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Archive for the ‘Cancer and Current Therapeutics’ Category


Relations between Breast Cancer and DIET: amino acid called asparagine

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

 

Diet may influence the spread of a deadly type of breast cancer, study finds

February 7, 2018, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Diet may influence the spread of a deadly type of breast cancer, study finds
Three-dimensional cell culture of breast cancer cells. Credit: National Institutes of Health (Dao Tiensinh)

A single protein building block commonly found in food may hold a key to preventing the spread of an often-deadly type of breast cancer, according to a new multicenter study published today in the medical journal Nature.

Investigators found that by limiting an amino acid called asparagine in laboratory mice with triple-negative breast cancer, they could dramatically reduce the ability of the cancer to travel to distant sites in the body. Among other techniques, the team used dietary restrictions to limit asparagine.

Foods rich in asparagine include dairy, whey, beef, poultry, eggs, fish, seafood, asparagus, potatoes, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy and whole grains. Foods low in asparagine include most fruits and vegetables.

“Our study adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests diet can influence the course of the disease,” said Simon Knott, PhD, associate director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics at Cedars-Sinai and one of two first authors of the study. The research was conducted at more than a dozen institutions.

If further research confirms the findings in human cells, limiting the amount of asparagine cancer patients ingest could be a potential strategy to augment existing therapies and to prevent the spread of breast cancer, Knott added.

The researchers studied triple-negative breast cancer cells, which grow and spread faster than most other types of cancer cells. It is called triple negative because it lacks receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone and makes little of a protein called HER2. As a result, it resists common treatments—which target these factors and has a higher-than-average mortality rate.

Research from past studies found that most tumor cells remain in the primary breast site, but a subset of cells leaves the breast and enters the bloodstream. Those cells colonize in the lungs, brain and liver, where they proliferate. The study team wanted to understand the particular traits of the tumor cells circulating in the blood and in the sites where the cancer has spread.

The researchers discovered that the appearance of asparagine synthetase—the enzyme cells used to make asparagine—in a primary tumor was strongly associated with later cancer spread.

The researchers also found that metastasis was greatly limited by reducing asparagine synthetase, treatment with the chemotherapy drug L-asparaginase, or dietary restriction. When the lab mice were given food rich in asparagine, the cancer cells spread more rapidly.

“The study results are extremely suggestive that changes in diet might impact both how an individual responds to primary therapy and their chances of lethal disease spreading later in life,” said the study’s senior author, Gregory J. Hannon, PhD, professor of Cancer Molecular Biology and director, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge in England.

Investigators now are considering conducting an early-phase clinical trial in which healthy participants would consume a low-asparagine diet. If the diet results in decreased levels of asparagine, the next scientific step would involve a clinical trial with cancer patients. That trial likely would employ dietary restrictions as well as chemotherapy and immunotherapy, Knott said.

Studying the effects of asparagine also could alter treatments for other types of cancer, investigators say.

“This study may have implications not only for breast cancer, but for many metastatic cancers,” said Ravi Thadhani, MD, MPH, vice dean, Research and Graduate Research Education, at Cedars-Sinai.

 Explore further: Researchers identify specific protein that helps breast cancer to spread

More information: Simon R. V. Knott et al, Asparagine bioavailability governs metastasis in a model of breast cancer, Nature (2018). DOI: 10.1038/nature25465

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Juno acquired by Celgene for $9Billion following Gilead acquisition of Kite Pharma for 12.9 Billion

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

UPDATED on 2/5/2018

Hans Bishop gets a $287M payday as Juno execs see windfall fortunes — with a $922M payoff for Arch

by john carroll — on February 5, 2018 05:47 AM EST
Updated: 05:48 AM

https://endpts.com/hans-bishop-gets-a-287m-payday-as-juno-execs-see-windfall-fortunes-with-a-922m-payoff-for-arch/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Monday%20February%205%202018&utm_content=Monday%20February%205%202018+CID_aecea465e79bcafc58b92d3615dfacda&utm_source=ENDPOINTS%20emails&utm_term=Hans%20Bishop%20gets%20a%20287M%20payday%20as%20Juno%20execs%20see%20windfall%20fortunes%20%20with%20a%20922M%20payoff%20for%20Arch

