Pharmacy tech exam approved

The Louisiana State Board of Pharmacy has approved the National Healthcareer Association's exam for the certification of pharmacy technicians.

The ExCPT certification shows recipients are meeting professional requirements.

Before the approval, the state recognized only one certification program. Those entering the pharmacy technician profession in Louisiana have a choice of ExCPT or CPhT — certified pharmacy technician — programs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Louisiana employed more than 6,000 pharmacy technicians as of May 2016.

Grant targets pancreatic cancer

A group of cancer researchers that includes investigators from Ochsner’s Precision Cancer Therapies Program have been awarded a $5.13 million federal grant to develop an early detection system for pancreatic cancer.

The five-year grant includes the Baylor Scott & White Research Institute and the Translational Genomics Research Institute.

Pancreatic cancer is the nation’s third-leading cause of cancer-related death. Ochsner is one of eight hospitals participating in the project and the only one in the Southeast. 

The grant was awarded by the National Cancer Institute’s Pancreatic Cancer Detection Consortium, an initiative to bring researchers together to better understand the disease and to develop and test new molecular and imaging biomarkers. The goal is to identify high-risk precancerous lesions and early-stage pancreatic cancer in patients who could be candidates for surgical or other types of early intervention.

The Ochsner Cancer Institute cares for patients from 49 states and 22 countries. Earlier this year, the Precision Cancer Therapies Program was launched as a partnership between Ochsner and TGen. The partnership offers the region access to the latest in cancer therapeutics, early phase trials and research, improved tumor detection programs and advanced diagnostics.

Breakthrough helps in disease research

A major door has been opened to researchers involved in work on chronic wasting disease, mad cow disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

LSU AgCenter animal scientist Frank Bastian has developed a way to grow the bacteria that cause these diseases, which could make it possible to develop tests and vaccines for them.

Chronic wasting disease is a terminal disease found in elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, red deer, moose and other animals in the cervid family. It has been found in 21 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.

The fatal form of the disease is known as mad cow disease in cattle.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is the human form of these two diseases and is found, but often undiagnosed, in 15 percent of Alzheimer’s patients.

For years, Bastian who is a neuropathologist, had been unsuccessful in growing the bacteria in the lab, but his recent breakthrough has microbiologists from the University of Alabama at Birmingham interested in joining in the research.

This research will be important for hunters because they have no way to know whether a deer is infected with chronic wasting disease. Bastian would like to develop a field test hunters can use to check for the bacteria.

The ability to grow the organism makes it possible to generate data that can answer many of the questions scientists have about these diseases and allow researchers to begin the process of discovering possible treatments and cures.

LSU AgCenter plans rice farmer meetings

The LSU AgCenter will hold a series of meetings over the next two months to help rice farmers prepare for the 2018 crop.

Topics include variety selection and field preparation; controlling weeds, insects and diseases; variety development; agronomic practices; an economic outlook for rice; and the upcoming farm bill.

The sessions, which will include lunch, will be held:

Jan. 4: Acadia Parish LSU AgCenter office, 157 Cherokee Road, Crowley; 7:45 a.m.

Jan. 9: Welsh Community Center, 101 Palmer St.; 8 a.m.

Jan. 9: Vermilion Parish Farm Bureau office, 3139 Veterans Memorial Drive, Abbeville, 12:30 p.m.

Jan. 10: Ville Platte Civic Center, 704 N. Soileau St.; 7:45 a.m.

Feb. 1: Avoyelles Parish LSU AgCenter Extension office, 8592 La. 1, Mansura; 8:15 a.m.

Feb. 6: Rayville Civic Center, 827 Louisa St.; 9 a.m.

Aspen Dental opens in New Iberia, Lafayette

Aspen Dental-branded practices have opened at 1050 E. Admiral Doyle Dr. in New Iberia and 6540 Johnston St. in Lafayette.

Services include general dentistry, dentures and denture repairs, preventive care and restoration services. Walk-in and emergency patients are treated.

The New Iberia office is led by Dr. Collin Miller and Lafayette office by Dr. Stephanie Vu, both of whom received doctor of dental surgery degrees from LSU.

The offices are open 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, as well as select Saturdays.

The website is and phone numbers are (337) 321-5001 in New Iberia and (337) 247-7698 in Lafayette. Aspen Dental has 650 offices in 36 states.

St. Bernard pitch contest entry starts

Entries are being accepted until midnight Feb. 1 for the fourth annual Startup St. Bernard business pitch competition presented by the Meraux Foundation and St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation.

Entrepreneurs who want to grow their business to the next level apply for the opportunity to pitch their business to a panel of judges during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week in March. 

The “Shark Tank” style public event is open to any business that agrees to locate its operations in St. Bernard Parish.

The prize package includes a mix of cash and in-kind donations, potentially ranging from legal and accounting to marketing and public relations services.

To qualify, entrants must be in business for five years or less or be an existing business creating a new division or entity; have yearly revenue under $1 million; have five employees or less; and cannot be a nonprofit. Information and entry forms are at

SUNO VITA/TCE tax office opens

The Southern University at New Orleans VITA/TCE Tax Office is now located at 6803 Press Drive in the Small Business Incubator Building on the university’s Lake Campus.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance / Tax Counseling for the Elderly center opens to the public Jan. 8. Office hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Visitors enter the building through the north door from the School of Social Work Building side.