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Archive for the ‘Automated Cell Processing’ Category


Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

Using the century-old cutting method, it would take a researcher five hours to cut 100 cells, and by the time they were done, the cells they cut first would be well on their way to healing.

In an effort to comprehend how a single cell heal, mechanical engineer Sing Tand developed a microscopic guillotine that proficiently cuts cells into two.

Tang, who is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University knew that finding a way to competently slice the cell in two could lead to engineering self-healing materials and machines. In order, to efficiently slice a cell in two he developed a tool that could cut 150 cells in just over 2 minutes, and the cuts were much more standardized and synchronized in the stage of their repair process. They attained this rate by creating a scaled-up version of their tool with eight identical parallel channels that run simultaneously. Being able to efficiently study cell healing could eventually help scientists study and treat a variety of human diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Prior to Tang’s cellular guillotine, scientists used to slice cells by hand under a microscope using a glass needle which is a method that can lead to errors.

Tang’s method can be the Holy Grail of engineering self-healing materials and machines.

SOURCE

http://news.stanford.edu/2017/06/26/stanford-scientists-create-cellular-guillotine-studying-single-cell-wound-repair/

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Treatment of Lymphomas [2.4.4C]

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Author, Curator, Editor

http://pharmaceuticalinnovation.com/2015/8/11/larryhbern/Treatment-of-Lymphomas-[2.4.4C]

 

Lymphoma treatment

Overview

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/lymphoma/page8_em.htm#lymphoma_treatment

The most widely used therapies are combinations of chemotherapyand radiation therapy.

  • Biological therapy, which targets key features of the lymphoma cells, is used in many cases nowadays.

The goal of medical therapy in lymphoma is complete remission. This means that all signs of the disease have disappeared after treatment. Remission is not the same as cure. In remission, one may still have lymphoma cells in the body, but they are undetectable and cause no symptoms.

  • When in remission, the lymphoma may come back. This is called recurrence.
  • The duration of remission depends on the type, stage, and grade of the lymphoma. A remission may last a few months, a few years, or may continue throughout one’s life.
  • Remission that lasts a long time is called durable remission, and this is the goal of therapy.
  • The duration of remission is a good indicator of the aggressiveness of the lymphoma and of the prognosis. A longer remission generally indicates a better prognosis.

Remission can also be partial. This means that the tumor shrinks after treatment to less than half its size before treatment.

The following terms are used to describe the lymphoma’s response to treatment:

  • Improvement: The lymphoma shrinks but is still greater than half its original size.
  • Stable disease: The lymphoma stays the same.
  • Progression: The lymphoma worsens during treatment.
  • Refractory disease: The lymphoma is resistant to treatment.

The following terms to refer to therapy:

  • Induction therapy is designed to induce a remission.
  • If this treatment does not induce a complete remission, new or different therapy will be initiated. This is usually referred to as salvage therapy.
  • Once in remission, one may be given yet another treatment to prevent recurrence. This is called maintenance therapy.

Chemotherapy

Many different types of chemotherapy may be used for Hodgkin lymphoma. The most commonly used combination of drugs in the United States is called ABVD. Another combination of drugs, known as BEACOPP, is now widely used in Europe and is being used more often in the United States. There are other combinations that are less commonly used and not listed here. The drugs that make up these two more common combinations of chemotherapy are listed below.

ABVD: Doxorubicin (Adriamycin), bleomycin (Blenoxane), vinblastine (Velban, Velsar), and dacarbazine (DTIC-Dome). ABVD chemotherapy is usually given every two weeks for two to eight months.

BEACOPP: Bleomycin, etoposide (Toposar, VePesid), doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar), vincristine (Vincasar PFS, Oncovin), procarbazine (Matulane), and prednisone (multiple brand names). There are several different treatment schedules, but different drugs are usually given every two weeks.

The type of chemotherapy, number of cycles of chemotherapy, and the additional use of radiation therapy are based on the stage of the Hodgkin lymphoma and the type and number of prognostic factors.

Adult Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment (PDQ®)

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/adult-non-hodgkins/Patient/page1

Key Points for This Section

Adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the lymph system.

Because lymph tissue is found throughout the body, adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma can begin in almost any part of the body. Cancer can spread to the liver and many other organs and tissues.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in pregnant women is the same as the disease in nonpregnant women of childbearing age. However, treatment is different for pregnant women. This summary includes information on the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma during pregnancy

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can occur in both adults and children. Treatment for children, however, is different than treatment for adults. (See the PDQ summary on Childhood Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment for more information.)

There are many different types of lymphoma.

Lymphomas are divided into two general types: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This summary is about the treatment of adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma. For information about other types of lymphoma, see the following PDQ summaries:

Age, gender, and a weakened immune system can affect the risk of adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

If cancer is found, the following tests may be done to study the cancer cells:

  • Immunohistochemistry : A test that uses antibodies to check for certain antigens in a sample of tissue. The antibody is usually linked to a radioactive substance or a dye that causes the tissue to light up under a microscope. This type of test may be used to tell the difference between different types of cancer.
  • Cytogenetic analysis : A laboratory test in which cells in a sample of tissue are viewed under a microscope to look for certain changes in the chromosomes.
  • Immunophenotyping : A process used to identify cells, based on the types of antigens ormarkers on the surface of the cell. This process is used to diagnose specific types of leukemia and lymphoma by comparing the cancer cells to normal cells of the immune system.

Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:

  • The stage of the cancer.
  • The type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • The amount of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) in the blood.
  • The amount of beta-2-microglobulin in the blood (for Waldenström macroglobulinemia).
  • The patient’s age and general health.
  • Whether the lymphoma has just been diagnosed or has recurred (come back).

Stages of adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma may include E and S.

Adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma may be described as follows:

E: “E” stands for extranodal and means the cancer is found in an area or organ other than the lymph nodes or has spread to tissues beyond, but near, the major lymphatic areas.

S: “S” stands for spleen and means the cancer is found in the spleen.

Stage I adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma is divided into stage I and stage IE.

  • Stage I: Cancer is found in one lymphatic area (lymph node group, tonsils and nearby tissue, thymus, or spleen).
  • Stage IE: Cancer is found in one organ or area outside the lymph nodes.

Stage II adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma is divided into stage II and stage IIE.

  • Stage II: Cancer is found in two or more lymph node groups either above or below the diaphragm (the thin muscle below the lungs that helps breathing and separates the chest from the abdomen).
  • Stage IIE: Cancer is found in one or more lymph node groups either above or below the diaphragm. Cancer is also found outside the lymph nodes in one organ or area on the same side of the diaphragm as the affected lymph nodes.

Stage III adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma is divided into stage III, stage IIIE, stage IIIS, and stage IIIE+S.

  • Stage III: Cancer is found in lymph node groups above and below the diaphragm (the thin muscle below the lungs that helps breathing and separates the chest from the abdomen).
  • Stage IIIE: Cancer is found in lymph node groups above and below the diaphragm and outside the lymph nodes in a nearby organ or area.
  • Stage IIIS: Cancer is found in lymph node groups above and below the diaphragm, and in the spleen.
  • Stage IIIE+S: Cancer is found in lymph node groups above and below the diaphragm, outside the lymph nodes in a nearby organ or area, and in the spleen.

In stage IV adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the cancer:

  • is found throughout one or more organs that are not part of a lymphatic area (lymph node group, tonsils and nearby tissue, thymus, or spleen), and may be in lymph nodes near those organs; or
  • is found in one organ that is not part of a lymphatic area and has spread to organs or lymph nodes far away from that organ; or
  • is found in the liver, bone marrow, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), or lungs (other than cancer that has spread to the lungs from nearby areas).

Adult non-Hodgkin lymphomas are also described based on how fast they grow and where the affected lymph nodes are in the body.  Indolent & aggressive.

The treatment plan depends mainly on the following:

  • The type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Its stage (where the lymphoma is found)
  • How quickly the cancer is growing
  • The patient’s age
  • Whether the patient has other health problems
  • If there are symptoms present such as fever and night sweats (see above)

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Treatment for Chronic Leukemias [2.4.4B]

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Author, Curator, Editor

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/8/11/larryhbern/Treatment-for-Chronic-Leukemias-[2.4.4B]

2.4.4B1 Treatment for CML

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Treatment (PDQ®)

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/CML/Patient/page4

Treatment Option Overview

Key Points for This Section

There are different types of treatment for patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia.

Six types of standard treatment are used:

  1. Targeted therapy
  2. Chemotherapy
  3. Biologic therapy
  4. High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant
  5. Donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI)
  6. Surgery

New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.

Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.

Patients can enter clinical trials before, during, or after starting their cancer treatment.

Follow-up tests may be needed.

There are different types of treatment for patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia.

Different types of treatment are available for patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information about new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment. Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.

Six types of standard treatment are used:

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors are targeted therapy drugs used to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia.

Imatinib mesylate, nilotinib, dasatinib, and ponatinib are tyrosine kinase inhibitors that are used to treat CML.

See Drugs Approved for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia for more information.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy). The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

See Drugs Approved for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia for more information.

Biologic therapy

Biologic therapy is a treatment that uses the patient’s immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or made in a laboratory are used to boost, direct, or restore the body’s natural defenses against cancer. This type of cancer treatment is also called biotherapy or immunotherapy.

See Drugs Approved for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia for more information.

High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant

High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant is a method of giving high doses of chemotherapy and replacing blood-forming cells destroyed by the cancer treatment. Stem cells (immature blood cells) are removed from the blood or bone marrow of the patient or a donor and are frozen and stored. After the chemotherapy is completed, the stored stem cells are thawed and given back to the patient through an infusion. These reinfused stem cells grow into (and restore) the body’s blood cells.

See Drugs Approved for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia for more information.

Donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI)

Donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) is a cancer treatment that may be used after stem cell transplant.Lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) from the stem cell transplant donor are removed from the donor’s blood and may be frozen for storage. The donor’s lymphocytes are thawed if they were frozen and then given to the patient through one or more infusions. The lymphocytes see the patient’s cancer cells as not belonging to the body and attack them.

Surgery

Splenectomy

What`s new in chronic myeloid leukemia research and treatment?

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/leukemia-chronicmyeloidcml/detailedguide/leukemia-chronic-myeloid-myelogenous-new-research

Combining the targeted drugs with other treatments

Imatinib and other drugs that target the BCR-ABL protein have proven to be very effective, but by themselves these drugs don’t help everyone. Studies are now in progress to see if combining these drugs with other treatments, such as chemotherapy, interferon, or cancer vaccines (see below) might be better than either one alone. One study showed that giving interferon with imatinib worked better than giving imatinib alone. The 2 drugs together had more side effects, though. It is also not clear if this combination is better than treatment with other tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), such as dasatinib and nilotinib. A study going on now is looking at combing interferon with nilotinib.

Other studies are looking at combining other drugs, such as cyclosporine or hydroxychloroquine, with a TKI.

New drugs for CML

Because researchers now know the main cause of CML (the BCR-ABL gene and its protein), they have been able to develop many new drugs that might work against it.

In some cases, CML cells develop a change in the BCR-ABL oncogene known as a T315I mutation, which makes them resistant to many of the current targeted therapies (imatinib, dasatinib, and nilotinib). Ponatinib is the only TKI that can work against T315I mutant cells. More drugs aimed at this mutation are now being tested.

Other drugs called farnesyl transferase inhibitors, such as lonafarnib and tipifarnib, seem to have some activity against CML and patients may respond when these drugs are combined with imatinib. These drugs are being studied further.

Other drugs being studied in CML include the histone deacetylase inhibitor panobinostat and the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib (Velcade).

Several vaccines are now being studied for use against CML.

2.4.4.B2 Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Treatment (PDQ®)

General Information About Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Key Points for This Section

  1. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell).
  2. Leukemia may affect red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
  3. Older age can affect the risk of developing chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
  4. Signs and symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia include swollen lymph nodes and tiredness.
  5. Tests that examine the blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes are used to detect (find) and diagnose chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
  6. Certain factors affect treatment options and prognosis (chance of recovery).
  7. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell).

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (also called CLL) is a blood and bone marrow disease that usually gets worse slowly. CLL is one of the most common types of leukemia in adults. It often occurs during or after middle age; it rarely occurs in children.

http://www.cancer.gov/images/cdr/live/CDR755927-750.jpg

Anatomy of the bone; drawing shows spongy bone, red marrow, and yellow marrow. A cross section of the bone shows compact bone and blood vessels in the bone marrow. Also shown are red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and a blood stem cell.

Anatomy of the bone. The bone is made up of compact bone, spongy bone, and bone marrow. Compact bone makes up the outer layer of the bone. Spongy bone is found mostly at the ends of bones and contains red marrow. Bone marrow is found in the center of most bones and has many blood vessels. There are two types of bone marrow: red and yellow. Red marrow contains blood stem cells that can become red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets. Yellow marrow is made mostly of fat.

Leukemia may affect red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Normally, the body makes blood stem cells (immature cells) that become mature blood cells over time. A blood stem cell may become a myeloid stem cell or a lymphoid stem cell.

A myeloid stem cell becomes one of three types of mature blood cells:

  1. Red blood cells that carry oxygen and other substances to all tissues of the body.
  2. White blood cells that fight infection and disease.
  3. Platelets that form blood clots to stop bleeding.

A lymphoid stem cell becomes a lymphoblast cell and then one of three types of lymphocytes (white blood cells):

  1. B lymphocytes that make antibodies to help fight infection.
  2. T lymphocytes that help B lymphocytes make antibodies to fight infection.
  3. Natural killer cells that attack cancer cells and viruses.
Blood cell development. CDR526538-750

Blood cell development. CDR526538-750

http://www.cancer.gov/images/cdr/live/CDR526538-750.jpg

Blood cell development; drawing shows the steps a blood stem cell goes through to become a red blood cell, platelet, or white blood cell. A myeloid stem cell becomes a red blood cell, a platelet, or a myeloblast, which then becomes a granulocyte (the types of granulocytes are eosinophils, basophils, and neutrophils). A lymphoid stem cell becomes a lymphoblast and then becomes a B-lymphocyte, T-lymphocyte, or natural killer cell.

Blood cell development. A blood stem cell goes through several steps to become a red blood cell, platelet, or white blood cell.

In CLL, too many blood stem cells become abnormal lymphocytes and do not become healthy white blood cells. The abnormal lymphocytes may also be called leukemia cells. The lymphocytes are not able to fight infection very well. Also, as the number of lymphocytes increases in the blood and bone marrow, there is less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This may cause infection, anemia, and easy bleeding.

This summary is about chronic lymphocytic leukemia. See the following PDQ summaries for more information about leukemia:

  • Adult Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Treatment.
  • Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Treatment.
  • Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment.
  • Childhood Acute Myeloid Leukemia/Other Myeloid Malignancies Treatment.
  • Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Treatment.
  • Hairy Cell Leukemia Treatment

Older age can affect the risk of developing chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors for CLL include the following:

  • Being middle-aged or older, male, or white.
  • A family history of CLL or cancer of the lymph system.
  • Having relatives who are Russian Jews or Eastern European Jews.

Signs and symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia include swollen lymph nodes and tiredness.

Usually CLL does not cause any signs or symptoms and is found during a routine blood test. Signs and symptoms may be caused by CLL or by other conditions. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Painless swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, stomach, or groin.
  • Feeling very tired.
  • Pain or fullness below the ribs.
  • Fever and infection.
  • Weight loss for no known reason.

Tests that examine the blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes are used to detect (find) and diagnose chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

The following tests and procedures may be used:

Physical exam and history : An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.

Complete blood count (CBC) with differential : A procedure in which a sample of blood is drawn and checked for the following:

The number of red blood cells and platelets.

The number and type of white blood cells.

The amount of hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen) in the red blood cells.

The portion of the blood sample made up of red blood cells.

Results from the Phase 3 Resonate™ Trial

Significantly improved progression free survival (PFS) vs ofatumumab in patients with previously treated CLL

  • Patients taking IMBRUVICA® had a 78% statistically significant reduction in the risk of disease progression or death compared with patients who received ofatumumab1
  • In patients with previously treated del 17p CLL, median PFS was not yet reached with IMBRUVICA® vs 5.8 months with ofatumumab (HR 0.25; 95% CI: 0.14, 0.45)1

Significantly prolonged overall survival (OS) with IMBRUVICA® vs ofatumumab in patients with previously treated CLL

  • In patients with previously treated CLL, those taking IMBRUVICA® had a 57% statistically significant reduction in the risk of death compared with those who received ofatumumab (HR 0.43; 95% CI: 0.24, 0.79; P<0.05)1

Typical treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/leukemia-chroniclymphocyticcll/detailedguide/leukemia-chronic-lymphocytic-treating-treatment-by-risk-group

Treatment options for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) vary greatly, depending on the person’s age, the disease risk group, and the reason for treating (for example, which symptoms it is causing). Many people live a long time with CLL, but in general it is very difficult to cure, and early treatment hasn’t been shown to help people live longer. Because of this and because treatment can cause side effects, doctors often advise waiting until the disease is progressing or bothersome symptoms appear, before starting treatment.

If treatment is needed, factors that should be taken into account include the patient’s age, general health, and prognostic factors such as the presence of chromosome 17 or chromosome 11 deletions or high levels of ZAP-70 and CD38.

Initial treatment

Patients who might not be able to tolerate the side effects of strong chemotherapy (chemo), are often treated with chlorambucil alone or with a monoclonal antibody targeting CD20 like rituximab (Rituxan) or obinutuzumab (Gazyva). Other options include rituximab alone or a corticosteroid like prednisione.

In stronger and healthier patients, there are many options for treatment. Commonly used treatments include:

  • FCR: fludarabine (Fludara), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), and rituximab
  • Bendamustine (sometimes with rituximab)
  • FR: fludarabine and rituximab
  • CVP: cyclophosphamide, vincristine, and prednisone (sometimes with rituximab)
  • CHOP: cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine (Oncovin), and prednisone
  • Chlorambucil combined with prednisone, rituximab, obinutuzumab, or ofatumumab
  • PCR: pentostatin (Nipent), cyclophosphamide, and rituximab
  • Alemtuzumab (Campath)
  • Fludarabine (alone)

Other drugs or combinations of drugs may also be also used.

If the only problem is an enlarged spleen or swollen lymph nodes in one region of the body, localized treatment with low-dose radiation therapy may be used. Splenectomy (surgery to remove the spleen) is another option if the enlarged spleen is causing symptoms.

Sometimes very high numbers of leukemia cells in the blood cause problems with normal circulation. This is calledleukostasis. Chemo may not lower the number of cells until a few days after the first dose, so before the chemo is given, some of the cells may be removed from the blood with a procedure called leukapheresis. This treatment lowers blood counts right away. The effect lasts only for a short time, but it may help until the chemo has a chance to work. Leukapheresis is also sometimes used before chemo if there are very high numbers of leukemia cells (even when they aren’t causing problems) to prevent tumor lysis syndrome (this was discussed in the chemotherapy section).

Some people who have very high-risk disease (based on prognostic factors) may be referred for possible stem cell transplant (SCT) early in treatment.

Second-line treatment of CLL

If the initial treatment is no longer working or the disease comes back, another type of treatment may help. If the initial response to the treatment lasted a long time (usually at least a few years), the same treatment can often be used again. If the initial response wasn’t long-lasting, using the same treatment again isn’t as likely to be helpful. The options will depend on what the first-line treatment was and how well it worked, as well as the person’s health.

Many of the drugs and combinations listed above may be options as second-line treatments. For many people who have already had fludarabine, alemtuzumab seems to be helpful as second-line treatment, but it carries an increased risk of infections. Other purine analog drugs, such as pentostatin or cladribine (2-CdA), may also be tried. Newer drugs such as ofatumumab, ibrutinib (Imbruvica), and idelalisib (Zydelig) may be other options.

If the leukemia responds, stem cell transplant may be an option for some patients.

Some people may have a good response to first-line treatment (such as fludarabine) but may still have some evidence of a small number of leukemia cells in the blood, bone marrow, or lymph nodes. This is known as minimal residual disease. CLL can’t be cured, so doctors aren’t sure if further treatment right away will be helpful. Some small studies have shown that alemtuzumab can sometimes help get rid of these remaining cells, but it’s not yet clear if this improves survival.