Anatomy of a $9B buyout: Celgene’s quick turn from Juno’s close collaborator to new owner

 john carroll — on February 5, 2018 05:50 AM EST

https://endpts.com/anatomy-of-a-9b-buyout-celgenes-quick-turn-from-junos-close-collaborator-to-new-owner/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Monday%20February%205%202018&utm_content=Monday%20February%205%202018+CID_aecea465e79bcafc58b92d3615dfacda&utm_source=ENDPOINTS%20emails&utm_term=Anatomy%20of%20a%209B%20buyout%20Celgenes%20quick%20turn%20from%20Junos%20close%20collaborator%20to%20new%20owner

 

Other related articles on JUNO published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following:

Anatomy of a $9B buyout: Celgene’s quick turn from Juno’s close collaborator to new owner

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2018/02/05/anatomy-of-a-9b-buyout-celgenes-quick-turn-from-junos-close-collaborator-to-new-owner/

Juno Therapeutics to Resume JCAR015 Phase II ROCKET Trial AND Acquires privately held Boston, MA-based RedoxTherapies

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/07/14/juno-therapeutics-to-resume-jcar015-phase-ii-rocket-trial-and-acquires-privately-held-boston-ma-based-redoxtherapies/

What does this mean for Immunotherapy? FDA put a temporary hold on Juno’s JCAR015, Three Death of Celebral Edema in CAR-T Clinical Trial and Kite Pharma announced Phase II portion of its CAR-T ZUMA-1 trial

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/07/09/what-does-this-mean-for-immunotherapy-fda-put-a-temporary-hold-on-jcar015-three-death-of-celebral-edema-in-car-t-clinical-trial-and-kite-pharma-announced-phase-ii-portion-of-its-car-t-zuma-1-trial/

Juno Acquires AbVitro for $125M: high-throughput and single-cell sequencing capabilities for Immune-Oncology Drug Discovery

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/01/12/juno-acquires-abvitro-for-125m-high-throughput-and-single-cell-sequencing-capabilities-for-immune-oncology-drug-discovery/

Juno’s approach eradicated cancer cells in 10 of 12 leukemia patients, indicating potential to transform the standard of care in oncology

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/01/14/junos-approach-eradicated-cancer-cells-in-10-of-12-leukemia-patients-indicating-potential-to-transform-the-standard-of-care-in-oncology/

 

Economic Potential of a Drug Invention (Prof. Zelig Eshhar, Weitzman Institute, registered the patent) versus a Cancer Drug in Clinical Trials: CAR-T as a Case in Point, developed by Kite Pharma, under Arie Belldegrun, CEO, acquired by Gilead for $11.9 billion, 8/2017.

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2017/10/04/economic-potential-of-a-drug-invention-prof-zelig-eshhar-weitzman-institute-registered-the-patent-versus-a-cancer-drug-in-clinical-trials-car-t-as-a-case-in-point-developed-by-kite-pharma-unde/

 

 

 

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Reporter and Curator: Dr. Sudipta Saha, Ph.D.

 

A mutated gene called RAS gives rise to a signalling protein Ral which is involved in tumour growth in the bladder. Many researchers tried and failed to target and stop this wayward gene. Signalling proteins such as Ral usually shift between active and inactive states.

 

So, researchers next tried to stop Ral to get into active state. In inacvtive state Ral exposes a pocket which gets closed when active. After five years, the researchers found a small molecule dubbed BQU57 that can wedge itself into the pocket to prevent Ral from closing and becoming active. Now, BQU57 has been licensed for further development.

 

Researchers have a growing genetic data on bladder cancer, some of which threaten to overturn the supposed causes of bladder cancer. Genetics has also allowed bladder cancer to be reclassified from two categories into five distinct subtypes, each with different characteristics and weak spots. All these advances bode well for drug development and for improved diagnosis and prognosis.

 

Among the groups studying the genetics of bladder cancer are two large international teams: Uromol (named for urology and molecular biology), which is based at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), based at institutions in Texas and Boston. Each team tackled a different type of cancer, based on the traditional classification of whether or not a tumour has grown into the muscle wall of the bladder. Uromol worked on the more common, earlier form, non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer, whereas TCGA is looking at muscle-invasive bladder cancer, which has a lower survival rate.

 

The Uromol team sought to identify people whose non-invasive tumours might return after treatment, becoming invasive or even metastatic. Bladder cancer has a high risk of recurrence, so people whose non-invasive cancer has been treated need to be monitored for many years, undergoing cystoscopy every few months. They looked for predictive genetic footprints in the transcriptome of the cancer, which contains all of a cell’s RNA and can tell researchers which genes are turned on or off.

