Buffalo Translational Consortium News

Electrostimulation of metallic implants may help eradicate chronic infections

Posted on 12/15/16 at 11:32 am
Bioengineering Professor Mark Ehrensberger and Biomedical Sciences and Professor Anthony Campagnari


“A Novel Electrical Stimulation Technology Changing the Paradigm for the Treatment of Orthopedic-related Infections”


As the average age of the United States population continues to rise, so does the number of joint replacements and other orthopaedic procedures. Unfortunately, metallic implants can be prone to infection, and the number of periprosthetic joint infections (PJI) is expected to grow accordingly. Complicating the picture further is the formation of biofilms -- colonies of bacteria which coat the implants and become even more difficult to eradicate.

The current standard of care for chronic implant infections is surgical replacement of the hardware and debridement of the bone followed by intensive antibiotic treatment. In addition to the toll it takes on the patient, this method carries a heavy price tag.

A UB Jacobs Schools of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences research team has come up with a novel decontamination strategy which doesn’t require replacement of infected implants, and has already been demonstrated to work in an in vivo infection model. Their minimally invasive strategy uses cathodic voltage-controlled electrical stimulation of biocompatible titanium (Ti), combined with antibiotics, to destroy harmful microbial biofilms. Ti is the most common material used in implants. The approach under investigation would only require the placement of two skin-surface electrodes and electrical contact to the infected hardware, the researchers say.

Principal investigators in the multi-disciplinary project are Mark Ehrensberger, PhD, assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering and Director of the Kenneth A. Krackow, MD, Orthopaedic Research Lab in the Department of Orthopaedics, and Anthony Campagnari, PhD, Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Research and professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Medicine in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

Their overall goal is to further optimize the stimulation parameters of this novel method and to define the most effective and broadly applicable treatment for orthopaedic infections.

Awarded by the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), the $75,000 study was funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number UL1TR001412. Pilot studies such as this one advance the strategic aims of CTSA, including the development of innovative methods and treatments with the potential to attract additional outside funding.

In September, the team was awarded a $500,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research to optimize this infection control strategy for utilization with osseointegrated prosthetic limbs. The pilot study established proof of principle that the novel decontamination method has the potential to become an effective and broadly applicable treatment for orthopedic infections. 

Improving ovarian cancer diagnostics while advancing the state of metabonomics

Posted on 12/15/16 at 11:15 am
PI Rachael Hageman Blair, Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health and Health Professions


“Multi-class modeling of metabonomics data for the detection of early stage ovarian cancer”


A multi-disciplinary team of researchers from the University at Buffalo and Roswell Park Cancer Institute is testing a new metabonomics-based approach for screening of high-risk Epithelial Ovarian Cancer (EOC) populations.

Investigators Rachael Hageman Blair, assistant professor in the Department of Biostatistics in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions; Jeffrey Miecznikowski, associate dean of faculty affairs and associate professor in the Department of Biostatistics; Kunle Odunsi, professor and chair of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology, executive director of the Center for Immunotherapy and deputy director at Roswell Park; and Thomas Szyperski, a UB distinguished professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Chemistry Department, have begun a two-phase pilot study to test the efficacy of a metabonomics-based, non-invasive approach for early EOC detection that they have established.

If viable, the method will not only benefit women at risk for EOC, it promises to advance the state of the art in metabonomics by establishing new protocols for incorporating complex “multi-class” data into predictive models. The approach established in this pilot study will generate profiles that discriminate between blood samples from healthy women and those from women with benign or malignant tumors.

The approach relies primarily on nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and mass spectrometry (MS) profiles for the metabonomics of blood serum, plus additional biomarkers and clinical variables.

“We expect that combining NMR, MS and CA-125 data will significantly improve predictive accuracy,” the authors of the study write. “Metabonomics offers a vast potential to greatly enhance biomedical research, diagnosis of diseases and personalization of currently available treatments,” they added. The investigators anticipate a day when NMR/MS profiles will become a routine part of medical check-ups, possibly incorporating protocols that are under development on UB’s medical campus right now.

This pilot study is a good example of the kind of creative and innovative translational science the CTSA seeks to support, and it furthers the CTSA’s aims of fostering multi-disciplinary research teams while addressing health disparities in Western New York. The $75,000 research award from the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) is funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number UL1TR001412.

Investigators present findings at Pilot Studies Colloquium

Posted on 12/13/16 at 02:26 pm
Pilot studies core director Steven J. Fliesler (left) looks on as Ruogang Zhao, Biomedical Engineering, addresses a question

Recipients of the 2014-15 Translational Pilot Studies Program grants presented the results of their investigations at a colloquium held in the Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC) in October. About 60 people turned out to hear six investigators from the project teams describe the work they’ve been able to accomplish after receiving awards of up to $50,000 to advance their research projects.

Timothy Murphy, MD, Buffalo Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) principal investigator and director of the CTRC, delivered the introductory address. He noted that the Translational Pilot Studies Program has provided $600,000 in funding for 17 proposals since 2010, resulting in more than 40 publications and an additional $7,967,754 in outside funding to pilot study investigators in the health sciences at UB and its Buffalo Translational Consortium partner institutions.

