The application of molecular knowledge for developing new medical technologies is the goal of molecular medicine. Success in this area is highly dependent on the interaction of investigators from fields as diverse as biochemistry, cell biology, immunology, physiology, epidemiology, and physics, with an eye toward applying their insights and discoveries to improving human health. Such interdisciplinary approaches rarely find the common ground and language necessary to achieve this goal. Recently, a meeting of researchers studying the ectoenzymes CD38 and CD157 brought together insights into the regulation of calcium signaling, the metabolism of pyridine nucleotides by CD38 and CD157, and subsequent effects on immune function. Together, these discoveries were being applied to the development of novel therapeutics and diagnostics for myeloma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. This issue of Molecular Medicine, featuring several short reviews based on a conference held in Turin, Italy, 10–12 June 2006, showcases the current state of this field and highlights some recent progress in molecular medicine.
A global collaborative effort is pivotal to conquer cancer. Themed “Emerging role of China in global clinical development of novel anti-cancer drugs”, the US Chinese Anti-Cancer Association (USCACA) held its 4th annual meeting in Chicago on June 2, 2012, in conjunction with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting to further bridge the US and China together to outsmart cancer. Although a young organization, USCACA has made significant contributions to this goal in the 3 years since its inception through extensive collaboration with academic organizations, the pharmaceutical industry, and governmental agencies. USCACA has engaged various stakeholders in developing translational and personalized medical strategies to facilitate new anti-cancer drug development and clinical trials in China. USCACA has initiated and implemented the USCACA-National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) scholarship to encourage overseas returnees to continue cancer research in China. USCACA announced the Hengrui-USCACA scholarship to fund clinical trial staff from China to conduct the observation of early oncologic clinical trials in the US. During the annual meeting, distinguished panelists and the audience discussed the following critical topics: (1) oncologic translational research and early development capabilities in China; (2) novel chemical entity development and partnership with Chinese companies; and (3) Chinese participation in global anti-cancer drug development. USCACA will continue to promote collaborations among cancer researchers and clinicians in the US and China by engaging in more frequent communications and joint efforts across fields, disciplines, and countries, diligently working together toward curing and eliminating cancers.
A meeting to discuss the latest developments in the biology of sexual development of Plasmodium and transmission-control was held April 5-6, 2011, in Bethesda, MD. The meeting was sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH/NIAID) in response to the challenge issued at the Malaria Forum in October 2007 that the malaria community should re-engage with the objective of global eradication. The consequent rebalancing of research priorities has brought to the forefront of the research agenda the essential need to reduce parasite transmission. A key component of any transmission reduction strategy must be methods to attack the parasite as it passes from man to the mosquito (and vice versa). Such methods must be rationally based on a secure understanding of transmission from the molecular-, cellular-, population- to the evolutionary-levels. The meeting represented a first attempt to draw together scientists with expertise in these multiple layers of understanding to discuss the scientific foundations and resources that will be required to provide secure progress toward the design and successful implementation of effective interventions.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a common human disease with a prevalence of about 1% in most parts of the world. At the time of symptom onset it is difficult to predict the severity of subsequent disease course. After 2 years joint erosions are seen in most patients, and most patients become clinically disabled within 20 years. A recent meeting at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology (Imperial College, London) brought together representatives from several European centres of excellence, to discuss research funded by the EU Framework 5 Quality of Life Programme. This research network combines gene and protein expression profiling with different animal models of RA to identify cells, genes and pathways contributing to arthritis initiation, progression and chronicity. The studies discussed highlight the reality that collaboration between different research groups is the basis of groundbreaking research and, it is hoped, eventual new therapies for RA.
