BRC marks 5th anniversary with open house, seminar
Rice’s BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC) marked its fifth anniversary April 10 with an open house that featured a special research seminar by Dr. Anil Sood from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, as well as free ice cream, refreshments and door prizes.
“This is a special day at the BRC, and we are having a party to celebrate,” said Cindy Farach-Carson, the building’s scientific director, Rice’s vice provost for translational research and the Ralph and Dorothy Looney Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and Bioengineering.
Rice’s largest research facility, the 477,000-square-foot BRC features eight floors of cutting-edge research labs, classrooms and auditoriums. It also houses Rice centers, institutes and programs that include the Institute for Biosciences and Bioengineering, Rice 360º: Institute for Global Health Technologies, the Kinder Institute’s Urban Health Program, the Shared Equipment Authority and the Center for Theoretical and Biological Physics, as well as multi-institutional academic organizations like the Gulf Coast Consortia, the Baylor College of Medicine Center for Space Medicine and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute.
Sood, whose talk was jointly sponsored by the BRC and the Gulf Coast Consortia’s Keck Seminar series, spoke about the latest findings from molecular medicine about ovarian cancer metastasis and how those findings are leading to new treatment strategies. He is professor and vice chair for translational research in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine at MD Anderson.
Sood said that biochemical and genomic analyses of ovarian cancer over the past 15 years have revealed dozens of varieties of the disease. No single treatment is effective against all of them, he said, and women with ovarian cancer will increasingly be offered options for individualized treatment regimens based upon their tumor’s specific genomic and proteomic profile.
“PARP inhibitors are a prime example of that,” he said, in reference to a new class of drugs that block enzymes known as poly ADP-ribose polymerase.
Sood said the enzymes are “exquisitely active” in ovarian cancer patients who have PRC1 and PRC2 mutations. He noted that such mutations gained worldwide attention recently when actress Angelina Jolie chose to undergo preventive surgery for a double mastectomy and ovary removal after learning she carried the PRC1 mutation.
Sood described the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the first PARP inhibitor in December as “a major gain for ovarian cancer treatment” and said it marked a move toward more individualized therapeutic options for the 250,000 U.S. women living with ovarian cancer.