Pain Gain — A team led by Dr. Polly Bijur has been awarded $1.2 million over three years from the NIH’s National Institute of Nursing Research, to evaluate pain management in the emergency department. Their study will determine the safety and efficacy of an innovative system in which patients are permitted to administer their own pain treatments. Successful implementation of this system could improve both emergency department productivity and patient outcomes. Dr. Bijur is professor of epidemiology & population health, of emergency medicine and of pediatrics.
Effective Gene Therapy — In a paper recently published in Blood, Dr. Eric Bouhassira and his student Chanjung Chang describe a novel approach for the safe insertion of therapeutic genes into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Using this new method, the duo was able to insert the α-globin gene into iPSCs to treat α-thalassemia, a blood-related disease that is usually fatal at birth and results from a mutation in the α-globin gene. After differentiation of the corrected-iPS into red blood cells, Dr. Bouhassira and Mr. Chang were able to demonstrate that the gene correction was very effective since red blood cells produced from the treated stem cells expressed quasi-normal levels of hemoglobins. These experiments represent a major step toward curing a-thalassemias and other blood diseases by transplantation of patient-specific, gene-corrected stem cells. Dr. Bouhassira is professor of medicine (hematology) and of cell biology, and the Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.
Growth Charting -- The National Cancer Institute has awarded $1.7 million over five years to Dr. Steven Libutti and colleagues to support their investigation of tissue-specific cancer development. Dysfunctional tumor suppressor genes are known to cause cancer in some tissues but not others. Dr. Libutti’s team will intentionally disrupt the tumor suppressor gene Men1 in several tissue types and observe whether or not tumors result. By comparing the components of cells that develop tumors with the components of cells that don’t, they may discover unknown contributors to tumor growth, which may help identify potential targets for future intervention. Dr Libutti is associate director for clinical services at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center, vice chair of the department of surgery, and professor in the departments of surgery and genetics.