Member News

Breast Tumor Stiffness and Metastasis Risk Linked by Molecule’s Movement

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center have discovered a molecular mechanism that connects breast tissue stiffness to tumor metastasis and poor prognosis. The study, published April 20 in Nature Cell Biology, may inspire new approaches to predicting patient outcomes and halting tumor metastasis.

"We're finding that cancer cell behavior isn't driven by just biochemical signals, but also biomechanical signals from the tumor's physical environment," said senior author Jing Yang, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology and pediatrics.

In breast cancer, dense clusters of collagen fibers makes the tumor feel stiffer than surrounding tissue. That's why breast tumors are most often detected by touch - they feel harder than normal breast tissue. But it's also known that increased tumor stiffness correlates with tumor progression and metastasis, as well as poor survival.

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Sanofi and Novartis 2015 Winners of Patents for Humanity

Biocom Members Sanofi and Novartis were among the seven 2015 winners of the Patents for Humanity program. The program was launched by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in 2012 to recognize patent owners and licensees who address global challenges in medicine, nutrition, sanitation, household energy, and living standards.
Winners receive public recognition for their work at an award ceremony sponsored by the USPTO. Recipients also receive a certificate to accelerate select matters before the USPTO, such as a patent application, ex parte reexamination, or an ex parte appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

Below is USPTO's description of Sanofi and Novartis' discoveries:

Artemisinin is an important antimalarial drug derived from the sweet wormwood plant in Asia and Africa. Growing cycles, crop yields, and weather cause supply volatility of artemisinin, making it difficult to obtain at times. To address this problem, a public-private partnership to create synthetic artemisinin was formed in 2004 by PATH, the University of California Berkeley (2013 Patents for Humanity award winner), and Amyris, Inc., with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2007, Sanofi joined the project as the manufacturing partner for their chemical expertise and industrial capacity, taking this project from laboratory experiments to factory production. Sanofi is now supplying large quantities of artemisinin anti-malarial compounds on a no-profit-no-loss basis for use in developing countries.

Tuberculosis kills more adults worldwide than any infectious disease besides HIV/AIDS. One of the biggest challenges facing tuberculosis researchers is how to combat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, which is caused by an organism that is resistant to the most potent tuberculosis drugs. Novartis has discovered a class of compounds called indolcarboxamides that are active against drug-sensitive and multidrug-resistant strains of tuberculosis. In an arrangement requiring no upfront or milestone payments, Novartis has provided their entire tuberculosis R&D program, including these compounds, to the TB Alliance, a non-profit product development partnership that seeks to find new and improved tuberculosis treatment regimens. The agreement allows the TB Alliance to develop these compounds further into potential tuberculosis treatments and potentially conduct clinical trials. Early toxicology, safety, and therapeutic studies have been promising.

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UC San Diego Health System and Scripps Health Partner to Improve Hospice Care, Training and Research in San Diego

SAN DIEGO - UC San Diego Health System and Scripps Health are partnering to provide improved continuity of patient care, fellowship training and research in hospice and palliative medicine. Under a new five-year agreement, Scripps will work with UC San Diego to provide outpatient and inpatient hospice care for UC San Diego patients, allowing UC San Diego physicians to better coordinate post-acute care for patients with chronic illness. The joint fellowship program is the only physician training program of its kind in San Diego County.

"We look forward to collaborating with Scripps to offer comprehensive, patient-centered care to our patients in need of long-term or end-of-life medical care, support and comfort," said Paul Viviano, CEO, UC San Diego Health System and associate vice chancellor, UC San Diego Health Sciences. "In addition, the hospice and palliative medicine fellowship program will train many physicians in the core principles of pain and symptom management, communication skills and care coordination for patients with serious and life-limiting conditions."

UC San Diego patients who select Scripps Hospice for post-acute hospice care will benefit from UC San Diego and Scripps providers working closely together to ensure the highest quality and continuum of care.

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FY 2016 H1B CAP Filings Break Historical Record

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has received approximately 233,000 H-1B petitions during the open filing period for Fiscal Year 2016.  This includes petitions filed under the statutory cap of 65,000 visas as well as an additional 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption.

On April 13, 2015, USCIS completed a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will begin rejecting and returning those petitions not selected under the lottery.

The nearly 233,000 H-1B petitions filed for Fiscal Year 2016 sets a historical record high for the program, exceeding the filings received during Fiscal Years 2001, 2002, 2003 when the H-1B CAP was increased to 195,000 in response to record low unemployment and the high-tech boom.  Today, while the national unemployment rate has remained steady at 5.5%, H-1B sponsors continue to report a shortage of skilled professionals especially in STEM fields.  With the highest H-1B filers being in the IT, Science, Finance, and Advanced manufacturing sectors, the debate over increasing the H-1B CAP is long but over and likely to be a hot topic of discussion as we head into a presidential election year in 2016.

Until then, U.S. employers will need to be creative in finding other solutions in order to attract and retain  this highly sought out talent.  For questions or strategy development please feel free to reach out to Business Immigration Attorney and BIOCOM member, Teodora D Purcell, in the San Diego office of Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP at or tel: 858 793 1600.

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