arthritis; genomics; therapy
‘Carabidologists do it all’ (Niemelä 1996a) is a phrase with which most European carabidologists are familiar. Indeed, during the last half a century, professional and amateur entomologists have contributed enormously to our understanding of the basic biology of carabid beetles. The success of the field is in no small part due to regular European Carabidologists’ Meetings, which started in 1969 in Wijster, the Netherlands, with the 14th meeting again held in the Netherlands in 2009, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first meeting and 50 years of long-term research in the Dwingelderveld. This paper offers a subjective summary of some of the major developments in carabidology since the 1960s. Taxonomy of the family Carabidae is now reasonably established, and the application of modern taxonomic tools has brought up several surprises like elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Progress has been made on the ultimate and proximate factors of seasonality and timing of reproduction, which only exceptionally show non-seasonality. Triggers can be linked to evolutionary events and plausibly explained by the “taxon cycle” theory. Fairly little is still known about certain feeding preferences, including granivory and ants, as well as unique life history strategies, such as ectoparasitism and predation on higher taxa. The study of carabids has been instrumental in developing metapopulation theory (even if it was termed differently). Dispersal is one of the areas intensively studied, and results show an intricate interaction between walking and flying as the major mechanisms. The ecological study of carabids is still hampered by some unresolved questions about sampling and data evaluation. It is recognised that knowledge is uneven, especially concerning larvae and species in tropical areas. By their abundance and wide distribution, carabid beetles can be useful in population studies, bioindication, conservation biology and landscape ecology. Indeed, 40 years of carabidological research have provided so much data and insights, that among insects - and arguably most other terrestrial organisms - carabid beetles are one of the most worthwhile model groups for biological studies.
Carabidae; ground beetle; systematics; biology; life history; rhythms; seed feeding; ant feeding; ectoparasitism; predation on amphibians; dispersal; pitfall trapping; statistics; population dynamics; long-term research; bioindicators; conservation; habitat management; landscape ecology
Major advances in technology now drive how we approach questions in immunology, particularly in analyzing complex data sets commonly encountered in genomics and proteomics studies. Active areas of investigation include development of novel technologies, identification of elusive target antigens for RA and other diseases, dissection of signaling pathways connecting the lymphocyte cell surface with the nucleus, and exploration of new avenues for therapeutic interventions. The European Workshop for Rheumatology Research (EWRR) is a forum for many European and non-European scientists to present research findings of high quality. Arthritis researchers from around the globe should be strongly encouraged to attend future meetings, the next of which is the 22nd EWRR meeting in Leiden, the Netherlands, in 2002.
apoptosis; autoimmunity; autoantibodies; cytokine; signaling
Preterm birth is the leading cause of neonatal mortality and perinatal morbidity. The etiology of preterm is multi-factorial and still unclear. As evidence increases for a genetic contribution to PTB, so does the need to explore genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics in its study. This review suggests research guidelines for the conduct of high throughput systems biology investigations into preterm birth with the expectation that this will facilitate the sharing of samples and data internationally through consortia, generating the power needed to study preterm birth using integrated "-omics" technologies. The issues to be addressed include: (1) integrated "-omics" approaches, (2) phenotyping, (3) sample collection, (4) data management-integrative databases, (5) international consortia and (6) translational feasibility. This manuscript is the product of discussions initiated by the "-Omics" Working Group at the Preterm Birth International Collaborative Meeting held at the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland in April 2009.
The inaugural European Network for Breast Development and Cancer (ENBDC) meeting on 'Methods in Mammary Gland Development and Cancer' was held in Weggis, Switzerland last April. The goal was to discuss the details of techniques used to study mammary gland biology and tumourigenesis. Highlights of this meeting included the use of four-colour fluorescence for protein co-localisation in tissue microarrays, genome analysis at single cell resolution, technical issues in the isolation of normal and tumour stem cells, and the use of mouse models and mammary gland transplantations to elucidate gene function in mammary development and to study drug resistance in breast cancer.
