 firms directly involved and 43,000 professionals employed in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotech and products.  The state-wide nonprofit has offices in Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston, and represents companies in the advanced medicines, medical devices, equipment, diagnostics, IT, and healthcare outcome industries.  Life sciences is recognized as the fastest-growing segment of South Carolina’s knowledge economy.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    Spartanburg Regional's Gibbs Cancer Center to open expanded facility see more

    With a seven-story, $72 million expansion set to open on March 16, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System’s Gibbs Cancer Center plans to offer patients treatment beyond traditional chemotherapy and radiation.

    At a ribbon-cutting held Thursday, staff unveiled the 191,000-square-foot expansion. The center includes a new physical therapy gym, patient accessible-kitchen, retail shop featuring wigs and prosthesis-fitting services and an on-site outpatient pharmacy. The facility offers radiation, medical and surgical oncology along with cyber knife technologies, centralized lab services, genetic counseling and an integrative medicine center.

    “We’re blessed in the Upstate to have a world-class cancer center here that enables patients not to have to travel far,” said Tony Kouskolekas, Pelham Medical Center’s president. “They are able to get first-quality opinions and recommendations on cancer care, and what makes us a little different is that our doctors are committed to what we call multi-disciplinary care. Historically, they have gotten together to discuss someone’s case once someone was diagnosed with cancer. Now, the design of this building will allow them to come together while patients are in the building for multidisciplinary clinics, so that patients can get opinions from multiple providers while they are here for one visit.”


    Kouskolekas expects that the center will bring 80 jobs to the area in its first stages, but notes that there is plenty of room to grow as needed.

    “To be involved with the planning of this and working with our cancer team has just been another great facet, Kouskolekas said.  “Our campus is poised for growth: we have plenty of land and so if we need to do something, we certainly can.”

    According to Dr. Michael Starnes, Gibbs Cancer Center’s radiation oncology director, 36 exam rooms have been reserved for the March 16 opening, bringing the center to 75% capacity. Starnes said the center prioritizes clinical research and holistic care alongside traditional treatment measures. The integrative medicine center will allow patients a bridge to recovery through massage and art therapy, tai chi and cooking classes recorded for outpatient survivors to follow.

    The new space raises the center’s capacity from less than 10 infusion treatment beds to 40 treatment rooms.

    Dr. Heather Allen, a radiology oncologist at Gibbs Cancer Center, noted that the new facility streamlines and strengthens collaborative treatment opportunities spearheaded by oncologists Drs. James Bearden and Julian Josey when they founded the Gibbs Cancer Center 40 years ago.

    “They were ahead of the game. This is the model that works, but it wasn’t in place 40 years ago. It was their vision to take a new paradigm shift in cancer treatment and bring it home to the local area,” Allen said.