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Archive for the ‘Cell Biology, Signaling & Cell Circuits’ Category


Embryogenesis in Mechanical Womb

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

A highly effective platforms for the ex utero culture of post-implantation mouse embryos have been developed in the present study by scientists of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. The study was published in the journal Nature. They have grown more than 1,000 embryos in this way. This study enables the appropriate development of embryos from before gastrulation (embryonic day (E) 5.5) until the hindlimb formation stage (E11). Late gastrulating embryos (E7.5) are grown in three-dimensional rotating bottles, whereas extended culture from pre-gastrulation stages (E5.5 or E6.5) requires a combination of static and rotating bottle culture platforms.

At Day 11 of development more than halfway through a mouse pregnancy the researchers compared them to those developing in the uteruses of living mice and were found to be identical. Histological, molecular and single-cell RNA sequencing analyses confirm that the ex utero cultured embryos recapitulate in utero development precisely. The mouse embryos looked perfectly normal. All their organs developed as expected, along with their limbs and circulatory and nervous systems. Their tiny hearts were beating at a normal 170 beats per minute. But, the lab-grown embryos becomes too large to survive without a blood supply. They had a placenta and a yolk sack, but the nutrient solution that fed them through diffusion was no longer sufficient. So, a suitable mechanism for blood supply is required to be developed.

Till date the only way to study the development of tissues and organs is to turn to species like worms, frogs and flies that do not need a uterus, or to remove embryos from the uteruses of experimental animals at varying times, providing glimpses of development more like in snapshots than in live videos. This research will help scientists understand how mammals develop and how gene mutations, nutrients and environmental conditions may affect the fetus. This will allow researchers to mechanistically interrogate post-implantation morphogenesis and artificial embryogenesis in mammals. In the future it may be possible to develop a human embryo from fertilization to birth entirely outside the uterus. But the work may one day raise profound questions about whether other animals, even humans, should or could be cultured outside a living womb.

References:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03416-3

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867414000750?via%3Dihub

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1469-185X.1978.tb00993.x

https://www.nature.com/articles/199297a0

https://rep.bioscientifica.com/view/journals/rep/35/1/jrf_35_1_018.xml

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2021 Virtual World Medical Innovation Forum, Mass General Brigham, Gene and Cell Therapy, VIRTUAL May 19–21, 2021

The 2021 Virtual World Medical Innovation Forum will focus on the growing impact of gene and cell therapy.
Senior healthcare leaders from all over look to shape and debate the area of gene and cell therapy. Our shared belief: no matter the magnitude of change, responsible healthcare is centered on a shared commitment to collaborative innovation–industry, academia, and practitioners working together to improve patients’ lives.

https://worldmedicalinnovation.org/agenda/

Virtual | May 19–21, 2021

#WMIF21

Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence (LPBI) Group

will cover the event in Real Time

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Founder LPBI 1.0 & LPBI 2.0

will be in attendance producing the e-Proceedings

and the Tweet Collection of this Global event expecting +15,000 attendees

@pharma_BI

@AVIVA1950

LPBI’s Eighteen Books in Medicine

https://lnkd.in/ekWGNqA

Among them, books on Gene and Cell Therapy include the following:

Topics for May 19 -21 include:

Impact on Patient Care – Therapeutic and Potentially Curative GCT Developments

GCT Delivery, Manufacturing – What’s Next

GCT Platform Development

Oncolytic Viruses – Cancer applications, start-ups

Regenerative Medicine/Stem Cells

Future of CAR-T

M&A Shaping GCT’s Future

Market Priorities

Venture Investing in GCT

China’s GCT Juggernaut

Disease and Patient Focus: Benign blood disorders, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases

Click here for the current WMIF agenda  

 

Plus:

Fireside Chats: 1:1 interviews with industry CEOs/C-Suite leaders including Novartis Gene Therapies, ThermoFisher, Bayer AG, FDA

First Look: 18 briefings on emerging GCT research from Mass General Brigham scientists

Virtual Poster Session: 40 research posters and presenters on potential GCT discoveries from Mass General Brigham

Announcement of the Disruptive Dozen, 12 GCT technologies likely to break through in the next few years

AGENDA

8:00 AM – 8:10 AM

Opening Remarks

Welcome and the vision for Gene and Cell Therapy and why it is a top Mass General Brigham priority.

Introducer:
Scott Sperling
  • Co-President, Thomas H. Lee Partners
  • Chairman of the Board of Directors, PHS
Presenter:
Anne Klibanski, MD
  • CEO, Mass General Brigham
8:10 AM – 8:30 AM

The Grand Challenge of Widespread GCT Patient Benefits

Co-Chairs identify the key themes of the Forum –  set the stage for top GCT opportunities, challenges, and where the field might take medicine in the future.