 

They found three subgroups with distinct basal and luminal features, as proposed by other groups, each with different clinical outcomes in early-stage bladder cancer. These features sort bladder cancer into genetic categories that can help predict whether the cancer will return. The researchers also identified mutations that are linked to tumour progression. Mutations in the so-called APOBEC genes, which code for enzymes that modify RNA or DNA molecules. This effect could lead to cancer and cause it to be aggressive.

 

The second major research group, TCGA, led by the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute, that involves thousands of researchers across USA. The project has already mapped genomic changes in 33 cancer types, including breast, skin and lung cancers. The TCGA researchers, who study muscle-invasive bladder cancer, have looked at tumours that were already identified as fast-growing and invasive.

 

The work by Uromol, TCGA and other labs has provided a clearer view of the genetic landscape of early- and late-stage bladder cancer. There are five subtypes for the muscle-invasive form: luminal, luminal–papillary, luminal–infiltrated, basal–squamous, and neuronal, each of which is genetically distinct and might require different therapeutic approaches.

 

Bladder cancer has the third-highest mutation rate of any cancer, behind only lung cancer and melanoma. The TCGA team has confirmed Uromol research showing that most bladder-cancer mutations occur in the APOBEC genes. It is not yet clear why APOBEC mutations are so common in bladder cancer, but studies of the mutations have yielded one startling implication. The APOBEC enzyme causes mutations early during the development of bladder cancer, and independent of cigarette smoke or other known exposures.

 

The TCGA researchers found a subset of bladder-cancer patients, those with the greatest number of APOBEC mutations, had an extremely high five-year survival rate of about 75%. Other patients with fewer APOBEC mutations fared less well which is pretty surprising.

 

This detailed knowledge of bladder-cancer genetics may help to pinpoint the specific vulnerabilities of cancer cells in different people. Over the past decade, Broad Institute researchers have identified more than 760 genes that cancer needs to grow and survive. Their genetic map might take another ten years to finish, but it will list every genetic vulnerability that can be exploited. The goal of cancer precision medicine is to take the patient’s tumour and decode the genetics, so the clinician can make a decision based on that information.

 

References:

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29117162

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27321955

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28583312

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24476821

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28988769

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28753430

 

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Lectures by The 2017 Award Recipients of Warren Alpert Foundation Prize in Cancer Immunology, October 5, 2017, HMS, 77 Louis Paster, Boston

Top, from left: James Allison and Lieping Chen. Bottom, from left: Gordon Freeman, Tasuku Honjo (NOT ATTENDED), Arlene Sharpe.

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN was in attendance and covered this event LIVE

 

The 2017 Warren Alpert Foundation Prize has been awarded to five scientists for transformative discoveries in the field of cancer immunology.

Collectively, their work has elucidated foundational mechanisms in cancer’s ability to evade immune recognition and, in doing so, has profoundly altered the understanding of disease development and treatment. Their discoveries have led to the development of effective immune therapies for several types of cancer.

The 2017 award recipients are:

  • James Allison, professor of immunology and chair of the Department of Immunology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center – Immune checkpoint blockage in Cancer Therapystrictly Genomics based drug
  1. 2017 FDA approved a gemonics based drug
  2. and co-stimulatory signals
  3. CTLA-4 blockade, CD28, AntiCTLA-4 induceses regression of Transplantable Murine tumo
  4. enhance tumor-specific immune response
  5. Fully antibody human immune response in 10,000 patients – FDA approved 2011
  6. Metastatic melanoma – 3 years survival, programmed tumor death, PD-1, MHC-A1
  7. Ipi/Nivo vs. Ipi – combination – 60% survival vs Ipi alone
  8. Anti CTA4 va Anti-PD-1
  9. responsive T cell population – MC38 TILs
  10. MC38 Infiltrating T cell populations: Treg, CD4, Effector, CD8, NKT/gamma-delta
  11. Checkpoint blockage modulates infiltrating T cell population frequencies
  12. T reg correlated with Tumor growth
  13. Combination therapy lead to CURE survival at 80% rate vs CTAL-4 40% positive outcome

Not Attended — Tasuku Honjo, professor of immunology and genomic medicine, Kyoto University – Immune regulation of Cancer Therapy by PD-1 Blockade

 

