cancer


Pre-Leukemic Stem Cells with Liran Shlush

Guest: Liran Shlush, Researcher, Princess Margaret Cancer Center

Bio and Contact Info

Listen (4:44) Preleukemic stem cells

Listen (7:42) Implications for AML therapy and diagnosis

Listen (2:21) Implications for other cancers

Listen (6:14) Importance of population genetics tools

One of the common topics on our show these days is how researchers can ask better questions. It takes being master at science, but also being connected with patients and their health problems.

Today's guest, Liran Shlush, a cancer researcher at Princess Margaret Cancer Center in Toronto, solved this by being one of those rare physician-scientists. And it's paying off big time.

In February, Liran and a group from the lab of John Dick at the University of Toronto published a major finding into the biology of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In today's interview, Liran tells us about the discovery of what he terms "pre-leukemic" stem cells. These mutant stem cells go on to form cancerous cells. When AML patients are treated with chemo, the cancerous cells are killed, but the mutant stem cells are still there and can cause recurrence. The finding holds a lot of promise for both treatment, earlier diagnosis, and new screening for AML and perhaps other cancers as well.

Liran was a post doc at the time of the discovery. He tells of his journey from Israel to John Dick's lab in Canada and the lessons along the way. What led him to ask the right questions?

"The scientific lesson I learned--and I was lucky to learn it early in my career--" he says, "is that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."

Podcast Sponsor: Integrated DNA Technologies - Introducing the evolution of NGS capture panels

4 Reasons Clinical Trials Don't Work: Marty Tenenbaum, Cancer Commons

Guests:

Marty Tenenbaum, Founder, Cancer Commons

Bio and Contact Info

Listen (4:28) Why Cancer Commons?

Listen (6:07) Four reasons why clinical trials don't work

Listen (6:57) How do we go about changing the system?

Listen (4:35) What do you mean by Rapid Learning Community?

Listen (4:48) What obstacles do Cancer Commons partners face in sharing more data?

Listen (1:24) The difference between a cancer researcher and a patient is a diagnosis

"At the end of the day, we're all patients," says Marty Tenenbaum, Founder of Cancer Commons, in today's interview.

Marty is a tough cookie. He's a survivor of metastatic melanoma--not a fun one--and he's been getting traction around the biomedical research industry.

Here's the thing. Marty's survival was really by chance.

Cancer has been called the "great equalizer," and Marty is fond of saying that "the only difference between a cancer researcher and a cancer patient is a diagnosis." He is on a mission to work with researchers, doctors, policy experts, and patients to improve the system so that success is not just an accident.

But how does one who is not a researcher or leader in the industry go about that? Marty sees the best opportunity in changing the way clinical trials work. In today's interview, he lays out four reasons why the current system fails patients. And he offers his ideas to fix it.

This is where Cancer Commons comes in. Already a successful web entrepreneur, Marty is attempting to break down the walls between trials and patient care with a new "clearing house" for cancer patients. Ideally, he sees a system that would allow for a "trial of one"--where a patient in treatment has access to an experimental therapy. The goal would be to focus on the patient's own recovery and not only some future patient. Important also would be that much more of the patient's data would be available to expedite research and medical therapy.

A good deal of the funding for Cancer Commons has come from Marty's own pockets. He did well as an entrepreneur. And then he survived a tough cancer. He's now devoting all his resources to creating a new paradigm that puts the patient not at the end, but at the beginning of the process,so that many more patients will have the chance he did.

Podcast brought to you by: BioConference Live's "Cancer: Research, Discovery and Therapeutics" - taking place online Oct 16-17, 2013. Register for free now.

Yale Genetic Counselor Weighs in on Myriad Case and More: Ellen Matloff

Guests:

Ellen Matloff, C.G.C., Director, Yale Cancer Genetic Counseling

Bio and Contact Info

Listen (5:05) Genetic counseling before the book was written

Listen (6:10) Myriad actions unprecedented

Listen (4:32) 30-40 % of all genetic tests ordered in error

Listen (5:12) Patents needed for business incentive?

Listen (3:09) Too few genetic counselors? Just Myriad propaganda

Listen (4:02) What is the Myriad database?

Listen (5:26) Why is the gene patent decision so personal for you?

Listen (2:32) DTC genomics not accurate, protected or helpful

When Ellen Matloff heard news of the recent Supreme Court decision invalidating some of Myriad's BRCA patents, she was overcome with tears. Tears of relief.

The first genetic counselor at Yale's School of Medicine, Ellen has had a front row seat to the long saga of gene patents, particularly the BRCA patents of Myriad Genetics. In today's interview Ellen recalls the days when the BRCA genes were first made known and explains the huge benefits the gene tests provided to her patients.

