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Feature Articles

Prominent Cardiac Researcher, Charles Antzelevitch, PhD, Joins Lankenau Institute for Medical Research and Lankenau Heart Institute

Charles Antzelevitch, PhD

August 2015 – Main Line Health has named Charles Antzelevitch, PhD, FACC, FAHA, FHRS, Executive Director of the Cardiovascular Research Program at Lankenau Institute for Medical Research and Director of Research at Lankenau Heart Institute. Dr. Antzelevitch is an internationally recognized expert in cardiac electrophysiology and arrhythmia syndromes. In his new role at Main Line Health, he will assemble a cardiovascular research team of clinical investigators and basic scientists to advance understanding of the underlying mechanisms of cardiac arrhythmias and to translate these discoveries into novel approaches to therapy. Read more.

Faculty Spotlights

Dr. Heber-Katz Leads Study Demonstrating Drug-Induced Tissue Regeneration

Ellen Heber-Katz, PhD

June 2015 – A study led by Ellen Heber-Katz, PhD, of the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR), part of Main Line Health (MLH), shows that a primordial form of energy production that still exists in mammals can be harnessed to achieve spontaneous tissue regeneration in mice, without the need for added stem cells. The study findings were reported in the June 3, 2015, issue of Science Translational Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Key collaborators in the study, which was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, included Yong Zhang, PhD (LIMR), Iossif Strehin, PhD (Allergan), and Phillip Messersmith, PhD (University of California, Berkeley). “We discovered that the HIF-1 pathway—an oxygen regulatory pathway predominantly used early in evolution but still used during embryonic development—can act to trigger healthy regrowth of lost or damaged tissue in mice, opening up new possibilities for mammalian tissue regeneration,” says Heber-Katz, a professor at LIMR who heads the Laboratory of Regenerative Medicine. Read More.

Dr. Muller Presents Cancer Treatment Research at International Symposium

Alexander Muller, PhDJune 2014 – LIMR Associate Professor Alexander J. Muller, PhD, was invited to present a lecture titled, “From pregnancy to onco-inflammation with the immune modulator, IDO,” at the 2014 International Symposium on Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease sponsored by the Drexel University College of Medicine Institute for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease. Detailed information regarding the Symposium is available on the Institute website,

In 2005 Dr. Muller, in collaboration with LIMR President and CEO Dr. George Prendergast, PhD, showed how tumors can switch on a gene called IDO1 that is involved in protecting the fetus from being rejected by the mother’s immune system. The research demonstrated for the first time how an experimental drug that blocks IDO1 might be used to dramatically improve responses to treatment with standard chemotherapy by unleashing an anti-tumor immune response. Now, this novel approach to treating cancer is being tested in breast cancer patients, with the Main Line Health hospitals at the forefront of this groundbreaking clinical study. Dr. Muller will discuss ongoing studies probing into the complex immunological, cellular and molecular consequences of targeting IDO1 in the context of cancer treatment so as to better understand how to optimize patient care.

Dr. Prendergast Talks about LIMR’s Acapreneurial Model at MDIBL

George Prendergast, PhDSeptember 2013 – LIMR President and CEO George Prendergast, PhD, was invited to speak at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Maine in 2013 to discuss LIMR’s innovative model of translational research. Termed ‘acapreneurialism’ by Dr. Prendergast, LIMR’s culture marries basic and preclinical research with intellectual property development, clinical research studies and commercial avenues of discovery in order to produce meaningful medical breakthroughs. This unique research model envisioned by Dr. Prendergast has propelled LIMR into the forefront of biotechnology, developing research tools, diagnostic tests, and therapeutics that are clinically relevant while being created in a more streamlined process. Watch The Business of Science: Making Science Work for Society.

Dr. Sawicki was Invited Speaker at International Conference on Ovarian Cancer Research

Janet Sawicki, PhDMay 2013 – Professor and LIMR Deputy Director Janet Sawicki, PhD, was invited to present a lecture at the Sixth Annual International Conference on Ovarian Cancer Research held in Quebec, Canada in 2013. The title of her seminar was "Ovarian Cancer Nanotherapies.” Dr. Sawicki discussed preclinical studies she has conducted in three different ovarian cancer models to evaluate various nanotherapeutics.