Moderator:
Susan Hockfield, PhD
  • President Emerita and Professor of Neuroscience, MIT
Speakers:
Nino Chiocca, MD, PhD
  • Neurosurgeon-in-Chief and Chairman, Neurosurgery, BWH
  • Harvey W. Cushing Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS
Susan Slaugenhaupt, PhD
  • Scientific Director and Elizabeth G. Riley and Daniel E. Smith Jr., Endowed Chair, Mass General Research Institute
  • Professor, Neurology, HMS
Ravi Thadhani, MD
  • CAO, Mass General Brigham
  • Professor, Medicine and Faculty Dean, HMS
Luk Vandenberghe, PhD
  • Grousbeck Family Chair, Gene Therapy, MEE
  • Associate Professor, Ophthalmology, HMS
8:35 AM – 8:50 AM

FIRESIDE

Gene and Cell Therapy 2.0 – What’s Next as We Realize their Potential for Patients

Moderator:
Julian Harris, MD
  • Partner, Deerfield
Speaker:
Dave Lennon, PhD
  • President, Novartis Gene Therapies
  • Q&A

    8:55 AM – 9:10 AM
8:55 AM – 9:20 AM

The Patient and GCT

GCT development for rare diseases is driven by patient and patient-advocate communities. Understanding their needs and perspectives enables biomarker research, the development of value-driving clinical trial endpoints and successful clinical trials. Industry works with patient communities that help identify unmet needs and collaborate with researchers to conduct disease natural history studies that inform the development of biomarkers and trial endpoints. This panel includes patients who have received cutting-edge GCT therapy as well as caregivers and patient advocates.

Moderator:
Patricia Musolino, MD, PhD
  • Co-Director Pediatric Stroke and Cerebrovascular Program, MGH
  • Assistant Professor of Neurology, HMS
Speakers:
Jack Hogan
  • Patient, MEE
Jeanette Hogan
  • Parent of Patient, MEE
Jim Holland
  • CEO, Backcountry.com
Barbara Lavery
  • Chief Program Officer, ACGT Foundation
Dan Tesler
  • Clinical Trial Patient, BWH/DFCC
Sarah Beth Thomas, RN
  • Professional Development Manager, BWH
  • Q&A

    9:25 AM – 9:40 AM
9:25 AM – 9:45 AM

FIRESIDE

GCT Regulatory Framework | Why Different?

Moderator:
Vicki Sato, PhD
  • Chairman of the Board, Vir Biotechnology
Speaker:
Peter Marks, MD, PhD
  • Director, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, FDA
  • Q&A

    9:50 AM – 10:05 AM
9:50 AM – 10:15 AM

Building a GCT Platform for Mainstream Success

This panel of GCT executives, innovators and investors explore how to best shape a successful GCT strategy. Among the questions to be addressed:

  • How are GCT approaches set around defining and building a platform?
  • Is AAV the leading modality and what are the remaining challenges?
  • What are the alternatives?
  • Is it just a matter of matching modalities to the right indications?
Moderator:
Jean-François Formela, MD
  • Partner, Atlas Venture
Speakers:
Katherine High, MD
  • President, Therapeutics, AskBio
Dave Lennon, PhD
  • President, Novartis Gene Therapies
Rick Modi
  • CEO, Affinia Therapeutics
Louise Rodino-Klapac, PhD
  • EVP, Chief Scientific Officer, Sarepta Therapeutics
  • Q&A

    10:20 AM – 10:35 AM
10:20 AM – 10:45 AM

AAV Success Studies | Retinal Dystrophy | Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Recent AAV gene therapy product approvals have catalyzed the field. This new class of therapies has shown the potential to bring transformative benefit to patients. With dozens of AAV treatments in clinical studies, all eyes are on the field to gauge its disruptive impact.

The panel assesses the largest challenges of the first two products, the lessons learned for the broader CGT field, and the extent to which they serve as a precedent to broaden the AAV modality.

  • Is AAV gene therapy restricted to genetically defined disorders, or will it be able to address common diseases in the near term?
  • Lessons learned from these first-in-class approvals.
  • Challenges to broaden this modality to similar indications.
  • Reflections on safety signals in the clinical studies?
Moderator:
Joan Miller, MD
  • Chief, Ophthalmology, MEE
  • Cogan Professor & Chair of Ophthalmology, HMS
Speakers:
Ken Mills
  • CEO, RegenXBio
Eric Pierce, MD, PhD
  • Director, Ocular Genomics Institute, MEE
  • Professor of Ophthalmology, HMS
Ron Philip
  • Chief Operating Officer, Spark Therapeutics
Meredith Schultz, MD
  • Executive Medical Director, Lead TME, Novartis Gene Therapies
  • Q&A

    10:50 AM – 11:05 AM
10:45 AM – 10:55 AM
10:55 AM – 11:05 AM

FIRST LOOK

Control of AAV pharmacology by Rational Capsid Design

Luk Vandenberghe, PhD
  • Grousbeck Family Chair, Gene Therapy, MEE
  • Associate Professor, Ophthalmology, HMS
  • Q&A

    11:05 AM – 11:25 AM
11:05 AM – 11:15 AM

FIRST LOOK

Enhanced gene delivery and immunoevasion of AAV vectors without capsid modification

Casey Maguire, PhD
  • Associate Professor of Neurology, MGH & HMS
  • Q&A

    11:15 AM – 11:35 AM
11:20 AM – 11:45 AM

HOT TOPICS

AAV Delivery

This panel will address the advances in the area of AAV gene therapy delivery looking out the next five years. Questions that loom large are: How can biodistribution of AAV be improved? What solutions are in the wings to address immunogenicity of AAV? Will patients be able to receive systemic redosing of AAV-based gene therapies in the future? What technical advances are there for payload size? Will the cost of manufacturing ever become affordable for ultra-rare conditions? Will non-viral delivery completely supplant viral delivery within the next five years?What are the safety concerns and how will they be addressed?

