Member News

Research Explains Mystery of BRCA1 Breast Cancer Gene

Research Explains Mystery of BRCA1 Breast Cancer Gene

Doctors have long known that women with a mutated version of the BRCA1 gene face a significantly higher risk of developing breast cancer because their bodies can’t properly repair damaged DNA.

However, the biological mechanisms behind that problem have been unknown.

New research led by scientists from The Salk Institute in La Jolla appears to have cracked some of that mystery and, along the way, uncovered a potential method for detecting some breast cancer much earlier than mammograms are capable of doing.

“This allows us to design search strategies for future therapies, both to prevent inherited breast cancer and also to treat the cancers that have already developed,” said Salk biologist Gerald Pao.

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AARP Names Scripps Best Employer for Workers Over 50

Scripps Health is the No. 1 company on the 2011 AARP Best Employers for Workers 50 and Older, and the first California-based employer to be selected as the top employer in the decade-long program.

“We are very proud of AARP’s selection of Scripps as number one in the country. This validates all of our efforts to be a great place to work and a great place to receive medical care,” said Chris Van Gorder, Scripps Health president and CEO. “We value all of our employees and each person provides enormous value to our organization and patients regardless of age. But there is something special about our more senior members of the team as they bring both education and experience to the job.”

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Scripps Team Reveals Growth of Cancer Aided by White Blood Cells

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have shown that a particular white blood cell plays a direct role in the development and spread of cancerous tumors. Their work sheds new light on the development of the disease and points toward novel strategies for treating early-stage cancers.

The study was published in September 2011 print issue of the American Journal of Pathology.

Scripps Research Professor James Quigley, Staff Scientist Elena Deryugina, and colleagues had previously demonstrated that white blood cells known as neutrophils—bone marrow-derived cells that function as “first responders” at sites of acute inflammation—promote the growth of new blood vessels in normal, healthy tissue.

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Scripps Team Produces First Stem Cells From Endangered Species

Starting with normal skin cells, scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have produced the first stem cells from endangered species. Such cells could eventually make it possible to improve reproduction and genetic diversity for some species, possibly saving them from extinction, or to bolster the health of endangered animals in captivity.

A description of the accomplishment appeared in an advance online edition of the journal Nature Methods on September 4, 2011.

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Scripps Team Finds Clue to Cause of Childhood Hydrocephalus

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have found what may be a major cause of congenital hydrocephalus, one of the most common neurological disorders of childhood that produces mental debilitation and sometimes death in premature and newborn children.

The research appears in the September 7, 2011, issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.

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Eight Knobbe Martens Attorneys Among 2012 Best Lawyers in America

Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear LLP is pleased to announce that founding partner Don Martens and partners Joseph Cianfrani, Ned Israelsen, Joseph Re, Joseph Reisman, Art Rose, John Sganga and Karen Vogel Weil have been selected by their peers for inclusion in the 2012 edition of the Best Lawyers in America®.

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Scripps Team Overcomes Major Obstacle for Stem Cells

Stem cells show great potential to enable treatments for conditions such as spinal injuries or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and also as research tools. One of the greatest problems slowing such work is that researchers have found major complications in purifying cell mixtures, for instance to remove stem cells that can cause tumors from cells developed for use in medical treatments. But a group of Scripps Research scientists, working with colleagues in Japan, have developed a clever solution to this purification problem that should prove more reliable than other methods, safer, and perhaps 100 times cheaper.

The work appears in the current edition of the journal Cell Research.

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First proof in patients of improved "magic bullet" for cancer detection

Oncologists have long sought a powerful "magic bullet" that can find tumors wherever they hide in the body so that they can be imaged and then destroyed. Until recently scientists accepted the notion that such an agent, an agonist, needed to enter and accumulate in the cancerous cells to act. An international research team has now shown in cancer patients that an investigational agent that sticks onto the surface of tumor cells without triggering internalization, an antagonist, may be safer and even more effective than agonists.

One of the Salk Institute's leading researchers, Dr. Jean Rivier, professor in The Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology and holder of the Frederik Paulsen Chair in Neurosciences and his Swiss collaborator, Dr. Jean Claude Reubi, University of Berne and Adjunct Professor at Salk, co-authored a pilot study, published in the September issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, of five patients and demonstrated that their "antagonist", 111In-DOTA-BASS, outperformed the "agonist" agent, OctreoScan, that is widely used in the clinic to image neuroendocrine tumors bearing somatostatin receptors.

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Management Changes at Amylin Pharmaceuticals

Marcea Bland Lloyd, one of Amylin Pharmaceutical’s executive officers, was promoted to the role of Senior Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) and General Counsel, the company said. In her expanded role, Lloyd will assume oversight, planning and implementation of policies related to staffing and human resources at Amylin, while maintaining responsibility for the company’s legal, government and corporate affairs functions. Lloyd previously served as Senior Vice President, Government & Corporate Affairs and General Counsel since February 2007.

In the CAO function, Lloyd will leverage her experience as a top-level manager with significant career accomplishments and strong leadership qualities to further enhance the efficiency and competitive position of Amylin. She will focus on the development and progress of Amylin’s employee base at the company’s corporate headquarters in San Diego and its manufacturing facility in West Chester, Ohio. She also will head up the recruitment of strategic talent to help expand the Company’s capabilities across several key business functions.