  • Lieping Chen, United Technologies Corporation Professor in Cancer Research and Professor of immunobiology, of dermatology and of medicine, Yale University – Adoptive Resistance: Molecular Pathway t Cancer Therapy – focus on solid tumors
  1. Enhancement – Enhance normal immune system – Co-stimulation/Co-inhibition Treg, and Cytokines, adoptive cell therapy, Lymphoid organs stores
  2. Normalization – to correct defective immune system – normalizing tumor immunity, diverse tumor escape mechanisms
  3. Anti-PD therapy: regression of large solid tumors: normalizing tumor immunity targeting tumor microenvironment: Heterogeneity, functional modulation, cellular and molecular components – classification by LACK of inflamation, adaptive resistance, other inhibitory pathways, intrinsic induction
  4. avoid autoimmune toxicity,
  5. Resetting immune response (melanoma)
  6. Understad Resistance: Target missing resistance or Adaptive resistance Type II= acquired immunity
  • Gordon Freeman, professor of medicine, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School – PD-L1/PD-1 Cancer Immunotherapy
  1. B7 antibody
  2. block pathway – checkpoint blockage, Expand the T cells after recognition of the disease. T cell receptor signal, activation, co -stimulatory: B71 molecule, B72 – survival signals and cytokine production,.Increased T cell proliferation,
  3. PDL-1 is a ligand of PD 1. How T cell die? genes – PD1 Gene was highly expressed,
  4. Interferon gamma upregulate PD-L1 expression
  5. Feedback loop Tumor – stimulating immune response, interferon turn off PD1
  6. PD-L1 and PD-L2 Expression: Interferom
  7. Trancefuctor MHC, B7-2
  8. PD-L! sisgnat inhibit T-cell activation: turn off Proliferation and cytokine production — Decreasing the immune response
  9. T cell DNA Content: No S-phase devided cell
  10. PD-L1 engagement of PD-1 results in activation : Pd-1 Pathway inhibits T Cell Actiivation – lyposite motility,
  11. Pd-L2 is a second ligand for PD-1 and inhibits T cell activation
  12. PDl-1 expression: BR CA, Ovarian, Colonol-rectal, tymus, endothelial
  13. Blockage of the Pathway – Immune response enhanced
  14. Dendritic cells express PD-L1, PD-L2 and combination of Two, Combination was best of all by increase of cytokine production, increasing the immune response.
  15. PD-L1 blockade enhanced the immune response , increase killing and increased production of cytokines,
  16. anti-tumor efficacy of anti-PD-1/Pd-L1
  17. Pancreatic and colono-rector — PD-L, PDL1, PDL2 — does not owrkd.
  18. In menaloma: PD-1 works better than CYLA-4
  19. Comparison of Targeted Therapy: BRAF TKI vs Chemo high % but short term
  20. Immunotherapy – applies several mechanism: pre-existing anti-therapy
  21. Immune desert: PD=L does not work for them
  22. COMBINATION THERAPY: BLOCK TUMOR INVASION THEN STIMULATE IMMUNE RESPONSE — IT WILL WORK
  23. PD blockage + nutrients and probiotic
  24. Tumor Genome Therapy
  25. Tumore Immuno-evasion Score
  26. Antigens for immune response – choose the ones
  27. 20PD-1 or PD-L1 drugs in development
  28. WHO WILL THE DRUG WORK FOR?

 

  • Arlene Sharpe, the George Fabyan Professor of Comparative Pathology, Harvard Medical School; senior scientist, department of pathology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital – Multi-faceted Functionsof the PD-1 Pathway
  1. function of the pathway: control T cell activation and function of maintain immune tolerance
  2. protect tissues from damage by immune response
  3. T cell dysfunction during cancer anf viral infection
  4. protection from autoimmunity, inflammation,
  5. Mechanism by which PD-1 pathway inhibits anti-tumor immunity
  6. regulation of memoryT cell responce of PD-1
  7. PD-1 signaling inhibit anti-tumor immunity
  8. Compare: Mice lacking CD8-Cre- (0/5) cleared vs PD-1-/-5/5 – PD-1 DELETION: PARTIAL AND TIMED: DELETION OF PD-1 ON HALF OG TILS STARTING AT DAY 7 POSTTUMOR IMPLANTATION OF BOTH PD-1 AND PD-1 TILS: – Tamoxifen days 7-11
  9. Transcription profile: analysis of CD8+ TILs reveal altered metabolism: Fatty Acid Metabolism vs Oxidative Phosphorylation
  10. DOes metabolic shift: WIld type mouth vs PD-1-/_ P14: analyze Tumor cell killingPD-1-/- enhanced FAO increases CD8+ T cell tocicity
  11. Summary: T cell memory development and PD-1: T effectors vs T cell memory: Primary vs Secondary infection: In the absent of PD-1, CD8+ T cels show increase expansion of T cells
  12. INFLUENZA INFECTION: PRIMARY more virus in lung in PD-1 is lacking
  13. Acute infection: PD-1 controls memory T cell differentiation vs PD-1 increase expansion during effector phase BUT impaired persistence during memory phase: impaired cytokine production post re-challenge
  14. PD-1 immunotherapy work for patients with tumor: Recall Response and Primary response
  15. TIL density Primary vs Long term survivor – 5 days post tumor implantation – rechallenged long term survival
  16. Hot tumor vs Cold tumor – Deletion of PD-1 impairs T memory cell development

