ASU research to improve cancer detection in women

October 25, 2013

Researchers at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute have developed a series of biomarker technologies for use in the early detection of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and HPV.

Provista Diagnostics, Inc., a leading molecular diagnostics company focused on developing and commercializing proprietary diagnostic, prognostic and predictive tests for cancers affecting women, has licensed these technologies for evaluation and potentially further development. Download Full Image

Biomarkers are substances within the body that indicate the presence of a disease before the individual shows other symptoms. Researchers in the Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics at the Biodesign Institute at ASU are working to identify and test new biomarkers for a wide range of conditions based on individual patient profiles. The technologies licensed by Provista were primarily developed in the labs of professors Joshua LaBaer and Karen Anderson.

"Provista is working to develop oncology-related diagnostics in areas of significant unmet need," said David E. Reese, Provista's president and CEO. "We are very familiar with the excellent research being done at ASU in this area, as both Doctors LaBaer and Anderson are members of our Scientific Advisory Board. We look forward to testing these technologies together with our own proprietary assays to determine both clinical and market viability."

Early detection of cancer significantly improves treatment outcomes and survivability. When ovarian cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, the five-year survival rate is about 94 percent. However, less than one in five cases is detected in an early stage, because symptoms are typically minimal and invasive surgery is required for diagnosis. To date, no screening biomarkers are recommended for the general population in detecting ovarian cancer.

Breast cancer remains a common and devastating health problem, despite recent advances in early detection and treatment. The disease will strike almost one in eight U.S. women over her lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society.

"With the advent of molecularly-targeted therapeutics, biomarkers that are associated with biological subtypes of cancer may be useful for predicting responses to therapeutic interventions," said Joshua LaBaer, director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics at the Biodesign Institute. "If we can significantly advance the early detection of these cancers, we can save thousands of lives each year."

The Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics – the latest addition to the Biodesign Institute – was established with an eye toward overcoming the health care challenges posed by disease variance. The center is developing new diagnostic tools to pinpoint the molecular manifestations of disease based on individual patient profiles. The strategy promises not only to improve therapeutic care, but also to greatly reduce treatment costs by allowing for early disease detection.

The licensing agreement was brokered by Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE), ASU's technology transfer organization. ASU, through the activities of AzTE, is annually one of the top-performing U.S. universities in terms of intellectual property inputs (inventions disclosed by ASU researchers) and outputs (licensing deals and start-ups) relative to the size of the university's research enterprise. Start-up companies that have licensed ASU IP have attracted almost $400 million in financing from venture capital firms and other investors. 

ASU students to cover global sustainability issues in Calif.

October 25, 2013

Arizona State University students will report on important global sustainability issues for an innovative media outlet in California, the latest effort by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to create a cadre of young journalists with expertise in effectively communicating complex sustainability stories.

Students will research and write on sustainability issues for Zócalo Public Square, an “idea exchange” and media outlet that blends live events and humanities journalism. The nonprofit organization is part of the ASU Center for Social Cohesion, a project dedicated to studying the forces that shape social unity. Download Full Image

“Zócalo Public Square is thrilled to be hosting Cronkite School student interns at our ASU California Center headquarters in Santa Monica,” said Joe Mathews, Zócalo Public Square editor and ASU professor of practice. “This is a tremendous opportunity for journalism students to immerse themselves in all aspects of an innovative new media nonprofit organization.”

Zócalo Public Square operates a daily website, syndicates articles to hundreds of publications – including Time magazine and USA Today – and presents numerous free public events and conferences across the country with a focus on finding real-world solutions to environmental, economic and social challenges.

ASU students interning for Zócalo Public Square will become junior members of Zócalo's staff and will be involved in all aspects of producing content for a daily website.

“This is a great opportunity for ASU students to report on critical global sustainability issues, working with an innovative nonprofit based at our new ASU California Center,” said Cronkite dean, Christopher Callahan. “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Zócalo and look forward to producing more top journalists with a deep understanding of important and complex sustainability issues.”

In addition to the Zócalo Public Square partnership, the Cronkite School is working closely with the School of Sustainability on other joint ventures. Earlier this year, the two schools appointed leading documentary filmmaker and sustainability expert Peter Byck as a professor of practice. He is the creator of the widely acclaimed documentary "Carbon Nation," a film about climate change solutions.

Byck teaches a short form documentary course – with students from both schools – that gives hands-on experience in communicating contemporary principles, ideas and concepts on sustainability and documentary filmmaking.

Cronkite and the School of Sustainability also are working on plans for dual degrees on both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

“Today's students/tomorrow's leaders need to be able to clearly and concisely communicate the importance of sustainability challenges, concepts and solutions to the public,” said Rob Melnick, executive director and chief operating officer of the School of Sustainability. “The future well-being of communities, states, nations and the planet depends on this.”

Established in 2007, the School of Sustainability is the first comprehensive degree-granting program of its kind in the U.S. It aims to solve environmental, economic and social challenges. The School of Sustainability is part of the Global Institute of Sustainability, the hub for ASU’s sustainability initiatives. The Global Institute advances research, education and business practices for an urbanizing world.

Reporter , ASU News