Treating complications of CLL

One of the most serious complications of CLL is a change (transformation) of the leukemia to a high-grade or aggressive type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma called diffuse large cell lymphoma. This happens in about 5% of CLL cases, and is known as Richter syndrome. Treatment is often the same as it would be for lymphoma (see our document called Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma for more information), and may include stem cell transplant, as these cases are often hard to treat.

Less often, CLL may transform to prolymphocytic leukemia. As with Richter syndrome, these cases can be hard to treat. Some studies have suggested that certain drugs such as cladribine (2-CdA) and alemtuzumab may be helpful.

In rare cases, patients with CLL may have their leukemia transform into acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). If this happens, treatment is likely to be similar to that used for patients with ALL (see our document called Leukemia: Acute Lymphocytic).

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is another rare complication in patients who have been treated for CLL. Drugs such as chlorambucil and cyclophosphamide can damage the DNA of blood-forming cells. These damaged cells may go on to become cancerous, leading to AML, which is very aggressive and often hard to treat (see our document calledLeukemia: Acute Myeloid).

CLL can cause problems with low blood counts and infections. Treatment of these problems were discussed in the section “Supportive care in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.”

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Treatments other than Chemotherapy for Leukemias and Lymphomas

Author, Curator, Editor: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

2.5.1 Radiation Therapy 

http://www.lls.org/treatment/types-of-treatment/radiation-therapy

Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy or irradiation, can be used to treat leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes. The type of radiation used for radiotherapy (ionizing radiation) is the same that’s used for diagnostic x-rays. Radiotherapy, however, is given in higher doses.

Radiotherapy works by damaging the genetic material (DNA) within cells, which prevents them from growing and reproducing. Although the radiotherapy is directed at cancer cells, it can also damage nearby healthy cells. However, current methods of radiotherapy have been improved upon, minimizing “scatter” to nearby tissues. Therefore its benefit (destroying the cancer cells) outweighs its risk (harming healthy cells).

When radiotherapy is used for blood cancer treatment, it’s usually part of a treatment plan that includes drug therapy. Radiotherapy can also be used to relieve pain or discomfort caused by an enlarged liver, lymph node(s) or spleen.

Radiotherapy, either alone or with chemotherapy, is sometimes given as conditioning treatment to prepare a patient for a blood or marrow stem cell transplant. The most common types used to treat blood cancer are external beam radiation (see below) and radioimmunotherapy.
External Beam Radiation

External beam radiation is the type of radiotherapy used most often for people with blood cancers. A focused radiation beam is delivered outside the body by a machine called a linear accelerator, or linac for short. The linear accelerator moves around the body to deliver radiation from various angles. Linear accelerators make it possible to decrease or avoid skin reactions and deliver targeted radiation to lessen “scatter” of radiation to nearby tissues.

The dose (total amount) of radiation used during treatment depends on various factors regarding the patient, disease and reason for treatment, and is established by a radiation oncologist. You may receive radiotherapy during a series of visits, spread over several weeks (from two to 10 weeks, on average). This approach, called dose fractionation, lessens side effects. External beam radiation does not make you radioactive.

2.5.2  Bone marrow (BM) transplantation

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003009.htm

There are three kinds of bone marrow transplants:

Autologous bone marrow transplant: The term auto means self. Stem cells are removed from you before you receive high-dose chemotherapy or radiation treatment. The stem cells are stored in a freezer (cryopreservation). After high-dose chemotherapy or radiation treatments, your stems cells are put back in your body to make (regenerate) normal blood cells. This is called a rescue transplant.

Allogeneic bone marrow transplant: The term allo means other. Stem cells are removed from another person, called a donor. Most times, the donor’s genes must at least partly match your genes. Special blood tests are done to see if a donor is a good match for you. A brother or sister is most likely to be a good match. Sometimes parents, children, and other relatives are good matches. Donors who are not related to you may be found through national bone marrow registries.

Umbilical cord blood transplant: This is a type of allogeneic transplant. Stem cells are removed from a newborn baby’s umbilical cord right after birth. The stem cells are frozen and stored until they are needed for a transplant. Umbilical cord blood cells are very immature so there is less of a need for matching. But blood counts take much longer to recover.

Before the transplant, chemotherapy, radiation, or both may be given. This may be done in two ways:

Ablative (myeloablative) treatment: High-dose chemotherapy, radiation, or both are given to kill any cancer cells. This also kills all healthy bone marrow that remains, and allows new stem cells to grow in the bone marrow.

Reduced intensity treatment, also called a mini transplant: Patients receive lower doses of chemotherapy and radiation before a transplant. This allows older patients, and those with other health problems to have a transplant.

A stem cell transplant is usually done after chemotherapy and radiation is complete. The stem cells are delivered into your bloodstream usually through a tube called a central venous catheter. The process is similar to getting a blood transfusion. The stem cells travel through the blood into the bone marrow. Most times, no surgery is needed.

Donor stem cells can be collected in two ways:

  • Bone marrow harvest. This minor surgery is done under general anesthesia. This means the donor will be asleep and pain-free during the procedure. The bone marrow is removed from the back of both hip bones. The amount of marrow removed depends on the weight of the person who is receiving it.
  • Leukapheresis. First, the donor is given 5 days of shots to help stem cells move from the bone marrow into the blood. During leukapheresis, blood is removed from the donor through an IV line in a vein. The part of white blood cells that contains stem cells is then separated in a machine and removed to be later given to the recipient. The red blood cells are returned to the donor.

Why the Procedure is Performed

A bone marrow transplant replaces bone marrow that either is not working properly or has been destroyed (ablated) by chemotherapy or radiation. Doctors believe that for many cancers, the donor’s white blood cells can attach to any remaining cancer cells, similar to when white cells attach to bacteria or viruses when fighting an infection.

Your doctor may recommend a bone marrow transplant if you have:

Certain cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma

A disease that affects the production of bone marrow cells, such as aplastic anemia, congenital neutropenia, severe immunodeficiency syndromes, sickle cell anemia, thalassemia

Had chemotherapy that destroyed your bone

2.5.3 Autologous stem cell transplantation

Phase II trial of 131I-B1 (anti-CD20) antibody therapy with autologous stem cell transplantation for relapsed B cell lymphomas

O.W Press,  F Appelbaum,  P.J Martin, et al.
http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(95)92225-3/abstract

25 patients with relapsed B-cell lymphomas were evaluated with trace-labelled doses (2·5 mg/kg, 185-370 MBq [5-10 mCi]) of 131I-labelled anti-CD20 (B1) antibody in a phase II trial. 22 patients achieved 131I-B1 biodistributions delivering higher doses of radiation to tumor sites than to normal organs and 21 of these were treated with therapeutic infusions of 131I-B1 (12·765-29·045 GBq) followed by autologous hemopoietic stem cell reinfusion. 18 of the 21 treated patients had objective responses, including 16 complete remissions. One patient died of progressive lymphoma and one died of sepsis. Analysis of our phase I and II trials with 131I-labelled B1 reveal a progression-free survival of 62% and an overall survival of 93% with a median follow-up of 2 years. 131I-anti-CD20 (B1) antibody therapy produces complete responses of long duration in most patients with relapsed B-cell lymphomas when given at maximally tolerated doses with autologous stem cell rescue.

Autologous (Self) Transplants

http://www.leukaemia.org.au/treatments/stem-cell-transplants/autologous-self-transplants

An autologous transplant (or rescue) is a type of transplant that uses the person’s own stem cells. These cells are collected in advance and returned at a later stage. They are used to replace stem cells that have been damaged by high doses of chemotherapy, used to treat the person’s underlying disease.

In most cases, stem cells are collected directly from the bloodstream. While stem cells normally live in your marrow, a combination of chemotherapy and a growth factor (a drug that stimulates stem cells) called Granulocyte Colony Stimulating Factor (G-CSF) is used to expand the number of stem cells in the marrow and cause them to spill out into the circulating blood. From here they can be collected from a vein by passing the blood through a special machine called a cell separator, in a process similar to dialysis.

Most of the side effects of an autologous transplant are caused by the conditioning therapy used. Although they can be very unpleasant at times it is important to remember that most of them are temporary and reversible.

Procedure of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation

Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is the transplantation of multipotent hematopoietic stem cells, usually derived from bone marrow, peripheral blood, or umbilical cord blood. It may be autologous (the patient’s own stem cells are used) or allogeneic (the stem cells come from a donor).

Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation

Author: Ajay Perumbeti, MD, FAAP; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/208954-overview

Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) involves the intravenous (IV) infusion of autologous or allogeneic stem cells to reestablish hematopoietic function in patients whose bone marrow or immune system is damaged or defective.

The image below illustrates an algorithm for typically preferred hematopoietic stem cell transplantation cell source for treatment of malignancy.

An algorithm for typically preferred hematopoietic stem cell transplantation cell source for treatment of malignancy: If a matched sibling donor is not available, then a MUD is selected; if a MUD is not available, then choices include a mismatched unrelated donor, umbilical cord donor(s), and a haploidentical donor.

Supportive Therapies

2.5.4  Blood transfusions – risks and complications of a blood transfusion

  • Allogeneic transfusion reaction (acute or delayed hemolytic reaction)
  • Allergic reaction
  • Viruses Infectious Diseases

The risk of catching a virus from a blood transfusion is very low.

HIV. Your risk of getting HIV from a blood transfusion is lower than your risk of getting killed by lightning. Only about 1 in 2 million donations might carry HIV and transmit HIV if given to a patient.

Hepatitis B and C. The risk of having a donation that carries hepatitis B is about 1 in 205,000. The risk for hepatitis C is 1 in 2 million. If you receive blood during a transfusion that contains hepatitis, you’ll likely develop the virus.

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). This disease is the human version of Mad Cow Disease. It’s a very rare, yet fatal brain disorder. There is a possible risk of getting vCJD from a blood transfusion, although the risk is very low. Because of this, people who may have been exposed to vCJD aren’t eligible blood donors.

  • Fever
  • Iron Overload
  • Lung Injury
  • Graft-Versus-Host Disease

Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a condition in which white blood cells in the new blood attack your tissues.

2.5.5 Erythropoietin

Erythropoietin, (/ɨˌrɪθrɵˈpɔɪ.ɨtɨn/UK /ɛˌrɪθr.pˈtɪn/) also known as EPO, is a glycoprotein hormone that controls erythropoiesis, or red blood cell production. It is a cytokine (protein signaling molecule) for erythrocyte (red blood cell) precursors in the bone marrow. Human EPO has a molecular weight of 34 kDa.

Also called hematopoietin or hemopoietin, it is produced by interstitial fibroblasts in the kidney in close association with peritubular capillary and proximal convoluted tubule. It is also produced in perisinusoidal cells in the liver. While liver production predominates in the fetal and perinatal period, renal production is predominant during adulthood. In addition to erythropoiesis, erythropoietin also has other known biological functions. For example, it plays an important role in the brain’s response to neuronal injury.[1] EPO is also involved in the wound healing process.[2]

Exogenous erythropoietin is produced by recombinant DNA technology in cell culture. Several different pharmaceutical agents are available with a variety ofglycosylation patterns, and are collectively called erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESA). The specific details for labelled use vary between the package inserts, but ESAs have been used in the treatment of anemia in chronic kidney disease, anemia in myelodysplasia, and in anemia from cancer chemotherapy. Boxed warnings include a risk of death, myocardial infarction, stroke, venous thromboembolism, and tumor recurrence.[3]

2.5.6  G-CSF (granulocyte-colony stimulating factor)

Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF or GCSF), also known as colony-stimulating factor 3 (CSF 3), is a glycoprotein that stimulates the bone marrow to produce granulocytes and stem cells and release them into the bloodstream.

There are different types, including

  • Lenograstim (Granocyte)
  • Filgrastim (Neupogen, Zarzio, Nivestim, Ratiograstim)
  • Long acting (pegylated) filgrastim (pegfilgrastim, Neulasta) and lipegfilgrastim (Longquex)

Pegylated G-CSF stays in the body for longer so you have treatment less often than with the other types of G-CSF.

2.5.7  Plasma Exchange (plasmapheresis)

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1895577-overview

Plasmapheresis is a term used to refer to a broad range of procedures in which extracorporeal separation of blood components results in a filtered plasma product.[1, 2] The filtering of plasma from whole blood can be accomplished via centrifugation or semipermeable membranes.[3] Centrifugation takes advantage of the different specific gravities inherent to various blood products such as red cells, white cells, platelets, and plasma.[4] Membrane plasma separation uses differences in particle size to filter plasma from the cellular components of blood.[3]

Traditionally, in the United States, most plasmapheresis takes place using automated centrifuge-based technology.[5] In certain instances, in particular in patients already undergoing hemodialysis, plasmapheresis can be carried out using semipermeable membranes to filter plasma.[4]

In therapeutic plasma exchange, using an automated centrifuge, filtered plasma is discarded and red blood cells along with replacement colloid such as donor plasma or albumin is returned to the patient. In membrane plasma filtration, secondary membrane plasma fractionation can selectively remove undesired macromolecules, which then allows for return of the processed plasma to the patient instead of donor plasma or albumin. Examples of secondary membrane plasma fractionation include cascade filtration,[6] thermofiltration, cryofiltration,[7] and low-density lipoprotein pheresis.

The Apheresis Applications Committee of the American Society for Apheresis periodically evaluates potential indications for apheresis and categorizes them from I to IV based on the available medical literature. The following are some of the indications, and their categorization, from the society’s 2010 guidelines.[2]

  • The only Category I indication for hemopoietic malignancy is Hyperviscosity in monoclonal gammopathies

2.5.8  Platelet Transfusions

Indications for platelet transfusion in children with acute leukemia

Scott Murphy, Samuel Litwin, Leonard M. Herring, Penelope Koch, et al.
Am J Hematol Jun 1982; 12(4): 347–356
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ajh.2830120406/abstract;jsessionid=A6001D9D865EA1EBC667EF98382EF20C.f03t01
http://dx.doi.org:/10.1002/ajh.2830120406

In an attempt to determine the indications for platelet transfusion in thrombocytopenic patients, we randomized 56 children with acute leukemia to one of two regimens of platelet transfusion. The prophylactic group received platelets when the platelet count fell below 20,000 per mm3 irrespective of clinical events. The therapeutic group was transfused only when significant bleeding occurred and not for thrombocytopenia alone. The time to first bleeding episode was significantly longer and the number of bleeding episodes were significantly reduced in the prophylactic group. The survival curves of the two groups could not be distinguished from each other. Prior to the last month of life, the total number of days on which bleeding was present was significantly reduced by prophylactic therapy. However, in the terminal phase (last month of life), the duration of bleeding episodes was significantly longer in the prophylactic group. This may have been due to a higher incidence of immunologic refractoriness to platelet transfusion. Because of this terminal bleeding, comparison of the two groups for total number of days on which bleeding was present did not show a significant difference over the entire study period.

Clinical and Laboratory Aspects of Platelet Transfusion Therapy
Yuan S, Goldfinger D
http://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-and-laboratory-aspects-of-platelet-transfusion-therapy

INTRODUCTION — Hemostasis depends on an adequate number of functional platelets, together with an intact coagulation (clotting factor) system. This topic covers the logistics of platelet use and the indications for platelet transfusion in adults. The approach to the bleeding patient, refractoriness to platelet transfusion, and platelet transfusion in neonates are discussed elsewhere.

Pooled Platelets – A single unit of platelets can be isolated from every unit of donated blood, by centrifuging the blood within the closed collection system to separate the platelets from the red blood cells (RBC). The number of platelets per unit varies according to the platelet count of the donor; a yield of 7 x 1010 platelets is typical [1]. Since this number is inadequate to raise the platelet count in an adult recipient, four to six units are pooled to allow transfusion of 3 to 4 x 1011 platelets per transfusion [2]. These are called whole blood-derived or random donor pooled platelets.

Advantages of pooled platelets include lower cost and ease of collection and processing (a separate donation procedure and pheresis equipment are not required). The major disadvantage is recipient exposure to multiple donors in a single transfusion and logistic issues related to bacterial testing.

Apheresis (single donor) Platelets – Platelets can also be collected from volunteer donors in the blood bank, in a one- to two-hour pheresis procedure. Platelets and some white blood cells are removed, and red blood cells and plasma are returned to the donor. A typical apheresis platelet unit provides the equivalent of six or more units of platelets from whole blood (ie, 3 to 6 x 1011 platelets) [2]. In larger donors with high platelet counts, up to three units can be collected in one session. These are called apheresis or single donor platelets.

Advantages of single donor platelets are exposure of the recipient to a single donor rather than multiple donors, and the ability to match donor and recipient characteristics such as HLA type, cytomegalovirus (CMV) status, and blood type for certain recipients.

Both pooled and apheresis platelets contain some white blood cells (WBC) that were collected along with the platelets. These WBC can cause febrile non-hemolytic transfusion reactions (FNHTR), alloimmunization, and transfusion-associated graft-versus-host disease (ta-GVHD) in some patients.

Platelet products also contain plasma, which can be implicated in adverse reactions including transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI) and anaphylaxis. (See ‘Complications of platelet transfusion’ .)

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Hematological Cancer Classification

Author and Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

 

 

Introduction to leukemias and lymphomas

 

2.4.1 Ontogenesis of the blood elements: hematopoiesis

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/69747/blood-cell-formation

Blood cells are divided into three groups: the red blood cells (erythrocytes), the white blood cells (leukocytes), and the blood platelets (thrombocytes). The white blood cells are subdivided into three broad groups: granulocytes, lymphocytes, and monocytes.

Blood cells do not originate in the bloodstream itself but in specific blood-forming organs, notably the marrow of certain bones. In the human adult, the bone marrow produces all of the red blood cells, 60–70 percent of the white cells (i.e., the granulocytes), and all of the platelets. The lymphatic tissues, particularly the thymus, the spleen, and the lymph nodes, produce the lymphocytes (comprising 20–30 percent of the white cells). The reticuloendothelial tissues of the spleen, liver, lymph nodes, and other organs produce the monocytes (4–8 percent of the white cells). The platelets, which are small cellular fragments rather than complete cells, are formed from bits of the cytoplasm of the giant cells (megakaryocytes) of the bone marrow.

In the human embryo, the first site of blood formation is the yolk sac. Later in embryonic life, the liver becomes the most important red blood cell-forming organ, but it is soon succeeded by the bone marrow, which in adult life is the only source of both red blood cells and the granulocytes. Both the red and white blood cells arise through a series of complex, gradual, and successive transformations from primitive stem cells, which have the ability to form any of the precursors of a blood cell. Precursor cells are stem cells that have developed to the stage where they are committed to forming a particular kind of new blood cell.

In a normal adult the red cells of about half a liter (almost one pint) of blood are produced by the bone marrow every week. Almost 1 percent of the body’s red cells are generated each day, and the balance between red cell production and the removal of aging red cells from the circulation is precisely maintained.

Cells-in-the-Bone-Marrow-1024x747

http://interactive-biology.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Cells-in-the-Bone-Marrow-1024×747.png

Erythropoiesis

http://www.interactive-biology.com/3969/erythropoiesis-formation-of-red-blood-cells/

Erythropoiesis – Formation of Red Blood Cells

Because of the inability of erythrocytes (red blood cells) to divide to replenish their own numbers, the old ruptured cells must be replaced by totally new cells. They meet their demise because they don’t have the usual specialized intracellular machinery, which controls cell growth and repair, leading to a short life span of 120 days.

This short life span necessitates the process erythropoiesis, which is the formation of red blood cells. All blood cells are formed in the bone marrow. This is the erythrocyte factory, which is soft, highly cellar tissue that fills the internal cavities of bones.

Erythrocyte differentiation takes place in 8 stages. It is the pathway through which an erythrocyte matures from a hemocytoblast into a full-blown erythrocyte. The first seven all take place within the bone marrow. After stage 7 the cell is then released into the bloodstream as a reticulocyte, where it then matures 1-2 days later into an erythrocyte. The stages are as follows:

  1. Hemocytoblast, which is a pluripotent hematopoietic stem cell
  2. Common myeloid progenitor, a multipotent stem cell
  3. Unipotent stem cell
  4. Pronormoblast
  5. Basophilic normoblast also called an erythroblast.
  6. Polychromatophilic normoblast
  7. Orthochromatic normoblast
  8. Reticulocyte

These characteristics can be seen during the course of erythrocyte maturation:

  • The size of the cell decreases
  • The cytoplasm volume increases
  • Initially there is a nucleus and as the cell matures the size of the nucleus decreases until it vanishes with the condensation of the chromatin material.