Moderators:
Xandra Breakefield, PhD
  • Geneticist, MGH, MGH
  • Professor, Neurology, HMS
Florian Eichler, MD
  • Director, Center for Rare Neurological Diseases, MGH
  • Associate Professor, Neurology, HMS
Speakers:
Jennifer Farmer
  • CEO, Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance
Mathew Pletcher, PhD
  • SVP, Head of Gene Therapy Research and Technical Operations, Astellas
Manny Simons, PhD
  • CEO, Akouos
Andre Turenne
  • CEO, Voyager Therapeutics
  • Q&A

    11:50 AM – 12:05 PM
11:50 AM – 12:15 PM

M&A | Shaping GCT Innovation

The GCT M&A market is booming – many large pharmas have made at least one significant acquisition. How should we view the current GCT M&A market? What is its impact of the current M&A market on technology development? Are these M&A trends new are just another cycle? Has pharma strategy shifted and, if so, what does it mean for GCT companies? What does it mean for patients? What are the long-term prospects – can valuations hold up?

Moderator:
Adam Koppel, MD, PhD
  • Managing Director, Bain Capital Life Sciences
Speakers:
Kenneth Custer, PhD
  • Vice President, Business Development and Lilly New Ventures, Eli Lilly and Company
Marianne De Backer, PhD
  • Head of Strategy, Business Development & Licensing, and Member of the Executive Committee, Bayer
Sean Nolan
  • Board Chairman, Encoded Therapeutics & Affinia
  • Executive Chairman, Jaguar Gene Therapy & Istari Oncology
  • Q&A

    12:20 PM – 12:35 PM
12:15 PM – 12:25 PM

FIRST LOOK
12:25 PM – 12:35 PM

FIRST LOOK

Gene Therapy for Neurologic Diseases

Patricia Musolino, MD, PhD
  • Co-Director Pediatric Stroke and Cerebrovascular Program, MGH
  • Assistant Professor of Neurology, HMS
  • Q&A

    12:35 PM – 12:55 PM
12:35 PM – 1:15 PM
1:15 PM – 1:40 PM

Oncolytic Viruses in Cancer | Curing Melanoma and Beyond

Oncolytic viruses represent a powerful new technology, but so far an FDA-approved oncolytic (Imlygic) has only occurred in one area – melanoma and that what is in 2015. This panel involves some of the protagonists of this early success story.  They will explore why and how Imlygic became approved and its path to commercialization.  Yet, no other cancer indications exist for Imlygic, unlike the expansion of FDA-approved indication for immune checkpoint inhibitors to multiple cancers.  Why? Is there a limitation to what and which cancers can target?  Is the mode of administration a problem?

No other oncolytic virus therapy has been approved since 2015. Where will the next success story come from and why?  Will these therapies only be beneficial for skin cancers or other easily accessible cancers based on intratumoral delivery?

The panel will examine whether the preclinical models that have been developed for other cancer treatment modalities will be useful for oncolytic viruses.  It will also assess the extent pre-clinical development challenges have slowed the development of OVs.

Moderator:
Nino Chiocca, MD, PhD
  • Neurosurgeon-in-Chief and Chairman, Neurosurgery, BWH
  • Harvey W. Cushing Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS
Speakers:
Robert Coffin, PhD
  • Chief Research & Development Officer, Replimune
Roger Perlmutter, MD, PhD
  • Chairman, Merck & Co.
David Reese, MD
  • Executive Vice President, Research and Development, Amgen
Ann Silk, MD
  • Physician, Dana Farber-Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center
  • Assistant Professor of Medicine, HMS
  • Q&A

    1:45 PM – 2:00 PM
1:45 PM – 2:10 PM

Market Interest in Oncolytic Viruses | Calibrating

There are currently two oncolytic virus products on the market, one in the USA and one in China.  As of late 2020, there were 86 clinical trials 60 of which were in phase I with just 2 in Phase III the rest in Phase I/II or Phase II.   Although global sales of OVs are still in the ramp-up phase, some projections forecast OVs will be a $700 million market by 2026. This panel will address some of the major questions in this area:

What regulatory challenges will keep OVs from realizing their potential? Despite the promise of OVs for treating cancer only one has been approved in the US. Why has this been the case? Reasons such have viral tropism, viral species selection and delivery challenges have all been cited. However, these are also true of other modalities. Why then have oncolytic virus approaches not advanced faster and what are the primary challenges to be overcome?

