Jacob Kennedy, a staff scientist in the Paulovich Laboratory at Fred Hutch who focuses on discovering and validating protein biomarkers for clinical use, will speak at the Personalized World Medicine Conference 2016, which will be held Jan. 24–27 in Silicon Valley (south San Francisco Bay area).
Kennedy will discuss a targeted mass spectrometry-based platform that the lab developed for making NextGen protein assays, or tests that measure proteins in blood and tissue that help inform targeted cancer therapy and predict patient treatment response.
“Measuring proteins directly has been challenging historically due to technological limitations as well as poor-performing antibodies used for protein detection,” said Dr. Amanda Paulovich, a member of the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutch. “Our NextGen protein assay platform, based on multiple reaction monitoring mass spectrometry, overcomes analytical issues with conventional protein measurement technologies and has the potential to enable direct quantification of proteins in human blood and biopsy samples.”
The goal, Paulovich said, is to improve patient outcomes by facilitating the translation of novel therapies and diagnostic tests.
The Personalized Medicine World Conference, established in 2009, is an independent and established conference that attracts more than 1,200 recognized authorities and experts across the health care and biotechnology sectors. The annual event is co-hosted by Stanford Health Care, Oracle Health Sciences, and the University of California at San Francisco.
Fred Hutch houses 860 research-related freezers that are critical for storing and preserving valuable biological samples, sometimes for decades. The expense of supporting these freezers, including lab space and utility costs, is significant.
In an effort to reduce costs and increase energy efficiency, Fred Hutch since 2013 has begun the process of replacing its fleet of conventional compressor-driven freezers with an ultra-low temperature, energy-efficient, environmentally friendly model that stores more yet takes up less space, is quieter and more ergonomic.
Seattle City Light recently rewarded this effort with a rebate check of $20,400, which will go back to the individual scientific programs that purchased the freezers.
The Hutch currently houses about 450 ultra-low freezers, 92 of which are a state-of-the art version made in the U.S. by Stirling Ultracold, a division of Global Cooling Inc. The Hutch plans to buy about 40 more Stirlings each year to replace its older, less energy-efficient freezers, according to Materiel Director Mark Burch. The Hutch has contracted with Seattle City Light to receive additional rebates of $600 per new Stirling.
“Our energy costs are half of what they were with the old style of freezer. We are saving roughly around $400 per year per freezer,” he said.
The freezer replacement initiative is the result of collaboration among the Hutch’s Shared Resources, Purchasing and Facilities Engineering departments – led by Shared Resources Operations Manager Debbie Shiozaki, who chairs the Freezer Project Committee – and was given the green light by Hutch leadership.
“To me, this is a great example of what happens when we all work together to support the science and save the environment,” Burch said.
It all started in 2012, when a Stirling Ultracold representative approached James Mead, a critical-systems supervisor in Facilities Engineering, to see if the Hutch would be interested in testing a beta version of their ultra-low cooling unit, which uses no refrigeration compressors, zero oil and all-natural refrigerants.
“We did some operational and energy-use studies over a six-month period and were shocked because the energy consumption was so much lower compared to what we were using,” he said. “Our studies found all claims by the company to be true, if not conservative. We were sold on it.”
If all of the remaining compressor-driven freezers throughout the Hutch were replaced by Stirlings ultra-lows, Mead calculates that would result in a savings of 481,664 kilowatt hours per year, which equates to a savings of $27,937 annually in electricity alone.
Dr. Ajay Gopal of the Clinical Research Division and Division of Medical Oncology at the University of Washington is among five U.S. investigators to receive grants from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network to study the effectiveness of a drug called Enzalutamide against various cancers.
The grants, made possible through funding from Astellas Pharma Inc. and Medivation Inc., will support studies testing the preclinical and clinical effectiveness of the drug in treating mantle cell lymphoma and endometrial, liver and prostate cancers.
Gopal’s grant will support a pilot Phase 2 study of the drug’s effectiveness in treating mantle cell lymphoma, a rare form on non-Hodgkin lymphoma that often affects men over age 60.
Drs. Paul Martin and Elahe Mostaghel of the Clinical Research Division will collaborate with Gopal on the research.
“This work represents testing a simple clinical observation in the lab and taking these results back to the clinic to test whether blocking the effects of testosterone in mantle cell lymphoma can be used to treat this challenging disease,” Gopal said.