This is a summary report of the workshop, organized by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Scientists in association with the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products, the European Pharmacopoeia, the US Food and Drug Administration and the United States Pharmacopoeia, on “Assuring Quality and Performance of Sustained and Controlled Release Parenterals” held in Basel, Switzerland, February 2003. Experts from the pharmaceutical industry, regulatory authorities and academia participated in this workshop to review, discuss and debate formulation, processing and manufacture of sustained and controlled release parenterals, and identify critical process parameters and their control. This workshop was a follow-up workshop to a previous workshop on Assuring Quality and Performance of Sustained and Controlled Release Parenterals that was held in Washington, DC in April 2001. This report reflects the outcome of the Basel 2003 meeting and the advances in the field since the Washington, DC meeting in 2001. As necessary, the reader is referred to the report on the 2001 meeting. Areas were identified at the 2003 Basel meeting where research is needed in order to understand the performance of these drug delivery systems and to assist in the development of appropriate testing procedures. Recommendations were made for future workshops and meetings.
Human infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis exists as a spectrum of conditions ranging from asymptomatic infection to active disease. Novel, accurate tuberculosis immunodiagnostics have been introduced over the last decade, but it remains challenging to timely diagnose active disease and to accurately distinguish asymptomatic M. tuberculosis infection from immune memory resulting from a prior infection eradicated by the host response. The conference titled Immunodiagnosis of Tuberculosis: New Questions, New Tools, which was held on September 21-23, 2008 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States, brought together basic scientists and clinical experts to discuss recent progress in tuberculosis research and diagnosis. Global analyses of M. tuberculosis biology and the host immune response, with emphasis on systems approaches to the study of host-pathogen interactions, were presented. Moreover, conference participants discussed new tests in the pipeline and reviewed new technologies leading to novel assay formats. The discussion included technologies ranging from simple, inexpensive point-of-care tests to automated molecular platforms for detection of multiple infections based on the “lab on a chip” concept. It was also recognized that the utility of any new diagnostic relies on laboratory capacity, accessibility, costs, and test deployment. The conference included lessons from the field. For example, the application of existing technologies to neglected areas, such as diagnosis in children and HIV+ populations, was discussed.
The meeting on “Investigating cellular stress responses—a multidisciplinary approach from basic science to therapeutics” was held in London on 13 October 2006. The purpose of this 1-day meeting was to bring together European scientists investigating the immune biology of stress proteins and their potential clinical applications. The main topics included: the role of heat shock proteins (Hsps) in bacterial infections; the role of Hsps with a molecular mass of about 70 kDa in cancer therapy and in prediction of the clinical outcome following allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; the quality and duration of stress as a danger signal for the initiation of a stress response; the mechanism of Hsp-protein interaction; and Hsp export from tumor cells in secretory granules.
One hundred years ago, in 1909, the American Society for Clinical Investigation
(ASCI) held its first annual meeting. The founding members based this new society on
a revolutionary approach to research that emphasized newer physiological methods. In
1924 the ASCI started a new journal, the Journal of Clinical
Investigation. The ASCI has also held an annual meeting almost every year.
The society has long debated who could be a member, with discussions about whether
members must be physicians, what sorts of research they could do, and the role of
women within the society. The ASCI has also grappled with what else the society
should do, especially whether it ought to take a stand on policy issues. ASCI history
has reflected changing social, political, and economic contexts, including several
wars, concerns about the ethics of biomedical research, massive increases in federal
research funding, and an increasingly large and specialized medical environment.
Despite the dramatic increase of global spending on drug discovery and development, the approval rate for new drugs is declining, due chiefly to toxicity and undesirable side effects. Simultaneously, the growth of available biomedical data in the post-genomic era has provided fresh insight into the nature of redundant and compensatory drug-target pathways. This stagnation in drug approval can be overcome by the novel concept of polypharmacology, which is built on the fundamental concept that drugs modulate multiple targets. Polypharmacology can be studied with molecular networks which integrate multidisciplinary concepts including cheminformatics, bioinformatics, and systems biology. In silico techniques such as structure and ligand-based approaches can be employed to study molecular networks and reduce costs by predicting adverse drug reactions and toxicity in the early stage of drug development. By amalgamating strides in this informatics-driven era, designing polypharmacological drugs with molecular network technology exemplifies the next generation of therapeutics with less off-target properties and toxicity. In this review, we will first describe the challenges in drug discovery, and showcase successes using multi-target drugs toward diseases such as cancer and mood disorders. We will then focus on recent development of in silico polypharmacology predictions. Finally, our technologies in molecular network analysis will be presented.