Low oxygen tension stimulates the kidneys to secrete the hormone erythropoietin into the blood, and this hormone stimulates the bone marrow to produce erythrocytes.

Rarely, a malignancy or cancer of erythropoiesis occurs. It is referred to as erythroleukemia. This most likely arises from a common myeloid precursor, and it may occur associated with a myelodysplastic syndrome.

Summary of erythrocyte maturation

White blood cell series: myelopoiesis

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/presentations/100151_3.htm

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/images/ency/fullsize/15220.jpg

There are various types of white blood cells (WBCs) that normally appear in the blood: neutrophils (polymorphonuclear leukocytes; PMNs), band cells (slightly immature neutrophils), T-type lymphocytes (T cells), B-type lymphocytes (B cells), monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils. T and B-type lymphocytes are indistinguishable from each other in a normal slide preparation. Any infection or acute stress will result in an increased production of WBCs. This usually entails increased numbers of cells and an increase in the percentage of immature cells (mainly band cells) in the blood. This change is referred to as a “shift to the left” People who have had a splenectomy have a persistent mild elevation of WBCs. Drugs that may increase WBC counts include epinephrine, allopurinol, aspirin, chloroform, heparin, quinine, corticosteroids, and triamterene. Drugs that may decrease WBC counts include antibiotics, anticonvulsants, antihistamine, antithyroid drugs, arsenicals, barbiturates, chemotherapeutic agents, diuretics and sulfonamides.   (Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD)

https://www.med-ed.virginia.edu/courses/path/innes/nh/wcbmaturation.cfm

Note that the mature forms of the myeloid series (neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils), all have lobed (segmented) nuclei. The degree of lobation increases as the cells mature.

The earliest recognizable myeloid cell is the myeloblast (10-20m dia) with a large round to oval nucleus. There is fine diffuse immature chromatin (without clumping) and a prominant nucleolus.

The cytoplasm is basophilic without granules. Although one may see a small golgi area adjacent to the nucleus, granules are not usually visible by light microscopy. One should not see blast cells in the peripheral blood.

myeloblast x100b

https://www.med-ed.virginia.edu/courses/path/innes/images/nhjpeg/nh%20myeloblast%20x100b.jpeg

The promyelocyte (10-20m) is slightly larger than a blast. Its nucleus, although similar to a myeloblast shows slight chromatin condensation and less prominent nucleoli. The cytoplasm contains striking azurophilic granules or primary granules. These granules contain myeloperoxidase, acid phosphatase, and esterase enzymes. Normally no promyelocytes are seen in the peripheral blood.

At the point in development when secondary granules can be recognized, the cell becomes a myelocyte.

promyelocyte x100

https://www.med-ed.virginia.edu/courses/path/innes/images/nhjpeg/nh%20promyelocyte%20×100%20a.jpeg

Myelocytes (10-18m) are not normally found in the peripheral blood. Nucleoli may not be seen in the late myelocyte. Primary azurophilic granules are still present, but secondary granules predominate. Secondary granules (neut, eos, or baso) first appear adjacent to the nucleus. In neutrophils this is the “dawn” of neutrophilia.

Metamyelocytes (10-18m) have kidney shaped indented nuclei and dense chromatin along the nuclear membrane. The cytoplasm is faintly pink, and they have secondary granules (neutro, eos, or baso). Zero to one percent of the peripheral blood white cells may be metamyelocytes (juveniles).

metamyelocyte x100

https://www.med-ed.virginia.edu/courses/path/innes/images/nhjpeg/nh%20metamyelocyte%20×100.jpeg

Bands, slightly smaller than juveniles, are marked by a U-shaped or deeply indented nucleus.

band neutrophilx100a

https://www.med-ed.virginia.edu/courses/path/innes/images/nhjpeg/nh%20band%20x100a.jpeg

Segmented (segs) or polymorphonuclear (PMN) leukocytes (average 14 m dia) are distinguished by definite lobation with thin thread-like filaments of chromatin joining the 2-5 lobes. 45-75% of the peripheral blood white cells are segmented neutrophils.

https://www.med-ed.virginia.edu/courses/path/innes/images/nhjpeg/nh%20neutrophil%20×100%20d.jpeg

Thrombocytogenesis

The incredible journey: From megakaryocyte development to platelet formation

Kellie R. Machlus1,2 and Joseph E. Italiano Jr
JCB 2013; 201(6): 785-796
http://dx.doi.org:/10.1083/jcb.201304054

Large progenitor cells in the bone marrow called megakaryocytes (MKs) are the source of platelets. MKs release platelets through a series of fascinating cell biological events. During maturation, they become polyploid and accumulate massive amounts of protein and membrane. Then, in a cytoskeletal-driven process, they extend long branching processes, designated proplatelets, into sinusoidal blood vessels where they undergo fission to release platelets.

megakaryocyte production of platelets

http://dm5migu4zj3pb.cloudfront.net/manuscripts/26000/26891/medium/JCI0526891.f4.jpg

platelets and the immune continuum nri2956-f3

http://www.nature.com/nri/journal/v11/n4/images/nri2956-f3.jpg

2.4.2 Classification of hematological malignancies
Practical Diagnosis of Hematologic Disoreders. 4th edition. Vol 2.
Kjeldsberg CR, Ed.  ASCP Press.  2006. Chicago, IL.

2.4.2.1 Primary Classification

Acute leukemias

Myelodysplastic syndromes

Acute myeloid leukemia

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Myeloproliferative Disorders

Chronic myeloproliferative disorders

Chronic myelogenous leukemia and related disorders

Myelofibrosis, including chronic idiopathic

Polycythemia, including polycythemia rubra vera

Thrombocytosis, including essential thrombocythemia

Chronic lymphoid leukemia and other lymphoid leukemias

Lymphomas

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma

Lymphoproliferative disorders associated with immunodeficiency

Plasma Cell dyscrasias

Mast cell disease and Histiocytic neoplasms

2.4.2.2 Secondary Classification

2.4.2.3 Nuance – PathologyOutlines
Nat Pernick, Ed.

Leukemia – Acute

Primary referencesacute leukemia-generalAML generalAML classificationtransient abnormal myelopoiesis

Recurrent genetic abnormalities: AML with t(6;9)AML with t(8;21)AML with 11q23 abnormalitiesAML with inv(16) or t(16;16)AML with Down syndromeAML with FLT3 mutationsAML with myelodysplastic related changesAML therapy relatedAPL microgranular variantAPL with t(15;17)APL with t(V;17)APL therapy related

AML not otherwise categorized: minimally differentiated (M0)without maturation (M1)with maturation (M2)M3myelomonocyticmonoblastic and monocyticerythroidmegakaryoblasticCD13/CD33 negativebasophilicmyeloid sarcomaacute panmyelosis with myelofibrosiswith Philadelphia chromosomewith pseudo Chediak-Higashi anomalyhypocellular

ALL: generalWHO classificationwith eosinophilia

PreB ALL: generalt(9;22)t(v;11q23)t(1;19)t(5;14)t(12;21)hyperdiploidyhypodiploidymature B ALL/Burkitt

Other ALL: T ALLambiguous lineagemixed phenotype

AML and related malignancies

Acute myeloid leukemias with recurrent genetic abnormalities:

  • AML with t(8;21)(q22;q22); RUNX1-RUNX1T1
  • AML with inv(16)(p13.1;q22) or t(16;16)(p13.1;q22); CBF&beta-MYH11
  • Acute promyelocytic leukemia with t(15;17)(q22;q12); PML/RAR&alpha and variants
  • AML with t(9;11)(p22;q23); MLLT3-MLL
  • AML with t(6;9)(p23;q34); DEK-NUP214
  • AML with inv(3)(q21q26.2) or t(3;3)(q21;q26.2); RPN1-EVI1
  • AML (megakaryoblastic) with t(1;22)(p13;q13); RBM15-MKL1
  • AML with mutated NPM1*
  • AML with mutated CEBPA*

* provisional

Acute myeloid leukemia with myelodysplasia related changes

Therapy related acute myeloid leukemia

  • Alkylating agent related
  • Topoisomerase II inhibitor related (some maybe lymphoid)

Acute myeloid leukemia not otherwise categorized:

  • AML minimally differentiated (M0)
  • AML without maturation (M1)
  • AML with maturation (M2)
  • Acute myelomonocytic leukemia (M4)
  • Acute monoblastic and monocytic leukemia (M5a, M5b)
  • Acute erythroid leukemia (M6)
  • Acute megakaryoblastic leukemia (M7)
  • Acute basophilic leukemia
  • Acute panmyelosis with myelofibrosis

Myeloid Sarcoma

Myeloid proliferations related to Down syndrome:

  • Transient abnormal myelopoeisis
  • Myeloid leukemia associated with Down syndrome

Blastic plasmacytoid dentritic cell neoplasm:

Acute leukemia of ambiguous lineage:

  • Acute undifferentiated leukemia
  • Mixed phenotype acute leukemia with t(9;22)(q34;q11.2); BCR-ABL1
  • Mixed phenotype acute leukemia with t(v;11q23); MLL rearranged
  • Mixed phenotype acute leukemia, B/myeloid, NOS
  • Mixed phenotype acute leukemia, T/myeloid, NOS
  • Mixed phenotype acute leukemia, NOS, rare types
  • Other acute leukemia of ambiguous lineage
  • References: WHO Classification of Tumours of Haematopoietic and Lymphoid Tissue (IARC, 2008), Discovery Medicine 2010, eMedicine

Acute lymphocytic leukemia

General
=================================================================

  • WHO classification system includes former FAB classifications ALL-L1 and L2
    ● FAB L3 is now considered Burkitt lymphoma

WHO classification of acute lymphoblastic leukemia
=================================================================

Precursor B lymphoblastic leukemia / lymphoblastic lymphoma:
● ALL with t(9;22)(q34;q11.2); BCR-ABL (Philadelphia chromosome)
● ALL with t(v;11q23) (MLL rearranged)
● ALL with t(1;19)(q23;p13.3); TCF3-PBX1 (E2A-PBX1)
● ALL with t(12;21)(p13;q22); ETV6-RUNX1 (TEL-AML1)
● Hyperdiploid > 50
● Hypodiploid
● t(5;14)(q31;q32); IL3-IGH

Precursor T lymphoblastic leukemia / lymphoma

Additional references
=================================================================

Mixed phenotype acute leukemia (MPAL)

General
=================================================================

  • De novo acute leukemia containing separate populations of blasts of more than one lineage (bilineal or bilineage), or a single population of blasts co-expressing antigens of more than one lineage (biphenotypic)Excludes:
    ● Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with recurrent translocations t(8;21), t(15;17) or inv(16)
    ● Leukemias with FGFR1 mutations
    ● Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) in blast crisis
    ● Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)-related AML and therapy-related AML, even if they have MPAL immunophenotypeCriteria for biphenotypic leukemia:
    ● Score of 2 or more for each of two separate lineages:The European Group for the Immunological Classification of Leukemias (EGIL) scoring system2008 WHO classification of acute leukemias of ambiguous lineage 

Prognosis
=================================================================

  • Poor, overall survival of 18 months
    ● Young age, normal karyotype and ALL induction therapy are associated with favorable survival
    ● Ph+ is a predictor for poor prognosis
    ● Bone marrow transplantation should be considered in first remission

Major Categories

MPAL with t(9;22)(q34;q11.2); BCR-ABL1
=================================================================

  • 20% of all MPAL
    ● Blasts with t(9;22)(q34;q11.2) translocation or BCR-ABL1 rearrangement (Ph+) without history of CML
    ● Majority in adults
    ● High WBC counts● Most of the cases B/myeloid phenotype
    ● Rare T/myeloid, B and T lineage, or trilineage leukemiasMorphology:
    ● Many cases show a dimorphic blast population, one resembling myeloblasts and the other lymphoblastsCytogenetic abnormalities:
    ● Conventional karyotyping for t(9;22), FISH or PCR for BCR-ABL1 translocation
    ● Additional complex karyotypes
    ● Ph+ is a poor prognostic factor for MPAL, with a reported median survival of 8 months
    ● Worse than patients of all other types of MPAL

MPAL with t(v;11q23); MLL rearranged
=================================================================

  • Meeting the diagnostic criteria for MPAL with blasts bearing a translocation involving the 11q23 breakpoint (MLL gene)
    ● MPAL with MLL rearranged rare
    ● More often seen in children and relatively common in infancy
    ● High WBC counts
    ● Poor prognosis
    ● Dimorphic blast population, with one resembling monoblasts and the other resembling lymphoblasts
    ● Lymphoblast population often shows a CD19+, CD10- B precursor immunophenotype, frequently CD15+
    ● Expression of other B markers usually weak
    ● Translocations involving MLL gene include t(4;11)(q21;q23), t(11;19)(q23;p13), and t(9;11)(p22;q23)
    ● Cases with chromosome 11q23 deletion should not be classified in this category

B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) / lymphoblastic lymphoma (LBL)

General

=================================================================

  • Current 2008 WHO classification: B lymphoblastic leukemia / lymphoma, NOS or B lymphoblastic leukemia / lymphoma with recurrent genetic abnormalities
  • See also lymphomas: B cell chapter
  • Also called B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia / lymphoblastic lymphoma, pre B ALL / LBL
  • Usually children
  • B acute lymphoblastic leukemia presents with pancytopenia due to extensive marrow involvement, stormy onset of symptoms, bone pain due to marrow expansion, hepatosplenomegaly due to neoplastic infiltration, CNS symptoms due to meningeal spread and testicular involvement
  • B acute lymphoblastic lymphoma often presents with cutaneous nodules, bone or nodal involvement, < 25% lymphoblasts in bone marrow and peripheral blood; aleukemic cases are usually asymptomatic
  • Depending on specific leukemia, arises in either hematopoietic stem cell or B-cell progenitor
  • Tumors are derived from pre-germinal center naive B cells with unmutated VH region genes
  • Have multiple immunophenotyping aberrancies relative to normal B cell precursors (hematogones); at relapse, 73% show loss of 1+ aberrance and 60% show new aberrancies (Am J Clin Pathol 2007;127:39)

Prognostic features

=================================================================

  • Favorable prognosis: age 1-10 years, female, white; preB phenotype, hyperdiploidy>50, t(12,21), WBC count at presentation <50×108/L, non-traumatic tap with no blasts in CNS, rapid response to chemotherapy < 5% blasts on morphology on day 15, remission status after induction <5% blasts on morphology and <0.01% blast on flow or PCR, CD10+
  • Intermediate prognosis: hyperdiploidy 47-50, diploid, 6q- and rearrangements of 8q24
  • Unfavorable prognosis: under age 1 (usually have 11q23 translocations) or over age 10; t(9;22) (but not if age 59+ years, Am J Clin Pathol 2002;117:716); male, > 50×108/L WBC at presentation, hypodiploidy, near tetraploidy, 17p- and MLL rearrangements t(v;11q23); CD10-; non-traumatic tap with > 5% blasts or traumatic tap (7%); also increased microvessel staining using CD105 in children (Leuk Res 2007;31:1741), MDR1 expression in children (Oncol Rep 2004;12:1201) and adults (Blood 2002;100:974), 25%+ blasts on morphology on day 15, remission status after induction ≥ 5% blasts on morphology and ≥ 0.1% blasts on flow or PCR

Case reports

=================================================================

  • 12 month old girl and 13 month old boy with mature phenotype but no translocations (Arch Pathol Lab Med 2003;127:1340)
  • 56 year old man with ALL arising from follicular lymphoma (Arch Pathol Lab Med 2002;126:997)
  • 76 year old man with basal cell carcinoma (Diagn Pathol 2007;2:32)
  • With hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (Pediatr Blood Cancer 2008;50:381)

Treatment

================================================================

  • Chemotherapy cures more children than adults; adolescents benefit from intensive regimens (Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program 2005:123)

Micro description

=================================================================

  • Bone marrow smears: small to intermediate blast-like cells with scant, variably basophilic cytoplasm, round / oval or convoluted nuclei, fine chromatin and indistinct nucleoli; frequent mitotic figures; may have “starry sky” appearance similar to Burkitt lymphoma; may have large lymphoblasts with 1-4 prominent nucleoli resembling myeloblasts; usually no sclerosis
  • Bone marrow biopsy: usually markedly hypercellular with reduction of trilinear maturation; cells have minimal cytoplasm, medium sized nuclei that are often convoluted, moderately dense chromatin and indistinct nucleoli, brisk mitotic activity
  • Other tissues: may have “starry sky” appearance similar to Burkitt lymphoma; collagen dissection, periadipocyte growth pattern and single cell linear filing

Chronic Leukemia

Chronic Myeloid Neoplasms

Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS): general, WHO classification, childhood, refractory anemia, refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts, refractory cytopenia with multilineage dysplasia, refractory anemia with excess blasts, 5q-syndrome, therapy related, unclassified, arsenic toxicity

Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN): general, WHO classification, chronic eosinophilic leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia, chronic neutrophilic leukemia, essential thrombocythemia, hypereosinophilic syndrome, mast cell disease, polycythemia vera, primary myelofibrosis, unclassifiable

MDS/MPN: general, WHO classification, atypical CML, chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML), chronic myelomonocytic leukemia with eosinophilia, juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, unclassifiable

Myeloid neoplasms associated with eosinophilia and abnormalities of PDGFRA, PDGFRB, or FGFR1: PDGFRA, PDGFRB, FGFR1

Miscellaneous: transient myeloproliferative disorder of Downís syndrome

Lymphoma and plasma cell neoplasms

Lymph nodes: normal development-generalB cellsT cellsNK cellsnormal histologygrossing lymph nodesfeatures to report

Molecular testing: theoryFISHnorthern blotPCRsouthern blot

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: generalcytogeneticsstagingstaging-pediatricmorphologic clueshemophagocytic syndromechemotherapeutic atypia

B cell disorders: generalpost-rituximabbone marrow biopsyclassification-historicalWHO classification

B cell lymphoma subtypes: age-related EBV-associatedALK positive large cellBurkittunclassifiable-intermediate between Burkitt and diffuse large B cell lymphomaCLL
diffuse large B cell: 
diffuse-NOSCD5+T cell / histiocyte richprimary cutaneous-generalprimary cutaneous-legprimary sites-other
follicular: 
generalchildhoodcutaneousGI
hairy cell leukemiaHCL variantintravascular large B celllymphomatoid granulomatosislymphoplasmacyticmantle cell-classicmantle cell-blastoidmarginal zone-generalmarginal zone-MALTMALT-primary sitesmarginal zone-nodalmediastinal (thymic)plasmablasticpre B lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphomaprimary effusionprolymphocytic leukemiapyothorax associatedSLLsplenic marginal zonesplenic lymphoma with villous lymphocytes

Plasma cell neoplasms: generalmyelomaplasmacytomaheavy chain diseaseprimary amyloidosisMGUSOsteosclerotic myeloma (POEMS)cryoglobulinemia

T/NK cell disorders: generalWHO classificationadult T cellaggressive NK cell leukemiaanaplastic large cell ALK+ALK-angioimmunoblastic T cellblastic plasmacytoidchronic lymphoproliferative disorders of NK cellscutaneous CD4+ small/medium sized T cell lymphomacutaneous CD30 positive T cell lymphoproliferative disorderscutaneous gamma delta T cell lymphomaenteropathyepidermotropic CD8+ T cell lymphomahepatosplenicindolent T cell proliferationsmycosis fungoidesNK/T cell lymphoma-nasal typenodal CD8+ cytotoxic T cellnonB nonT lymphoblasticperipheral T cell lymphoma, NOSprimary effusion lymphomaSezary syndromestagingsubcutaneous panniculitis-likeT cell large granular lymphocytic leukemiaT cell lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphomaT cell prolymphocytic leukemia

Hodgkin lymphoma: general/stagingclassiclymphocyte depletedlymphocyte rich classicalmixed cellularitynodular lymphocyte predominantnodular sclerosis

Post-transplantation: generalWHO classificationplasmacytic hyperplasia/IM-like lesionspolymorphic B cell lymphoproliferative disordersmonomorphic B cell lymphoproliferative disordersothergraft versus host disease

Other: AIDS associated-generalAIDS associated-examplesEBV+ T cell lymphoproliferative disorders of childhoodprimary immune disorders related

Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN)

WHO 2008 – Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) 