 

Opening Remarks: George Q. Daley, MD, PhD, DEAN, HMS

  • Scientific collaboration check point – avoid the body attacking itself, sabotaging the immune system
  • 1987 – Vaccine for HepB
  • Eight of the awardees got the Nobel Prize

 

Moderated by Joan Brugge, PhD, HMS, Prof. of Cell Biology

  • Evolution of concepts of Immunotherapy: William Coley’s Toxin streptoccocus skin infection.
  • 20th century: Immuno-surveilence, Immune response – field was dead in 1978 replaced by Immunotherapy
  • Rosenberg at NIH, high dose of costimulatory molecule prevented tumor reappearanceantbody induce tumor immunity–>> immune theraphy by check point receptor blockade – incidence of tumor in immune compromised mice – transfer T cell
  • T cell defficient, not completely defficient, self recognition of tumor,
  • suppress immmune – immune evasion
  • Michael Atkins, MD, Detupy Director, Georgetown-Lombardi, Comprehensive Cancer Center Clinical applications of Checkpoint inhibitors: Progress and Promise
  1. Overwhelm the Immune system, hide, subvert, Shield, defend-deactivating tumor trgeting T cells that ATTACK the immune system
  2. Immune system to TREAT the cancer
  3. Monotherapy – anti PD1/PD-L1: Antagonist activity
  4. Evading immune response: prostate, colcn
  5. MMR deficiency
  6. Nivolumab in relaped/Refractory HODGKIN LYMPHOMAS – over expression of PD-L1 and PDL2in Lymphomas
  7. 18 month survival better with Duv in Lung cancer stage 3 – anti PD-1- adjuvant therapy with broad effectiveness
  8. Biomarkers for pD-L1 Blockage
  9. ORR higher in PD-L1
  10. Improve Biomarkers: Clonality of T cells in Tumors
  11. T-effector Myeloid Inflammation Low – vs Hogh:
  12. Biomarker Model: Neoantigen burden vs Gene expression vs CD8+
  13. Tissue DIagnostic Labs: Tumor microenveironmenr
  14. Microbiome
  15. Combination: Nivo vs Nivo+Ipi is superior: DETERMINE WHEN TO STOP TREATMENT
  16. 15/16 stopped treatment – Treatment FREE SURVIVAL
  17. Sequencing with Standard Therapies
  18. Brain metastasis – Immune Oncology Therapy – crosses the BBB
  19. Less Toxic regimen, better toxicity management,
  20. Use Immuno therapy TFS
  21. combination – survival must be justified
  22. Goal: to make Cancer a curable disease vs cancer becoming a CHronic disease

 

Closing Remarks: George Q. Daley, MD, PhD, DEAN, HMS

 

The honorees will share a $500,000 prize and will be recognized at a day-long symposium on Oct. 5 at Harvard Medical School.

The Warren Alpert Foundation, in association with Harvard Medical School, honors trailblazing scientists whose work has led to the understanding, prevention, treatment or cure of human disease. The award recognizes seminal discoveries that hold the promise to change our understanding of disease or our ability to treat it.

“The discoveries honored by the Warren Alpert Foundation over the years are remarkable in their scope and potential,” said George Q. Daley, dean of Harvard Medical School. “The work of this year’s recipients is nothing short of breathtaking in its profound impact on medicine. These discoveries have reshaped our understanding of the body’s response to cancer and propelled our ability to treat several forms of this recalcitrant disease.”

The Warren Alpert Foundation Prize is given internationally. To date, the foundation has awarded nearly $4 million to 59 scientists. Since the award’s inception, eight honorees have also received a Nobel Prize.

“We commend these five scientists. Allison, Chen, Freeman, Honjoand Sharpe are indisputable standouts in the field of cancer immunology,” said Bevin Kaplan, director of the Warren Alpert Foundation. “Collectively, they are helping to turn the tide in the global fight against cancer. We couldn’t honor more worthy recipients for the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize.”

The 2017 award: Unraveling the mysterious interplay between cancer and immunity

Understanding how tumor cells sabotage the body’s immune defenses stems from the collective work of many scientists over many years and across multiple institutions.