Molecular networks; polypharmacology; drug discovery; in silico prediction
A workshop on ‘The Biology of Intracellular Bacterial Pathogens’ was held last October in a venue of the International University of Andalusia (UNIA) located in the World Historic Heritage town of Baeza, in the South of Spain. This Workshop gathered leading scientists from around the world to discuss their latest findings related to the mechanisms that intracellular pathogens use to subvert and manipulate host cell functions. The workshop focused on novel aspects that imprint current research in this discipline, including the heterogeneous behaviour of the pathogen at the population level, the host determinants that modulate susceptibility to the infection, the search for new drugs to combat these particular types of infections and also cutting edge technologies based on new imaging approaches and the use of microfluidics. Discussion on these topics provided new insights into the biology of these pathogens and enriched the field with new ideas for understanding why colonization of the intracellular niche of eukaryotic cells is a preferred strategy used by important human pathogens.
host response; intracellular pathogen
The recent EORTC-NCI-ASCO Annual Meeting on ‘Molecular Markers in Cancer’ was held on 15–17 November 2007 in Brussels, Belgium. It was the largest meeting to date and marked the first year in which the American Association of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) joined in the efforts of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in organizing this annual event. More than 300 clinicians, pathologists, laboratory scientists and representatives from regulatory agencies and the pharmaceutical industry came together for three days of intense discussion, debate and reflection on the latest biomarker therapeutic discoveries, strategies and clinical applications. The poster discussion sessions featured 79 research abstracts. The three most outstanding abstracts, all authored by young female researchers, were selected for presentation during the main meeting sessions. Highlights of each scientific session are presented.
The Malaria Policy Advisory Committee to the World Health Organization held its fourth meeting in Geneva, Switzerland from 11 to 13 September, 2013. This article provides a summary of the discussions, conclusions and recommendations from that meeting.
Meeting sessions included: recommendations for achieving universal coverage of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets; guidance on estimating the longevity of insecticide-treated nets; improving capacity in entomology and vector control; a review of the latest evidence on intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy; improving dissemination of Malaria Policy Advisory Committee guidance; updates on the development of the global technical strategy for malaria control and elimination (2016–2025) and the global strategy for control and elimination of Plasmodium vivax; updates from the drug resistance and containment technical expert group, the evidence review group on malaria burden estimation, a consultation on malaria case management indicators, and the constitution of the surveillance, monitoring and evaluation technical expert group; subnational elimination criteria; and consideration for future evidence review groups, including diagnosis in low transmission settings and testing for Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency.
Policy statements, position statements and guidelines that arise from the Malaria Policy Advisory Committee meeting conclusions and recommendations will be formally issued and disseminated to World Health Organization Member States by the World Health Organization Global Malaria Programme.
WHO; Malaria; Policy making; Mosquito control; Pregnancy; Prevention; Sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine; Treatment efficacy; Drug resistance; Surveillance; Elimination; Plasmodium falciparum; Plasmodium vivax
The Second Annual Symposium of the Global Cancer Genomics Consortium (GCGC) was held at the Tata Memorial Center in Mumbai, India, from November 19 to 20, 2012. Founded in late 2010, the GCGC aims to provide a platform for highly productive, collaborative efforts on next-generation cancer research through bridging the latest scientific and technology developments with clinical oncology challenges. This year’s presenters brought together highly innovative interdisciplinary views and strategies to meet major challenges in cancer research. The symposium featured 3 major themes: OMICS approaches toward the identification of cancer molecular drivers, single-cell analysis in cancer, and clinical and translational genomics. Each theme was represented in presentations of new findings, with an obvious implication in cross-disciplinary components of OMICs and an overwhelming participation by students. In summary, the GCGC symposium provided a discussion and congregation of the latest advances in basic and translational cancer research and offered the participants with a highly cooperative network environment for future collaboration.