General
=================================================================

  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia
    ● Polycythemia vera
    ● Essential thrombocythemia
    ● Primary myelofibrosis
    ● Chronic neutrophilic leukemia
    ● Chronic eosinophilic leukemia, not otherwise categorized
    ● Mast cell disease
    ● MPNs, unclassifiable

WHO 2001 – Chronic myeloproliferative diseases 

Definition
=================================================================

  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia (Philadelphia chromosome, t(9;22)(q34;q11), BCR-ABL positive)
    ● Chronic neutrophilic leukemia
    ● Chronic eosinophilic leukemia (and the hypereosinophilic syndrome)
    ● Polycythemia vera
    ● Chronic idiopathic myelofibrosis (with extramedullary hematopoiesis)
    ● Essential thrombocythemia
    ● Chronic myeloproliferative disease, unclassifiable

Additional references
=================================================================

The World Health Organization (WHO) classification of the myeloid neoplasms  James W. Vardiman, Nancy Lee Harris, and Richard D. Brunning
Blood 2002; 100(7)  http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood-2002-04-1199

Lymphoma – Non B cell neoplasms

T/NK cell disorders/WHO classification (2008)

Principles of classification
=================================================================

  • Based on all available information (morphology, immunophenotype, genetics, clinical)
    ● No one antigenic marker is specific for any neoplasm (except ALK1)
    ● Immune profiling less helpful in subclassification of T cell lymphomas then B cell lymphomas
    ● Certain antigens commonly associated with specific disease entities but not entirely disease specific
    ● CD30: common in anaplastic large cell lymphoma but also classic Hodgkin lymphoma and other B and T cell lymphomas
    ● CD56: characteristic for nasal NK/T cell lymphoma, but also other T cell neoplasms and plasma cell disorders
    ● Variation of immunophenotype within a given disease (hepatosplenic T cell lymphoma: usually γδ but some are αβ)
    ● Recurrent genetic alterations have been identified for many B cell lymphomas but not for most T cell lymphomas
    ● No attempt to stratify lymphoid malignancies by grade
    ● Recognize the existence of grey zone lymphomas
    ● This multiparameter approach has been validated in international studies as highly reproducible

WHO 2008 classification of tumors of hematopoietic and lymphoid tissues (T/NK)
=================================================================

Precursor T-lymphoid neoplasms
● T lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma, 9837/3

Mature T cell and NK cell neoplasms
● T cell prolymphocytic leukemia, 9834/3
● T cell large granular lymphocytic leukemia, 9831/3
● Chronic lymphoproliferative disorder of NK cells, 9831/3
● Aggressive NK cell leukemia, 9948/3
● Systemic EBV-positive T cell lymphoproliferative disease of childhood, 9724/3
● Hydroa vacciniforme-like lymphoma, 9725/3
● Adult T cell leukemia/lymphoma, 9827/3
● Extranodal NK/T cell lymphoma, nasal type, 9719/3
● Enteropathy-associated T cell lymphoma, 9717/3
● Hepatosplenic T cell lymphoma, 9716/3
● Subcutaneous panniculitis-like T cell lymphoma, 9708/3
● Mycosis fungoides, 9700/3
● Sézary syndrome, 9701/3
● Primary cutaneous CD30-positive T cell lymphoproliferative disorders
● Lymphomatoid papulosis, 9718/1
● Primary cutaneous anaplastic large cell lymphoma, 9718/3
● Primary cutaneous gamma-delta T cell lymphoma, 9726/3
● Primary cutaneous CD8-positive aggressive epidermotropic cytotoxic T cell lymphoma, 9709/3
● Primary cutaneous CD4-positive small/medium T cell lymphoma, 9709/3
● Peripheral T cell lymphoma, NOS, 9702/3
● Angioimmunoblastic T cell lymphoma, 9705/3
● Anaplastic large cell lymphoma, ALK-positive, 9714/3
● Anaplastic large cell lymphoma, ALK-negative, 9702/3

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Staging
Author: Sandy D Kotiah, MD; Chief Editor: Jules E Harris, MD
Medscape Sep 6, 2013
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2006578-overview

General considerations in the staging of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and the revised Rai (United States) and Binet (Europe) staging systems for CLL are provided below.[1, 2, 3]

See Chronic Leukemias: 4 Cancers to Differentiate, a Critical Images slideshow, to help detect chronic leukemias and determine the specific type present.

General considerations

  • CLL and small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) are different manifestations of the same disease; SLL is diagnosed when the disease is mainly nodal, and CLL is diagnosed when the disease is seen in the blood and bone marrow
  • CLL is diagnosed by > 5000 monoclonal lymphocytes/mm3 for longer than 3mo; the bone marrow usually has more than 30% monoclonal lymphocytes and is either normocellular or hypercellular
  • Monoclonal B lymphocytosis is a precursor form of CLL that is defined by a monoclonal B cell lymphocytosis < 5000 monoclonal lymphocytes/mm3; all lymph nodes smaller than 1.5 cm; no anemia; and no thrombocytopenia

Revised Rai staging system (United States)

Low risk (formerly stage 0)[1] :

  • Lymphocytosis, lymphocytes in blood > 15000/mcL, and > 40% lymphocytes in the bone marrow

Intermediate risk (formerly stages I and II):

  • Lymphocytosis as in low risk with enlarged node(s) in any site, or splenomegaly or hepatomegaly or both

High risk (formerly stages III and IV):

  • Lymphocytosis as in low risk and intermediate risk with disease-related anemia (hemoglobin level < 11.0 g/dL or hematocrit < 33%) or platelets < 100,000/mcL

Binet staging system (Europe)

Stage A:

  • Hemoglobin ≥ 10 g/dL, platelets ≥ 100,000/mm3, and < 3 enlarged areas

Stage B:

  • Hemoglobin ≥ 10 g/dL, platelets ≥ 100,000/mm3, and ≥ 3 enlarged areas

Stage C:

  • Hemoglobin < 10 g/dL, platelets < 100,000/mm3, and any number of enlarged areas

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Why did this occur? The matter of Individual Actions Undermining Trust, The Patent Dilemma and The Value of a Clinical Trials


Why did this occur? The matter of Individual Actions Undermining Trust, The Patent Dilemma and The Value of a Clinical Trials

Reporter and Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

 

he large amount of funding tied to continued research and support of postdoctoral fellows leads one to ask how following the money can lead to discredited work in th elite scientific community.

Moreover, the pressure to publish in prestigious journals with high impact factors is a road to academic promotion.  In the last twenty years, it is unusual to find submissions for review with less than 6-8 authors, with the statement that all contributed to the work.  These factors can’t be discounted outright, but it is easy for work to fall through the cracks when a key investigator has over 200 publications and holds tenure in a great research environment.  But that is where we find ourselves today.

There is another issue that comes up, which is also related to the issue of carrying out research, and then protecting the work for commercialization.  It is more complicated in the sense that it is necessary to determine whether there is prior art, and then there is the possibility that after the cost of filing patent and a 6 year delay in obtaining protection, there is as great a cost in bringing the patent to finasl production.

I.  Individual actions undermining trust.

II. The patent dilemma.

III. The value of a clinical trial.

IV. The value contributions of RAP physicians
(radiologists, anesthesiologists, and pathologists – the last for discussion)
Those who maintain and inform the integrity of medical and surgical decisions

 

I. Top heart lab comes under fire

Kelly Servick

Science 18 July 2014: Vol. 345 no. 6194 p. 254 DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6194.25

 

In the study of cardiac regeneration, Piero Anversa is among the heavy hitters. His research into the heart’s repair mechanisms helped kick-start the field of cardiac cell therapy (see main story). After more than 4 decades of research and 350 papers, he heads a lab at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston that has more than $6 million in active grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He is also an outspoken voice in a field full of disagreement.

So when an ongoing BWH investigation of the lab came to light earlier this year, Anversa’s colleagues were transfixed. “Reactions in the field run the gamut from disbelief to vindication,” says Mark Sussman, a cardiovascular researcher at San Diego State University in California who has collaborated with Anversa. By Sussman’s account, Anversa’s reputation for “pushing the envelope” and “challenging existing dogma” has generated some criticism. Others, however, say that the disputes run deeper—to doubts about a cell therapy his lab has developed and about the group’s scientific integrity. Anversa told Science he was unable to comment during the investigation.

“People are talking about this all the time—at every scientific meeting I go to,” says Charles Murry, a cardiovascular pathologist at the University of Washington, Seattle. “It’s of grave concern to people in the field, but it’s been frustrating,” because no information is available about BWH’s investigation. BWH would not comment for this article, other than to say that it addresses concerns about its researchers confidentially.

In April, however, the journal Circulation agreed to Harvard’s request to retract a 2012 paper on which Anversa is a corresponding author, citing “compromised” data. The Lancet also issued an “Expression of Concern” about a 2011 paper reporting results from a clinical trial, known as SCIPIO, on which Anversa collaborated. According to a notice from the journal, two supplemental figures are at issue.

For some, Anversa’s status has earned him the benefit of the doubt. “Obviously, this is very disconcerting,” says Timothy Kamp, a cardiologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, but “I would be surprised if it was an implication of a whole career of research.”

Throughout that career, Anversa has argued that the heart is a prolific, lifelong factory for new muscle cells. Most now accept the view that the adult heart can regenerate muscle, but many have sparred with Anversa over his high estimates for the rate of this turnover, which he maintained in the retracted Circulation paper.

Anversa’s group also pioneered a method of separating cells with potential regenerative abilities from other cardiac tissue based on the presence of a protein called c-kit. After publishing evidence that these cardiac c-kit+cells spur new muscle growth in rodent hearts, the group collaborated in the SCIPIO trial to inject them into patients with heart failure. In The Lancet, the scientists reported that the therapy was safe and showed modest ability to strengthen the heart—evidence that many found intriguing and provocative. Roberto Bolli, the cardiologist whose group at the University of Louisville in Kentucky ran the SCIPIO trial, plans to test c-kit+ cells in further clinical trials as part of the NIH-funded Cardiovascular Cell Therapy Research Network.

But others have been unable to reproduce the dramatic effects Anversa saw in animals, and some have questioned whether these cells really have stem cell–like properties. In May, a group led by Jeffery Molkentin, a molecular biologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, published a paper in Nature tracing the genetic lineage of c-kit+ cells that reside in the heart. He concluded that although they did make new muscle cells, the number is “astonishingly low” and likely not enough to contribute to the repair of damaged hearts. Still, Molkentin says that he “believe[s] in their therapeutic potential” and that he and Anversa have discussed collaborating.

Now, an anonymous blogger claims that problems in the Anversa lab go beyond controversial findings. In a letter published on the blog Retraction Watch on 30 May, a former research fellow in the Anversa lab described a lab culture focused on protecting the c-kit+ cell hypothesis: “[A]ll data that did not point to the ‘truth’ of the hypothesis were considered wrong,” the person wrote. But another former lab member offers a different perspective. “I had a great experience,” says Federica Limana, a cardiovascular disease researcher at IRCCS San Raffaele Pisana in Rome who spent 2 years of her Ph.D. work with the group in 1999 and 2000, as it was beginning to investigate c-kit+ cells. “In that period, there was no such pressure” to produce any particular result, she says.

Accusations about the lab’s integrity, combined with continued silence from BWH, are deeply troubling for scientists who have staked their research on theories that Anversa helped pioneer. Some have criticized BWH for requesting retractions in the midst of an investigation. “Scientific reputations and careers hang in the balance,” Sussman says, “so everyone should wait until all facts are clearly and fully disclosed.”

 

II.  Trolling Along: Recent Commotion About Patent Trolls

July 17, 2014

PriceWaterhouseCoopers recently released a study about 2014 Patent Litigation. PwC’s ultimate conclusion was that case volume increased vastly and damages continue a general decline, but what’s making headlines everywhere is that “patent trolls” now account for 67% of all new patent lawsuits (see, e.g., Washington Post and Fast Company).

Surprisingly, looking at PwC’s study, the word “troll” is not to be found. So, with regard to patent trolls, what does this study really mean for companies, patent owners and casual onlookers?

First of all, who are these trolls?

“Patent Troll” is a label applied to patent owners who do not make or manufacture a product, or offer a service. Patent trolls live (and die) by suing others for allegedly practicing an invention that is claimed by their patents.

The politically correct term is Non-practicing Entity (NPE). PwC solely uses the term NPE, which it defines as an entity that does not have the capability to design, manufacture, or distribute products with features protected by the patent.

So, what’s so bad about them?

The common impression of an NPEs is a business venture looking to collect and monetize assets (i.e., patents). In the most basic strategy, an NPE typically buys patents with broad claims that cover a wide variety of technologies and markets, and then sues a large group of alleged patent infringers in the hope to collect a licensing royalty or a settlement. NPEs typically don’t want to spend money on a trial unless they have to, and one tactic uses settlements with smaller businesses to build a “war chest” for potential suits with larger companies.

NPEs initiating a lawsuit can be viewed positively, such as a just defense of the lowly inventor who sold his patent to someone (with deeper pockets) who could fund the litigation to protect the inventor’s hard work against a mega-conglomerate who ripped off his idea.

Or NPE litigation can be seen negatively, such as an attorney’s demand letter on behalf of an anonymous shell corporation to shake down dozens of five-figure settlements from all the local small businesses that have ever used a fax machine.

NPEs can waste a company’s valuable time and resources with lawsuits, yet also bring value to their patent portfolios by energizing a patent sales and licensing market. There are unscrupulous NPEs, but it’s hardly the black and white situation that some media outlets are depicting.

What did PwC say about trolls?

Well, the PwC study looked at the success rates and awards of patent litigation decisions. One conclusion is that damages awards for NPEs averaged more than triple those for practicing entities over the last four years. We’ll come back to this statistic.

Another key observation is that NPEs have been successful 25% of the time overall, versus 35% for practicing entities. This makes sense because of the burden of proof the NPEs carry as a plaintiff at trial and the relative lack of success for NPEs at summary judgment. However, PwC’s report states that both types of entities win about two-thirds of their trials.

But what about this “67% of all patent trials are initiated by trolls” discussion?

The 67% number comes from the RPX Corporation’s litigation report (produced January 2014) that quantified the percentage of NPE cases filed in 2013 as 67%, compared to 64% in 2012, 47% in 2011, 30% in 2010 and 28% in 2009.

PwC refers to the RPX statistics to accentuate that this new study indicates that only 20% ofdecisions in 2013 involved NPE-filed cases, so the general conclusion would be that NPE cases tend to settle or be dismissed prior to a court’s decision. Admittedly, this is indicative of the prevalent “spray and pray” strategy where NPEs prefer to collect many settlement checks from several “targets” and avoid the courtroom.

In this study, who else is an NPE?

If someone were looking to dramatize the role of “trolls,” the name can be thrown around liberally (and hurtfully) to anyone who owns and asserts a patent without offering a product or a service. For instance, colleges and universities fall under the NPE umbrella as their research and development often ends with a series of published papers rather than a marketable product on an assembly line.

In fact, PwC distinguishes universities and non-profits from companies and individuals within their NPE analysis, with only about 5% of the NPE cases from 1995 to 2013 being attributed to universities and non-profits. Almost 50% of the NPE cases are attributed to an “individual,” who could be the listed inventor for the patent or a third-party assignee.

The word “troll” is obviously a derogatory term used to connote greed and hiding (under a bridge), but the term has adopted a newer, meme-like status as trolls are currently depicted as lacking any contribution to society and merely living off of others’ misfortunes and fears. [Three Billy Goats Gruff]. This is not always the truth with NPEs (e.g., universities).

No one wants to be called a troll—especially in front of a jury—so we’ve even recently seen courts bar defendants from referring to NPEs as such colorful terms as a “corporate shell,” “bounty hunter,” “privateer,” or someone “playing the lawsuit lottery.” [Judge Koh Bans Use Of Term ” Patent Troll” In Apple Jury Trial]

Regardless of the portrayal of an NPE, most people in the patent world distinguish the “trolls” by the strength of the patent, merits of the alleged infringement and their behavior upon notification. Often these are expressed as “frivolity” of the case and “gamesmanship” of the attorneys. Courts are able to punish plaintiffs who bring frivolous claims against a party and state bar associations are tasked with monitoring the ethics of attorneys. The USPTO is tasked with working to strengthen the quality of patents.

What’s the take-away from this study regarding NPEs?

The study focuses on patent litigation that produced a decision, therefore the most important and relevant conclusion is that, over the last four years, average damages awards for NPEs are more than triple the damages for practicing entities. Everything else in these articles, such as the initiation of litigation by NPEs, settlement percentages, and the general behavior of patent trolls is pure inference beyond the scope of the study.

This may sound sympathetic to trolls, but keep in mind that the study highlights that NPEs have more than triple the damages on average compared to practicing entities and it is meant to shock the reader a bit. One explanation for this is that NPEs are in the best position to choose the patents they want to assert and choose the targets they wish to sue—especially when the NPE is willing to ride that patent all the way to the end of a long, expensive trial. Sometimes settling is not an option. Chart 2b indicates that the disparity in the damages awarded to NPEs relative to practicing entities has always been big (since 2000), but perhaps going from two-fold from 2000 – 2009 to three times as much in the past 4 years indicates that NPEs are improving at finding patents and/or picking battles to take all the way to a court decision. More than anything, this seems to reflect the growth in the concept of patents as a business asset.

The PwC report is chock full of interesting patterns and trends of litigation results, so it’s a shame that the 67% number makes the headlines—far more interesting are the charts comparing success rates by 4-year periods (Chart 6b) or success rates for NPEs and practicing entities in front of a jury verusin front of a bench (Chart 6c), as well as other tables that reveal statistics for specific districts of the federal courts. Even the stats that look at the success rates of each type of NPE are telling because the reader sees that universities and non-profits have a higher success rate than non-practicing companies or individuals.

What do we do about the trolls?

The White House has recently called for Congress to do something about the trolls as horror stories of scams and shake-downs are shared. A bill was gaining momentum in the Senate, when Senator Leahy took it off the agenda in early July. That bill had miraculously passed 325-91 in the House and President Obama was willing to sign it if the Senate were to pass it. The bill was opposed by trial attorneys, universities, and bio-pharmaceutical businesses who felt as though the law would severely inhibit everyone’s access to the courts in order to hinder just the trolls. Regardless, most people think that the sitting Congressmen merely wanted a “win” prior to the mid-term elections and that patent reform is unlikely to reappear until next term.

In the meantime, the Supreme Court has recently reiterated rules concerning attorney fee-shifting on frivolous patent cases, as well as clarifying the validity of software patents. Time will tell if these changes have any effects on the damages awards that PwC’s study examined or even if they cause a chilling of the number of patent lawsuit filings.

Furthermore, new ways to challenge the validity of asserted patents have been initiated via the America Invents Act. For example, the Inter Partes Review (IPR) has yielded frightening preliminary statistics as to slowing, if not killing, patents that have been asserted in a suit. While these administrative trials are not cheap, many view these new tools at the Patent Trial and Appeals Board as anti-troll measures. It will be interesting to watch how the USPTO implements these procedures in the near future, especially while former Google counsel, Acting Director Michelle K. Lee, oversees the office.

In the private sector, Silicon Valley has recently seen a handful of tech companies come together as the License on Transfer Network, a group hoping to disarm the “Patent Assertion Entities.” Joining the LOT Network comes via an agreement that creates a license for use of a patent by anyone in the LOT network once that patent is sold. The thought is that the NPEs who consider purchasing patents from companies in the LOT Network will have fewer companies to sue since the license to the other active LOT participants will have triggered upon the transfer and, thus, the NPE will not be as inclined to “troll.” For instance, if a member-company such as Google were to sell a patent to a non-member company and an NPE bought that patent, the NPE would not be able to sue any members of the LOT Network with that patent.

Other notes

NPEs are only as evil as the people who run them—that being said, there are plenty of horror stories of small businesses receiving phantom demand letters that threaten a patent infringement suit without identifying themselves or the patent. This is an out-and-out scam and a plague on society that results in wasted time and resource, and inevitably higher prices on the consumer end.

It is a sin and a shame that patent rights can be misused in scams and shake-downs of businesses around us, but there is a reason that U.S. courts are so often used to defend patent rights. The PwC study, at minimum, reflects the high stakes of the patent market and perhaps the fragility. Nevertheless, merely monitoring the courts may not keep the trolls at bay.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

*This is provided for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal or financial advice. The information expressed is subject to change at any time and should be checked for completeness, accuracy and current applicability. For advice, consult a suitably licensed attorney or patent agent.

