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KC Life Sciences Conference Connects Industry, Academia

Meeting Targets Corridor between MU and K-State

dentist with x-ray Oral and musculoskeletal research is part of a two-day life sciences conference starting today in Kansas City. (Photo: Toby Talbot | AP)
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Researchers and industry representatives opened a two-day life sciences conference in Kansas City today, and one aim is to expedite development of ideas for improving patient care.

The Regional Translational Medicine Meeting is organized by the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute, and the institute’s chief executive said presentations this morning by University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) oral and musculoskeletal experts illustrated the type of work that could advance treatment.

Thursday’s agenda, for example, included a presentation about UMKC’s Center for Excellence in Mineralized Tissues, which has representatives from the schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing, and computing and engineering working on advancing the understanding of musculoskeletal diseases.

“We are constantly looking for better diagnostics than what we have had in the physician’s or the veterinarian’s bag for decades,” said Wayne Carter, president and CEO of the institute. “Some of what today is about, is for industry to hear what academics have been working on, and where they may see an opportunity for a technology that they want to license tomorrow.”

A session today on promising intervention strategies for persistent diseases includes a talk on a new class of anti-HIV drugs and another on the research of UMKC’s Simon Friedman, a pharmacy professor who is using light as a minimally invasive tool to stimulate insulin in diabetics.

A session scheduled for this evening is geared specifically toward moving an idea from the laboratory into the market.

That focus continues on Friday with broad topics that include “translating the evidence to clinical care,” with presentations from physicians at the Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City.

Each day has about 100 registrants scheduled to attend. The region extends from Kansas State University in Manhattan to the University of Missouri in Columbia.

This is the fourth year of the meeting, but the first time Kansas City has been the host. It was held previously at MU, K-State, and the University of Kansas.

Carter said the conference also strengthens ties among the research communities spread throughout the broad region.

For instance, he said, previous meetings have introduced researchers to the University of Missouri Research Reactor in Columbia.

The 10-megawatt facility is the most powerful of its kind on any of the nation’s campuses, but Carter said, “People simply did not know that that research reactor existed.”

Reactors of this type, he said, help develop therapies and diagnostic tools.

One example already in use is the positron emission tomography (PET) scan, an imaging test that uses a radioactive tracer to look for diseases in the body. One specific type of PET scan, Carter said, can detect glucose levels that are useful in locating tumors.

–To reach Mike Sherry, call 816-398-4205 or e-mail msherry@kcpt.org

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