genomics medicine; anticancer target; cancer therapy
The 5th Symposium on Frugivores and Seed Dispersal, held in Montpellier (France), 13–18 June 2010, brought together more than 220 researchers exemplifying a wide diversity of approaches to the study of frugivory and dispersal of seeds. Following Ted Fleming and Alejandro Estrada's initiative in 1985, this event was a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the first meeting in Veracruz, Mexico. Frugivory and seed dispersal are active research areas that have diversified in multiple directions since 1985 to include evolution (e.g. phylogenetic diversity and dispersal adaptations), physiology (e.g. sensory cues and digestion), landscape ecology (movement patterns), molecular ecology (e.g. gene flow, genetic diversity and structure), community ecology (e.g. mutualistic interaction networks) and conservation biology (effects of hunting, fragmentation, invasion and extinction), among others. This meeting provided an opportunity to assess conceptual and methodological progress, to present ever more sophisticated insights into frugivory in animals and dispersal patterns in plants, and to report the advances made in examining the mechanisms and consequences of seed dispersal for plants and frugivores.
conservation biology; dispersal; fragmentation; frugivory; hunting; movement ecology
Last November a group of principal investigators, postdoctoral fellows and PhD students from around the world got together in the city of Merida in Southeastern Mexico in a State of the Art meeting on the “Molecular structure and function of the apical junctional complex in epithelial and endothelia.” They analyzed diverse tissue barriers including those in the gastrointestinal tract, the blood brain barrier, blood neural and blood retinal barriers. The talks revealed exciting new findings in the field, novel technical approaches and unpublished data and highlighted the importance of studying junctional complexes to better understand several pathogenesis and to develop therapeutic approaches that can be utilized for drug delivery. This meeting report has the purpose of highlighting the results and advances discussed by the speakers at the Merida Meeting.
tight junction; occludin; claudins; ZO; blood brain barrier; apical junctional complex
Health research is increasing in Africa, but most resources are currently chanelled towards infectious diseases and health system development. While infectious diseases remain a heavy burden for some African countries, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) account for more than half of all deaths globally and WHO predicts 27% increase in NCDs in Africa over the next decade. We present findings of a European-Africa consultation on the research agenda for NCDs.
A workshop was held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, organized by the Network for the Coordination and Advancement of Sub-Saharan Africa-European Union Science and Technology Cooperation (CAAST-Net). Drawing on initial presentations, a small expert group from academic, clinical, public-health and administrative positions considered research needs in Africa for cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.
Research in Africa can draw from different environmental and genetic characteristics to understand the causes of the disease, while economic and social factors are important in developing relevant strategies for prevention and treatment. The suggested research needs include better methods for description and recording, clinical studies, understanding cultural impacts, prevention strategies, and the integrated organisation of care. Specific fields proposed for research are listed.
Our paper contributes to transparency in the process of priority-setting for health research in Africa. Although the European Union Seventh Framework Research Programme prioritises biomedical and clinical research, research for Africa should also address broader social and cultural research and intervention research for greatest impact. Research policy leaders in Africa must engage national governments and international agencies as well as service providers and research communities. None can act effectively alone. Bringing together the different stakeholders, and feeding the results through to the European Union research programme is a valuable contribution of CAAST-Net.
The 2001 U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) Biomedical Informatics Roadmap Meeting was devoted to developing a strategic plan in four focus areas: Hospital and Clinical Informatics, E-Health, Combat Health Informatics, and Bioinformatics and Biomedical Computation. The driving force of this Roadmap Meeting was the recent accelerated pace of change in biomedical informatics in which emerging technologies have the potential to affect significantly the Army research portfolio and investment strategy in these focus areas. The meeting was structured so that the first two days were devoted to presentations from experts in the field, including representatives from the three services, other government agencies, academia, and the private sector, and the morning of the last day was devoted to capturing specific biomedical informatics research needs in the four focus areas. This white paper summarizes the key findings and recommendations and should be a powerful tool for the crafting of future requests for proposals to help align USAMRMC new strategic research investments with new developments and emerging technologies.