The awards, totaling approximately $200,000, were made possible by broad-based contributions from the following offices:

•    Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences
•    Office of the Vice President for Research
•    Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI)
•    Dean, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
•    Dean, School of Dental Medicine
•    Dean, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
•    Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
•    Dean, School of Public Health and Health Professions
•    Dean, School of Nursing

Director of the CTSA’s Pilot Transitional and Clinical Studies Core Steven J. Fliesler, PhD, provided instructions and tips for filing a successful application for future pilot study awards. (Follow the link here for an online version of his presentation.)

Recipients of the 2015-16 Translational Pilot Studies Awards conducted poster presentations as part of the program.

UB researchers receive Clinical Research Achievement Awards

Posted on 12/09/16 at 09:22 am
(From left) Sebastian G. Ciancio, DDS; Rina Das Eiden, PhD; Timothy F. Murphy, MD; Gil I. Wolfe, MD

This year, for the first time, local researchers competed in a clinical research competition sponsored by the University at Buffalo’s Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) to recognize the most promising advances in clinical research. Last week, four UB researchers learned that they had won; they will have the opportunity to present their research at the annual CTSA Forum to be held in Buffalo in March.

With the support of the CTSA, the top winner, Gil I. Wolfe, MD, FAAN, will move on to the prestigious Top 10 Clinical Research Achievement Awards sponsored by the Clinical Research Forum, which takes place in Washington, D.C., in April.

Clinical researchers from UB and Roswell Park Cancer Institute whose work has been published in major journals during 2016 were eligible to compete in the CTSA Clinical Research Achievement Awards, made possible by the National Institutes of Health Clinical and Translational Science Award that was granted to a consortium of academic and health care institutions in Western New York in 2015. UB is the lead institution.

“These Clinical Research Achievement Awards are exactly the kinds of opportunities that are now available to our researchers since we received the Clinical and Translational Science Award," said Anne B. Curtis, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor, Charles and Mary Bauer Professor and chair of UB’s Department of Medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and a Buffalo Translational Consortium (BTC) board member.

“The variety and quality of submissions we received is a testament to the innovative, creative and potentially life-saving research that’s being conducted on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus right now,” said Curtis. “We’re proud to reward that kind of work.”

Formed in 2009, the Buffalo Translational Consortium includes the leading academic, health care and research institutions in the Buffalo region, along with key community partners. In addition to serving on the BTC board, Curtis is president and CEO of UBMD Internal Medicine and a member of the board of directors of the Clinical Research Forum.

The winners of the CTSA Clinical Research Achievement Awards for 2016 are:

Gil I. Wolfe, MD, FAAN, professor and chair of the Department of Neurology, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Randomized Trial of Thymectomy in Myasthenia Gravis, New England Journal of Medicine 2016: 375:511-522

Thymectomy (surgical removal of the thyroid gland) has been a mainstay in the treatment of myasthenia gravis, a rare autoimmune disease that affects neuromuscular function, but there is no conclusive evidence of its benefit. In a multicenter, randomized trial comparing thymectomy plus prednisone with prednisone alone, Wolfe and co-authors found that thymectomy does provide significant benefit in patients.

Timothy F. Murphy, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor, senior associate dean for clinical and translational research, director of the UB Clinical and Translational Research Center, principal investigator of the CTSA

Effect of Fluoroquinolones and Macrolides on Eradication and Resistance of Haemophilus influenzae in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, July 2016: Vol. 60, No. 7

Despite widespread use of antibiotics in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), little is known about their effect in eradicating the most common bacterial cause of COPD, nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHI), or the rate and mechanism by which antibiotics induce resistance. This study tested the two most common antibiotics and found that, unexpectedly, one of them had no effect on eradication of NTHI.

Sebastian G. Ciancio, DDS, Distinguished Service Professor and chair of the Department of Periodontics and Endodontics, School of Dental Medicine

Comparison of 3 Intranasal Mists for Anesthetizing Maxillary Teeth in Adults, The Journal of the American Dental Association, 2016: Vol. 147, Issue 5 (May)

This phase 3 study was one of the pivotal studies that resulted in FDA approval of a new dental anesthetic spray that overcomes the need for the use of injections when anesthetizing most teeth in the upper (maxillary) arch of patients. Fear of painful injections and subsequent avoidance behavior are significant barriers to regular dental care.

Rina Das Eiden, PhD, UB Research Institute on Addictions senior research scientist in developmental psychology, research associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, research associate professor in the Department of Psychology

Developmental Cascade Model for Adolescent Substance Use from Infancy to Late Adolescence, Developmental Psychology, Oct 2016: Vol 52 (10), 1619-1633

Children of parents with alcohol problems are at much greater risk for underage drinking and developing alcohol use disorder. In order to understand unfolding developmental processes and inform timing and content of interventions for this high-risk group, Eiden and co-authors examined three developmental pathways to underage drinking and marijuana use from infancy to adolescence, and found support for two pathways.

The Top 10 Clinical Research Achievement Awards, a signature program of the Clinical Research Forum, honors outstanding accomplishments in clinical research that mark major advances resulting from the nation’s investment in research to benefit the health and welfare of its citizens. Awardees will be recognized at the Clinical Research Forum’s annual meeting and Top 10 Clinical Achievement Awards event in Washington, D.C., on April 18, 2017.

UB’s CTSA provides the research tools, support, training, resources and coordination that investigators in clinical and translational research need to accelerate the development of innovative new methods of prevention and treatment to improve health and reduce health disparities in the community. The CTSA is supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number UL1TR001412.


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