  • Will these need to be combined with other agents to realize their full efficacy and how will that impact the market?
  • Why are these companies pursuing OVs while several others are taking a pass?
Moderators:
Martine Lamfers, PhD
  • Visiting Scientist, BWH
Robert Martuza, MD
  • Consultant in Neurosurgery, MGH
  • William and Elizabeth Sweet Distinguished Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS
Speakers:
Anlong Li, MD, PhD
  • Clinical Director, Oncology Clinical Development, Merck Research Laboratories
Peter Liebowitz, MD, PhD
  • Global Therapeutic Area Head, Oncology, Janssen Research & Development
Loic Vincent, PhD
  • Head of Oncology Drug Discovery Unit, Takeda
  • Q&A

    2:15 PM – 2:30 PM
2:10 PM – 2:20 PM

FIRST LOOK

Oncolytic viruses: turning pathogens into anticancer agents

Nino Chiocca, MD, PhD
  • Neurosurgeon-in-Chief and Chairman, Neurosurgery, BWH
  • Harvey W. Cushing Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS
  • Q&A

    2:25 PM – 2:40 PM
2:20 PM – 2:45 PM

Entrepreneurial Growth | Oncolytic Virus

In 2020 there were a total of 60 phase I trials for Oncolytic Viruses. There are now dozens of companies pursuing some aspect of OV technology. This panel will address:

  •  How are small companies equipped to address the challenges of developing OV therapies better than large pharma or biotech?
  • Will the success of COVID vaccines based on Adenovirus help the regulatory environment for small companies developing OV products in Europe and the USA?
  • Is there a place for non-viral delivery and other immunotherapy companies to engage in the OV space?  Would they bring any real advantages?
Moderator:
Reid Huber, PhD
  • Partner, Third Rock Ventures
Speakers:
Caroline Breitbach, PhD
  • VP, R&D Programs and Strategy, Turnstone Biologics
Brett Ewald, PhD
  • SVP, Development & Corporate Strategy, DNAtrix
Paul Hallenbeck, PhD
  • President and Chief Scientific Officer, Seneca Therapeutics
Stephen Russell, MD, PhD
  • CEO, Vyriad
  • Q&A

    2:50 PM – 3:05 PM
2:45 PM – 3:00 PM
3:00 PM – 3:25 PM

CAR-T | Lessons Learned | What’s Next

Few areas of potential cancer therapy have had the attention and excitement of CAR-T. This panel of leading executives, developers, and clinician-scientists will explore the current state of CAR-T and its future prospects. Among the questions to be addressed are:

  • Is CAR-T still an industry priority – i.e. are new investments being made by large companies? Are new companies being financed? What are the trends?
  • What have we learned from first-generation products, what can we expect from CAR-T going forward in novel targets, combinations, armored CAR’s and allogeneic treatment adoption?
  • Early trials showed remarkable overall survival and progression-free survival. What has been observed regarding how enduring these responses are?
  • Most of the approvals to date have targeted CD19, and most recently BCMA. What are the most common forms of relapses that have been observed?
  • Is there a consensus about what comes after these CD19 and BCMA trials as to additional targets in liquid tumors? How have dual-targeted approaches fared?
Moderator:
Marcela Maus, MD, PhD
  • Director, Cellular Immunotherapy Program, Cancer Center, MGH
  • Associate Professor, Medicine, HMS
Speakers:
Jakob Dupont, MD
Kristen Hege, MD
  • Senior Vice President, Early Clinical Development, Hematology/Oncology & Cell Therapy, BMS
Stefan Hendriks
  • Gobal Head, Cell & Gene, Novartis
Christi Shaw
  • CEO, Kite
  • Q&A

    3:30 PM – 3:45 PM
3:30 PM – 3:55 PM

HOT TOPICS

CAR-T | Solid Tumors Success | When?

The potential application of CAR-T in solid tumors will be a game-changer if it occurs. The panel explores the prospects of solid tumor success and what the barriers have been. Questions include:

  •  How would industry and investor strategy for CAR-T and solid tumors be characterized? Has it changed in the last couple of years?
  •  Does the lack of tumor antigen specificity in solid tumors mean that lessons from liquid tumor CAR-T constructs will not translate well and we have to start over?
  •  Whether due to antigen heterogeneity, a hostile tumor micro-environment, or other factors are some specific solid tumors more attractive opportunities than others for CAR-T therapy development?
  •  Given the many challenges that CAR-T faces in solid tumors, does the use of combination therapies from the start, for example, to mitigate TME effects, offer a more compelling opportunity.
Moderator:
Oladapo Yeku, MD, PhD
  • Clinical Assistant in Medicine, MGH
Speakers:
Jennifer Brogdon
  • Executive Director, Head of Cell Therapy Research, Exploratory Immuno-Oncology, NIBR
Knut Niss, PhD
  • CTO, Mustang Bio
Barbra Sasu, PhD
  • CSO, Allogene
Jay Short, PhD
  • Chairman, CEO, Cofounder, BioAlta, Inc.
  • Q&A