Nanotherapy is the use of very small carrier molecules to deliver attached therapeutics to the specific area of the body where the cancer is located, and then bind only to those cancer cells. Advanced ovarian cancer is uniquely suited to nanoparticle-based therapies because the particles can easily be delivered directly to the peritoneal space where the primary tumor and a majority of the metastatic tumors are located.

Dr. Sawicki has delivered both DNA and siRNA, or small interfering RNA, to ovarian cancer cells via nanoparticles. The experiments with DNA delivery showed inhibition of tumor growth and an increase in lifespan of 33 percent. Similarly, treatment with nanoparticles bearing siRNA that silences a tight junction protein resulted in tumor shrinkage and a reduction in ascites formation.

Promising results of siRNA knockdown of an RNA-binding protein known as Human antigen R (HuR) were also presented by Dr. Sawicki. This protein regulates mRNA stability, and thus the expression, of many genes known to play a role in tumorigenesis. Apart from its potential as a therapeutic target, results of a retrospective clinical study suggest that the cellular location of HuR can be used as a predictive marker to identify those ovarian cancer patients who will respond well to gemcitabine treatment.

Clinical Research News

MLH Community Clinical Oncology Program Designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Community Oncology Research Program

August 2014 – Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, the bio-medical research center for Main Line Health, received a $3.1 million, five-year grant award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to conduct clinical trials of new oncology drugs and perform additional research to improve patient care.

This award for an NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) supports all NCI-sponsored clinical trials, which is conducted by Main Line Health oncologists, relates to cancer prevention, screening, treatment and post-treatment management. NCORP also supports research into cancer care delivery, which focuses on improving health and quality of life outcomes, identifying and addressing any disparities of care among individual patients, and gaining a more integrated understanding of all the costs involved in effective health management.

Main Line Health is one of only 34 health care organizations in the U.S. to receive an NCORP award from NCI, testifying to the national strengths of the Main Line Health hospitals in delivering and continuously improving cancer care. NCORP supports oncology research at all Main Line Health hospitals, including Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital.

The Principal Investigator for the Main Line Health NCORP award is Albert DeNittis, MD, Chief of Radiation Oncology at Lankenau Medical Center, with Associate Principal Investigator John Devlin, MD, Bryn Mawr Hospital; site investigators Michael Dabrow, DO, at Paoli Hospital; and Rashmi Sanjay, MD, at Riddle Hospital.

Dr. DeNittis Named New CCOP Principal Investigator

Albert DeNittis, MDJune 2013 – Albert DeNittis, MD, chief of Radiation Oncology, LMC, and LIMR Clinical Associate Professor, has accepted the position of principal investigator for the Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP), a National Cancer Institute sponsored Cancer Clinical Trials Program. Dr. DeNittis succeeds Paul Gilman, MD, co-medical director of the Cancer Center, LMC, and system chief of Hematology/Medical Oncology, who has stepped down after 15 years in the position. CCOP provides patients access to new cutting-edge treatments and symptoms management for cancer. The program is available to Main Line Health patients at Lankenau, Bryn Mawr, and Paoli Hospitals. To learn more about this program, contact Diana Blade, CCOP Administrator, at 484.476.2649 or

Funding Highlights

LIMR Receives Generous Gift from the Shumen Estate

 Dorothy Merritt Jones ShumenLIMR is extremely grateful to the estate of Dorothy Merritt Jones Shumen, a consummate supporter of our research programs. A donation of $232,000 was recently received from the Shumen family to fund promising research opportunities at LIMR. If you would like to make a donation or designate a gift to LIMR, please visit our Giving Opportunities page, or contact David Phillips, Executive Director of Development, at 484.476.8070.

Fight from the Fairway Raises Money for Breast Cancer Research

12th Annual Fight from the FairwayMay 2013 – The 12th Annual Fight from the Fairway, a charity golf tournament sponsored by Weston Solutions, has raised $11,500 this year for LIMR’s breast cancer research program. The event is run by both current and former employees of Weston, who has been raising funds for over a decade to increase awareness and knowledge about breast cancer and breast health and to help eradicate the disease through clinical research. Weston has given over $350,000 toward breast cancer research and education in memory of former employee Karen Schneider.