 

III. Large-scale analysis finds majority of clinical trials don’t provide meaningful evidence

Ineffective TreatmentsMedical Ethics • Tags: Center for Drug Evaluation and ResearchClinical trialCTTIDuke University HospitalFDAFood and Drug AdministrationNational Institutes of HealthUnited States National Library of Medicine

04 May 2012

DURHAM, N.C.— The largest comprehensive analysis of ClinicalTrials.gov finds that clinical trials are falling short of producing high-quality evidence needed to guide medical decision-making. The analysis, published today in JAMA, found the majority of clinical trials is small, and there are significant differences among methodical approaches, including randomizing, blinding and the use of data monitoring committees.

“Our analysis raises questions about the best methods for generating evidence, as well as the capacity of the clinical trials enterprise to supply sufficient amounts of high quality evidence to ensure confidence in guideline recommendations,” said Robert Califf, M.D., first author of the paper, vice chancellor for clinical research at Duke University Medical Center, and director of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute.

The analysis was conducted by the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI), a public private partnership founded by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Duke. It extends the usability of the data in ClinicalTrials.gov for research by placing the data through September 27, 2010 into a database structured to facilitate aggregate analysis. This publically accessible database facilitates the assessment of the clinical trials enterprise in a more comprehensive manner than ever before and enables the identification of trends by study type.

 

The National Library of Medicine (NLM), a part of the National Institutes of Health, developed and manages ClinicalTrials.gov. This site maintains a registry of past, current, and planned clinical research studies.

“Since 2007, the Food and Drug Administration Amendment Act has required registration of clinical trials, and the expanded scope and rigor of trial registration policies internationally is producing more complete data from around the world,” stated Deborah Zarin, MD, director, ClinicalTrials.gov, and assistant director for clinical research projects, NLM. “We have amassed over 120,000 registered clinical trials. This rich repository of data has a lot to say about the national and international research portfolio.”

This CTTI project was a collaborative effort by informaticians, statisticians and project managers from NLM, FDA and Duke. CTTI comprises more than 60 member organizations with the goal of identifying practices that will improve the quality and efficiency of clinical trials.

“Since the ClinicalTrials.gov registry contains studies sponsored by multiple entities, including government, industry, foundations and universities, CTTI leaders recognized that it might be a valuable source for benchmarking the state of the clinical trials enterprise,” stated Judith Kramer, MD, executive director of CTTI.

The project goal was to produce an easily accessible database incorporating advances in informatics to permit a detailed characterization of the body of clinical research and facilitate analysis of groups of studies by therapeutic areas, by type of sponsor, by number of participants and by many other parameters.

“Analysis of the entire portfolio will enable the many entities in the clinical trials enterprise to examine their practices in comparison with others,” says Califf. “For example, 96% of clinical trials have ≤1000 participants, and 62% have ≤ 100. While there are many excellent small clinical trials, these studies will not be able to inform patients, doctors and consumers about the choices they must make to prevent and treat disease.”

The analysis showed heterogeneity in median trial size, with cardiovascular trials tending to be twice as large as those in oncology and trials in mental health falling in the middle. It also showed major differences in the use of randomization, blinding, and data monitoring committees, critical issues often used to judge the quality of evidence for medical decisions in clinical practice guidelines and systematic overviews.

“These results reinforce the importance of exploration, analysis and inspection of our clinical trials enterprise,” said Rachel Behrman Sherman, MD, associate director for the Office of Medical Policy at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Generation of this evidence will contribute to our understanding of the number of studies in different phases of research, the therapeutic areas, and ways we can improve data collection about clinical trials, eventually improving the quality of clinical trials.”

Related articles

 

IV.  Lawmakers urge CMS to extend MU hardship exemption for pathologists

 

Eighty-nine members of Congress have asked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to give pathologists a break and extend the hardship exemption they currently enjoy for all of Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use program.In the letter–dated July 10 and addressed to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner–the lawmakers point out that CMS had recognized in its 2012 final rule implementing Stage 2 of the program that it was difficult for pathologists to meet the Meaningful Use requirements and granted a one year exception for 2015, the first year that penalties will be imposed. They now are asking that the exception be expanded to include the full five-year maximum allowed under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“Pathologists have limited direct contact with patients and do not operate in EHRs,” the letter states. “Instead, pathologists use sophisticated computerized laboratory information systems (LISs) to support the work of analyzing patient specimens and generating test results. These LISs exchange laboratory and pathology data with EHRs.”

Interestingly, the lawmakers’ exemption request is only on behalf of pathologists, even though CMS had granted the one-year hardship exception to pathologists, radiologists and anesthesiologists.

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), one of the members spearheading the letter, had also introduced a bill (H.R. 1309) in March 2013 that would exclude pathologists from the incentives and penalties of the Meaningful Use program. The bill, which has 31 cosponsors, is currently sitting in committee. That bill also does not include relief for radiologists or anesthesiologists.

CMS has provided some flexibility about the hardship exceptions in the past, most recently by allowing providers to apply for one due to EHR vendor delays in upgrading to Stage 2 of the program.

However, CMS also noted in the 2012 rule granting the one-year exception that it was granting the exception in large part because of the then-current lack of health information exchange and that “physicians in these three specialties should not expect that this exception will continue indefinitely, nor should they expect that we will grant the exception for the full 5-year period permitted by statute.”

To learn more:
– read the letter (.pdf)

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A Great University engaged in Drug Discovery: University of Pittsburgh

 

Reporter and Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

 

The US-based pharmaceutical companies have been consolidating and now are moving offshore to reduce taxes and other costs.  A part of the problem has been the large cost of clinical trials, the failure to detect toxicities in the early phases, and late phase failure or drug resistance conferring short term success.  This has been at a rate above 60%.  The result is that Big Pharma is looking to recycling old drugs for repurposing. Whatever success can be obtained from this, there is a larger problem in not having a comprehensive biological understanding of the problems imposed by the complexity on a deeper understanding.  I present here a major university, very well recognized in genetics, proteomics, and experimental pathology engaged in the drug development effort with reasonable promise of successes.

 

Perspective On: A Drug Discovery Lab

As lab manager at the University of Pittsburgh Drug Discovery Institute (UPDDI), Celeste Reese and her team use high-content imaging strategies and work with many other labs both within the university and outside the university on a wide range of projects.

By Rachel Muenz | July 03, 2014

 

We try to use new technologies and approaches and quantitative systems pharmacology (QSP) to complement the traditional drug discovery strategies

We try to use new technologies and approaches and quantitative systems pharmacology (QSP) to complement the traditional drug discovery strategies

 

 

Finding Clinically Relevant Solutions

Hard work, teamwork, and a whole lot of multitasking help this lab overcome a tough economic environment

“We try to use new technologies and approaches and quantitative systems pharmacology (QSP) to complement the traditional drug discovery strategies that are used by the large pharmacy companies,” she explains, adding that, on average, they have seven to ten active projects going on at any given time. “Right now we have a metastatic breast cancer program, a head and neck cancer project, and a Huntington’s disease project. We do some zebra fish modeling, some development of novel HIV diagnostics, liver modeling, and a variety of other things.”

Those projects take place in the institute’s 11,000 square feet of space, which covers two floors of the building the institute occupies and includes a large open lab on the top floor and an imaging lab, automation lab, and tissue culture facility on the floor below. Working in that space are 34 staff, including seven faculty, four graduate students, and five undergraduates, with the rest made up of technical specialists, administrative staff, and Reese herself. As in many other labs, staff members have a wide range of education levels—from high school for the undergrads all the way up to extensive post-doctoral experience for the faculty, Reese says, adding that staff receive quite a bit of training when they begin.

“The university has a lot of training modules that we send people to for such things as chemical hygiene, safety, and blood-borne pathogens, even things like safe shipping,” she says. “Then there are modules like conflict of interest training and research integrity training, which are also provided by the university. In-house, we train everyone on our equipment and on the procedures and protocols that we use within our institute.”

Training the grads and undergrads on those lab procedures is a big part of Reese’s role as lab manager, a task that she considers one of the highlights of the position.

“I really like working with the graduate students who come into the lab,” Reese says. “They always have a fresh perspective and they’re always challenging established protocols. They’re fresh and enthusiastic.”

The Catalyst Express robot is used to load plates onto a high-content imaging platform.It was a similar enthusiasm for science that led Reese to pursue the field in university, which led to a job in a pharmacology lab after graduation, getting her interested in the drug discovery field and—after 14 years staying home to raise her children—eventually brought her to the UPDDI, where she has worked for the past eight years.

“I’ve always loved science in general but then after college I got the job in the pharmacology lab and I just really liked experimental design and problem solving and implementation—which eventually led into the lab management position,” says Reese, who has now been lab manager at the UPDDI for four years.

Because of her enjoyment of experimenting, along with her other management duties of looking after supplies and equipment, Reese also likes to keep a hand in what’s going on in the lab.

“I keep an active role in at least one of the research projects that we have going on,” she explains. “I find that that’s very helpful in the lab management area as well, because I see key things while I’m doing experiments that I normally wouldn’t see on a walkthrough.”

Blocking out the day

Liquid nitrogen cell bank.

Liquid nitrogen cell bank.

 

 

Liquid nitrogen cell bank.For Reese, scheduling chunks of time for certain tasks is critical in ensuring she meets her goals for the day.

“Time management’s key when you’re trying to cover as many roles as it takes to do this job,” she says. “I try to keep the mornings for the lab management tasks and then the afternoons are usually taken up with meetings, experimental design and implementation, or data analysis.”

That means Reese’s mornings typically involve coming in, checking on what’s happening in the lab, looking after the ordering of supplies for the week, and attending to any equipment problems and emails. Along with meetings, her afternoons are usually taken up with running or designing experiments or analyzing data. Of course, the rest of the staff have a variety of different roles.

A few programs and regular inventory checks help keep everything organized.

“One of the big tools we have is a purchasing program that we have developed in-house—an access program that we use and a similar one for equipment reservations and things like that,” Reese says. “We do a weekly inventory. We have two stockroom areas and we have two student workers who go out and stock all the individual work areas for people every day. And then we also have written protocols and established procedures for things like routine equipment maintenance and buffer preparations and such.”

She adds that the main challenge her lab faces is the same one that many other labs face—doing more with less in the current tough economic climate. For her lab, multitasking and teamwork are a big part of solving that issue.

“We just have really talented people here,” Reese says of her staff. “Everybody takes on a variety of roles. Everybody pitches in with things like routine equipment maintenance and … rather than having one person in each job, everybody covers a variety of tasks.” Because of that strong teamwork, Reese finds she doesn’t need to do much to motivate members of the lab.

“I don’t manage people—I just try to lead by example and try to take care of any issues that come up promptly rather than put things off,” she explains. “Everybody’s pretty self-motivated and hardworking here.”

An automated compound storage system is used to store the institute’s screening libraries.

An automated compound storage system is used to store the institute’s screening libraries.

 

six separate tissue culture facilities

six separate tissue culture facilities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An automated compound storage system is used to store the institute’s screening libraries. The UPDDI has six separate tissue culture facilities equipped with biosafety cabinets, incubators, and microscopes.

The tech side

Along with the aforementioned high-content imaging, Reese’s lab also uses automated liquid handling platforms, biosensors, microfluidics, and immunofluorescence and fluorescence microscopy, and they are starting to implement 3D cell culture strategies to tackle their many projects.

“These fluorescent proteins react to the physiological changes in the cell in real time,” Reese says of the lab’s work with biosensors. “And [with] microfluidics you actually have a moving system. The system is more clinically relevant— it’s a better model for the in vivo systems.”

By “clinically relevant” Reese says she basically means the center is trying to more closely model what is actually going on in the human body, rather than relying on traditional 2D cell culture models or high throughput methods. That focus on clinically relevant methods is a result of big changes in the pharmaceutical industry in recent years.

Top 5 Instruments in the Lab

  • GE InCell6000 Imaging System
  • Agilent (Velocity 11) Bravo Liquid Handling Platform
  • Thermo Scientific Multidrop Combi Dispenser
  • PerkinElmer EnVision 2103 Multilabel Plate Reader
  • Brooks (Matrical) Ministore Automated Compound  Management System

“In the drug discovery field in general, big pharma has been using the mass-scale high throughput screening for a long time and of course now we’re coming to the patent cliff for a lot of the pharmaceutical companies, when a lot of their moneymakers are going off patent,” Reese explains. “So here, we’re trying to move away from that high throughput screening toward a more high-content [screening] where we’re looking at more clinically relevant methods and QSP approaches for drug discovery.”

And the most interesting work the lab is doing right now?

“I would say the coolest thing we have going on is a liver microphysiology project,” Reese says. “We’re making a liver biomimetic, which will be integrated with other organ biomimetics to create a human-on-a-chip for use as a model for drug toxicity and other kinds of organ analysis.”

Categories: Research-Specific Labs

Tags: Drug Discovery Labs

 

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Summary – Volume 4, Part 2: Translational Medicine in Cardiovascular Diseases


Summary – Volume 4, Part 2:  Translational Medicine in Cardiovascular Diseases

Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

 

We have covered a large amount of material that involves

  • the development,
  • application, and
  • validation of outcomes of medical and surgical procedures

that are based on translation of science from the laboratory to the bedside, improving the standards of medical practice at an accelerated pace in the last quarter century, and in the last decade.  Encouraging enabling developments have been:

1. The establishment of national and international outcomes databases for procedures by specialist medical societies

Stent Design and Thrombosis: Bifurcation Intervention, Drug Eluting Stents (DES) and Biodegrable Stents
Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/08/06/stent-design-and-thrombosis-bifurcation-intervention-drug-eluting-stents-des-and-biodegrable-stents/

On Devices and On Algorithms: Prediction of Arrhythmia after Cardiac Surgery and ECG Prediction of an Onset of Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation
Author, and Content Consultant to e-SERIES A: Cardiovascular Diseases: Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/05/07/on-devices-and-on-algorithms-arrhythmia-after-cardiac-surgery-prediction-and-ecg-prediction-of-paroxysmal-atrial-fibrillation-onset/

Mitral Valve Repair: Who is a Patient Candidate for a Non-Ablative Fully Non-Invasive Procedure?
Author, and Content Consultant to e-SERIES A: Cardiovascular Diseases: Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC and Article Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/11/04/mitral-valve-repair-who-is-a-candidate-for-a-non-ablative-fully-non-invasive-procedure/

Cardiovascular Complications: Death from Reoperative Sternotomy after prior CABG, MVR, AVR, or Radiation; Complications of PCI; Sepsis from Cardiovascular Interventions
Author, Introduction and Summary: Justin D Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC and Article Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/07/23/cardiovascular-complications-of-multiple-etiologies-repeat-sternotomy-post-cabg-or-avr-post-pci-pad-endoscopy-andor-resultant-of-systemic-sepsis/

Survivals Comparison of Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) and Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) /Coronary Angioplasty
Larry H. Bernstein, MD, Writer And Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN, Curator
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/06/23/comparison-of-cardiothoracic-bypass-and-percutaneous-interventional-catheterization-survivals/

Revascularization: PCI, Prior History of PCI vs CABG
Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/04/25/revascularization-pci-prior-history-of-pci-vs-cabg/

Outcomes in High Cardiovascular Risk Patients: Prasugrel (Effient) vs. Clopidogrel (Plavix); Aliskiren (Tekturna) added to ACE or added to ARB
Reporter and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/08/27/outcomes-in-high-cardiovascular-risk-patients-prasugrel-effient-vs-clopidogrel-plavix-aliskiren-tekturna-added-to-ace-or-added-to-arb/

Endovascular Lower-extremity Revascularization Effectiveness: Vascular Surgeons (VSs), Interventional Cardiologists (ICs) and Interventional Radiologists (IRs)
Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/08/13/coronary-artery-disease-medical-devices-solutions-from-first-in-man-stent-implantation-via-medical-ethical-dilemmas-to-drug-eluting-stents/

and more

2. The identification of problem areas, particularly in activation of the prothrombotic pathways, infection control to an extent, and targeting of pathways leading to progression or to arrythmogenic complications.

Cardiovascular Complications: Death from Reoperative Sternotomy after prior CABG, MVR, AVR, or Radiation; Complications of PCI; Sepsis from Cardiovascular Interventions Author, Introduction and Summary: Justin D Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC and Article Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/07/23/cardiovascular-complications-of-multiple-etiologies-repeat-sternotomy-post-cabg-or-avr-post-pci-pad-endoscopy-andor-resultant-of-systemic-sepsis/

Anticoagulation genotype guided dosing
Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Author and Curator
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/12/08/anticoagulation-genotype-guided-dosing/

Stent Design and Thrombosis: Bifurcation Intervention, Drug Eluting Stents (DES) and Biodegrable Stents
Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/08/06/stent-design-and-thrombosis-bifurcation-intervention-drug-eluting-stents-des-and-biodegrable-stents/

The Effects of Aprotinin on Endothelial Cell Coagulant Biology
Co-Author (Kamran Baig, MBBS, James Jaggers, MD, Jeffrey H. Lawson, MD, PhD) and Curator
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/07/20/the-effects-of-aprotinin-on-endothelial-cell-coagulant-biology/

Outcomes in High Cardiovascular Risk Patients: Prasugrel (Effient) vs. Clopidogrel (Plavix); Aliskiren (Tekturna) added to ACE or added to ARB
Reporter and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/08/27/outcomes-in-high-cardiovascular-risk-patients-prasugrel-effient-vs-clopidogrel-plavix-aliskiren-tekturna-added-to-ace-or-added-to-arb/

Pharmacogenomics – A New Method for Druggability  Author and Curator: Demet Sag, PhD
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/04/28/pharmacogenomics-a-new-method-for-druggability/

Advanced Topics in Sepsis and the Cardiovascular System at its End Stage    Author: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/08/18/advanced-topics-in-Sepsis-and-the-Cardiovascular-System-at-its-End-Stage/

3. Development of procedures that use a safer materials in vascular management.

Stent Design and Thrombosis: Bifurcation Intervention, Drug Eluting Stents (DES) and Biodegrable Stents
Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/08/06/stent-design-and-thrombosis-bifurcation-intervention-drug-eluting-stents-des-and-biodegrable-stents/

Biomaterials Technology: Models of Tissue Engineering for Reperfusion and Implantable Devices for Revascularization
Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FACP and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/05/05/bioengineering-of-vascular-and-tissue-models/

Vascular Repair: Stents and Biologically Active Implants
Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FACP and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, RN, PhD
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/05/04/stents-biologically-active-implants-and-vascular-repair/

Drug Eluting Stents: On MIT’s Edelman Lab’s Contributions to Vascular Biology and its Pioneering Research on DES
Author: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FACP and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
http://PharmaceuticalIntelligence.com/2013/04/25/Contributions-to-vascular-biology/

MedTech & Medical Devices for Cardiovascular Repair – Curations by Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/04/17/medtech-medical-devices-for-cardiovascular-repair-curation-by-aviva-lev-ari-phd-rn/

4. Discrimination of cases presenting for treatment based on qualifications for medical versus surgical intervention.

Treatment Options for Left Ventricular Failure – Temporary Circulatory Support: Intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) – Impella Recover LD/LP 5.0 and 2.5, Pump Catheters (Non-surgical) vs Bridge Therapy: Percutaneous Left Ventricular Assist Devices (pLVADs) and LVADs (Surgical)
Author: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP And Curator: Justin D Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/07/17/treatment-options-for-left-ventricular-failure-temporary-circulatory-support-intra-aortic-balloon-pump-iabp-impella-recover-ldlp-5-0-and-2-5-pump-catheters-non-surgical-vs-bridge-therapy/

Coronary Reperfusion Therapies: CABG vs PCI – Mayo Clinic preprocedure Risk Score (MCRS) for Prediction of in-Hospital Mortality after CABG or PCI
Writer and Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/06/30/mayo-risk-score-for-percutaneous-coronary-intervention/

ACC/AHA Guidelines for Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/11/05/accaha-guidelines-for-coronary-artery-bypass-graft-surgery/

Mitral Valve Repair: Who is a Patient Candidate for a Non-Ablative Fully Non-Invasive Procedure?
Author, and Content Consultant to e-SERIES A: Cardiovascular Diseases: Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC and Article Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/11/04/mitral-valve-repair-who-is-a-candidate-for-a-non-ablative-fully-non-invasive-procedure/ 

5.  This has become possible because of the advances in our knowledge of key related pathogenetic mechanisms involving gene expression and cellular regulation of complex mechanisms.