Then Myriad cracked down on their patents in a way Ellen calls "unprecedented" and "surreal."

Getting snubbed at every turn by Myriad--and then by her own peers for taking a position against gene patents has made this journey very personal for Ellen. Today she tells her view of gene patent history and gives her take on the burgeoning world of clinical genomics.

Podcast brought to you by: Chempetitive Group - "We love science. We love marketing. We love the idea of combining the two to make great things happen for your marketing communications."

Putting the Bench Next to the Bedside: Laurence Cooper, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Guests:

Laurence Cooper, MD, PhD, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Bio and Contact Info

Listen (4:55) When clinical science and bench research is one and the same

Listen (10:40) Single cell genomics enabling next level of immunotherapy

Listen (5:00) Marrying immunotherapy with gene therapy - Four clinical trials

Listen (4:18) Is this a new model for drug development?

Listen (8:30) Why has the war on cancer taken so long?

Laurence Cooper is one of those rare MD and PhD hybrids-what he calls a "'super nerd." Specializing in immunotherapy at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Cooper is a pediatric oncologist with a very important resource: he also runs a laboratory where he's able to study the basic biology underlining his patients' cancers.

"Clinical science and bench research are one and the same," he affirms in the interview.

This concept is nothing new. But that a doctor is able to treat his patients with therapy developed in his own laboratory is very rare.

Today's show with Dr. Cooper is the final program in our series on single cell genomics. He explains how the new tools for looking at and manipulating individual cells are transforming immunotherapy. Today, treatment for childhood leukemia has become much more targeted and way less toxic.

And Dr. Cooper is not limited only to naturally occurring stem cells in a donor to transplant to his patients. With genetic engineering, his lab is able to create or reengineer specific cell types for transplant. Currently the lab has four clinical trials going which enable Dr. Cooper and his team to treat his own patients with the latest therapies that are developed in the lab.

This marriage between the clinic and the lab is a powerful example of the translation of biomedical science. Could it be a model for drug development?

That depends a lot on funding, concedes Dr. Cooper. His lab is funded by MD Anderson, but also in large part through NIH grants. The interview ends with a discussion on funding for the "war on cancer" with a provocative comparison to the "war on terror."

On 9/11, 3,000 people died. Yet every two days, that many people die from cancer. Dr. Cooper wonders why "the outrage of 9/11 has not yet translated into outrage of still having 3,000 people die every two days."

We hope to have Dr. Cooper back on the program soon as part of our series on the "war on cancer."

Podcast brought to you by: Fluidigm - The leader in single-cell genomics and maker of the C1™ Single-Cell Auto Prep System. The path less traveled just got easier.

Democratizing Single Cell Genomics with Gajus Worthington, Fluidigm

Podcast brought to you by: Ingenuity Variant Analysis - Identify causal variants from human sequencing data in just hours.

Guest: Gajus Worthington, CEO, Fluidigm Bio and Contact Info

Chapters: (Advance the marker)

0:39 Looking at heterogeneity

6:18 How is your technology driving the study of single cells

13:35 Overcoming skepticism

18:29 The promise of IPS dependent on looking at cells separately

21:11 Single cell genomics will expand to every area of cell biology

25:31 Are you the next big Illumina?

30:01 BONUS: Chip holds as much plumbing as a one-thousand-room hotel

Gajus Worthington has a message. Molecular biologists have been studying the genetics of individual cells (single cell) for a long time. But the amount of manual labor required has been prohibitive to achieving sufficiently large data sets. Fluidigm, a tools company in South San Francisco, co-founded by Worthington, is changing that. Now a single micro fluidics chip that contains as much plumbing as a one-thousand-room hotel is driving the adoption of single cell genomics research. In today's interview, Worthington, also CEO of Fluidigm, explains the company's technology and some of its applications.

We've heard a lot lately about the heterogeneous nature of cancer tumors. But there is heterogeneity everywhere, including stem cells. "Some iPS (induced pluripotent stem) cells are more "gifted" than others," Worthington explains. "To make iPS achieve its promise, and the promise is amazing, you have to understand the mechanism by which these "gifted" cells go from one type to another." One assumes the company's name comes from the two words "fluidics" and "paradigm." Fluidigm's technology is enabling researchers to make a shift in paradigm necessary to go ever deeper into the complexity of biology. Will they be the next Illumina?

Message from a Patient: Whole Genome Sequencing Not Clinical Yet

Podcast brought to you by: See your company name here. - Promote your organization by aligning it with today's latest trends.

Guests: Jay Lake, Sci-Fi Author Bio and Contact Info

Joseph Edward Lake, US Ambassador Bio and Contact Info

Listen (6:05) The term patient implies waiting - and waiting kills

Listen (3:34) The medical bureaucracy very challenging for a patient

Listen (7:30) Health is a privilege

Listen (10:46) Whole genome sequencing not clinical yet

Listen (2:13) Who is creating the future?

