News

Study of blood-thinners to advance personalized medicine

Blood-thinners help prevent and treat strokes, heart attacks and venous clots, but not without the risk of uncontrolled bleeding. Determining who may develop this common complication and the reasons for it is the goal of a UAB study examining the ways varied factors influences individual response to these drugs.UAB, which developed one of the largest, most racially diverse, prospective warfarin-study cohorts in the country, is uniquely qualified to conduct real-time studies of its effects, said Nita Limdi, Pharm.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Neurology and primary investigator of the new study.

“This enables us to observe bleeding complications to better understand and study the influence of genes, clinical factors and environment,” Limdi said. That capability is valuable in understanding this process and a key element in securing a $3.5 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health.

UAB’s comprehensive genomic approach will assess both common and rare genetic variations to identify novel genetic variants associated with hemorrhage in warfarin (Coumadin), the most commonly used oral anticoagulant, and also dabigatran (Pradaxa).

UAB, which developed one of the largest, most racially diverse, prospective warfarin-study cohorts in the country, is uniquely qualified to conduct real-time studies of its effects.
Limdi says this research is another step toward personalized medicine. The study will begin to develop algorithms, including clinical, genetic and environmental factors, to predict a patient’s risk of hemorrhage. Such tools will enable clinicians to refine patient-specific, risk-benefit assessments and help determine personalized choices for oral anticoagulant therapy.

Limdi, along with colleagues Timothy Beasley, Ph.D., and Nianjun Liu, Ph.D., associate professors in the Department of Biostatistics, and Todd Brown, M.D., assistant professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Disease, are recruiting subjects for the new study. Call 205-996-6009 or email
ayourich@uab.edu
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
,
jfuller@uabmc.edu
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
or
hraiford@uab.edu
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
to inquire.



         

Published in Research & Scholarship

UAB Epilepsy Center gains Level 4 recognition again

The Epilepsy Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham has again been recognized as a Level 4 Epilepsy Center by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers.“Level 4 epilepsy centers have the professional expertise and facilities to provide the highest-level medical and surgical evaluation and treatment for patients with complex epilepsy,” according to David Labiner, M.D., president of NAEC.

Centers designating Level 3 or Level 4 status attest that their epilepsy center meets the criteria stated in the NAEC Guidelines for Essential Services, Personnel, and Facilities in Specialized Epilepsy Centers in the United States.

UAB’s center, housed in the Department of Neurology under the direction of Jerzy Szaflarski, M.D., Ph.D., features six neurologists specializing in epilepsy, along with specialists in neurosurgery, pharmacology and neuropsychology. The center is also home to the new UAB Cannabidiol Program, created by the passage of Carly’s Law by the Alabama legislature.

Bob Shephard

Dr. David S. Geldmacher named the Patsy W. and Chales A. Collat Endowed Professorship in Neuroscience

Endowed professorship in neuroscience established – The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees approved the establishment of the Patsy W. and Charles A. Collat Endowed Professorship in Neuroscience in the UAB Department of Neurology and named David S. Geldmacher, M.D., its inaugural holder during its meeting April 4. The position will promote research and education in neuroscience with a focus in memory disorders. The Collats have given numerous gifts to UAB, and to UAB’s neuroscience program in particular, including making possible the Charles A. and Patsy W. Collat Endowed Chair in Neurosurgery. Geldmacher joined the UAB faculty in 2011 and directs the Division of Memory Disorders and Behavioral Neurology.

Viral therapy proven safe, shows promise against deadliest brain tumors



A genetically engineered herpes simplex viral therapy is safe when used with radiation to treat malignant gliomas, one of the most deadly forms of brain cancer, UAB researchers say.The virus, G207, shown to be safe as a sole therapy in two previous UAB studies, also is safe when combined with low doses of radiation, according to results published in "Molecular Therapy."

                                                                                 james markert web


Some patients also showed evidence of tumor reduction, and survival rates were increased for others.

“This was a Phase I study designed foremost to see whether the therapy was safe,” said James M. Markert, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of UAB's Department of Neurosurgery and the study’s first author.

“While this study, with a limited number of patients and no controls, prevents any conclusions about the efficacy of this treatment, the decrease in tumor size seen on MRI’s in some patients, and an increase in survival in some patients without other proven treatment options, is highly encouraging,” Markert said.

The virus works by infecting tumor cells and replicating until it overwhelms the cell’s machinery and causes the cell to rupture and die, releasing new viral particles. The virus has been genetically modified so that it can reproduce only in tumor cells, which lack the stronger antiviral defense mechanisms of healthy brain cells. After destroying a tumor cell, the virus moves on, looking for new tumor cells to infect.

“While this study, with a limited number of patients and no controls, prevents any conclusions about the efficacy of this treatment, the decrease in tumor size seen on MRI’s in some patients, and an increase in survival in some patients without other proven treatment options, is highly encouraging.”
“Additional studies with modified viruses such as G207 in the treatment of human glioma are certainly warranted from the results of this trial,” Markert said.

Gliomas account for about a third of brain tumors, and survival rates are poor; only about half of the 10,000 Americans diagnosed with malignant glioma survive the first year, and only about one-quarter survive for two years.

UAB is preparing another study with a new modified herpes simplex virus, M032, which preliminary studies indicate could be even more effective. It includes a genetically engineered protein called IL12, which the researchers believe will induce a stronger immune response and will contribute to increased anti-angiogenesis, the process of shutting off the blood supply to tumor cells, denying oxygen and essential nutrients.



         

Published in Research & Scholarship