Each of the five honorees identified key pieces of the puzzle.

The notion that cancer and immunity are closely connected and that a person’s immune defenses can be turned against cancer is at least a century old. However, the definitive proof and demonstration of the steps in this process were outlined through findings made by the five 2017 Warren Alpert prize recipients.

Under normal conditions, so-called checkpoint inhibitor molecules rein in the immune system to ensure that it does not attack the body’s own cells, tissues and organs. Building on each other’s work, the five award recipients demonstrated how this normal self-defense mechanism can be hijacked by tumors as a way to evade immune surveillance and dodge an attack. Subverting this mechanism allows cancer cells to survive and thrive.

A foundational discovery made in the 1980s elucidated the role of a molecule on the surface of T cells, the body’s elite assassins trained to seek, spot and destroy invaders.

A protein called CTLA-4 emerged as a key regulator of T cell behavior—one that signals to T cells the need to retreat from an attack. Experiments in mice lacking CTLA-4 and use of CTLA-4 antibodies demonstrated that absence of CTLA-4 or blocking its activity could lead to T cell activation and tumor destruction.

Subsequent work identified a different protein on the surface of T cells—PD-1—as another key regulator of T cell response. Mice lacking this protein developed an autoimmune disease as a result of aberrant T cell activity and over-inflammation.

Later on, scientists identified a molecule, B7-H1, subsequently renamed PD-L1, which binds to PD-1, clicking like a key in a lock. This was followed by the discovery of a second partner for PD-1—the molecule PD-L2—which also appeared to tame T-cell activity by binding to PD-1.

The identification of these molecules led to a set of studies showing that their presence on human and mouse tumors rendered the tumors resistant to immune eradication.

A series of experiments further elucidated just how tumors exploit the interaction between PD-1 and PD-L1 to survive. Specifically, some tumor cells appeared to express PD-L1, essentially “wrapping” themselves in it to avoid immune recognition and destruction.

Additional work demonstrated that using antibodies to block this interaction disarmed the tumors, rendering them vulnerable to immune destruction.

Collectively, the five scientists’ findings laid the foundation for antibody-based therapies that modulate the function of these molecules as a way to unleash the immune system against cancer cells.

Antibody therapy that targets CTLA-4 is currently approved by the FDA for the treatment of melanoma. PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors have already shown efficacy in a broad range of cancers and have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of melanoma; kidney; lung; head and neck cancer; bladder cancer; some forms of colorectal cancer; Hodgkin lymphoma and Merkel cell carcinoma.

In their own words

“I am humbled to be included among the illustrious scientists who have been honored by the Warren Alpert Foundation for their contributions to the treatment and cure of human disease in its 30+ year history.  It is also recognition of the many investigators who have labored for decades to realize the promise of the immune system in treating cancer.”
        -James Allison


“The award is a great honor and a wonderful recognition of our work.”
         Lieping Chen



I am thrilled to have made a difference in the lives of cancer patients and to be recognized by fellow scientists for my part in the discovery of the PD-1/PD-L1 and PD-L2 pathway and its role in tumor immune evasion.  I am deeply honored to be a recipient of the Alpert Award and to be recognized for my part in the work that has led to effective cancer immunotherapy. The success of immunotherapy has unleashed the energies of a multitude of scientists to further advance this novel strategy.”
                                        -Gordon Freeman


I am extremely honored to receive the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize. I am very happy that our discovery of PD-1 in 1992 and subsequent 10-year basic research on PD-1 led to its clinical application as a novel cancer immunotherapy. I hope this development will encourage many scientists working in the basic biomedical field.”
-Tasuku Honjo


“I am truly honored to be a recipient of the Alpert Award. It is especially meaningful to be recognized by my colleagues for discoveries that helped define the biology of the CTLA-4 and PD-1 pathways. The clinical translation of our fundamental understanding of these pathways illustrates the value of basic science research, and I hope this inspires other scientists.”
-Arlene Sharpe

Previous winners

Last year’s award went to five scientists who were instrumental in the discovery and development of the CRISPR bacterial defense mechanism as a tool for gene editing. They were RodolpheBarrangou of North Carolina State University, Philippe Horvath of DuPont in Dangé-Saint-Romain, France, Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin and Umeå University in Sweden, and Virginijus Siksnys of the Institute of Biotechnology at Vilnius University in Lithuania.