    4:00 PM – 4:15 PM
4:00 PM – 4:25 PM

GCT Manufacturing | Vector Production | Autologous and Allogeneic | Stem Cells | Supply Chain | Scalability & Management

The modes of GCT manufacturing have the potential of fundamentally reordering long-established roles and pathways. While complexity goes up the distance from discovery to deployment shrinks. With the likelihood of a total market for cell therapies to be over $48 billion by 2027,  groups of products are emerging.  Stem cell therapies are projected to be $28 billion by 2027 and non-stem cell therapies such as CAR-T are projected be $20 billion by 2027. The manufacturing challenges for these two large buckets are very different. Within the CAR-T realm there are diverging trends of autologous and allogeneic therapies and the demands on manufacturing infrastructure are very different. Questions for the panelists are:

  • Help us all understand the different manufacturing challenges for cell therapies. What are the trade-offs among storage cost, batch size, line changes in terms of production cost and what is the current state of scaling naïve and stem cell therapy treatment vs engineered cell therapies?
  • For cell and gene therapy what is the cost of Quality Assurance/Quality Control vs. production and how do you think this will trend over time based on your perspective on learning curves today?
  • Will point of care production become a reality? How will that change product development strategy for pharma and venture investors? What would be the regulatory implications for such products?
  • How close are allogeneic CAR-T cell therapies? If successful what are the market implications of allogenic CAR-T? What are the cost implications and rewards for developing allogeneic cell therapy treatments?
Moderator:
David Hallal
  • CEO, ElevateBio
Speakers:
Dannielle Appelhans
  • SVP TechOps and Chief Technical Officer, Novartis Gene Therapies
Thomas Page, PhD
  • VP, Engineering and Asset Development, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies
Rahul Singhvi, ScD
  • CEO and Co-Founder, National Resilience, Inc.
Thomas VanCott, PhD
  • Global Head of Product Development, Gene & Cell Therapy, Catalent
  • Q&A

    4:30 PM – 4:45 PM
4:30 PM – 4:40 PM

FIRST LOOK

CAR-T

Marcela Maus, MD, PhD
  • Director, Cellular Immunotherapy Program, Cancer Center, MGH
  • Assistant Professor, Medicine, HMS
  • Q&A

    4:40 PM – 5:00 PM
4:40 PM – 4:50 PM

FIRST LOOK

Repurposed Tumor Cells as Killers and Immunomodulators for Cancer Therapy

Khalid Shah, PhD
  • Vice Chair, Neurogurgery Research, BWH
  • Director, Center for Stem Cell Therapeutics and Imaging, HMS
  • Q&A

    4:50 PM – 5:10 PM
4:50 PM – 5:00 PM

FIRST LOOK

Other Cell Therapies for Cancer

David Scadden, MD
  • Director, Center for Regenerative Medicine; Co-Director, Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Director, Hematologic Malignancies & Experimental Hematology, MGH
  • Jordan Professor of Medicine, HMS
  • Q&A

    5:00 PM – 5:20 PM
5:00 PM – 5:20 PM

FIRESIDE

Fireside with Mikael Dolsten, MD, PhD

Introducer:
Jonathan Kraft
Moderator:
Daniel Haber, MD, PhD
  • Chair, Cancer Center, MGH
  • Isselbacher Professor of Oncology, HMS
Mikael Dolsten, MD, PhD
  • Chief Scientific Officer and President, Worldwide Research, Development and Medical, Pfizer
  • Q&A

    5:25 PM – 5:40 AM
5:20 PM – 5:30 PM
8:00 AM – 8:25 AM

GCT | The China Juggernaut

China embraced gene and cell therapies early. The first China gene therapy clinical trial was in 1991. China approved the world’s first gene therapy product in 2003—Gendicine—an oncolytic adenovirus for the treatment of advanced head and neck cancer.  Driven by broad national strategy, China has become a hotbed of GCT development, ranking second in the world with more than 1,000 clinical trials either conducted or underway and thousands of related patents.  It has a booming GCT biotech sector, led by more than 45 local companies with growing IND pipelines.

In late 1990, a T cell-based immunotherapy, cytokine-induced killer (CIK) therapy became a popular modality in the clinic in China for tumor treatment.  In early 2010, Chinese researchers started to carry out domestic CAR T trials inspired by several important reports suggested the great antitumor function of CAR T cells. Now, China became the country with the most registered CAR T trials, CAR T therapy is flourishing in China.

The Chinese GCT ecosystem has increasingly rich local innovation and growing complement of development and investment partnerships – and also many subtleties.

This panel, consisting of leaders from the China GCT corporate, investor, research and entrepreneurial communities, will consider strategic questions on the growth of the gene and cell therapy industry in China, areas of greatest strength, evolving regulatory framework, early successes and products expected to reach the US and world market.

