Scripps offering genetic testing for stent patients


Scripps Health is offering genetic testing to cardiovascular patients planning to undergo elective stent procedures to open clogged heart arteries. The tests will determine if patients possess one or more of common gene variants linked to an inability to metabolize the anti-clotting agent Plavix, a prescription drug given to most U.S. stent patients.

The gene variants in question occur in more than 30 percent of people of European ancestry and more than 40 percent of those of African or Asian ancestry. In multiple large-scale studies, people with these gene variants were found to carry double or triple the risk of death, heart attack or stroke compared to people with the normal metabolism alleles. This genetic testing data will lead to an individualized approach to patient treatment following a stent procedure.

Advance against melanoma

A team of researchers at The Scripps Research Institute and the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation has identified a potential new drug target for malignant melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer that kills thousands of people in the U.S. every year.

The scientists did an end run around a protein called MITF known to serve as a “master regulator” of many different genes necessary for melanoma cell growth and survival but whose function cannot easily be modulated by drugs. Instead they searched for “druggable” proteins that regulate MITF itself — but only in melanoma cells. Fifteen candidates were identified, the most promising of which is a protein called TYR03. Knocking down TYR03’s expression was shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in culture dishes and prevent the formation of the tumors in mice with one of the most aggressive types of melanomas. The findings are described in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

‘FutureGrid’ in the works

The San Diego Supercomputer Center at UCSD is part of a team chosen by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to build and run an experimental high-performance grid test-bed, allowing researchers to collaboratively develop and test new approaches to parallel, grid and cloud computing.

Called “FutureGrid,” the four-year project, led by Indiana University, will link nine computational resources at six partner sites across the country as well as transatlantic collaboration via a partnership with Grid’5000, a large-scale computer infrastructure project in France.

FutureGrid, to be composed of nearly 1,400 state-of-the-art CPUs (central processing units), will ultimately benefit projects that require enormous data processing capabilities, such as complex modeling of climate systems, or analyzing and comparing DNA sequences, and complex organic molecules.

The NSF award is $10.1 million; additional funding from project partners will bring the program total to $15 million. The FutureGrid test-bed is expected to be installed and operational by spring.