What is the key method to harness Inflammation to close the doors for many complex diseases?
Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/03/21/what-is-the-key-method-to-harness-inflammation-to-close-the-doors-for-many-complex-diseases/

CVD Prevention and Evaluation of Cardiovascular Imaging Modalities: Coronary Calcium Score by CT Scan Screening to justify or not the Use of Statin
Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/03/03/cvd-prevention-and-evaluation-of-cardiovascular-imaging-modalities-coronary-calcium-score-by-ct-scan-screening-to-justify-or-not-the-use-of-statin/

Richard Lifton, MD, PhD of Yale University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute: Recipient of 2014 Breakthrough Prizes Awarded in Life Sciences for the Discovery of Genes and Biochemical Mechanisms that cause Hypertension
Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/03/03/richard-lifton-md-phd-of-yale-university-and-howard-hughes-medical-institute-recipient-of-2014-breakthrough-prizes-awarded-in-life-sciences-for-the-discovery-of-genes-and-biochemical-mechanisms-tha/

Pathophysiological Effects of Diabetes on Ischemic-Cardiovascular Disease and on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Curator:  Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/01/15/pathophysiological-effects-of-diabetes-on-ischemic-cardiovascular-disease-and-on-chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-copd/

Atherosclerosis Independence: Genetic Polymorphisms of Ion Channels Role in the Pathogenesis of Coronary Microvascular Dysfunction and Myocardial Ischemia (Coronary Artery Disease (CAD))
Reviewer and Co-Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, CAP and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/12/21/genetic-polymorphisms-of-ion-channels-have-a-role-in-the-pathogenesis-of-coronary-microvascular-dysfunction-and-ischemic-heart-disease/

Notable Contributions to Regenerative Cardiology  Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Article Commissioner: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RD
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/10/20/notable-contributions-to-regenerative-cardiology/

As noted in the introduction, any of the material can be found and reviewed by content, and the eTOC is identified in attached:

http://wp.me/p2xfv8-1W

 

This completes what has been presented in Part 2, Vol 4 , and supporting references for the main points that are found in the Leaders in Pharmaceutical Intelligence Cardiovascular book.  Part 1 was concerned with Posttranslational Modification of Proteins, vital for understanding cellular regulation and dysregulation.  Part 2 was concerned with Translational Medical Therapeutics, the efficacy of medical and surgical decisions based on bringing the knowledge gained from the laboratory, and from clinical trials into the realm opf best practice.  The time for this to occur in practice in the past has been through roughly a generation of physicians.  That was in part related to the busy workload of physicians, and inability to easily access specialty literature as the volume and complexity increased.  This had an effect of making access of a family to a primary care provider through a lifetime less likely than the period post WWII into the 1980s.

However, the growth of knowledge has accelerated in the specialties since the 1980’s so that the use of physician referral in time became a concern about the cost of medical care.  This is not the place for or a matter for discussion here.  It is also true that the scientific advances and improvements in available technology have had a great impact on medical outcomes.  The only unrelated issue is that of healthcare delivery, which is not up to the standard set by serial advances in therapeutics, accompanied by high cost due to development costs, marketing costs, and development of drug resistance.

I shall identify continuing developments in cardiovascular diagnostics, therapeutics, and bioengineering that is and has been emerging.

1. Mechanisms of disease

REPORT: Mapping the Cellular Response to Small Molecules Using Chemogenomic Fitness Signatures 

Science 11 April 2014:
Vol. 344 no. 6180 pp. 208-211
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1250217

Abstract: Genome-wide characterization of the in vivo cellular response to perturbation is fundamental to understanding how cells survive stress. Identifying the proteins and pathways perturbed by small molecules affects biology and medicine by revealing the mechanisms of drug action. We used a yeast chemogenomics platform that quantifies the requirement for each gene for resistance to a compound in vivo to profile 3250 small molecules in a systematic and unbiased manner. We identified 317 compounds that specifically perturb the function of 121 genes and characterized the mechanism of specific compounds. Global analysis revealed that the cellular response to small molecules is limited and described by a network of 45 major chemogenomic signatures. Our results provide a resource for the discovery of functional interactions among genes, chemicals, and biological processes.

Yeasty HIPHOP

Laura Zahn
Sci. Signal. 15 April 2014; 7(321): ec103.   http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scisignal.2005362

In order to identify how chemical compounds target genes and affect the physiology of the cell, tests of the perturbations that occur when treated with a range of pharmacological chemicals are required. By examining the haploinsufficiency profiling (HIP) and homozygous profiling (HOP) chemogenomic platforms, Lee et al.(p. 208) analyzed the response of yeast to thousands of different small molecules, with genetic, proteomic, and bioinformatic analyses. Over 300 compounds were identified that targeted 121 genes within 45 cellular response signature networks. These networks were used to extrapolate the likely effects of related chemicals, their impact upon genetic pathways, and to identify putative gene functions

Key Heart Failure Culprit Discovered

A team of cardiovascular researchers from the Cardiovascular Research Center at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, and University of California, San Diego have identified a small, but powerful, new player in thIe onset and progression of heart failure. Their findings, published in the journal Nature  on March 12, also show how they successfully blocked the newly discovered culprit.
Investigators identified a tiny piece of RNA called miR-25 that blocks a gene known as SERCA2a, which regulates the flow of calcium within heart muscle cells. Decreased SERCA2a activity is one of the main causes of poor contraction of the heart and enlargement of heart muscle cells leading to heart failure.

Using a functional screening system developed by researchers at Sanford-Burnham, the research team discovered miR-25 acts pathologically in patients suffering from heart failure, delaying proper calcium uptake in heart muscle cells. According to co-lead study authors Christine Wahlquist and Dr. Agustin Rojas Muñoz, developers of the approach and researchers in Mercola’s lab at Sanford-Burnham, they used high-throughput robotics to sift through the entire genome for microRNAs involved in heart muscle dysfunction.

Subsequently, the researchers at the Cardiovascular Research Center at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found that injecting a small piece of RNA to inhibit the effects of miR-25 dramatically halted heart failure progression in mice. In addition, it also improved their cardiac function and survival.

“In this study, we have not only identified one of the key cellular processes leading to heart failure, but have also demonstrated the therapeutic potential of blocking this process,” says co-lead study author Dr. Dongtak Jeong, a post-doctoral fellow at the Cardiovascular Research Center at Icahn School of  Medicine at Mount Sinai in the laboratory of the study’s co-senior author Dr. Roger J. Hajjar.

Publication: Inhibition of miR-25 improves cardiac contractility in the failing heart.Christine Wahlquist, Dongtak Jeong, Agustin Rojas-Muñoz, Changwon Kho, Ahyoung Lee, Shinichi Mitsuyama, Alain Van Mil, Woo Jin Park, Joost P. G. Sluijter, Pieter A. F. Doevendans, Roger J. :  Hajjar & Mark Mercola.     Nature (March 2014)    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature13073.html

 

“Junk” DNA Tied to Heart Failure

Deep RNA Sequencing Reveals Dynamic Regulation of Myocardial Noncoding RNAs in Failing Human Heart and Remodeling With Mechanical Circulatory Support

Yang KC, Yamada KA, Patel AY, Topkara VK, George I, et al.
Circulation 2014;  129(9):1009-21.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.003863              http://circ.ahajournals.org/…/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.003863.full

The myocardial transcriptome is dynamically regulated in advanced heart failure and after LVAD support. The expression profiles of lncRNAs, but not mRNAs or miRNAs, can discriminate failing hearts of different pathologies and are markedly altered in response to LVAD support. These results suggest an important role for lncRNAs in the pathogenesis of heart failure and in reverse remodeling observed with mechanical support.

Junk DNA was long thought to have no important role in heredity or disease because it doesn’t code for proteins. But emerging research in recent years has revealed that many of these sections of the genome produce noncoding RNA molecules that still have important functions in the body. They come in a variety of forms, some more widely studied than others. Of these, about 90% are called long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), and exploration of their roles in health and disease is just beginning.

The Washington University group performed a comprehensive analysis of all RNA molecules expressed in the human heart. The researchers studied nonfailing hearts and failing hearts before and after patients received pump support from left ventricular assist devices (LVAD). The LVADs increased each heart’s pumping capacity while patients waited for heart transplants.

In their study, the researchers found that unlike other RNA molecules, expression patterns of long noncoding RNAs could distinguish between two major types of heart failure and between failing hearts before and after they received LVAD support.

“The myocardial transcriptome is dynamically regulated in advanced heart failure and after LVAD support. The expression profiles of lncRNAs, but not mRNAs or miRNAs, can discriminate failing hearts of different pathologies and are markedly altered in response to LVAD support,” wrote the researchers. “These results suggest an important role for lncRNAs in the pathogenesis of heart failure and in reverse remodeling observed with mechanical support.”

‘Junk’ Genome Regions Linked to Heart Failure

In a recent issue of the journal Circulation, Washington University investigators report results from the first comprehensive analysis of all RNA molecules expressed in the human heart. The researchers studied nonfailing hearts and failing hearts before and after patients received pump support from left ventricular assist devices (LVAD). The LVADs increased each heart’s pumping capacity while patients waited for heart transplants.

“We took an unbiased approach to investigating which types of RNA might be linked to heart failure,” said senior author Jeanne Nerbonne, the Alumni Endowed Professor of Molecular Biology and Pharmacology. “We were surprised to find that long noncoding RNAs stood out.

In the new study, the investigators found that unlike other RNA molecules, expression patterns of long noncoding RNAs could distinguish between two major types of heart failure and between failing hearts before and after they received LVAD support.

“We don’t know whether these changes in long noncoding RNAs are a cause or an effect of heart failure,” Nerbonne said. “But it seems likely they play some role in coordinating the regulation of multiple genes involved in heart function.”

Nerbonne pointed out that all types of RNA molecules they examined could make the obvious distinction: telling the difference between failing and nonfailing hearts. But only expression of the long noncoding RNAs was measurably different between heart failure associated with a heart attack (ischemic) and heart failure without the obvious trigger of blocked arteries (nonischemic). Similarly, only long noncoding RNAs significantly changed expression patterns after implantation of left ventricular assist devices.

Comment

Decoding the noncoding transcripts in human heart failure

Xiao XG, Touma M, Wang Y
Circulation. 2014; 129(9): 958960,  http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.007548 

Heart failure is a complex disease with a broad spectrum of pathological features. Despite significant advancement in clinical diagnosis through improved imaging modalities and hemodynamic approaches, reliable molecular signatures for better differential diagnosis and better monitoring of heart failure progression remain elusive. The few known clinical biomarkers for heart failure, such as plasma brain natriuretic peptide and troponin, have been shown to have limited use in defining the cause or prognosis of the disease.1,2 Consequently, current clinical identification and classification of heart failure remain descriptive, mostly based on functional and morphological parameters. Therefore, defining the pathogenic mechanisms for hypertrophic versus dilated or ischemic versus nonischemic cardiomyopathies in the failing heart remain a major challenge to both basic science and clinic researchers. In recent years, mechanical circulatory support using left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) has assumed a growing role in the care of patients with end-stage heart failure.3 During the earlier years of LVAD application as a bridge to transplant, it became evident that some patients exhibit substantial recovery of ventricular function, structure, and electric properties.4 This led to the recognition that reverse remodeling is potentially an achievable therapeutic goal using LVADs. However, the underlying mechanism for the reverse remodeling in the LVAD-treated hearts is unclear, and its discovery would likely hold great promise to halt or even reverse the progression of heart failure.

 

Efficacy and Safety of Dabigatran Compared With Warfarin in Relation to Baseline Renal Function in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation: A RE-LY (Randomized Evaluation of Long-term Anticoagulation Therapy) Trial Analysis

Circulation. 2014; 129: 951-952     http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/​CIR.0000000000000022

In patients with atrial fibrillation, impaired renal function is associated with a higher risk of thromboembolic events and major bleeding. Oral anticoagulation with vitamin K antagonists reduces thromboembolic events but raises the risk of bleeding. The new oral anticoagulant dabigatran has 80% renal elimination, and its efficacy and safety might, therefore, be related to renal function. In this prespecified analysis from the Randomized Evaluation of Long-Term Anticoagulant Therapy (RELY) trial, outcomes with dabigatran versus warfarin were evaluated in relation to 4 estimates of renal function, that is, equations based on creatinine levels (Cockcroft-Gault, Modification of Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD), Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemiology Collaboration [CKD-EPI]) and cystatin C. The rates of stroke or systemic embolism were lower with dabigatran 150 mg and similar with 110 mg twice daily irrespective of renal function. Rates of major bleeding were lower with dabigatran 110 mg and similar with 150 mg twice daily across the entire range of renal function. However, when the CKD-EPI or MDRD equations were used, there was a significantly greater relative reduction in major bleeding with both doses of dabigatran than with warfarin in patients with estimated glomerular filtration rate ≥80 mL/min. These findings show that dabigatran can be used with the same efficacy and adequate safety in patients with a wide range of renal function and that a more accurate estimate of renal function might be useful for improved tailoring of anticoagulant treatment in patients with atrial fibrillation and an increased risk of stroke.

Aldosterone Regulates MicroRNAs in the Cortical Collecting Duct to Alter Sodium Transport.

Robert S Edinger, Claudia Coronnello, Andrew J Bodnar, William A Laframboise, Panayiotis V Benos, Jacqueline Ho, John P Johnson, Michael B Butterworth

Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (Impact Factor: 8.99). 04/2014;     http://dx. DO.org/I:10.1681/ASN.2013090931

Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A role for microRNAs (miRs) in the physiologic regulation of sodium transport in the kidney has not been established. In this study, we investigated the potential of aldosterone to alter miR expression in mouse cortical collecting duct (mCCD) epithelial cells. Microarray studies demonstrated the regulation of miR expression by aldosterone in both cultured mCCD and isolated primary distal nephron principal cells.

Aldosterone regulation of the most significantly downregulated miRs, mmu-miR-335-3p, mmu-miR-290-5p, and mmu-miR-1983 was confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR. Reducing the expression of these miRs separately or in combination increased epithelial sodium channel (ENaC)-mediated sodium transport in mCCD cells, without mineralocorticoid supplementation. Artificially increasing the expression of these miRs by transfection with plasmid precursors or miR mimic constructs blunted aldosterone stimulation of ENaC transport.

Using a newly developed computational approach, termed ComiR, we predicted potential gene targets for the aldosterone-regulated miRs and confirmed ankyrin 3 (Ank3) as a novel aldosterone and miR-regulated protein.

A dual-luciferase assay demonstrated direct binding of the miRs with the Ank3-3′ untranslated region. Overexpression of Ank3 increased and depletion of Ank3 decreased ENaC-mediated sodium transport in mCCD cells. These findings implicate miRs as intermediaries in aldosterone signaling in principal cells of the distal kidney nephron.

 

2. Diagnostic Biomarker Status

A prospective study of the impact of serial troponin measurements on the diagnosis of myocardial infarction and hospital and 6-month mortality in patients admitted to ICU with non-cardiac diagnoses.

Marlies Ostermann, Jessica Lo, Michael Toolan, Emma Tuddenham, Barnaby Sanderson, Katie Lei, John Smith, Anna Griffiths, Ian Webb, James Coutts, John hambers, Paul Collinson, Janet Peacock, David Bennett, David Treacher

Critical care (London, England) (Impact Factor: 4.72). 04/2014; 18(2):R62.   http://dx.doi.org/:10.1186/cc13818

Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Troponin T (cTnT) elevation is common in patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and associated with morbidity and mortality. Our aim was to determine the epidemiology of raised cTnT levels and contemporaneous electrocardiogram (ECG) changes suggesting myocardial infarction (MI) in ICU patients admitted for non-cardiac reasons.
cTnT and ECGs were recorded daily during week 1 and on alternate days during week 2 until discharge from ICU or death. ECGs were interpreted independently for the presence of ischaemic changes. Patients were classified into 4 groups: (i) definite MI (cTnT >=15 ng/L and contemporaneous changes of MI on ECG), (ii) possible MI (cTnT >=15 ng/L and contemporaneous ischaemic changes on ECG), (iii) troponin rise alone (cTnT >=15 ng/L), or (iv) normal. Medical notes were screened independently by two ICU clinicians for evidence that the clinical teams had considered a cardiac event.
Data from 144 patients were analysed [42% female; mean age 61.9 (SD 16.9)]. 121 patients (84%) had at least one cTnT level >=15 ng/L. A total of 20 patients (14%) had a definite MI, 27% had a possible MI, 43% had a cTNT rise without contemporaneous ECG changes, and 16% had no cTNT rise. ICU, hospital and 180 day mortality were significantly higher in patients with a definite or possible MI.Only 20% of definite MIs were recognised by the clinical team. There was no significant difference in mortality between recognised and non-recognised events.At time of cTNT rise, 100 patients (70%) were septic and 58% were on vasopressors. Patients who were septic when cTNT was elevated had an ICU mortality of 28% compared to 9% in patients without sepsis. ICU mortality of patients who were on vasopressors at time of cTNT elevation was 37% compared to 1.7% in patients not on vasopressors.
The majority of critically ill patients (84%) had a cTnT rise and 41% met criteria for a possible or definite MI of whom only 20% were recognised clinically. Mortality up to 180 days was higher in patients with a cTnT rise.

 

Prognostic performance of high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T kinetic changes adjusted for elevated admission values and the GRACE score in an unselected emergency department population.

Moritz BienerMatthias MuellerMehrshad VafaieAllan S JaffeHugo A Katus,Evangelos Giannitsis

Clinica chimica acta; international journal of clinical chemistry (Impact Factor: 2.54). 04/2014;   http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cca.2014.04.007

Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To test the prognostic performance of rising and falling kinetic changes of high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T (hs-cTnT) and the GRACE score.
Rising and falling hs-cTnT changes in an unselected emergency department population were compared.
635 patients with a hs-cTnT >99th percentile admission value were enrolled. Of these, 572 patients qualified for evaluation with rising patterns (n=254, 44.4%), falling patterns (n=224, 39.2%), or falling patterns following an initial rise (n=94, 16.4%). During 407days of follow-up, we observed 74 deaths, 17 recurrent AMI, and 79 subjects with a composite of death/AMI. Admission values >14ng/L were associated with a higher rate of adverse outcomes (OR, 95%CI:death:12.6, 1.8-92.1, p=0.01, death/AMI:6.7, 1.6-27.9, p=0.01). Neither rising nor falling changes increased the AUC of baseline values (AUC: rising 0.562 vs 0.561, p=ns, falling: 0.533 vs 0.575, p=ns). A GRACE score ≥140 points indicated a higher risk of death (OR, 95%CI: 3.14, 1.84-5.36), AMI (OR,95%CI: 1.56, 0.59-4.17), or death/AMI (OR, 95%CI: 2.49, 1.51-4.11). Hs-cTnT changes did not improve prognostic performance of a GRACE score ≥140 points (AUC, 95%CI: death: 0.635, 0.570-0.701 vs. 0.560, 0.470-0.649 p=ns, AMI: 0.555, 0.418-0.693 vs. 0.603, 0.424-0.782, p=ns, death/AMI: 0.610, 0.545-0.676 vs. 0.538, 0.454-0.622, p=ns). Coronary angiography was performed earlier in patients with rising than with falling kinetics (median, IQR [hours]:13.7, 5.5-28.0 vs. 20.8, 6.3-59.0, p=0.01).
Neither rising nor falling hs-cTnT changes improve prognostic performance of elevated hs-cTnT admission values or the GRACE score. However, rising values are more likely associated with the decision for earlier invasive strategy.

 

Troponin assays for the diagnosis of myocardial infarction and acute coronary syndrome: where do we stand?

Arie Eisenman

ABSTRACT: Under normal circumstances, most intracellular troponin is part of the muscle contractile apparatus, and only a small percentage (< 2-8%) is free in the cytoplasm. The presence of a cardiac-specific troponin in the circulation at levels above normal is good evidence of damage to cardiac muscle cells, such as myocardial infarction, myocarditis, trauma, unstable angina, cardiac surgery or other cardiac procedures. Troponins are released as complexes leading to various cut-off values depending on the assay used. This makes them very sensitive and specific indicators of cardiac injury. As with other cardiac markers, observation of a rise and fall in troponin levels in the appropriate time-frame increases the diagnostic specificity for acute myocardial infarction. They start to rise approximately 4-6 h after the onset of acute myocardial infarction and peak at approximately 24 h, as is the case with creatine kinase-MB. They remain elevated for 7-10 days giving a longer diagnostic window than creatine kinase. Although the diagnosis of various types of acute coronary syndrome remains a clinical-based diagnosis, the use of troponin levels contributes to their classification. This Editorial elaborates on the nature of troponin, its classification, clinical use and importance, as well as comparing it with other currently available cardiac markers.

