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ROCHESTER, Minn. — September 24, 2012. The Mayo Clinic Cancer Center and Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa have received a five-year, $11.5 million grant renewal from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to continue the Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) for lymphoma research. The renewal was based on a competitive peer-review process conducted by cancer researchers from across the country. The program, known as the lymphoma SPORE, focuses on applying scientific advances to develop new approaches for the prevention, detection, and treatment of lymphoma and lymphoid leukemia. It is the nation's longest-running lymphoma SPORE and has received more than $34 million from the NCI over its lifetime. "Collaboration between researchers at both institutions has led to new discoveries about cancers of the immune system and to clinical trials that test novel treatments," says Thomas Witzig, M.D., a Mayo Clinic hematologist and the SPORE lead researcher. "The advancements we've made and the SPORE grant itself would not have happened if our two organizations hadn't collaborated so well together," says George Weiner, M.D., director and principal investigator of the SPORE and director of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. The team's work includes translational and clinical studies exploring the potential of treatments that stimulate the immune system to treat lymphoma; clinical trials targeting lymphoma-specific signaling pathways; discovery of gene mutations in cell-signaling pathways that contribute to development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma; identification of key interactions between lymphoma cells and their microenvironment that can be disrupted to make cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapies; and investigation into biomarkers that could have a significant impact on the management of lymphoma. The research team has worked with more than 6,000 patient volunteers to better understand how genetic makeup and other factors impact the clinical outcome of patients with lymphoma and lymphoid leukemia. SPORE funds will provide support for four major research projects, four shared research cores, clinical trials, early pilot projects, and new investigators in lymphoma research at both institutions.
ROCHESTER, Minn. — September 20, 2012. Mayo Clinic researchers and an international team of scientists have developed a highly-efficient means of editing zebrafish genomes for research purposes, eliminating a bottleneck that has stymied biomedical scientists from using the fish as a model for human disease. The details appear online today in the journal Nature. For many researchers, zebrafish are becoming the model of choice for genetic studies. However, the inability to efficiently target genetic modifications has delayed their use by some. The Mayo team used an improved variant of artificial transcription activator-like effector nucleases, or TALENs, to provide a new approach. "By using genetic engineering tools called TALENs and synthetic DNA to make defined changes in the genomes of our fish, we are able to make small changes (just a few nucleotides) as well as add a specific sequence for biological gene switch applications," says Stephen Ekker, Ph.D., senior author and head of Mayo's zebrafish core facility. "This is the first time we've been able to make custom changes to the zebrafish genome." Dr. Ekker says this toolkit opens the door to a range of new experiments in zebrafish, including modeling of human disease by introducing small point mutations, designing regulated gene alleles, and developing classical structure/function experiments using an animal model system. This new approach has implications for other model systems, including mice, rats, flies and worms, and possible applications in stem cell research. "To our knowledge, this TALEN toolkit also is the most active described to date," says Dr. Ekker. "This has important implications for the growing TALEN field, whether used in fish or any other cells. We used this higher activity for genome editing applications. We also used it to conduct a series of somatic gene function assessments, opening the door to an array of non-germline experiments in zebrafish."
The year-end issue of Mayo Clinic's research magazine Discovery's Edge, is now available online and highlighted articles are listed below. You may cite and link to ...
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Here are highlights from the year-end online issue of Discovery's Edge, Mayo Clinic's research magazine. You may cite and link to this ...