Nov. 6 stepNout 5K aims for another $1 million for TGen cancer research

11th annual stepNout Run/Walk/Dash seeks end to pancreatic cancer, soon the nation’s 3rd leading cause of cancer death

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Aug. 25, 2016 — This year, pancreatic cancer is projected to eclipse breast cancer as the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S.

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is determined to reverse this trend in pancreatic cancer by enlisting the help of more than 1,000 participants at the 11th annual stepNout Run/Walk/Dash for pancreatic cancer research, Nov. 6 in Scottsdale.

“We are incredibly grateful to the hundreds of volunteers who have truly accelerated the development of new treatments for pancreatic cancer,” said Michael Bassoff, President of the TGen Foundation. “These generous runners and community leaders have brought hope and answers to pancreatic cancer patients around the world.”

Be sure to put on your running shoes for stepNout, a family-friendly morning of races, music, games, and activities — including a photo booth and face painting — all celebrating TGen’s efforts to stomp out pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, TGen Distinguished Professor and Physician-In-Chief, said more effective treatments for pancreatic cancer are needed. Pancreatic cancer this year will take the lives of nearly 42,000 Americans, a more than 10 percent increase in the past 5 years.

“The death rate for other leading cancers have been flat in recent years because of more effective treatments,” said Dr. Von Hoff. “We are making progress in treating patients with improvement in average survival and for the first time having some very long term survivors. We need continued, dedicated funding to improve on these promising results to our studies and benefit pancreatic patients who need our help now.”

Median survival for patients with advanced disease was less than 6 months, and the 5-year survival rate was less than 10 percent. But thanks to fundraising efforts like stepNout, these statistics are improving.

Under Dr. Von Hoff’s leadership, and in collaboration with HonorHealth, TGen pioneered a major international clinical trial that led the FDA in 2013 approved the use of Abraxane in combination with gemcitabine, which now is the nation’s standard of care for this disease. Two ongoing TGen-led studies are showing even greater promise, with tumor reductions of at least 30 percent in 3 in 4 patients, and the elimination of tumors in 1 in 5 patients.

Competitive and fun races at stepNout are geared for all ages and abilities, including the event’s signature 5K run. Online registration ends Nov. 1, though participants can register at the event. This is the third year stepNout will be at the Scottsdale Sports Complex, northeast of Bell and Hayden roads.

The annual event has raised more than $1 million since it started in 2006. Nearly $135,000 was raised last year, and organizers are aiming for $150,000 this year on their way towards an overall goal of $2 million.

And you don’t have to be at stepNout to help. You can donate at www.tgenfoundation.org/step.

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If you go to stepNout:

What: TGen’s 11th annual stepNout Run/Walk/Dash for pancreatic cancer research.
Where: Scottsdale Sports Complex, 8081 E. Princess Drive, northeast of Hayden and Bell roads, between Loop 101 and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard.
When: 7:30-11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 6.  Registration starts at 7:30 a.m.; a competitive 5K run begins at 9 a.m.; a fun 1-mile run/walk starts at 9:15 a.m.; a free 50-yard kids’ dash is planned for 10:30 a.m.
Cost: Registration fees range from $10 to $30, depending on age. Costs increase by $5 after Oct. 21. Children ages 5 and under are free.
Parking: Free.
More information and registration: www.tgenfoundation.org/step and click on events. Contact Andrea Daly at (602) 343-8572 or by email at adaly@tgen.org.

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U.S. issues patent for Valley Fever detection technology developed by TGen and NAU

Test for dust-borne fungal infection created by TGen and NAU is licensed to DxNA 

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Aug. 2, 2016 — Valley Fever, a potentially deadly dust-borne fungal disease, should be easier to diagnose and treat thanks to a testing technology developed by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Northern Arizona University (NAU), and now protected by a patent issued today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

TGen and NAU have exclusively licensed this technology to DxNA LLC, a company based in St. George, Utah, which plans to make this Valley Fever Test commercially available to hospitals and clinics upon completion of FDA clinical trials and a subsequent FDA 510(k) submission for review and clearance later this year.

Valley Fever is endemic to Phoenix and Tucson, but also is spreading throughout the arid regions of North and South America. It is an infection caused by the microscopic fungus Coccidioides, a pathogen that lives in desert soils and typically enters the body through the lungs. An estimated 150,000 Americans are infected annually by Valley Fever, and as many as 500 die each year.

“Currently, there is no definitive test for Valley Fever. Our new rapid, 1-hour, genetic-based test will provide physicians and patients with a precise diagnosis, enabling prompt treatment and preventing this disease from becoming more serious,” said Dr. Paul Keim, Director of TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division, or TGen North, based in Flagstaff.

“For the past decade, TGen has worked to develop better tools and technology to address Valley Fever, and we think it is critical to be able to apply our cutting-edge science to problems in our own backyard,” said Dr. Keim, who also is the Cowden Endowed Chair of Microbiology at NAU, and Director of NAU’s Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics (MGGen).

Valley Fever most commonly causes a progressive lung infection, but can also spread to other parts of the body, including the skin, bone, brain and the rest of the nervous system.

Nearly 60 percent of those infected by Valley Fever — including other vertebrates, and especially dogs — develop no significant symptoms. However, some patients develop highly debilitating symptoms, such as cough, fever and fatigue. These symptoms are similar to other respiratory diseases caused by bacteria or virus, and often lead to delayed diagnoses and inappropriate treatment. Very severe Valley Fever can require lifelong treatment with antifungal drugs, and even result in death.

This new genetic-based test can precisely identify both strains of Valley Fever: Coccidioides posadasii, found in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and much of Latin America, and Coccidioides immitus, which is found in California, Washington and Baja Mexico.

Most infections occur in central and southern Arizona. Each year on average, there are an estimated 150,000 cases in Arizona, resulting in more than 1,700 hospitalizations at a cost of more than $86 million.

“These high costs are driven to a significant degree by the high level of misdiagnosis, resulting in an average time to diagnosis of 5 months from when a patient first seeks care,” said David Taus, CEO of DxNA LLC. “Our test provides definitive results in 60 minutes, dramatically improving the diagnosis of the disease over current methodologies, both in terms of time and accuracy.”

The intellectual property used in DxNA’s Valley Fever Test is exclusive to DxNA LLC, and covers both human and veterinary applications, Taus said.