The traditional glaucoma treatment market for Americans suffering from glaucoma has been limited in the past, but Texas Medical Center doctors now have access to a new, minimally invasive treatment available only at the Houston Methodist Hospital. Glaucoma causes increased fluid pressure on the eye and cause blindness if it goes untreated. Traditional treatments include eye drops and surgery, which entails cutting a small hole in the eye to drain the fluid. (Texas Medical Center)
Science Market Update
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Texas A&M University at College station recently received a major influx of new life science funding for multidisciplinary quantum biophotonics research. The University was awarded $10.8 million from the Texas A&M University System. This new life science research funding will primarily be used to purchase new biophotonics laboratory equipment.
Texas A&M researchers recently received $1.8 million in life science research funding from the NIH. The project receiving funding, titled “Structure-Based Discovery of Critical Vulnerabilities of Microbacteria,” will be led by James Sacchettini, PhD. According to Texas A&M University, Dr. Sacchettini is a professor of biochemistry, chemistry and biophysics. His research interests are using X-ray crystallography to better understand the relationship between proteins and ligands. The NIH RePORTER provides more insight intothe project receiving life science research funding this year:
Lab suppliers interested in increasing lab sales leads and marketing university lab equipment may be interested in the latest research grants for graduate students at Texas A&M University. The Texas Sea Grant College Program at Texas A&M University is giving $30,000 in funding to 21 graduate students. According to the TAMU Times, the stipulations of these grants are that the research funding must be spent on research costs, including purchase of lab equipment, laboratory analysis and field work. This funding may lead to some potential lab sales leads for lab suppliers, but it also demonstrates Texas A&M University’s dedication to funding both student and professional research, making the school a research powerhouse.
Everyone wants to live healthier, if only to avoid the distress and danger of having serious problems like diabetes and blocked arteries. Unfortunately that's not always enough to get Americans to eat better, even when they know what's at stake. Last month a much publicized study in the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that a "Mediterranean diet" is a clear winner for heart health, but try wrestling a steak away from a Texan with the lure of olive oil, nuts, and fruit instead. That's why University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio (UTHSCSA) research scientist Reto Asmis is studying the biochemical basis of the Mediterranean diet with the aim of producing a food supplement that does what the healthy diet does without a wholesale change in our eating behavior.
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The southernmost tip of the great state of Texas is known as the Rio Grande Valley (see map below), and University of Texas Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa is campaigning hard for the establishment of a South Texas School of Medicine, to be part of a new regional University of Texas research campus. UT already has two smaller campuses in the Rio Grande Valley, in Edinburg and Brownsville; mid-way between those two border cities is Harlingen, which is currently home to a Regional Academic Health Center that, under the Cigarroa plan, would become a full-fledged medical school. The new UT university campus would incorporate both the Brownsville and Edinburg college campuses, but with greater resources available to strengthen its research capacity. UT System Board of Regents voted to approve both plans last month. The next step is to convince the state legislature to give its support.
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Rapamycin has been used as an effective immunosuppresant in organ transplantation for over a decade, but researchers continue to find other potential uses for the drug base, from treating cancer to prolonging aging, including staving off Alzheimer's. The success and promise of this anti-aging research carried out by University of Texas Health Science Center pharmacologist Randy Strong and colleagues has recently led to the announcement of a major biotech spin-off company, Rapamycin Holdings Inc., also based in San Antonio. The new company will pursue development and testing of rapamycin-related drugs based on UTHSC intellectual property, as well as produce enhanced rapamycin for the global research market--something UTHSC currently does. Rapamycin Holdings was formed with aid (and ongoing support) from the Texas Technology Development Center (T3DC), the Texas Research & Technology Foundation (TRTF), as well as other stakeholders, in order to commercialize the research technology and bring new drug treatments to patients.
In an attempt to shore up both the reputation and functionality of the nations's largest state-funded cancer agency, officials at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) just announced the appointment of Dr. Margaret Kripke as the agency's new chief scientific officer. The embattled agency has faced accusations from many of its key scientists that irregularities and favoritism in the funding process have undermined their scientific credibility and put commercialization above research.
For both dairy and beef production, cows are an important part of the US economy and food supply. When they get sick, it's bad for business (and not too pleasant for the cow). The most common illness in cattle is Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD), which accounts for losses of more than $690M annually in the US alone. To combat this threat to bovine health and productivity, the USDA has recently awarded a $9M 5-year grant to researchers at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Missouri, to study genetic selection for breeding more disease-resitant stock. A second $5M grant will go towards research into feed efficiency, again with the aim of breeding heartier, healthier, and more profitable animals.
Storms both meteorological and political have dominated the front page news in the past month, but the upset that has rocked Texas' Cancer Prevention & Research Institute (CPRIT) since the spring continues to make headlines in the science press. The journal Nature has published regular editorials since the flap began, intensifying in late October with the exodus of chief scientific officer and Nobel winner Alfred Gilman (right) and nearly 30 other scientists from the state cancer funding agency's review board. Here is our recap of the story, the issues at stake, and a look at where CPRIT is positioned to go from here.