News & Events

Master of the immune system: Myxoma virus could solve long-standing medical conundrums

June 25, 2019

Virus: friend or foe? Viruses are likely the most abundant biological entities on Earth – they inhabit every ecosystem, and thus have shaped the evolution of most species. But we have been conditioned to believe that viruses only pose a threat to life. Until recently, viruses were only thought to be infectious agents that exist and replicate within the cells of a host organism, often causing life-threatening illnesses. Although this is true and much of modern healthcare is aimed at...

Wellbeing Commons symposium highlights the work of the state’s most prominent researchers in virology, immunology, microbiology and infectious disease

June 11, 2019

Arizona State University prides itself on an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to solving some of the world’s most prominent problems. Led by Joshua LaBaer, the executive director of the Biodesign Institute and center director for the Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics, Arizona Wellbeing Commons (AWC) similarly emphasizes the importance of collaboration by bringing together scientists, doctors, and other partners to better human health. The key to...

OncoMyx Therapeutics invests in bringing cancer treatments to market

June 6, 2019

OncoMyx Therapeutics, the latest biotech spinout company from Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, announced today it has raised $25 million in new funding to help commercialize an innovative, viral-based therapy for the treatment of cancer. The announcement marks a major business development milestone for OncoMyx founder, research advisor, and ASU Biodesign scientist Grant McFadden, a pioneer in a new field called oncolytic virotherapy that can successfully program a virus...

Biodesign researchers offer new approach to small-cell lung cancer treatment with oncolytic virotherapy

April 30, 2019

Intensive investigations into the nature of cancer have given rise to innovative and unorthodox approaches to this deadly affliction. A recent and exciting avenue of cancer treatment involves targeting malignant cells with specialized viruses that can kill cancer cells while ignoring healthy tissue, a technique known as “oncolytic virotherapy.” The process involves administering an oncolytic virus, which infects and breaks down cancer cells but does not harm healthy self-cells. This...

New plant-based vaccine at the forefront of more efficient, affordable HPV prevention

March 12, 2019

The Gardasil vaccine advertisement flashes across the screen – you change the channel. Maybe you are a male and don’t think you are at risk of acquiring cancer from HPV, maybe you aren’t sexually active, or maybe you don’t have the resources to get the vaccine. But research shows that in addition to causing cervical cancer in women, certain strains have been linked to head and neck cancers in men. The Gardasil-9 vaccine protects against nine of the most cancer-associated strains of...

Conducting research: Exploring charge flow through proteins

March 4, 2019

Among the zoo of biomolecules essential to life, proteins are the most startlingly varied and versatile. These complex structures, generated from the DNA code and built from some 20 amino acids play a central role in innumerable life processes. In the form of antibodies, proteins defend organisms from infectious agents like bacteria and viruses. As enzymes, protein molecules speed up chemical reactions necessary to sustain life.  Proteins also act as messengers that coordinate disparate...

Life’s many histories open new approaches to cancer

February 26, 2019

For most humans, a family of ten would be considered abundant. But for many other forms of life on earth, that’s.. well…chicken feed. Take the ocean sunfish for example. At spawning time, a female will commonly disgorge some 300 million eggs into her liquid habitat, which are subsequently fertilized externally. Only a tiny fraction of these eggs will hatch and survive. The resulting fry, each the size of a pinhead, can eventually grow to the proportions of a rhinocersos. Why do...

Former Biodesign student researcher makes journey as Gates Cambridge Scholar

January 22, 2019

Arizona and Zimbabwe are at opposite ends of the alphabet, and traveling from one to the other really has been a trip from A to Z for Charity Bhebhe. The Arizona State University graduate from Barrett, The Honors College has made the journey, and those who don’t understand what that entails should find her impression of ASU and Tempe instructive. “It was very hot, but it’s very well developed and the transport system is really organized,” Bhebhe says. “There’s free internet,...

Nobel Prize 2018 elevates awareness of immunotherapy research

December 10, 2018

Researchers at the Biodesign Institute are searching for new ways to diagnose, treat – and even cure – cancer patients using processes related to immunotherapy. According to the National Cancer Institute, immunotherapy is “a type of therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection, and other diseases.” The burgeoning field of immunotherapy was recently recognized at the highest level with the announcement of the 2018...

Will Mars missions make humans sick? Here's what we know

December 4, 2018

While it's unclear if microbes are lurking on Mars, studies of earthly bacteria show that space can make some germs especially unpleasant. No one wants to risk a contagion in space. Returning home can be tricky, medical supplies are limited, crews cannot treat every complication that might arise, and a single infected astronaut could jeopardize an entire mission. That’s especially true for any future human missions to Mars, in which an astronaut with the sniffles would be at least...