Harry Leonhardt, also an executive officer, was promoted to the role of Senior Vice President, Legal and Compliance, Deputy General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. In his expanded role, Leonhardt will assume oversight of Amylin’s compliance department and will lead the company’s global compliance programs for its marketed diabetes therapies and clinical stage compounds. In addition, he will remain responsible for Amylin’s legal, corporate, licensing and intellectual property affairs and will continue to serve as counsel to the company’s Board of Directors. Mr. Leonhardt served as Amylin’s Vice President, Legal since 2008 and assumed the Corporate Secretary function in 2010. Previously, he served as Amylin’s Vice President, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel.

Mr. Leonhardt is an accomplished legal professional with strong leadership skills, drawing on more than 28 years of corporate, intellectual property, litigation, executive management and mergers and acquisitions experience, focused in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

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Scripps Team Discovers Treatable Mechanism for Often Deadly Response to Flu

Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute have found a novel mechanism by which certain viruses such as influenza trigger a type of immune reaction that can severely sicken or kill those infected.

This severe immune reaction—called a “cytokine storm”—floods the tiny air sacs of the lungs with fluid and infection-fighting cells, blocking off airways and damaging body tissues and organs. Cytokine storms are believed to have played a major role in the staggering mortality of the 1918-1919 worldwide influenza pandemic, as well as in the more recent swine flu and bird flu outbreaks.

In a new study published in the September 16, 2011, issue of the journal Cell, a team of Scripps Research scientists have pinpointed the cells that orchestrate cytokine storms, opening up entirely new possibilities for treatment of the condition.

"In the new research, we show directly for the first time that the damaging effects of cytokine storm are distinct from the impact of virus replication and pathological changes in infected cells," said Scripps Research Professor Hugh Rosen, MD, PhD, who led the study with Scripps Research Professor Michael B.A. Oldstone, MD. "The findings provide a new paradigm for understanding influenza and could point the way to new therapies."

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Scripps & Sanford-Burnham to Collaborate to Advance Cancer Treatments

Scripps Health and Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute have formed a collaboration to bridge the gap between laboratory scientists uncovering new approaches for treating cancer and the physicians caring for patients with cancer.

Basic medical research often struggles to achieve the financing and support to convert significant breakthroughs into medical practice. The field of translational medicine- aimed at "translating" scientific research into treatments for patients- has developed to help ensure promising early-stage discoveries don't languish, but instead move into the drug development pipeline.

"San Diego is known for its scientific research and for its premier health care. This collaboration is the latest example of how Scripps and Sanford-Burnham are bringing the two together," said Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO of Scripps Health.

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San Diego’s CVAC in Wall Street Journal

Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic hasn't earned his No. 1 ranking by taking the conventional road. There's his odd ritual of excessive ball bouncing before serves, which can break an opponent's concentration. There's his new gluten-free diet, which he's said has helped him feel stronger on the court.

But now there's something truly weird: the CVAC Pod.

Ever since last year's U.S. Open, Djokovic has been trying to improve his fitness by climbing into a rare $75,000 egg-shaped, bobsled-sized pressure chamber.

The machine, which is made by a California-based company called CVAC Systems and hasn't been banned by any sports governing bodies, is one of only 20 in the world. Unlike the increasingly trendy $5,000 hyperbaric chambers many professional athletes use to saturate the blood with oxygen and stimulate healing, the CVAC is a considerably more-ambitious contraption. It uses a computer-controlled valve and a vacuum pump to simulate high altitude and compress the muscles at rhythmic intervals.

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NeurAccel Offers Window Into the Brain

NeurAccel Offers Window Into the Brain

NeurAccel Biosciences is on the cutting edge of the effort to find new cures for brain diseases.

The 2-year-old, privately owned La Jolla company uses a patented technology invented at the University of California San Diego to test the effects of experimental drugs in the brains of laboratory animals.

The contract research organization, which runs studies for companies that develop the new drugs, is headed by its founder, president and chief executive, Quoc-Thang Nguyen, and its vice president and chief operating officer, Thomas Fouquet.

They recently discussed the company’s work with the Union-Tribune.

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New Film About Pandemic Highlights Genetic Sequencing Importance

People from Paris to Hong Kong become ill with severe fevers and hacking coughs, and those with the most serious symptoms quickly die. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mobilizes a team to root out the source of the virulent outbreak.

The scenario might sound like a recap of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic that killed more than 18,000 people and set off months of global panic.

Instead, it’s the new movie “Contagion,” Hollywood’s latest attempt to capitalize on cultural fears that stretch back beyond the Black Death of the Middle Ages.

Although the genre has an ignoble track record for reflecting reality, the makers of “Contagion” appear to have gone to great lengths to ensure that their film rings true with public health experts.

One scene highlights genetic sequencing, a powerful biological tool that promises to revolutionize the way disease outbreaks are fought.

A pair of San Diego County companies have led the way in creating a new generation of machines capable of mapping the DNA of viruses and bacteria in a matter of hours instead of days and weeks.

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