Moderator:
Min Wu, PhD
  • Managing Director, Fosun Health Fund
Speakers:
Alvin Luk, PhD
  • CEO, Neuropath Therapeutics
Pin Wang, PhD
  • CSO, Jiangsu Simcere Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
Richard Wang, PhD
  • CEO, Fosun Kite Biotechnology Co., Ltd
Tian Xu, PhD
  • Vice President, Westlake University
Shunfei Yan, PhD
  • Investment Manager, InnoStar Capital
  • Q&A

    8:30 AM – 8:45 AM
8:30 AM – 8:55 AM

Impact of mRNA Vaccines | Global Success Lessons

The COVID vaccine race has propelled mRNA to the forefront of biomedicine. Long considered as a compelling modality for therapeutic gene transfer, the technology may have found its most impactful application as a vaccine platform. Given the transformative industrialization, the massive human experience, and the fast development that has taken place in this industry, where is the horizon? Does the success of the vaccine application, benefit or limit its use as a therapeutic for CGT?

  • How will the COVID success impact the rest of the industry both in therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines and broader mRNA lessons?
  • How will the COVID success impact the rest of the industry both on therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines and broader mRNA lessons?
  • Beyond from speed of development, what aspects make mRNA so well suited as a vaccine platform?
  • Will cost-of-goods be reduced as the industry matures?
  • How does mRNA technology seek to compete with AAV and other gene therapy approaches?
Moderator:
Lindsey Baden, MD
  • Director, Clinical Research, Division of Infectious Diseases, BWH
  • Associate Professor, HMS
Speakers:
Melissa Moore
  • Chief Scientific Officer, Moderna
Ron Renaud
  • CEO, Translate Bio
  • Q&A

    9:00 AM – 9:15 AM
9:00 AM – 9:25 AM

HOT TOPICS

Benign Blood Disorders

Hemophilia has been and remains a hallmark indication for the CGT. Given its well-defined biology, larger market, and limited need for gene transfer to provide therapeutic benefit, it has been at the forefront of clinical development for years, however, product approval remains elusive. What are the main hurdles to this success? Contrary to many indications that CGT pursues no therapeutic options are available to patients, hemophiliacs have an increasing number of highly efficacious treatment options. How does the competitive landscape impact this field differently than other CGT fields? With many different players pursuing a gene therapy option for hemophilia, what are the main differentiators? Gene therapy for hemophilia seems compelling for low and middle-income countries, given the cost of currently available treatments; does your company see opportunities in this market?

Moderator:
Nancy Berliner, MD
  • Chief, Division of Hematology, BWH
  • H. Franklin Bunn Professor of Medicine, HMS
Speakers:
Theresa Heggie
  • CEO, Freeline Therapeutics
Gallia Levy, MD, PhD
  • Chief Medical Officer, Spark Therapeutics
Amir Nashat, PhD
  • Managing Partner, Polaris Ventures
Suneet Varma
  • Global President of Rare Disease, Pfizer
  • Q&A

    9:30 AM – 9:45 AM
9:25 AM – 9:35 AM

FIRST LOOK

Treating Rett Syndrome through X-reactivation

Jeannie Lee, MD, PhD
  • Molecular Biologist, MGH
  • Professor of Genetics, HMS
  • Q&A

    9:35 AM – 9:55 AM
9:35 AM – 9:45 AM

FIRST LOOK

Rare but mighty: scaling up success in single gene disorders

Florian Eichler, MD
  • Director, Center for Rare Neurological Diseases, MGH
  • Associate Professor, Neurology, HMS
  • Q&A

    9:45 AM – 10:05 AM
9:50 AM – 10:15 AM

HOT TOPICS

Diabetes | Grand Challenge

The American Diabetes Association estimates 30 million Americans have diabetes and 1.5 million are diagnosed annually. GCT offers the prospect of long-sought treatment for this enormous cohort and their chronic requirements. The complexity of the disease and its management constitute a grand challenge and highlight both the potential of GCT and its current limitations.

  •  Islet transplantation for type 1 diabetes has been attempted for decades. Problems like loss of transplanted islet cells due to autoimmunity and graft site factors have been difficult to address. Is there anything different on the horizon for gene and cell therapies to help this be successful?
  • How is the durability of response for gene or cell therapies for diabetes being addressed? For example, what would the profile of an acceptable (vs. optimal) cell therapy look like?
Moderator:
Marie McDonnell, MD
  • Chief, Diabetes Section and Director, Diabetes Program, BWH
  • Lecturer on Medicine, HMS
Speakers:
Tom Bollenbach, PhD
  • Chief Technology Officer, Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute
Manasi Jaiman, MD
  • Vice President, Clinical Development, ViaCyte
  • Pediatric Endocrinologist,
Bastiano Sanna, PhD
  • EVP, Chief of Cell & Gene Therapies and VCGT Site Head, Vertex Pharmaceuticals
Rogerio Vivaldi, MD
  • CEO, Sigilon Therapeutics
  • Q&A