The EMBnet Conference 2008, focusing on 'Leading Applications and Technologies in Bioinformatics', was organized by the European Molecular Biology network (EMBnet) to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Since its foundation in 1988, EMBnet has been working to promote collaborative development of bioinformatics services and tools to serve the European community of molecular biology laboratories. This conference was the first meeting organized by the network that was open to the international scientific community outside EMBnet. The conference covered a broad range of research topics in bioinformatics with a main focus on new achievements and trends in emerging technologies supporting genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics analyses such as high-throughput sequencing and data managing, text and data-mining, ontologies and Grid technologies. Papers selected for publication, in this supplement to BMC Bioinformatics, cover a broad range of the topics treated, providing also an overview of the main bioinformatics research fields that the EMBnet community is involved in.
The inaugural IgM event entitled “The new ParaDIgm: IgM from bench to clinic” brought together the increasingly active and growing IgM antibody community to discuss recent advances and challenges facing the discovery and development of IgM antibody therapies and technologies. Researchers, clinicians and biomanufacturing experts delivered 21 talks on the basic science and isolation of IgM, upstream and downstream development, and formulation and clinical development of the molecules. Participants networked around topics aimed at exploring the full potential of IgM antibodies. The meeting was held at DECHEMA Gesellschaft für Chemische Technik und Biotechnologie e. V. (Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology), a non-profit scientific and technical society based in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The meeting was sponsored by Patrys, Laureate Biopharma, Bio-Rad Laboratories, BIA Separations, Percivia and the Bio Affinity Company (BAC). The second New ParaDIgm: IgM from bench to clinic meeting, will be held on April 23–24, 2013 in Frankfurt, Germany.
IgM antibody; IgM purification; PAT-SM6; antibody stability; mAb 216
Research embracing systems biology approaches and careful analysis of the critical host response has greatly expanded our understanding of infectious diseases. First-generation studies based on genomics and proteomics have made significant progress in establishing the foundation for network-based investigations on virus-host interactions. More recently, data from complementary high-throughput technologies, such as siRNA and microRNA screens and next-generation sequencing, are augmenting systems level analyses and are providing a more detailed and insightful multidimensional view of virus-host networks. Together with advances in data integration, systems biology approaches now have the potential to provide profound impacts on translational research, leading to the more rapid development of new therapeutics and vaccines for infectious diseases. In this review, we highlight new high-throughput technologies, a new philosophy for studying virus-host interactions, and discuss the potential of systems biology to facilitate bench-to-bedside research and create novel strategies to combat disease. Can we save the world using these approaches? Read on.
Europrise is a Network of Excellence supported by the European Commission within the 6th Framework programme from 2007 to 2012. The Network has involved over 50 institutions from 13 European countries together with 3 industrial partners and 6 African countries. The Network encompasses an integrated program of research, training, dissemination and advocacy within the field of HIV vaccines and microbicides. A central and timely theme of the Network is the development of the unique concept of co-usage of vaccines and microbicides. Training of PhD students has been a major task, and some of these post-graduate students have here summarized novel ideas emanating from presentations at the last annual Europrise meeting in Prague. The latest data and ideas concerning HIV vaccine and microbicide studies are included in this review; these studies are so recent that the majority have yet to be published. Data were presented and discussed concerning novel immunisation strategies; microbicides and PrEP (alone and in combination with vaccines); mucosal transmission of HIV/SIV; mucosal vaccination; novel adjuvants; neutralizing antibodies; innate immune responses; HIV/SIV pathogenesis and disease progression; new methods and reagents. These – necessarily overlapping topics - are comprehensively summarised by the Europrise students in the context of other recent exciting data.
HIV; Vaccine; Microbicide; PrEP