"Continuing its proud tradition, the Fight from the Fairway team continues to be one of our most dedicated supporters in the fight against breast cancer by Lankenau researchers,” stated George Prendergast, PhD, Professor, President and CEO of LIMR. “Thanks to the stalwart leadership of Weston Solutions and the generous donors who support this golf tournament, LIMR scientists have taken a prognostic biomarker they discovered for breast cancer and have begun to turn it into a target for antibodies that can specifically attack the breast cancer. This exciting development, made possible by the funds raised by Fight from the Fairway, shows how a group of dedicated individuals can help advance research for improved patient care and medicine."

George Prendergast, PhD, Awarded 2 NIH Grants to Study IDO Inhibitors as Cancer Treatments

George Prendergast, PhDGeorge Prendergast, PhD has been awarded two NIH grants to support his laboratory’s investigation of IDO cancer therapeutics and IDO’s role in immune escape. IDO inhibitors are among the ‘top 10’ experimental agents that could cure cancer, according to a National Cancer Institute workshop.

The first five-year grant of almost $1.3 million dollars will continue research into the role of IDO in circumventing the immune response. Dr. Prendergast’s group hopes to develop clinically applicable IDO inhibitors which, when combined with standard-of-care chemotherapy and radiotherapy, will stimulate the immune system to attack tumors. This innovative approach to cancer therapy, called immunochemotherapy, may lower overall treatment costs.

The second award of over $400,000 for a period of two years will allow for ongoing research of IDO2 inhibitors specifically for the treatment of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. This research complements the Phase I clinical trial of D-1MT, an IDO inhibitor that was shown by LIMR scientists to synergistically enhance the body’s anti-tumor response when given with chemotherapy.

Susan G. Komen For The Cure Grants Alexander Muller, PhD, Funds for Metastasis Research

Alexander Muller, PhDThe Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Foundation, the global leader of the breast cancer movement, has awarded a $600,000 grant to Alexander Muller, PhD, to support metastatic breast cancer research. Previously, Dr. Muller and his group demonstrated that the IDO1 enzyme plays an important role in immune escape in tumors. The new three year grant will be applied to investigating whether IDO1 plays a similar role in secondary tumors formed by metastatic cancer. If so, blocking IDO1 in breast cancer patients may potentially slow or even halt metastatic progression, thus making standard treatment more effective.

Business Development

LIMR Technology Partner NewLink Added to NASDAQ Biotechnology Index

NewLink Genetics Corporation (NASDAQ:NLNK), an oncology-focused biopharmaceutical company specializing in immunotherapy, was selected for addition to the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (NASDAQ:NBI). NewLink, based in Ames, Iowa, has an exclusive license to LIMR technology for the development of specific IDO inhibitors to treat cancer by enhancing the ability of chemotherapy to destroy tumor cells.

The NASDAQ Biotechnology Index is designed to track the performance of a set of NASDAQ-listed securities classified as either Biotechnology or Pharmaceuticals. These companies must meet eligibility criteria that include a minimum market capitalization of $200 million and a minimum average daily trading volume of 100,000 shares. For more information about the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index, visit

Noteworthy News

Cell Sorter is a Crucial Resource in Targeting Disease Treatments

Cell SorterThe Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorter, or FACS, is a core piece of instrumentation that allows scientists to distinguish and quantitate cells that are different from each other based on cellular surface markers. By separating complex populations of cells, the FACS allows the analysis of precise sub-populations of cells by molecular, biochemical, and cell function assays. In this manner, the cells can be further screened as potential targets for the treatment of cancer, autoimmune diseases, and tissue injury.

Dr. Laura Mandik-Nayak’s lab is studying the role that IDO and IDO-2 might play in the B cell-mediated immune response in arthritis. The FACS is crucial in sorting different lymphocyte subpopulations which are then assessed for differential gene expression by real-time PCR. The FACS data can be used to characterize the precise way in which the specific protein markers on healthy cells differ from those on diseased cells.

Funds to purchase and support the FACS were generously given by The Cotswold Foundation, the Charter Foundation, Main Line Health, and the Lankenau Women’s Board

Contact Info

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Main Line Health