Paul Scotti (@pscotti)
Activity by Paul Scotti
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Feb. 3 — Uggie, the scene-stealing Jack Russell terrier in the 2012 Oscar-winning film “The Artist” will visit Mayo Clinic on Thursday, Feb. 6. Uggie will be in Jacksonville to meet Mayo’s Caring Canines, the volunteer dogs who greet patients and visitors at the clinic.
The visit by Uggie and his owner/trainer, Omar Von Muller, is open to the public, at 12:30 p.m. Thursday in Walker Auditorium in the clinic’s Davis Building. Von Muller will share Uggie’s amazing success story of going from a puppy headed for the pound to worldwide fame. Uggie will perform some of the tricks that delighted fans of “The Artist” in which he portrayed a loyal dog who courageously rescues his owner from a fire. The film received five Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor, Jean Dujardin.
There are 19 volunteer dogs in Mayo’s Caring Canines program. They make daily “meet-and-greet” visits to patients and visitors, providing warmth and unconditional love.
“The Caring Canines play a valuable role in supporting Mayo Clinic’s commitment to the healing of mind, body and spirit,” says Peter Dorsher, M.D., chair of Mayo’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “Uggie’s impact on people worldwide is further evidence of the human/animal bond and how it can improve our health and well-being. We’re delighted to have him meet our volunteer dogs.”
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program of Mayo Clinic, Nemours Children's Clinic, Jacksonville, and Wolfson Children's Hospital has been awarded a three-year accreditation renewal by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT). The foundation awarded the accreditation renewal after thorough site visits at all collection, transplantation and laboratory facilities at the three locations.
"We are pleased that Mayo Clinic, Nemours Children's Clinic and Wolfson Children's Hospital have met the requirements of the Foundation and have been granted accreditation for their joint Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program," said Phyllis Warkentin, M.D., FACT medical director.
"The teamwork and cooperation between all three organizations in the program has never been better," said Blood and Marrow Transplant Program Director Michael Joyce, M.D., Ph.D., a pediatric hematologist/oncologist at Nemours Children's Clinic, Jacksonville. "FACT accreditation is a promise to our patients that we are adhering to and meeting the highest standards in the field. The hematology/oncology physicians, nurses, laboratory and support staff of Nemours, Wolfson Children's and Mayo Clinic work very hard to achieve maintain these standards."
The joint program was created in 2001 to allow for greater collaboration in physician and staff expertise, research and clinical protocols. Wolfson Children's Hospital and Nemours Children's Clinic, Jacksonville, will celebrate their Blood and Marrow Transplant Program's 20th anniversary next year. Many patient referrals to the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program come from physicians in Jacksonville, across Florida and south Georgia, across the United States and internationally. Since it was established, the combined program has transplanted patients with a variety of illnesses including leukemia, neuroblastoma, sickle cell disease, bone marrow disorders, multiple myeloma, lymphoma, brain tumors, Ewing's sarcoma, and amyloidosis. Stem cell sources include the patient, immediate family members, volunteer unrelated adult marrow donors or donated umbilical cord blood donor units. More than 970 transplants have been completed during this time.
The program shares a single cryopreservation laboratory (where hematopoietic stem cells are frozen and processed) at Mayo Clinic. Mayo maintains the program's adult Blood and Marrow Transplant Unit, and Wolfson Children's Hospital maintains Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant beds on the Hematology/Oncology Unit in the J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Tower. The joint program shares information systems, quality and other clinical and administrative staff.
"We are excited to receive this accreditation. It is a welcome recognition and 'badge of honor' for our program. It also informs and assures our patients, referring physicians and insurance companies of the highest standards of patient care and laboratory practices in our program," said Vivek Roy, M.D., hematologist/oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Florida and medical director of the adult Blood and Marrow Transplant Program.
A Musical Tribute to Breast Cancer Survivorship
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mayo Clinic and the University of North Florida are honoring National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October by hosting the ninth annual Upbeat Pink: A Musical Tribute to Breast Cancer Survivorship concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, at Lazzara Performance Hall on the university's campus in Jacksonville. The Upbeat Pink concert is free and open to the public.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — September 4, 2012. Mayo Clinic and the University of North Florida are honoring National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October by hosting the eighth annual "Upbeat Pink: A Musical Tribute to Breast Cancer Survivorship" concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, at Lazzara Performance Hall on the university's campus in Jacksonville. The Upbeat Pink concert is free and open to the public.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — July 31, 2012. A potentially powerful new approach to treating two lethal metastatic cancers — triple negative breast cancer and clear cell renal cell carcinoma, the most common form of kidney cancer — has been discovered by researchers at Mayo Clinic in Florida. In the online issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, they report that two drugs, romidepsin and decitabine, work cooperatively to activate a potent tumor suppressor gene that is silenced in these cancers. Once the gene, secreted frizzled related protein one or sFRP1, went to work after the drugs were used, the laboratory tumor cells stopped growing and died.
Both drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat blood cancer and are being tested individually in numerous solid cancers in which sFRP1 is disabled. This study was the first to test the use of both in these metastatic cancers linked to sFRP1, and the results are very encouraging, says senior investigator John Copland, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic molecular biologist.
"We now have the basis for a clinical trial aimed at providing effective therapy for two drug-resistant cancers and perhaps many more tumor types in the future," Dr. Copland says. In addition to breast and kidney cancer, sFRP1 is disabled in colon, ovarian, lung, liver and other tumor types.