Today we begin a series, The Age of the Engaged Patient. Jay Lake is a sci-fi writer and compulsive blogger. He is also a patient. He joins us for today's program with his father, Joe, to talk about his struggle with colon and lung cancer. As is often the case with patient stories, patient can imply a team working together for the health of one individual.

Jake is very open about his cancer and his life as a patient. He blogs often about his daily medical experiences and has built up a large following in addition to his sci-fi fan base. "If I can use my storytelling skills to explain cancer, then I've beaten the disease," he exclaims in the interview. What do Jay and his dad think about the term patient? And what message does he have for our audience of life science researchers? Jay recounts his adventure with whole genome sequencing and is honest about how "painful and difficult" this aspect of his treatment has been.

Digital PCR 'Hits Its Stride'

Podcast brought to you by: Chempetitive Group - Who for more than a decade has helped science-based companies build and execute innovative marketing campaigns. "We love science. We love marketing. We love the idea of combining the two to make great things happen for your marketing communications."

Guests:

George Karlin-Neumann, PhD, Director of Scientific Affairs" for Bio-Rad's Digital Biology Center Bio and Contact Info

Listen (5:00) Understanding Digital PCR

Listen (4:41) Advantages

Listen (1:40) Applications

Listen (3:40) Still room for Real Time PCR

Listen (3:14) First ever dPCR conference

Hanlee Ji, MD, Medical Oncologist, Hematologist / Oncologist in Stanford Bio and Contact Info

Listen (5:09) How is an oncologist using dPCR?

Listen (4:56) A physicians take on personalized medicine

Listen (5:32) Digital technologies already adopted in clinic and dramatically changing war on cancer

In May of this year Nature Methods published an article, “Digital PCR hits its stride.” What is this new technology? Will it replace more conventional methods such as Real Time PCR? And what new opportunities does this new disruptive technology open up?

To answer these questions, we’re joined by George Karlin-Neumann, Director of Scientific Affairs at Bio-Rad’s Digital Center and Hanlee Ji, a physician scientist at Stanford. George explains the exciting new technology and its advantages over Real Time PCR. Hanlee talks about the adoption of the technology in the clinic for the treatment of cancer.

Time to Rethink Cancer Therapy?

In an earlier post, I wondered a bit about the ultimate causes of cancer. For the last several decades cancer has been labeled as a genetic disease, an idea which we have chased with great fervor. Yet, It feels to me sometimes as though the evolving story of the causes of cancer is like a hall of mirrors in an amusement park in that there seems to be an ever receding chain of causal genetic alterations fueling cancer’s inexorable progression.

Science and the 2012 Election with Bill Frezza

Guest:

Bill Frezza, Columnist, Bio-IT World, General Partner at Adams Capital Management Bio and Contact Info

Chapters: (Advance the marker)

0:37 Will you rate the presidential candidates on science?

7:07 Let's just fund the top rate researchers

12:46 How do you measure success in the War on Cancer

15:48 Nothing has brought us more progress than the free market

17:57 What about the Manhattan Project?

22:14 How do we keep our edge in the world without strong science funding?

27:40 Who is going to fund life science start-ups?

31:55 BioLeap - designing drugs "de novo"

Bill Frezza is a venture capitalist and columnist at Forbes and Bio-IT World. As one can see from the name of his column, "The Skeptical Outsider," Bill is not shy about questioning the status quo. Today we get him to weigh in on the two presidential candidates and how the outcome of the election will affect science funding. Frezza is a free market advocate and feels that we are funding second and third rate research and creating a surplus of science PhD's. We talk about the War on Cancer and compare it to The Manhattan Project. At the end, Bill discusses the venture capital world and his own new venture, BioLeap.

A Grand Awakening: Bill Frezza, Columnist

Guest:

Bill Frezza, Columnist, Bio-IT World, General Partner at Adams Capital Management Bio and Contact Info

Listen (5:15) Speaking as an outsider

Listen (7:53) Life science needs a grand awakening

Listen (4:13) Physics and math eventually takes over everything

Listen (2:16) What do you say to detractors?

Listen (11:24) PI's and their indentured servants

Bill Frezza is a Boston-based venture capitalist and a regular columnist at Bio-IT World, Forbes, and Real Clear Markets. Calling himself an outsider to the life sciences, Bill penned a column some weeks back "How to Save the Life Sciences from Technological Torpor." I ask him what he means and this leads to a discussion of what he calls a broken industry in need of some math and physics. Bill is not shy with his opinion, so we plan to have him back soon.



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