Expert Review of Cardiovascular Therapy 07/2006; 4(4):509-14.   http://dx.doi.org/:10.1586/14779072.4.4.509 

 

Impact of redefining acute myocardial infarction on incidence, management and reimbursement rate of acute coronary syndromes.

Carísi A Polanczyk, Samir Schneid, Betina V Imhof, Mariana Furtado, Carolina Pithan, Luis E Rohde, Jorge P Ribeiro

ABSTRACT: Although redefinition for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) has been proposed few years ago, to date it has not been universally adopted by many institutions. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the diagnostic, prognostic and economical impact of the new diagnostic criteria for AMI. Patients consecutively admitted to the emergency department with suspected acute coronary syndromes were enrolled in this study. Troponin T (cTnT) was measured in samples collected for routine CK-MB analyses and results were not available to physicians. Patients without AMI by traditional criteria and cTnT > or = 0.035 ng/mL were coded as redefined AMI. Clinical outcomes were hospital death, major cardiac events and revascularization procedures. In-hospital management and reimbursement rates were also analyzed. Among 363 patients, 59 (16%) patients had AMI by conventional criteria, whereas additional 75 (21%) had redefined AMI, an increase of 127% in the incidence. Patients with redefined AMI were significantly older, more frequently male, with atypical chest pain and more risk factors. In multivariate analysis, redefined AMI was associated with 3.1 fold higher hospital death (95% CI: 0.6-14) and a 5.6 fold more cardiac events (95% CI: 2.1-15) compared to those without AMI. From hospital perspective, based on DRGs payment system, adoption of AMI redefinition would increase 12% the reimbursement rate [3552 Int dollars per 100 patients evaluated]. The redefined criteria result in a substantial increase in AMI cases, and allow identification of high-risk patients. Efforts should be made to reinforce the adoption of AMI redefinition, which may result in more qualified and efficient management of ACS.

International Journal of Cardiology 03/2006; 107(2):180-7. · 5.51 Impact Factor   http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167527305005279

 

3. Biomedical Engineerin3g

Safety and Efficacy of an Injectable Extracellular Matrix Hydrogel for Treating Myocardial Infarction 

Sonya B. Seif-Naraghi, Jennifer M. Singelyn, Michael A. Salvatore,  et al.
Sci Transl Med 20 February 2013 5:173ra25  http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.3005503

Acellular biomaterials can stimulate the local environment to repair tissues without the regulatory and scientific challenges of cell-based therapies. A greater understanding of the mechanisms of such endogenous tissue repair is furthering the design and application of these biomaterials. We discuss recent progress in acellular materials for tissue repair, using cartilage and cardiac tissues as examples of application with substantial intrinsic hurdles, but where human translation is now occurring.

 Acellular Biomaterials: An Evolving Alternative to Cell-Based Therapies

J. A. Burdick, R. L. Mauck, J. H. Gorman, R. C. Gorman,
Sci. Transl. Med. 2013; 5, (176): 176 ps4    http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/5/176/176ps4

Acellular biomaterials can stimulate the local environment to repair tissues without the regulatory and scientific challenges of cell-based therapies. A greater understanding of the mechanisms of such endogenous tissue repair is furthering the design and application of these biomaterials. We discuss recent progress in acellular materials for tissue repair, using cartilage and cardiac tissues as examples of applications with substantial intrinsic hurdles, but where human translation is now occurring.


Instructive Nanofiber Scaffolds with VEGF Create a Microenvironment for Arteriogenesis and Cardiac Repair

Yi-Dong Lin, Chwan-Yau Luo, Yu-Ning Hu, Ming-Long Yeh, Ying-Chang Hsueh, Min-Yao Chang, et al.
Sci Transl Med 8 August 2012; 4(146):ra109.   http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003841

Angiogenic therapy is a promising approach for tissue repair and regeneration. However, recent clinical trials with protein delivery or gene therapy to promote angiogenesis have failed to provide therapeutic effects. A key factor for achieving effective revascularization is the durability of the microvasculature and the formation of new arterial vessels. Accordingly, we carried out experiments to test whether intramyocardial injection of self-assembling peptide nanofibers (NFs) combined with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) could create an intramyocardial microenvironment with prolonged VEGF release to improve post-infarct neovascularization in rats. Our data showed that when injected with NF, VEGF delivery was sustained within the myocardium for up to 14 days, and the side effects of systemic edema and proteinuria were significantly reduced to the same level as that of control. NF/VEGF injection significantly improved angiogenesis, arteriogenesis, and cardiac performance 28 days after myocardial infarction. NF/VEGF injection not only allowed controlled local delivery but also transformed the injected site into a favorable microenvironment that recruited endogenous myofibroblasts and helped achieve effective revascularization. The engineered vascular niche further attracted a new population of cardiomyocyte-like cells to home to the injected sites, suggesting cardiomyocyte regeneration. Follow-up studies in pigs also revealed healing benefits consistent with observations in rats. In summary, this study demonstrates a new strategy for cardiovascular repair with potential for future clinical translation.

Manufacturing Challenges in Regenerative Medicine

I. Martin, P. J. Simmons, D. F. Williams.
Sci. Transl. Med. 2014; 6(232): fs16.   http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.3008558

Along with scientific and regulatory issues, the translation of cell and tissue therapies in the routine clinical practice needs to address standardization and cost-effectiveness through the definition of suitable manufacturing paradigms.

 

 

 

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Summary of Translational Medicine – e-Series A: Cardiovascular Diseases, Volume Four – Part 1


Summary of Translational Medicine – e-Series A: Cardiovascular Diseases, Volume Four – Part 1

Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

and

Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

Part 1 of Volume 4 in the e-series A: Cardiovascular Diseases and Translational Medicine, provides a foundation for grasping a rapidly developing surging scientific endeavor that is transcending laboratory hypothesis testing and providing guidelines to:

  • Target genomes and multiple nucleotide sequences involved in either coding or in regulation that might have an impact on complex diseases, not necessarily genetic in nature.
  • Target signaling pathways that are demonstrably maladjusted, activated or suppressed in many common and complex diseases, or in their progression.
  • Enable a reduction in failure due to toxicities in the later stages of clinical drug trials as a result of this science-based understanding.
  • Enable a reduction in complications from the improvement of machanical devices that have already had an impact on the practice of interventional procedures in cardiology, cardiac surgery, and radiological imaging, as well as improving laboratory diagnostics at the molecular level.
  • Enable the discovery of new drugs in the continuing emergence of drug resistance.
  • Enable the construction of critical pathways and better guidelines for patient management based on population outcomes data, that will be critically dependent on computational methods and large data-bases.

What has been presented can be essentially viewed in the following Table:

 

Summary Table for TM - Part 1

Summary Table for TM – Part 1

 

 

 

There are some developments that deserve additional development:

1. The importance of mitochondrial function in the activity state of the mitochondria in cellular work (combustion) is understood, and impairments of function are identified in diseases of muscle, cardiac contraction, nerve conduction, ion transport, water balance, and the cytoskeleton – beyond the disordered metabolism in cancer.  A more detailed explanation of the energetics that was elucidated based on the electron transport chain might also be in order.

2. The processes that are enabling a more full application of technology to a host of problems in the environment we live in and in disease modification is growing rapidly, and will change the face of medicine and its allied health sciences.

 

Electron Transport and Bioenergetics

Deferred for metabolomics topic

Synthetic Biology

Introduction to Synthetic Biology and Metabolic Engineering

Kristala L. J. Prather: Part-1    <iBiology > iBioSeminars > Biophysics & Chemical Biology >

http://www.ibiology.org Lecturers generously donate their time to prepare these lectures. The project is funded by NSF and NIGMS, and is supported by the ASCB and HHMI.
Dr. Prather explains that synthetic biology involves applying engineering principles to biological systems to build “biological machines”.

Dr. Prather has received numerous awards both for her innovative research and for excellence in teaching.  Learn more about how Kris became a scientist at
Prather 1: Synthetic Biology and Metabolic Engineering  2/6/14IntroductionLecture Overview In the first part of her lecture, Dr. Prather explains that synthetic biology involves applying engineering principles to biological systems to build “biological machines”. The key material in building these machines is synthetic DNA. Synthetic DNA can be added in different combinations to biological hosts, such as bacteria, turning them into chemical factories that can produce small molecules of choice. In Part 2, Prather describes how her lab used design principles to engineer E. coli that produce glucaric acid from glucose. Glucaric acid is not naturally produced in bacteria, so Prather and her colleagues “bioprospected” enzymes from other organisms and expressed them in E. coli to build the needed enzymatic pathway. Prather walks us through the many steps of optimizing the timing, localization and levels of enzyme expression to produce the greatest yield. Speaker Bio: Kristala Jones Prather received her S.B. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her PhD at the University of California, Berkeley both in chemical engineering. Upon graduation, Prather joined the Merck Research Labs for 4 years before returning to academia. Prather is now an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT and an investigator with the multi-university Synthetic Biology Engineering Reseach Center (SynBERC). Her lab designs and constructs novel synthetic pathways in microorganisms converting them into tiny factories for the production of small molecules. Dr. Prather has received numerous awards both for her innovative research and for excellence in teaching.

VIEW VIDEOS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ndThuqVumAk#t=0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ndThuqVumAk#t=12

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ndThuqVumAk#t=74

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ndThuqVumAk#t=129

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ndThuqVumAk#t=168

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ndThuqVumAk

 

II. Regulatory Effects of Mammalian microRNAs

Calcium Cycling in Synthetic and Contractile Phasic or Tonic Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells

in INTECH
Current Basic and Pathological Approaches to
the Function of Muscle Cells and Tissues – From Molecules to HumansLarissa Lipskaia, Isabelle Limon, Regis Bobe and Roger Hajjar
Additional information is available at the end of the chapter
http://dx.doi.org/10.5772/48240
1. Introduction
Calcium ions (Ca ) are present in low concentrations in the cytosol (~100 nM) and in high concentrations (in mM range) in both the extracellular medium and intracellular stores (mainly sarco/endo/plasmic reticulum, SR). This differential allows the calcium ion messenger that carries information
as diverse as contraction, metabolism, apoptosis, proliferation and/or hypertrophic growth. The mechanisms responsible for generating a Ca signal greatly differ from one cell type to another.
In the different types of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC), enormous variations do exist with regard to the mechanisms responsible for generating Ca signal. In each VSMC phenotype (synthetic/proliferating and contractile [1], tonic or phasic), the Ca signaling system is adapted to its particular function and is due to the specific patterns of expression and regulation of Ca.
For instance, in contractile VSMCs, the initiation of contractile events is driven by mem- brane depolarization; and the principal entry-point for extracellular Ca is the voltage-operated L-type calcium channel (LTCC). In contrast, in synthetic/proliferating VSMCs, the principal way-in for extracellular Ca is the store-operated calcium (SOC) channel.
Whatever the cell type, the calcium signal consists of  limited elevations of cytosolic free calcium ions in time and space. The calcium pump, sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca ATPase (SERCA), has a critical role in determining the frequency of SR Ca release by upload into the sarcoplasmic
sensitivity of  SR calcium channels, Ryanodin Receptor, RyR and Inositol tri-Phosphate Receptor, IP3R.
Synthetic VSMCs have a fibroblast appearance, proliferate readily, and synthesize increased levels of various extracellular matrix components, particularly fibronectin, collagen types I and III, and tropoelastin [1].
Contractile VSMCs have a muscle-like or spindle-shaped appearance and well-developed contractile apparatus resulting from the expression and intracellular accumulation of thick and thin muscle filaments [1].
Schematic representation of Calcium Cycling in Contractile and Proliferating VSMCs

Schematic representation of Calcium Cycling in Contractile and Proliferating VSMCs

 

Figure 1. Schematic representation of Calcium Cycling in Contractile and Proliferating VSMCs.

Left panel: schematic representation of calcium cycling in quiescent /contractile VSMCs. Contractile re-sponse is initiated by extracellular Ca influx due to activation of Receptor Operated Ca (through phosphoinositol-coupled receptor) or to activation of L-Type Calcium channels (through an increase in luminal pressure). Small increase of cytosolic due IP3 binding to IP3R (puff) or RyR activation by LTCC or ROC-dependent Ca influx leads to large SR Ca IP3R or RyR clusters (“Ca -induced Ca SR calcium pumps (both SERCA2a and SERCA2b are expressed in quiescent VSMCs), maintaining high concentration of cytosolic Ca and setting the sensitivity of RyR or IP3R for the next spike.
Contraction of VSMCs occurs during oscillatory Ca transient.
Middle panel: schematic representa tion of atherosclerotic vessel wall. Contractile VSMC are located in the media layer, synthetic VSMC are located in sub-endothelial intima.
Right panel: schematic representation of calcium cycling in quiescent /contractile VSMCs. Agonist binding to phosphoinositol-coupled receptor leads to the activation of IP3R resulting in large increase in cytosolic Ca calcium pumps (only SERCA2b, having low turnover and low affinity to Ca depletion leads to translocation of SR Ca sensor STIM1 towards PM, resulting in extracellular Ca influx though opening of Store Operated Channel (CRAC). Resulted steady state Ca transient is critical for activation of proliferation-related transcription factors ‘NFAT).
Abbreviations: PLC – phospholipase C; PM – plasma membrane; PP2B – Ca /calmodulin-activated protein phosphatase 2B (calcineurin); ROC- receptor activated channel; IP3 – inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate, IP3R – inositol-1,4,5- trisphosphate receptor; RyR – ryanodine receptor; NFAT – nuclear factor of activated T-lymphocytes; VSMC – vascular smooth muscle cells; SERCA – sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca sarcoplasmic reticulum.

 

Time for New DNA Synthesis and Sequencing Cost Curves

By Rob Carlson

I’ll start with the productivity plot, as this one isn’t new. For a discussion of the substantial performance increase in sequencing compared to Moore’s Law, as well as the difficulty of finding this data, please see this post. If nothing else, keep two features of the plot in mind: 1) the consistency of the pace of Moore’s Law and 2) the inconsistency and pace of sequencing productivity. Illumina appears to be the primary driver, and beneficiary, of improvements in productivity at the moment, especially if you are looking at share prices. It looks like the recently announced NextSeq and Hiseq instruments will provide substantially higher productivities (hand waving, I would say the next datum will come in another order of magnitude higher), but I think I need a bit more data before officially putting another point on the plot.

 

cost-of-oligo-and-gene-synthesis

cost-of-oligo-and-gene-synthesis

Illumina’s instruments are now responsible for such a high percentage of sequencing output that the company is effectively setting prices for the entire industry. Illumina is being pushed by competition to increase performance, but this does not necessarily translate into lower prices. It doesn’t behoove Illumina to drop prices at this point, and we won’t see any substantial decrease until a serious competitor shows up and starts threatening Illumina’s market share. The absence of real competition is the primary reason sequencing prices have flattened out over the last couple of data points.

Note that the oligo prices above are for column-based synthesis, and that oligos synthesized on arrays are much less expensive. However, array synthesis comes with the usual caveat that the quality is generally lower, unless you are getting your DNA from Agilent, which probably means you are getting your dsDNA from Gen9.

Note also that the distinction between the price of oligos and the price of double-stranded sDNA is becoming less useful. Whether you are ordering from Life/Thermo or from your local academic facility, the cost of producing oligos is now, in most cases, independent of their length. That’s because the cost of capital (including rent, insurance, labor, etc) is now more significant than the cost of goods. Consequently, the price reflects the cost of capital rather than the cost of goods. Moreover, the cost of the columns, reagents, and shipping tubes is certainly more than the cost of the atoms in the sDNA you are ostensibly paying for. Once you get into longer oligos (substantially larger than 50-mers) this relationship breaks down and the sDNA is more expensive. But, at this point in time, most people aren’t going to use longer oligos to assemble genes unless they have a tricky job that doesn’t work using short oligos.

Looking forward, I suspect oligos aren’t going to get much cheaper unless someone sorts out how to either 1) replace the requisite human labor and thereby reduce the cost of capital, or 2) finally replace the phosphoramidite chemistry that the industry relies upon.

IDT’s gBlocks come at prices that are constant across quite substantial ranges in length. Moreover, part of the decrease in price for these products is embedded in the fact that you are buying smaller chunks of DNA that you then must assemble and integrate into your organism of choice.

Someone who has purchased and assembled an absolutely enormous amount of sDNA over the last decade, suggested that if prices fell by another order of magnitude, he could switch completely to outsourced assembly. This is a potentially interesting “tipping point”. However, what this person really needs is sDNA integrated in a particular way into a particular genome operating in a particular host. The integration and testing of the new genome in the host organism is where most of the cost is. Given the wide variety of emerging applications, and the growing array of hosts/chassis, it isn’t clear that any given technology or firm will be able to provide arbitrary synthetic sequences incorporated into arbitrary hosts.

 TrackBack URL: http://www.synthesis.cc/cgi-bin/mt/mt-t.cgi/397

 

Startup to Strengthen Synthetic Biology and Regenerative Medicine Industries with Cutting Edge Cell Products

28 Nov 2013 | PR Web

Dr. Jon Rowley and Dr. Uplaksh Kumar, Co-Founders of RoosterBio, Inc., a newly formed biotech startup located in Frederick, are paving the way for even more innovation in the rapidly growing fields of Synthetic Biology and Regenerative Medicine. Synthetic Biology combines engineering principles with basic science to build biological products, including regenerative medicines and cellular therapies. Regenerative medicine is a broad definition for innovative medical therapies that will enable the body to repair, replace, restore and regenerate damaged or diseased cells, tissues and organs. Regenerative therapies that are in clinical trials today may enable repair of damaged heart muscle following heart attack, replacement of skin for burn victims, restoration of movement after spinal cord injury, regeneration of pancreatic tissue for insulin production in diabetics and provide new treatments for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, to name just a few applications.

While the potential of the field is promising, the pace of development has been slow. One main reason for this is that the living cells required for these therapies are cost-prohibitive and not supplied at volumes that support many research and product development efforts. RoosterBio will manufacture large quantities of standardized primary cells at high quality and low cost, which will quicken the pace of scientific discovery and translation to the clinic. “Our goal is to accelerate the development of products that incorporate living cells by providing abundant, affordable and high quality materials to researchers that are developing and commercializing these regenerative technologies” says Dr. Rowley

 

Life at the Speed of Light

http://kcpw.org/?powerpress_pinw=92027-podcast

NHMU Lecture featuring – J. Craig Venter, Ph.D.
Founder, Chairman, and CEO – J. Craig Venter Institute; Co-Founder and CEO, Synthetic Genomics Inc.

J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., is Founder, Chairman, and CEO of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JVCI), a not-for-profit, research organization dedicated to human, microbial, plant, synthetic and environmental research. He is also Co-Founder and CEO of Synthetic Genomics Inc. (SGI), a privately-held company dedicated to commercializing genomic-driven solutions to address global needs.

In 1998, Dr. Venter founded Celera Genomics to sequence the human genome using new tools and techniques he and his team developed.  This research culminated with the February 2001 publication of the human genome in the journal, Science. Dr. Venter and his team at JVCI continue to blaze new trails in genomics.  They have sequenced and a created a bacterial cell constructed with synthetic DNA,  putting humankind at the threshold of a new phase of biological research.  Whereas, we could  previously read the genetic code (sequencing genomes), we can now write the genetic code for designing new species.

The science of synthetic genomics will have a profound impact on society, including new methods for chemical and energy production, human health and medical advances, clean water, and new food and nutritional products. One of the most prolific scientists of the 21st century for his numerous pioneering advances in genomics,  he  guides us through this emerging field, detailing its origins, current challenges, and the potential positive advances.

His work on synthetic biology truly embodies the theme of “pushing the boundaries of life.”  Essentially, Venter is seeking to “write the software of life” to create microbes designed by humans rather than only through evolution. The potential benefits and risks of this new technology are enormous. It also requires us to examine, both scientifically and philosophically, the question of “What is life?”