    10:20 AM – 10:35 AM
10:20 AM – 10:40 AM

FIRESIDE

Building A Unified GCT Strategy

Introducer:
John Fish
  • CEO, Suffolk
  • Chairman of Board Trustees, Brigham Health
Moderator:
Meg Tirrell
  • Senior Health and Science Reporter, CNBC
Speaker:
Jay Bradner, MD
  • President, NIBR
  • Q&A

    10:45 AM – 11:00 AM
10:40 AM – 10:50 AM
10:50 AM – 11:00 AM

FIRST LOOK

Getting to the Heart of the Matter: Curing Genetic Cardiomyopathy

Christine Seidman, MD
  • Director, Cardiovascular Genetics Center, BWH
  • Smith Professor of Medicine & Genetics, HMS
  • Q&A

    11:00 AM – 11:20 AM
11:00 AM – 11:10 AM

FIRST LOOK

Unlocking the secret lives of proteins in health and disease

Anna Greka, MD, PhD
  • Medicine, BWH
  • Associate Professor, Medicine, HMS
  • Q&A

    11:10 AM – 11:30 AM
11:10 AM – 11:35 AM

Rare and Ultra Rare Diseases | GCT Breaks Through

One of the most innovative segments in all of healthcare is the development of GCT driven therapies for rare and ultra-rare diseases. Driven by a series of insights and tools and funded in part by disease focused foundations, philanthropists and abundant venture funding disease after disease is yielding to new GCT technology. These often become platforms to address more prevalent diseases. The goal of making these breakthroughs routine and affordable is challenged by a range of issues including clinical trial design and pricing.

  • What is driving the interest in rare diseases?
  • What are the biggest barriers to making breakthroughs ‘routine and affordable?’
  • What is the role of retrospective and prospective natural history studies in rare disease?  When does the expected value of retrospective disease history studies justify the cost?
  • Related to the first question, what is the FDA expecting as far as controls in clinical trials for rare diseases?  How does this impact the collection of natural history data?
Moderator:
Susan Slaugenhaupt, PhD
  • Scientific Director and Elizabeth G. Riley and Daniel E. Smith Jr., Endowed Chair, Mass General Research Institute
  • Professor, Neurology, HMS
Speakers:
Leah Bloom, PhD
  • SVP, External Innovation and Strategic Alliances, Novartis Gene Therapies
Bobby Gaspar, MD, PhD
  • CEO, Orchard Therapeutics
Emil Kakkis, MD, PhD
  • CEO, Ultragenyx
Stuart Peltz, PhD
  • CEO, PTC Therapeutics
  • Q&A

    11:40 AM – 11:55 AM
11:40 AM – 12:00 PM

FIRESIDE

Partnering Across the GCT Spectrum

Moderator:
Erin Harris
  • Chief Editor, Cell & Gene
Speaker:
Marc Casper
  • CEO, ThermoFisher
  • Q&A

    12:05 PM – 12:20 PM
12:05 PM – 12:30 PM

CEO Panel | Anticipating Disruption | Planning for Widespread GCT

The power of GCT to cure disease has the prospect of profoundly improving the lives of patients who respond. Planning for a disruption of this magnitude is complex and challenging as it will change care across the spectrum. Leading chief executives shares perspectives on how the industry will change and how this change should be anticipated.

Moderator:
Meg Tirrell
  • Senior Health and Science Reporter, CNBC
Speakers:
Lisa Dechamps
  • SVP & Chief Business Officer, Novartis Gene Therapies
Kieran Murphy
  • CEO, GE Healthcare
Christian Rommel, PhD
  • Head, Pharmaceuticals Research & Development, Bayer AG
  • Q&A

    12:35 PM – 12:50 PM
12:35 PM – 12:55 PM

FIRESIDE

Building a GCT Portfolio

GCT represents a large and growing market for novel therapeutics that has several segments. These include Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, Neurological Diseases, Infectious Disease, Ophthalmology, Benign Blood Disorders, and many others; Manufacturing and Supply Chain including CDMO’s and CMO’s; Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine; Tools and Platforms (viral vectors, nano delivery, gene editing, etc.). Bayer’s pharma business participates in virtually all of these segments. How does a Company like Bayer approach the development of a portfolio in a space as large and as diverse as this one? How does Bayer approach the support of the production infrastructure with unique demands and significant differences from its historical requirements?

Moderator:
Ansbert Gadicke, MD
  • Co-Founder, Managing Director, MPM Capital
Speaker:
Wolfram Carius, PhD
  • EVP, Pharmaceuticals, Head of Cell & Gene Therapy, Bayer AG
  • Q&A

    1:00 PM – 1:15 PM
12:55 PM – 1:35 PM
1:40 PM – 2:05 PM

GCT Delivery | Perfecting the Technology

Gene delivery uses physical, chemical, or viral means to introduce genetic material into cells. As more genetically modified therapies move closer to the market, challenges involving safety, efficacy, and manufacturing have emerged. Optimizing lipidic and polymer nanoparticles and exosomal delivery is a short-term priority. This panel will examine how the short-term and long-term challenges are being tackled particularly for non-viral delivery modalities.

