NIH Director Discusses Accelerating Translation of Biomedical Research to the Clinic

TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, is a nonprofit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.”  The annual TED conference brings together some of the world’s most fascinating people to talk briefly about science, business, the arts and global issues facing our world.  TEDMED, an independent event operating under license from the TED conference, is a three day annual conference where cutting-edge science and technology leaders “connect, understand and inspire” to advance the art of health and medicine with new ideas, the latest science and innovative technology.

National Biomedical Research Day 2011

Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist, inventor, entrepreneur, author and pacifist [1]. He was born on October 21st, 1833. After his death in 1896, much of his estate was used to establish the Nobel Prize. In 1993 on the 160th anniversary of Nobel’s birth, President Bill Clinton proclaimed October 21st as “National Biomedical Research Day” [2].

National Biomedical Research Day

On National Biomedical Research Day, we celebrate the central role that biomedical research plays in improving human health and longevity. On this day, we acknowledge the promise that biomedical research plays for securing the future physical and mental well-being of people around the world. Biomedical research not only provides data that scientists and physicians need to treat and prevent diseases, but it also reveals the fundamental nature of life in humans, other animals, and plants.

A Step Toward Personalized Asthma Treatment, Gene Variant Linked to Drug Response

Inhaled corticosteroids are used by millions of asthma patients every day. However, as with all treatments to control asthma, there is marked patient-to-patient variability in the response to treatment. New research published today in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) has identified a genetic variant associated with the response to inhaled corticosteroids [1]. Investigators have found that asthma patients who have two copies of a specific gene variant responded only one-third as well to steroid inhalers as those with two copies of the regular gene.

Asthmatic using an inhaler

Neural Stem Cell Therapy for Ischemic Stroke Patients

The single largest cause of adult disability in the developed world is ischemic stroke, in which blood flow in or to the brain is blocked. It precipitates immense amounts of social and financial costs. Currently, therapies for stroke focus on prevention or acute phase treatments that arrest the stroke while it is happening. But many patients are not fortunate enough to get acute phase treatment and suffer neurological damage that leads to functional and cognitive impairment. Until now, there have been almost no options for such patients. But last February, a company called ReNeuron received approval to begin a clinical trial of neural stem cell therapy for disabled stroke patients [1]. Two patients have been treated thus far and the therapy appears to be safe.

Neural stem cell therapy

Addition of Immunotherapy Boosts Pediatric Cancer Survival

Administering a new form of immunotherapy to children with neuroblastoma, a nervous system cancer, increased the percentage of those who were alive and free of disease progression after two years. The percentage rose from 46 percent for children receiving a standard therapy to 66 percent for children receiving immunotherapy plus standard therapy, according to the study in the Sept. 30, 2010, New England Journal of Medicine. The randomized phase III clinical trial was coordinated by the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), a national consortium of researchers supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the NIH.