An investigational brain cancer drug made with disabled polio virus and manufactured at the Frederick National Lab has won breakthrough status from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to fast-track its further refinement and clinical testing. 

Breakthrough status is designed to speed the development and approval of candidate therapies that treat serious or life-threatening diseases and show early evidence of outperforming existing treatments. 

A scientific innovation at the Frederick National Lab has opened the way for a new line of experiments in the decades-old quest for a drug to fight cancers triggered by mutant RAS proteins – which underlie one-third of all malignancies, including those of the pancreas, lung, and colon.

Using modified insect cells, a research group at the national lab recently invented a more accurate laboratory replica of a RAS protein, KRAS4b, that can be produced at high grade and in quantities adequate for research studies that were impossible previously.

Over the past 12 months, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing Zika in the news. The virus has been linked to thousands of cases of microcephaly in Brazilian babies. Numerous countries, including the United States, have reported Zika-related deaths. And there is no vaccine available at this time. 

In the face of what has become a global health crisis, the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) responded to a call from Anthony Fauci, Ph.D., head, NIAID, to get a candidate vaccine into human trials by the summer of 2016. 

Frederick National Lab scientists have developed a faster, more accurate way of pinpointing minute pockets of the AIDS virus that can hide out in infected tissue, thus exposing these remnants as targets for more definitive treatment of the infection.

The Frederick National Lab and Moffitt Cancer Center have established a collaboration to research antibody responses against the human papillomavirus (HPV) in males following administration of the Gardasil vaccine. The vaccine prevents HPV infections that can cause a number of cancers, including oral cancers.

The Frederick National Lab has begun to assist several major pharmaceutical companies in adopting nanotechnologies in early stage drug development, when the approach is most efficient and cost-effective.

For some time, the national lab’s Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (NCL) has worked with pharmaceutical companies on reformulating cancer drugs that failed in human clinical trials because of toxicity or other issues. By reformulating the drugs using nanotechnologies, the drugs reentered clinical trials with success.

Sixteen-year-old Celina Paudel solidified her career interest in biomedical engineering after winning a scholarship through the national Girls in Technology (GIT) program. Then, thanks to Rachel Bagni, she got to see what it really means to be a scientist.

Bagni, Ph.D., head scientist of the Target Biology Group, Cancer Research Technology Program, played the role of mentor for a day to Paudel, who said she was eager to learn about the world of biomedical research. 

European nanotechnology experts visited the Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (NCL) to observe best practices and methods and to share their own knowledge with NCL scientists as they prepared to launch an NCL-like operation in Europe.

The European Union Nanomedicine Characterisation Laboratory (EU-NCL) plans to open for business in mid-2016 with funding from the European Commission and support from the NCL and organizations in France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

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