Other past recipients include:

  • Tu Youyou of the China Academy of Chinese Medical Science, who went on to receive the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with two others, and Ruth and Victor Nussenzweig, of NYU Langone Medical Center, for their pioneering discoveries in chemistry and parasitology of malaria and the translation of their work into the development of drug therapies and an anti-malarial vaccine.
  • Oleh Hornykiewicz of the Medical University of Vienna and the University of Toronto; Roger Nicoll of the University of California, San Francisco; and Solomon Snyder of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for research into neurotransmission and neurodegeneration.
  • David Botstein of Princeton University and Ronald Davis and David Hogness of Stanford University School of Medicine for contributions to the concepts and methods of creating a human genetic map.
  • Alain Carpentier of Hôpital Européen Georges-Pompidou in Paris and Robert Langer of MIT for innovations in bioengineering.
  • Harald zur Hausen and Lutz Gissmann of the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg for work on the human papillomavirus (HPV) and cancer of the cervix. Zur Hausenand others were honored with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2008.

The Warren Alpert Foundation

Each year the Warren Alpert Foundation receives between 30 and 50 nominations from scientific leaders worldwide. Prize recipients are selected by the foundation’s scientific advisory board, which is composed of distinguished biomedical scientists and chaired by the dean of Harvard Medical School.

Warren Alpert (1920-2007), a native of Chelsea, Mass., established the prize in 1987 after reading about the development of a vaccine for hepatitis B. Alpert decided on the spot that he would like to reward such breakthroughs, so he picked up the phone and told the vaccine’s creator, Kenneth Murray of the University of Edinburgh, that he had won a prize. Alpert then set about creating the foundation.

To award subsequent prizes, Alpert asked Daniel Tosteson (1925-2009), then dean of Harvard Medical School, to convene a panel of experts to identify scientists from around the world whose research has had a direct impact on the treatment of disease.

SOURCE

https://hms.harvard.edu/news/warren-alpert-foundation-honors-pioneers-cancer-immunology

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Koch Institute Immune Engineering Symposium on October 16 & 17, 2017, Kresge, MIT

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

Koch Institute Immune Engineering Symposium on October 16 & 17, 2017.

 

Summary: Biological, chemical, and materials engineers are engaged at the forefront of immunology research. At their disposal is an analytical toolkit honed to solve problems in the petrochemical and materials industries, which share the presence of complex reaction networks, and convective and diffusive molecular transport. Powerful synthetic capabilities have also been crafted: binding proteins can be engineered with effectively arbitrary specificity and affinity, and multifunctional nanoparticles and gels have been designed to interact in highly specific fashions with cells and tissues. Fearless pursuit of knowledge and solutions across disciplinary boundaries characterizes this nascent discipline of immune engineering, synergizing with immunologists and clinicians to put immunotherapy into practice.

SPEAKERS:

Michael Birnbaum – MIT, Koch Institute

Arup Chakraborty – MIT, Insititute for Medical Engineering & Sciences

Jianzhu Chen – MIT, Koch Institute

Jennifer R. Cochran – Stanford University

Jennifer Elisseeff – Johns Hopkins University

K. Christopher Garcia – Stanford University

George Georgiou – University of Texas at Austin

Darrell Irvine – MIT, Koch Institute

Tyler Jacks – MIT, Koch Institute

Doug Lauffenburger – MIT, Biological Engineering and Koch Institute

Wendell Lim – University of California, San Francisco

Harvey Lodish – Whitehead Institute and Koch Institute

Marcela Maus – Massachusetts General Hospital

Garry P. Nolan – Stanford University

Sai Reddy – ETH Zurich

Nicholas Restifo – National Cancer Institute

William Schief – The Scripps Research Institute

Stefani Spranger – MIT, Koch Institute

Susan Napier Thomas – Georgia Institute of Technology

Laura Walker – Adimab, LLC

Jennifer Wargo – MD Anderson Cancer Center

Dane Wittrup – MIT, Koch Institute

Kai Wucherpfennig – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Please contact ki-events@mit.edu with any questions.

SOURCE

From: Koch Institute Immune Engineering Symposium <ki-events@mit.edu>

Reply-To: <ki-events@mit.edu>

Date: Friday, September 8, 2017 at 9:06 AM

To: Aviva Lev-Ari <AvivaLev-Ari@alum.berkeley.edu>

Subject: Reminder – Register Today

 

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New Treatment in Development for Glioblastoma: Hopes for Sen. John McCain

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

We wish all patients diagnosed with Glioblastoma to be able to benefit from the advancements in Sciences reported, below

SOURCE

Glioblastoma Is A Grim Diagnosis, But There Are Some Signs Of Hope

Karen Weintraub, July 20, 2017 Updated July 21, 2017 5:33 PM

 

Advancements in Crossing The Blood-Brain Barrier

Paula Hammond, of MIT’s Koch Institute of Integrative Cancer Research: “We believe we have a handle on a good stealth mechanism. Now, we’re looking at enhanced uptake,” she said. “We have to begin to think a little bit about how to get nature on our side on this one.”