J Craig Venter wants to digitize DNA and transmit the signal to teleport organisms

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/11/01/j-craig-venter-wants-to-digitize-dna-and-transmit-the-signal-to-teleport-organisms/

2013 Genomics: The Era Beyond the Sequencing of the Human Genome: Francis Collins, Craig Venter, Eric Lander, et al.

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/02/11/2013-genomics-the-era-beyond-the-sequencing-human-genome-francis-collins-craig-venter-eric-lander-et-al/

Human Longevity Inc (HLI) – $70M in Financing of Venter’s New Integrative Omics and Clinical Bioinformatics

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/03/05/human-longevity-inc-hli-70m-in-financing-of-venters-new-integrative-omics-and-clinical-bioinformatics/

 

 

Where Will the Century of Biology Lead Us?

By Randall Mayes

A technology trend analyst offers an overview of synthetic biology, its potential applications, obstacles to its development, and prospects for public approval.

  • In addition to boosting the economy, synthetic biology projects currently in development could have profound implications for the future of manufacturing, sustainability, and medicine.
  • Before society can fully reap the benefits of synthetic biology, however, the field requires development and faces a series of hurdles in the process. Do researchers have the scientific know-how and technical capabilities to develop the field?

Biology + Engineering = Synthetic Biology

Bioengineers aim to build synthetic biological systems using compatible standardized parts that behave predictably. Bioengineers synthesize DNA parts—oligonucleotides composed of 50–100 base pairs—which make specialized components that ultimately make a biological system. As biology becomes a true engineering discipline, bioengineers will create genomes using mass-produced modular units similar to the microelectronics and computer industries.

Currently, bioengineering projects cost millions of dollars and take years to develop products. For synthetic biology to become a Schumpeterian revolution, smaller companies will need to be able to afford to use bioengineering concepts for industrial applications. This will require standardized and automated processes.

A major challenge to developing synthetic biology is the complexity of biological systems. When bioengineers assemble synthetic parts, they must prevent cross talk between signals in other biological pathways. Until researchers better understand these undesired interactions that nature has already worked out, applications such as gene therapy will have unwanted side effects. Scientists do not fully understand the effects of environmental and developmental interaction on gene expression. Currently, bioengineers must repeatedly use trial and error to create predictable systems.

Similar to physics, synthetic biology requires the ability to model systems and quantify relationships between variables in biological systems at the molecular level.

The second major challenge to ensuring the success of synthetic biology is the development of enabling technologies. With genomes having billions of nucleotides, this requires fast, powerful, and cost-efficient computers. Moore’s law, named for Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, posits that computing power progresses at a predictable rate and that the number of components in integrated circuits doubles each year until its limits are reached. Since Moore’s prediction, computer power has increased at an exponential rate while pricing has declined.

DNA sequencers and synthesizers are necessary to identify genes and make synthetic DNA sequences. Bioengineer Robert Carlson calculated that the capabilities of DNA sequencers and synthesizers have followed a pattern similar to computing. This pattern, referred to as the Carlson Curve, projects that scientists are approaching the ability to sequence a human genome for $1,000, perhaps in 2020. Carlson calculated that the costs of reading and writing new genes and genomes are falling by a factor of two every 18–24 months. (see recent Carlson comment on requirement to read and write for a variety of limiting  conditions).

Startup to Strengthen Synthetic Biology and Regenerative Medicine Industries with Cutting Edge Cell Products

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/11/28/startup-to-strengthen-synthetic-biology-and-regenerative-medicine-industries-with-cutting-edge-cell-products/

Synthetic Biology: On Advanced Genome Interpretation for Gene Variants and Pathways: What is the Genetic Base of Atherosclerosis and Loss of Arterial Elasticity with Aging

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/05/17/synthetic-biology-on-advanced-genome-interpretation-for-gene-variants-and-pathways-what-is-the-genetic-base-of-atherosclerosis-and-loss-of-arterial-elasticity-with-aging/

Synthesizing Synthetic Biology: PLOS Collections

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/08/17/synthesizing-synthetic-biology-plos-collections/

Capturing ten-color ultrasharp images of synthetic DNA structures resembling numerals 0 to 9

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/02/05/capturing-ten-color-ultrasharp-images-of-synthetic-dna-structures-resembling-numerals-0-to-9/

Silencing Cancers with Synthetic siRNAs

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/12/09/silencing-cancers-with-synthetic-sirnas/

Genomics Now—and Beyond the Bubble

Futurists have touted the twenty-first century as the century of biology based primarily on the promise of genomics. Medical researchers aim to use variations within genes as biomarkers for diseases, personalized treatments, and drug responses. Currently, we are experiencing a genomics bubble, but with advances in understanding biological complexity and the development of enabling technologies, synthetic biology is reviving optimism in many fields, particularly medicine.

BY MICHAEL BROOKS    17 APR, 2014     http://www.newstatesman.com/

Michael Brooks holds a PhD in quantum physics. He writes a weekly science column for the New Statesman, and his most recent book is The Secret Anarchy of Science.

The basic idea is that we take an organism – a bacterium, say – and re-engineer its genome so that it does something different. You might, for instance, make it ingest carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, process it and excrete crude oil.

That project is still under construction, but others, such as using synthesised DNA for data storage, have already been achieved. As evolution has proved, DNA is an extraordinarily stable medium that can preserve information for millions of years. In 2012, the Harvard geneticist George Church proved its potential by taking a book he had written, encoding it in a synthesised strand of DNA, and then making DNA sequencing machines read it back to him.

When we first started achieving such things it was costly and time-consuming and demanded extraordinary resources, such as those available to the millionaire biologist Craig Venter. Venter’s team spent most of the past two decades and tens of millions of dollars creating the first artificial organism, nicknamed “Synthia”. Using computer programs and robots that process the necessary chemicals, the team rebuilt the genome of the bacterium Mycoplasma mycoides from scratch. They also inserted a few watermarks and puzzles into the DNA sequence, partly as an identifying measure for safety’s sake, but mostly as a publicity stunt.

What they didn’t do was redesign the genome to do anything interesting. When the synthetic genome was inserted into an eviscerated bacterial cell, the new organism behaved exactly the same as its natural counterpart. Nevertheless, that Synthia, as Venter put it at the press conference to announce the research in 2010, was “the first self-replicating species we’ve had on the planet whose parent is a computer” made it a standout achievement.

Today, however, we have entered another era in synthetic biology and Venter faces stiff competition. The Steve Jobs to Venter’s Bill Gates is Jef Boeke, who researches yeast genetics at New York University.

Boeke wanted to redesign the yeast genome so that he could strip out various parts to see what they did. Because it took a private company a year to complete just a small part of the task, at a cost of $50,000, he realised he should go open-source. By teaching an undergraduate course on how to build a genome and teaming up with institutions all over the world, he has assembled a skilled workforce that, tinkering together, has made a synthetic chromosome for baker’s yeast.

 

Stepping into DIYbio and Synthetic Biology at ScienceHack

Posted April 22, 2014 by Heather McGaw and Kyrie Vala-Webb

We got a crash course on genetics and protein pathways, and then set out to design and build our own pathways using both the “Genomikon: Violacein Factory” kit and Synbiota platform. With Synbiota’s software, we dragged and dropped the enzymes to create the sequence that we were then going to build out. After a process of sketching ideas, mocking up pathways, and writing hypotheses, we were ready to start building!

The night stretched long, and at midnight we were forced to vacate the school. Not quite finished, we loaded our delicate bacteria, incubator, and boxes of gloves onto the bus and headed back to complete our bacterial transformation in one of our hotel rooms. Jammed in between the beds and the mini-fridge, we heat-shocked our bacteria in the hotel ice bucket. It was a surreal moment.

While waiting for our bacteria, we held an “unconference” where we explored bioethics, security and risk related to synthetic biology, 3D printing on Mars, patterns in juggling (with live demonstration!), and even did a Google Hangout with Rob Carlson. Every few hours, we would excitedly check in on our bacteria, looking for bacterial colonies and the purple hue characteristic of violacein.

Most impressive was the wildly successful and seamless integration of a diverse set of people: in a matter of hours, we were transformed from individual experts and practitioners in assorted fields into cohesive and passionate teams of DIY biologists and science hackers. The ability of everyone to connect and learn was a powerful experience, and over the course of just one weekend we were able to challenge each other and grow.

Returning to work on Monday, we were hungry for more. We wanted to find a way to bring the excitement and energy from the weekend into the studio and into the projects we’re working on. It struck us that there are strong parallels between design and DIYbio, and we knew there was an opportunity to bring some of the scientific approaches and curiosity into our studio.

 

 

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Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP, reporter and curator

htto://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013-12-07/larryhbern/Advances-in-Stem-Cell-Research

The amount of success in stem cell research and recent successes is notable.

GEN News  Dec 5, 2013
Stem Cell Leaders Call for Human Embryome Project

Just as an international consortium was formed to map and sequence the human genome, now a group of stem cell and regenerative medicine scientists say it’s critical that such an effort be ramped up to do a similar project focused on the human embryome.

This was the key message of a panel discussion, “From Mapping the Genome to Mapping the Embryome: The Urgent Need for an International Initiative,” moderated by Michael West, Ph.D., CEO of Biotime. It took place at the World Stem Cell Summit, which is taking place this week in San Diego.

“It is becoming increasingly clear in regenerative medicine that pluripotent stem cells, embryonic stem cells, and IPs cells will be as fundamentally important to medicine as was DNA. Maybe even bigger because you can genetically engineer these cells,” said Dr. West.

Dr. West and his colleagues adamantly believe that there needs to be a large international effort aimed at mapping the cellular and molecular basis of all human life starting with the fertilized egg and working its way up to the body of the adult. This is what it is termed the embryome.

“The opportunity presented by pluripotent stem cells to manufacture for the first time in the history of medicine all of the cellular components of the human body on an industrial scale is at once both an opportunity and a challenge,” said Dr. West. “The opportunity is to build a new field we call regenerative medicine in which many currently incurable diseases are treated with cells capable of regenerating tissues afflicted with disease. The challenge relates to the complexity of the cell types in the body and our ability to manufacture products with precisely defined compositions for human clinical use.”

Dr. West went on to say that to get these different types of stem cells into the clinic, and approved by the FDA, researchers will fully need to understand all aspects of the biology of these cells. An identification and understanding of any contaminating cells will also be essential to success in this field. The question to ask is “What is in the syringe?”

Unlike recombinant DNA, continued Dr. West, the contaminants in pluripotent stem cells are alive and may make things that are undesirable at the intended point of therapy. For example, you might have a bioreactor full of cells that are making heart muscle to regenerate heart function in a patient. But you have to be careful that your cells are not contaminated with neural crest cells from the head area which could generate a tooth along with the heart muscle.

“These contaminants, if you do not remove them, can lead to years of delay in filing an IND and a runup in costs as you try to identify these cells,” explained Dr. West.

The major problem in identifying them, according to Dr. West, is that no one has ever mapped the molecular markers or even a rudimentary cell ontology tree, i.e., mapped out the tree from the fertilized egg to the cells of the human body.

“If [there were] a detailed map of all the cellular and molecular components of life from the fertilized egg to adulthood, and then databased in a manner to the information in the human genome, medicine would be the true beneficiary,” added Dr. West. “That’s why we have made this call for an international initiative.”

Also, watch our video “A Brief History of Stem Cells” to see a timeline spanning over 60 years of stem cell research.

Mary Ann Liebert Wins Stem Cell Education Award

Mary Ann Liebert, president and CEO of Mary Ann Liebert Inc., and publisher of GEN, was presented with the Stem Cell Education Award by the Genetics Policy Institute. The award was given during a ceremony at dinner which took place at the World Stem Cell Summit, which is being held in San Diego this week.

Liebert was cited for her outstanding “work in educating patients, researchers, and the broader stem cell community, and in raising the standard in medical research journalism.” Among the seventy journals the Liebert company publishes is the peer-reviewed Stem Cells and Development.

In her acceptance speech Liebert told the audience that she was extremely gratified in being so recognized and thanked the entire staff at her company for their dedication in helping to promote excellence in medical publishing.

In his introductory remarks during the award ceremony GEN’s long-time editor in chief John Sterling noted that Mary Ann always encourages her editors and writers “to inform, enlighten when they can, and educate as much as possible.”

Sterling added that while she started her company 33 years ago her vision for her publications remains the same: “to help advance our knowledge of science and medicine in the best ways possible.”

 

Neural Precursors “Cure MS” in Mice

During a session at the this week’s World Stem Cell Summit in San Diego, an international research team described an “astonishing” experiment in which a mouse model of multiple sclerosis was able to virtually totally recover and move normally after being transplanted with human neural precursor cells (hNPC). The scientists were able to show almost full recovery in the mice up to six months later.

The investigators, led by Jeanne Loring, Ph.D., from the Scripps Research Institute, included scientists from the University of California, Irvine and a group from Australia.

“Our goal was to demonstrate cell therapy for MS,” Dr. Loring told the audience.

According to Ronald Coleman, a graduate student working with Dr. Loring and who is at UC-Irvine, the team used mice infected with a neurotropic JHM variant of mouse hepatitis virus (JHMV) as a model for MS. They injected hNPCs derived from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC) into the mice to explore treatment options for the disease.

The results were indeed astonishing, said Dr. Loring. Non-control mice were able to move about in a manner that can be described as consistent and long lasting. T-cell proliferation was reduced and T regulatory cell induction took place. The spinal cords of the mice not only did not undergo further demyelination but actually exhibited remyelination. The control mice dragged their legs around when they tried to move.

“The only problem was that the hNPCs themselves are not directly responsible for the cure. They are not even there when the mice start walking,” explained Dr. Loring. “Those cells are rejected after seven days and we start to see a therapeutic response in three weeks.”

Both Dr. Loring and Coleman believe that the hNPCs are secreting proteins, like cytokines, that do the actual repair work in the CNS of the mice.

“We identified a set of candidate proteins secreted by hNPCs and not by undifferentiated pluripotent stem cells,” continued Dr. Loring, who said the team plans to continue building on this initial research.

 

World Stem Cell Summit: December 4, 2013 Update

GEN is on the scene at the World Stem Cell Summit in San Diego. Here are some highlights from the conference so far:

Bernard Siegel, J.D., founder and co-chair of the World Stem Cell Summit (WSCS) and executive director of Genetics Policy Institute, today welcomed attendees of WSCS 2013, being held December 4–6, in San Diego, CA.

“Stem cell science represents, to those afflicted with chronic disease, a vehicle for modeling disease and therapeutic development,” states Siegel in World Stem Cell Report 2013, a supplement to Stem Cells and Development (2013;22;Suppl1). “The field is a true scientific revolution and reflects the transformative power of hope, a powerful engine for progress.”

“The future is here now,” says Mahendra Rao, M.D., Ph.D., director, NIH Center for Regenerative Medicine, who delivered a plenary keynote and moderated the plenary panel discussion, “How Stem Cells are Transforming Medicine.” Cell therapies have been used to treat people safely and effectively; the technical barriers have been addressed. The challenge now is to reduce the cost of manufacturing. To drive routine adoption of cell therapy it must be cost effective and must demonstrate more than incremental benefit, according to Dr. Rao.

Professor Teruo Okano, Ph.D., Tokyo Women’s Medical University, described his group’s Cell Sheet Tissue Engineering strategy that involves enzymatic membrane disruption during cell harvesting and growth of an autologous cell sheet for transplantation on an “intelligent surface” that reversibly changes properties from hydrophobic to hydrophilic with a reversible in temperature from 37°C to 20°C. Dr. Okano further described the development of an automatic tissue factory and thick tissue evaluation system for fully automated, industrialized GMP cell processing.

Andre Terzic, M.D., Ph.D., Center for Regenerative Medicine, Mayo Clinic, noted during the opening session of the WSCS that “the Mayo Clinic has embraced regenerative medicine as a strategy for the future of medicine,” and he described their blueprint for moving from knowledge to delivery of treatments and procedures. Education is a critical dimension of this process. Another important component, according to Dr. Terzic, is the Regenerative Medicine Biotrust, in which “the patient is the center of the solution” to develop combinations of diagnostics and therapeutics and conduct clinical trials.

Regardless of the outcomes of current or future clinical trials, “I would argue that we have already seen breakthroughs,” said Evan Snyder, Ph.D., Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, as stem cells “have completely changed the way medicine thinks about disease and development.” They have led to new views on plasticity and regeneration and the development of different types of drug targets.

WSCS 2013 is organized by the Genetics Policy Institute (GPI), California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences at Kyoto University (iCeMS), Mayo Clinic, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, and The Scripps Research Institute. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. publishers and Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) are sponsors of the summit.

Drug Testing Should Be with Human iPS Cells
Fri, 12/06/2013 – drug discovery & development  (DDD)

Once established such neural stem cells can be used to continuously generate neurons for drug testing and disease modeling. Depicted is an immunofluorescence staining where proteins characteristic of neural stem cells are labeled with fluorescing antibodies (Nestin in green, Dach1 in red). (Source: Jerome Mertens / Uni Bonn)Once established such neural stem cells can be used to continuously generate neurons for drug testing and disease modeling. Depicted is an immunofluorescence staining where proteins characteristic of neural stem cells are labeled with fluorescing antibodies (Nestin in green, Dach1 in red). (Source: Jerome Mertens / Uni Bonn)Why do certain Alzheimer medications work in animal models but not in clinical trials in humans? A research team from the University of Bonn and the biomedical enterprise Life & Brain GmbH has been able to show that results of established test methods with animal models and cell lines used up until now can hardly be translated to the processes in the human brain. Drug testing should therefore be conducted with human nerve cells, conclude the scientists. The results are published by Cell Press in the journal Stem Cell Reports.

In the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, deposits form that consist essentially of beta-amyloid and are harmful to nerve cells. Scientists are therefore searching for pharmaceutical compounds that prevent the formation of these dangerous aggregates. In animal models, certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were found to a reduced formation of harmful beta-amyloid variants. Yet, in subsequent clinical studies, these NSAIDs failed to elicit any beneficial effects.

“The reasons for these negative results have remained unclear for a long time”, said Oliver Brüstle, director of the Institute for Reconstructive Neurobiology of the University of Bonn and CEO of Life & Brain GmbH. “Remarkably, these compounds were never tested directly on the actual target cells—the human neuron”, added lead author Jerome Mertens of Brüstle’s team, who now works at the Laboratory of Genetics in La Jolla (USA). This is because, so far, living human neurons have been extremely difficult to obtain. However, with the recent advances in stem cell research it has become possible to derive limitless numbers of brain cells from a small skin biopsy or other adult cell types.

Scientists transform skin cells into nerve cells

Now a research team from the Institute for Reconstructive Neurobiology and the Department of Neurology of the Bonn University Medical Center together with colleagues from the Life & Brain GmbH and the University of Leuven (Belgium) has obtained such nerve cells from humans. The researchers used skin cells from two patients with a familial form of Alzheimer’s Disease to produce so-called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), by reprogramming the body’s cells into a quasi-embryonic stage. They then transformed the resulting iPS cells into nerve cells.

Using these human neurons, the scientists tested several compounds in the group of NSAIDs. As control, the researchers used nerve cells they had obtained from iPS cells of donors who did not have the disease. Both in the nerve cells obtained from the Alzheimer’s patients and in the control cells, the NSAIDs that had previously tested positive in the animal models and cell lines typically used for drug screening had practically no effect: The values for the harmful beta-amyloid variants that form the feared aggregates in the brain remained unaffected when the cells were treated with clinically relevant dosages of these compounds.

Metabolic processes in animal models differ from humans

“In order to predict the efficacy of Alzheimer drugs, such tests have to be performed directly on the affected human nerve cells”, concluded Brüstle’s colleague Philipp Koch, who led the study. Why do NSAIDs decrease the risk of aggregate formation in animal experiments and cell lines but not in human neurons? The scientists explain this with differences in metabolic processes between these different cell types. “The results are simply not transferable”, says Koch.

The scientists now hope that in the future, testing of potential drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease will be increasingly conducted using neurons obtained from iPS cells of patients. “The development of a single drug takes an average of ten years”, said Brüstle. “By using patient-specific nerve cells as a test system, investments by pharmaceutical companies and the tedious search for urgently needed Alzheimer medications could be greatly streamlined”.

Date: November 6, 2013
Source: University of Bonn

 

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