Biomarker Bulletin: July 5, 2011

Biomarker Bulletin is an occasionally recurring update of news focused on biomarkers aggregated at Biomarkers are physical, functional or biochemical indicators of normal physiological or disease processes. The individualization of disease management — personalized medicine — is dependent on developing biomarkers that promote specific clinical domains, including early detection, risk, diagnosis, prognosis and predicted response to therapy.

Biomarker Commons

  • TCGA Study Brings Ovarian Cancer Patients Closer to Personalized Medicine

    In the June 30 issue of Nature, researchers from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network provide a large-scale integrative report on genetic mutations and pathways that distinguish the most common and aggressive type of ovarian cancer from other types of ovarian cancer as well as from other solid tumors. The disease is not defined by one or few cancer-driving genes but rather numerous mutations that individually occur in only a small number of cases. Given the degree of genomic disarray, the study results suggest that genomic structural variation is the driver of ovarian cancer. The findings may be helpful in guiding physicians to choose experimental treatments that are most likely to target molecular alterations effectively in patients with high-grade serous ovarian adenocarcinoma.

  • BGI Expanding Proteomics Services to Include Mass Spectrometry

    Earlier this month, Adam Bonislawski at GenomeWeb’s Proteomonitor reported that China-based BGI intends to expand its proteomics offerings and buy ~50 new mass spectrometers over the next two years. This diversification into clinical and drug-development services is a forward-thinking move for the genomics/bioinformatics giant and one that should be taken seriously by current proteomics service providers.

  • DHMRI Establishes Immune Monitoring Laboratory for Biomarker Discovery and Development

    Last week, the David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI) announced that it acquired the Immune Tolerance Institute, Inc. (ITI) as a next step in its continued growth. The DHMRI provides integrated, state-of-the-art genomic, cellular, proteomic and bioinformatics technology platforms as a major resource for a range of academic and industry partners undertaking both preclinical and clinical research.

  • NINDS to Fund Biomarker Clinical Study for Spinal Muscular Atrophy

    Earlier this month, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) announced a funding opportunity and invited applications for a study of candidate biomarkers in Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). The goals of the SMA biomarker validation study are to: (1) evaluate biomarkers and clinical outcomes longitudinally across a spectrum of SMA cases; (2) establish a clinical outcomes and biomarker database; and (3) contribute samples to the NINDS biorepository at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research to capture and share methods and pre-competitive data.

  • SciClips Launches Biomarker and Drug Discovery Protocols Database

    SciClips is an open innovation platform that enables scientists and researchers to collaborate and share research and ideas. Following up on a diagnostic and prognostic biomarker database released earlier this year, SciClips has launched a second database constisting of biomarker and drug discovery research protocols.

Spinal Muscular Atrophy Legislation Update

Back in July, I wrote that spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) legislation was going to soon be introduced in Congress.

Prior to the August recess, legislation to enhance federal support for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) research was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Eric Cantor (R-VA). The bill, H.R. 3334, would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct activities to rapidly advance treatments for spinal muscular atrophy, neuromuscular disease and other pediatric diseases. More information can be found on

Spinal Muscular Atrophy Legislation to be Introduced in Congress

Spinal muscular atrophy legislation, “The SMA Treatment Acceleration Act”, will soon be introduced in both the U.S House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

What is spinal muscular atrophy?

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive (meaning the disorder is inherited by receiving one gene from both mother and father) neuromuscluar disorder that affects motor neurons of the spinal cord and brainstem. Motor neurons are responsible for supplying electrical and chemical messages to muscle cells. Without proper input from motor neurons, muscle cells don’t function properly and become much smaller (atrophy), producing symptoms of muscle weakness and affecting the ability to swallow, breath and move limbs.