Dr. Copland and his colleagues earlier discovered that sFRP1 was silenced in certain cancers. This new work demonstrates that its expression can be restored by romidepsin, which is a histone deacetylase inhibitor, and decitabine, a methyltranferase inhibitor. Both are epigenetic drugs, modifying genes in a way that affects whether they are turned on or off.
"Individually, each drug did not induce any form of cell death but, together, they killed all of the different cell lines of kidney and triple negative breast cancer that we tested in the laboratory," says lead investigator Simon Cooper, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic molecular biologist who specializes in renal cancer.
The two cancers affect up to 80,000 Americans each year and therapies to treat both, especially when they are advanced, have been very limited, says co-author Edith Perez, M.D., deputy director of Mayo Clinic Cancer Center.
"But now, not only do we have a very promising lead on future therapy, but if this combination treatment works as we hope it does, we will have a biomarker to be able to test which patients might benefit the most," she says. "In other words, a biopsy test could identify patients whose tumors had lost sFRP1 function."
The approach to finding this potential new treatment strategy is novel, adds oncologist Michael Menefee, M.D., who is also a study co-author.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — July 12, 2012. Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida has received an "A" rating for excellence in patient safety from The Leapfrog Group, a national leader and advocate in hospital quality and patient safety. Leapfrog measures and publicly reports hospital performance through its annual Leapfrog Hospital Survey.
Mayo Clinic's recognition is based on the results of The Leapfrog Group's national survey that measures hospitals' performance in crucial areas of patient safety and quality. The survey is a transparent and evidence-based national tool in which more than 1,100 hospitals voluntarily participate free of charge. The results are posted online. [...]
Note: Funding information at the end of the news release has been updated.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — July 10, 2012. Cellular change thought to happen only in late-stage cancers to help tumors spread also occurs in early-stage lung cancer as a way to bypass growth controls, say researchers at Mayo Clinic in Florida. The finding, reported in the July 11 issue of Science Translational Medicine, represents a new understanding of the extent of transformation that lung cancer — and likely many other tumor types — undergo early in disease development, the scientists say. They add that the discovery also points to a potential strategy to halt this process, known as epithelial-mesenchymal transition, or EMT.
"Our study points to EMT as a key step in lung cancer progression during the earliest stages of cancer development," says lead investigator and cancer biologist Derek Radisky, Ph.D.
"Normal cells recognize when they are dividing too rapidly, and turn on programs that block inappropriate cell division. Here we found that early-stage lung cancer cells switch on EMT in order to bypass these controls," he says.
The discovery could offer a new way to prevent progression to late-stage lung cancer, possibly by inhibiting a particular molecule from functioning, Dr. Radisky says.
Because EMT is a well-recognized late-stage transition that occurs in all sorts of solid tumors, the researchers say they believe that the same early-stage use of EMT they found in lung cancer is likely occurring in other cancers.
EMT is a biological process used in embryonic development to allow body development, which requires the ability of cells and tissues to morph from one type to another, and develop in an orchestrated fashion.
Late-stage cancer uses EMT to change tumor cells into a form that can migrate through blood.
"The gaps in our knowledge of lung cancer have not allowed us to develop more effective targeted therapies," Dr. Radisky says. "This study offers us great new clues for a new approach to treating lung and possibly other cancers as early as possible."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — April 10, 2012. Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered a new class of molecular mutation in various forms of breast cancer, a finding that may shed new light on development and growth of different types of breast tumors. Called fusion transcripts, the mutated forms of RNA may also provide a way to identify tumor subtypes and offer new strategies to treat them, investigators say.
Their study, published in the April 15 issue of Cancer Research, is the first to systematically search for fusion genes and fusion transcripts linked to different types of breast tumors.
Oncologists currently recognize three basic types of breast tumors — estrogen-receptor (ER)-positive, HER2-positive, and triple negative.
"But breast cancer is much more complex than indicated by these three subtypes, and one of the challenges of treating the disease is to identify gene markers that predict how a tumor will respond to a specific treatment," says senior investigator Edith Perez, M.D., deputy director of the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center in Florida and director of the Breast Cancer Translational Genomics Program, which involves researchers at all three Mayo Clinic campuses.
"The discovery of subtype-specific fusion transcripts in breast cancer represents a step in this direction," she says. "Our findings indicate that fusion transcripts are much more common in breast cancer than had been realized. They represent a new class of mutation whose role in breast cancer is not understood at all."
"Fusion transcripts have the power to produce proteins that are relevant to tumor development, growth, and sensitivity to treatment, so we may have a brand new set of genomic changes that may help us understand, and treat, breast cancer in a new way," says E. Aubrey Thompson, Ph.D., professor of Biology at Mayo Clinic's Comprehensive Cancer Center, and co-director of the Breast Cancer Translational Genomics Program.
"This is a novel discovery that will now require additional investigation," he says. "We need to understand what these fusion transcripts and proteins are doing."
Fusion transcripts are created when chromosomes break apart and recombine, an event that commonly occurs in cancer cells. During this process, fusion genes are created when two halves of normal genes become linked. Fusion genes (DNA) create fusion transcripts (RNA), which then produce fusion proteins.
"Mistakes are made," Dr. Thompson says. "That is one of the salient properties of tumor cells, because they are defective in repairing damage to their genes."
"These mutated proteins may have an entirely new, cancer-promoting function, or they may interfere with normal cellular functions."
Because fusion genes, transcript, and protein are generally found only in tumors, they make ideal biomarkers to identify tumor cells, Dr. Perez says.