Monday, February 08, 2010
Health care briefs
Blue Ridge Business Journal
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The Roanoke Times
Virginia Tech researchers have developed compounds now being used by a company to destroy breast cancer cells in pre-clinical trials.
Theralase Technologies, a manufacturer of laser medical devices in Toronto, has reported that when the photodynamic compounds are used with lasers, they have successfully destructed cancerous cells. The company plans to release the study results to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada.
"This new research brings the potential for tremendous impact on a most devastating disease, and we are excited to be working with a world-class group of researchers to further develop this technology," Roger Dumoulin-White, president and CEO of Theralase, said in a January news release.
The PDCs were developed by Virginia Tech chemistry professor Karen Brewer and a team in biological sciences led by professor Brenda Winkel.
The man-made molecules developed at Tech release cancer-fighting agents, but they must be signaled by light. The new therapy uses a wavelength of light that is neither absorbed nor reflected by tissue to signal the molecules deep within the body, which then generate pharmaceutical compounds that can break apart DNA in tumors. Unlike previous methods, the treatement does not use oxygen. The new approach "required quite a bit of fundamental research," Brewer said.
Brewer further explained that unlike chemotherapy, the new method delivers cancer-fighting molecules just to the tumor site and toxins are not spread in the body.
"The thing I think is so exciting is the ability to kill cancer cells without making the patient generally sick," she said.
If pre-clinical studies this year are successful and the FDA and Health Canada approve the next phase, Theralase can begin human trials.
-- Michelle Skeen
VCOM Researcher wins Parkinson's grant
A researcher at the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg has received a grant to further her study of Parkinson's disease.
Beverly Rzigalinski was awarded funding from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. The foundation recently announced $1.5 million in total awards to six research teams. It is not clear how much of the total will come to VCOM.
Rzigalinski's research focuses on cerium oxide nanoparticles in the treatment of Parkinson's disease.
VCOM students volunteer with children in Florida
Eleven students from the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine volunteered over the holiday season at Give Kids the World Village in Florida.
The nonprofit gives children with life-threatening illnesses, and their families, a chance to escape reality for a short time.
VCOM students joined 50 other osteopathic medical students from around the country in volunteering and acting as "buddies" for children at the camp.
Pharmacy school earns full accreditation
The Appalachian College of Pharmacy has earned full accreditation status from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.
The college, located in Oakwood, opened in 2005. More than 90 percent of its 126 graduates passed their licensure examination on the first attempt. A majority are now practicing in the Appalachian region.
Virginia Tech, laser manufacturer team up on breast cancer research