At the Brigham, researchers are trying another approach to getting across the blood-brain-barrier: prying open holes in its armor with beams of ultrasound. Although normally used to take cool pictures during pregnancy, multiple beams of ultrasound aimed at the same area can make blood vessels of the brain “leakier,” according to research at the Brigham.

 

Advancement in Stem Cells against Tumors

There’s also a possibility that stem cells may be useful for tracking down and killing tumor cells. Khalid Shah, director for the Center for Stem Cell Therapeutics and Imaging at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has been experimenting with delivering engineered stem cells directly to tumor sites after surgery.

William Curry at Mass. General, is that the longer a patient with glioblastoma can hang on, the better their chances of getting one of these new treatments.

“The longer you stay alive and the longer you maintain good neurological function, the more eligible you one may be to see the benefits and the fruits of a lot of the research that is really accelerating right now,” he said.

SOURCE

Glioblastoma Is A Grim Diagnosis, But There Are Some Signs Of Hope

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Reporter and Curator: Irina Robu, PhD

Monitoring cancer patients and evaluating their response to treatment can sometimes involve invasive procedures, including surgery.

The liquid biopsies have become something of a Holy Grail in cancer treatment among physicians, researchers and companies gambling big on the technology. Liquid biopsies, unlike traditional biopsies involving invasive surgery — rely on an ordinary blood draw. Developments in sequencing the human genome, permitting researchers to detect genetic mutations of cancers, have made the tests conceivable. Some 38 companies in the US alone are working on liquid biopsies by trying to analyze blood for fragments of DNA shed by dying tumor cells.

Premature research on the liquid biopsy has concentrated profoundly on patients with later-stage cancers who have suffered treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, immunotherapy or drugs that target molecules involved in the growth, progression and spread of cancer. For cancer patients undergoing treatment, liquid biopsies could spare them some of the painful, expensive and risky tissue tumor biopsies and reduce reliance on CT scans. The tests can rapidly evaluate the efficacy of surgery or other treatment, while old-style biopsies and CT scans can still remain inconclusive as a result of scar tissue near the tumor site.

As recently as a few years ago, the liquid biopsies were hardly used except in research. At the moment, thousands of the tests are being used in clinical practices in the United States and abroad, including at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston; the University of California, San Diego; the University of California, San Francisco; the Duke Cancer Institute and several other cancer centers.

With patients for whom physicians cannot get a tissue biopsy, the liquid biopsy could prove a safe and effective alternative that could help determine whether treatment is helping eradicate the cancer. A startup, Miroculus developed a cheap, open source device that can test blood for several types of cancer at once. The platform, called Miriam finds cancer by extracting RNA from blood and spreading it across plates that look at specific type of mRNA. The technology is then hooked up at a smartphone which sends the information to an online database and compares the microRNA found in the patient’s blood to known patterns indicating different type of cancers in the early stage and can reduce unnecessary cancer screenings.

Nevertheless, experts warn that more studies are essential to regulate the accuracy of the test, exactly which cancers it can detect, at what stages and whether it improves care or survival rates.

SOURCE

https://www.fastcompany.com/3037117/a-new-device-can-detect-multiple-types-of-cancer-with-a-single-blood-test

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4356857/

Other related articles published in this Open Access Online Scientific Publishing Journal include the following:

Liquid Biopsy Chip detects an array of metastatic cancer cell markers in blood – R&D @Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Micro and Nanotechnology Lab

Reporters: Tilda Barliya, PhD and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/12/28/liquid-biopsy-chip-detects-an-array-of-metastatic-cancer-cell-markers-in-blood-rd-worcester-polytechnic-institute-micro-and-nanotechnology-lab/

Liquid Biopsy Assay May Predict Drug Resistance

Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/11/06/liquid-biopsy-assay-may-predict-drug-resistance/

One blood sample can be tested for a comprehensive array of cancer cell biomarkers: R&D at WPI

Curator: Marzan Khan, B.Sc

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2017/01/05/one-blood-sample-can-be-tested-for-a-comprehensive-array-of-cancer-cell-biomarkers-rd-wpi

 

 

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