Buffalo Translational Consortium News

Examining the effect of maternal smoking on child obesity

Posted on 12/15/16 at 11:52 am
PI Xiaozhong Wen, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics


“Pediatric obesity prevention by maternal smoking cessation in pregnancy and lactation”


Observational studies demonstrate that a mother’s smoking during pregnancy is a risk factor for pediatric obesity, but to date there has been no experimental evidence for a causal link. A pilot study at UB’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences aims to close that gap.

Principal investigator Xiaozhong Wen, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Division of Behavioral Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, and his co-investigators have devised a randomized, controlled experiment to examine the connection between maternal smoking during pregnancy and lactation and childhood obesity.

The study will enlist 40 pregnant women who are smokers and randomly assign 30 of them to a “treatment” group. They will receive a multi-component intervention consisting of education, feedback, contingent financial incentives and peer support to help quit smoking. The other 10 “usual care controls” will receive only the education component. Of the women in the multi-component group who quit smoking through the end of pregnancy (estimated to be about 20 women), half will be randomly assigned to a continuous multi-component intervention group during lactation and half to an education-only control group.

Smoking cessation will be measured via exhaled breath CO and urine sample tests. Infants will be measured for weight during their hospital stay and then monthly until six months of age.

The two-phase randomization will separate the effects of quitting smoking on infant weight gain at two critical periods: pregnancy and lactation. Investigators hope to demonstrate a novel intervention that will help prevent childhood obesity and the negative consequences it has for a child’s health later in life, while improving the mother’s health as well.

The $75,000 grant for this pilot study was awarded by the Clinical and Translational Sciences Award (CTSA) and funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number UL1TR001412. Investigators will use the results to strengthen their proposal for an NIH R01 grant to conduct a larger scale clinical study examining the effects of maternal smoking on child obesity. The study advances the CTSA’s goals of reducing health care disparities in Western New York and involving under-represented groups in clinical research, while helping to attract outside funding.

Low-cost, portable biosensor system may boost early detection of lung cancer

Posted on 12/15/16 at 11:51 am
PI Qiaoqiang Gan, professor in Electrical Engineering


“Highly Sensitive and Portable Surface Plasmon Resonance System for Lung Cancer Early Detection”


Exosomal proteins have been found to be promising biomarkers for early detection of lung cancer. However, the size, complexity and expense of current technologies for biosensing these markers have hindered widespread adoption of the method. A Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA)-funded, two-phase pilot study is helping to refine development of low-cost, compact devices for portable, rapid bioanalytical measurement that could help remove that obstacle and improve patients’ chances of surviving lung cancer and other deadly diseases.

The miniaturized portable surface plasmon resonance (pSPR) sensor the investigators envision is integrated with cell phones as a mobile health-monitoring tool which holds great promise for providing economical, real-time, label-free optical biosensing.

In phase one of the study, a team headed up by principal investigator Qiaoqiang Gan, PhD, assistant professor in UB’s Department of Electrical Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and co-PIs Yun Wu, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Daniel Gaile, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health and Health Professions, will build and calibrate a pSPR sensor platform that matches the current state of the art in biomarker detection but at a much lower cost (under $1,000 for materials compared to $50,000 and up for current systems). The researchers will also develop statistical models to analyze the data they gather.

During phase two, the team will test their pSPR system in distinguishing serum samples from 125 subjects; 25 each presenting the disease in stages I to IV, and 25 high-risk subjects who had not developed lung cancer.

Mary Reid, PhD, an accomplished researcher at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, a research assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and the mentor of Dr. Yun Wu, will provide the human serum samples.

This $75,000 research award from the CTSA is funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number UL1TR001412. The study fits well with the goals of CTSA to promote multidisciplinary research among Buffalo Translational Consortium partners and to support projects that show promise for attracting additional funding while reducing health and health care disparities.

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.

Page 4 of 26