2015 Collaborative Awards

Fighting Prostate Cancer with Polio

Principal Investigators: Smita Nair, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery and the Department of Pathology; and Daniel George, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine

Nair and George propose to use the same modified poliovirus that has shown great promise against recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (the focus of a recent 60 Minutes segment) to fight prostate cancer. They hypothesize that regional cytotoxic therapy with oncolytic poliovirus (OncPV) will induce a systemic anti-tumor immune response. They test their hypothesis by completing preclinical studies in mice to evaluate the ability of regional OncPV therapy to induce systemic anti-tumor immune responses, and to develop immune monitoring assays for local and distant treatment effects. Drs. Matthias Gromeier and Brant Inman are co-investigators on this project.

Project title: “Oncolytic poliovirus immunotherapy for prostate cancer”


Using Big Data to Guide Individual Decisions about Kidney Disease

Principal Investigators: Uptal Patel, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics; and Erich S. Huang, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics

Chronic kidney disease affects more than 20 million Americans, yet is often difficult for primary care providers to detect. Along with co-investigator Katherine Heller, PhD, assistant professor of Statistical Science, Patel and Huang are creating an early warning system that will help identify patients whose kidney disease is most likely to progress quickly so that physicians can refer these patients more quickly for specialized care. The project involves creating an electronic health record based registry to identify Duke primary care patients with chronic kidney disease, then developing a risk prediction model using machine-learning techniques that will estimate patients’ individualized risk of progression to end-stage renal disease (ESRD). To make this information more accessible to primary care providers, Patel and Huang will create a secure intranet application that will generate interactive visualizations and reports to convey meaningful insights about the risk of progression of the disease and provide guideline-based recommendations where appropriate.

Project title: Chronic Kidney Disease Population Management Tools


Changing the Pulse of Spinal Cord Stimulation

Principal Investigators: Warren Grill, PhD, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Nandan P. Lad, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Division of Neurosurgery

Surgeons have been attempting to overcome chronic pain by electrically stimulating the spinal cord for more than 40 years. Despite technological advances in implantable devices, the success rate for pain reduction has stubbornly refused to rise much above 60 percent. Grill has pioneered the idea that changing the pulse repetition frequency for spinal cord stimulation could increase pain relief by 30 to 40 percent. He is teaming up with Lad, who has implanted more than 1,000 devices to control pain, to conduct first-in-human testing of this novel modality of spinal cord stimulation. The team will use the new approach to treat chronic pain in a small sample of approximately 18 patients with the hope of moving this technology more quickly into commercial feasibility.

Project title: Temporal Patterns of Spinal Cord Stimulation to Treat Chronic Pain


A New Way to Fight Multiple Drug Resistant Pathogens

Principal Investigators: Pei Zhou, Associate Professor of Biochemistry; Vance Fowler, MD, MHS, Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology; and Eric Toone, PhD., Professor of Chemistry

Ventilator-associated pneumonia is a common complication of critical illness. When multidrug resistant, Gram-negative pathogens are the cause of the pneumonia, the illness is particularly difficult to treat. Zhou, Fowler, and Toone are developing a new antibiotic that kills bacteria by inhibiting a particular enzyme involved in the synthesis of bacterial outer membrane. The DTRI funding will allow them to demonstrate the efficacy of this novel class of antibiotics against pathogens in mice, the next step in the journey of developing a new therapy.

Project title: Novel Antibiotics against MDR Gram-negative Pathogens Responsible for Ventilator-associated Pneumoni


A Self-Sealing Vascular Graft to Reduce Injury during Dialysis

Principal Investigators: Jeffrey Lawson, MD, PhD, Professor of Surgery, Professor of Pathology; and Roberto J. Manson, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery

Nearly 400,000 Americans undergo regular dialysis to treat end-stage renal disease (ESRD). This life-sustaining therapy requires needle access to a surgically created vascular shunt graft 3-5 times a week. When the needle access damages these grafts, infection, pain, suffering, and graft failure result. Lawson and Manson are testing a new vascular graft, developed by Lawson and physician assistant Shawn Gage, that is more durable than current dialysis access grafts and requires less time after implantation before first use. The Collaborative Pilot Award will allow Lawson and Manson to finalize the design of the graft and begin manufacturing a marketable product, validate the puncture resistance and self-sealing capability of the device in laboratory testing, and demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of the device in a preclinical animal study.

Project title: A Self-Sealing Dialysis Graft that Prevents Cannulation Injury and Assures Successful Access