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Archive - May 21, 2011

Date

Personalized Medicine 4.0 Conference: Focus on Pharmacogenomics & Consumer Genetic Testing

This year’s Personalized Medicine Conference (4.0) will be held Thursday, May 26 from 8 am to 7 pm at the South San Francisco Conference Center on the campus of San Francisco State University. This fourth annual conference on personalized medicine focuses on two exciting areas – pharmacogenomics (the right drug, at the right dose, for the right patient, at the right time) and the controversial topic of direct-to-consumer genetic testing, examining the science, the business, and the social dimensions of each. Personalized Medicine 4.0 is a one-day conference and networking opportunity for health and industry professionals, educators, and scientists. Learn how the new genomic medicine will affect your work and your life. Seating is limited. Register now at http://personalizedmedicine.sfsu.edu. For additional information or to sponsor this event, please e-mail dnamed@sfsu.edu or call Arlene Essex at 415-405-4107. Contact us for academic rates.

New Organic Catalyst Should Enhance Drug Research and Development

A new "organocatalyst" developed at Oregon State University is now available for commercial use. Produced by an Albany, Ore., pharmaceutical company, it should make new drug development around the world less costly, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly. This catalyst, named "Hua Cat," is also one of the first products to reach the marketplace as a result of support from the University Venture Development Fund, an initiative finalized in 2007 by the Oregon Legislature to create jobs and aid business by bringing university-based discoveries to commercial use. The product itself is a new and important part of the field of organocatalysis, which experts believe offers a better and more affordable avenue for research and commercial production of new drugs, while eliminating the need for toxic heavy metals often used in the past. "Organocatalysis is a very young science, but we believe it's about ready to take off and provide improved methods for drug research and development," said Dr. Rich Carter, an OSU professor of chemistry, a national leader in this field and co-inventor of the new catalyst along with Dr. Hua Yang, an OSU postdoctoral research associate. "These types of catalysts can be used in the development of almost any type of drug, whether they are for treating cancer, heart disease, infectious disease, or other health problems," Dr. Carter said. "At the same time, OSU students are now gaining an edge in the new era of environmentally-friendly medicinal chemistry." The catalyst was developed in close collaboration and with the support of Synthetech, an Albany, Ore., contract manufacturer of pharmaceutical products, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of W.R. Grace, Inc. OSU patented the technology and is licensing its use to private industry.

Genetic Study Clarifies Evolutionary Origin of Elusive Montane Red Fox

North American red foxes originated from two separate genetic lineages that were isolated from each other by glaciers some half a million years ago, according to a U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station study. The research—featured in the April/May 2011 issue of Science Findings, a monthly publication of the station—can assist efforts aimed at conserving potentially imperiled montane populations of the species. "When most people think of the red fox, they envision the ones that thrive in low-elevation, human-dominated landscapes," said Dr. Keith Aubry, a research wildlife biologist at the station who led the study. "But there are other extremely elusive and rarely seen populations that live only in isolated alpine and subalpine areas in the mountains of the Western United States." The latter group—the montane red foxes—may be imperiled by climate change and other contemporary pressures and were the focus of Aubry's doctoral work in the early 1980s. Contrary to prevailing theory at the time, Dr. Aubry hypothesized that native North American red foxes were descended from two distinct lineages, not one, that were isolated from each other in both northern and southern ice-free areas during the most recent Ice Age. Such an evolutionary history would help explain the unique ecological adaptations of the montane foxes, and why native red foxes in southern British Columbia are so much bigger than the montane foxes that occupy nearly adjacent areas in Washington's Cascade Range. "If all of North America's foxes originated from a single lineage that had expanded its distribution in a wave across the continent, you'd expect to see a more or less continuous gradient in size," Dr. Aubry said.