Moderator:
Natalie Artzi, PhD
  • Assistant Professor, BWH
Speakers:
Geoff McDonough, MD
  • CEO, Generation Bio
Sonya Montgomery
  • CMO, Evox Therapeutics
Laura Sepp-Lorenzino, PhD
  • Chief Scientific Officer, Executive Vice President, Intellia Therapeutics
Doug Williams, PhD
  • CEO, Codiak BioSciences
  • Q&A

    2:10 PM – 2:25 PM
2:10 PM – 2:20 PM

FIRST LOOK

Enhancing vesicles for therapeutic delivery of bioproducts

Xandra Breakefield, PhD
  • Geneticist, MGH, MGH
  • Professor, Neurology, HMS
  • Q&A

    2:20 PM – 2:35 PM
2:20 PM – 2:30 PM

FIRST LOOK
2:55 PM – 3:20 PM

HOT TOPICS

Gene Editing | Achieving Therapeutic Mainstream

Gene editing was recognized by the Nobel Committee as “one of gene technology’s sharpest tools, having a revolutionary impact on life sciences.” Introduced in 2011, gene editing is used to modify DNA. It has applications across almost all categories of disease and is also being used in agriculture and public health.

Today’s panel is made up of pioneers who represent foundational aspects of gene editing.  They will discuss the movement of the technology into the therapeutic mainstream.

  • Successes in gene editing – lessons learned from late-stage assets (sickle cell, ophthalmology)
  • When to use what editing tool – pros and cons of traditional gene-editing v. base editing.  Is prime editing the future? Specific use cases for epigenetic editing.
  • When we reach widespread clinical use – role of off-target editing – is the risk real?  How will we mitigate? How practical is patient-specific off-target evaluation?
Moderator:
J. Keith Joung, MD, PhD
  • Robert B. Colvin, M.D. Endowed Chair in Pathology & Pathologist, MGH
  • Professor of Pathology, HMS
Speakers:
John Evans
  • CEO, Beam Therapeutics
Lisa Michaels
  • EVP & CMO, Editas Medicine
  • Q&A

    3:25 PM – 3:50 PM
3:25 PM – 3:50 PM

HOT TOPICS

Common Blood Disorders | Gene Therapy

There are several dozen companies working to develop gene or cell therapies for Sickle Cell Disease, Beta Thalassemia, and  Fanconi Anemia. In some cases, there are enzyme replacement therapies that are deemed effective and safe. In other cases, the disease is only managed at best. This panel will address a number of questions that are particular to this class of genetic diseases:

  • What are the pros and cons of various strategies for treatment? There are AAV-based editing, non-viral delivery even oligonucleotide recruitment of endogenous editing/repair mechanisms. Which approaches are most appropriate for which disease?
  • How can companies increase the speed of recruitment for clinical trials when other treatments are available? What is the best approach to educate patients on a novel therapeutic?
  • How do we best address ethnic and socio-economic diversity to be more representative of the target patient population?
  • How long do we have to follow up with the patients from the scientific, patient’s community, and payer points of view? What are the current FDA and EMA guidelines for long-term follow-up?
  • Where are we with regards to surrogate endpoints and their application to clinically meaningful endpoints?
  • What are the emerging ethical dilemmas in pediatric gene therapy research? Are there challenges with informed consent and pediatric assent for trial participation?
  • Are there differences in reimbursement policies for these different blood disorders? Clearly durability of response is a big factor. Are there other considerations?
Moderator:
David Scadden, MD
  • Director, Center for Regenerative Medicine; Co-Director, Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Director, Hematologic Malignancies & Experimental Hematology, MGH
  • Jordan Professor of Medicine, HMS
Speakers:
Samarth Kukarni, PhD
Nick Leschly
  • Chief Bluebird, Bluebird Bio
Mike McCune, MD, PhD
  • Head, HIV Frontiers, Global Health Innovative Technology Solutions, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Q&A

    3:55 PM – 4:15 PM
3:50 PM – 4:00 PM

FIRST LOOK

Gene Editing

J. Keith Joung, MD, PhD
  • Robert B. Colvin, M.D. Endowed Chair in Pathology & Pathologist, MGH
  • Professor of Pathology, HMS
  • Q&A

    4:00 PM – 4:20 PM
4:20 PM – 4:45 PM

HOT TOPICS

Gene Expression | Modulating with Oligonucleotide-Based Therapies

Oligonucleotide drugs have recently come into their own with approvals from companies such as Biogen, Alnylam, Novartis and others. This panel will address several questions:

How important is the delivery challenge for oligonucleotides? Are technological advancements emerging that will improve the delivery of oligonucleotides to the CNS or skeletal muscle after systemic administration?

  • Will oligonucleotides improve as a class that will make them even more effective?   Are further advancements in backbone chemistry anticipated, for example.
  • Will oligonucleotide based therapies blaze trails for follow-on gene therapy products?
  • Are small molecules a threat to oligonucleotide-based therapies?
  • Beyond exon skipping and knock-down mechanisms, what other roles will oligonucleotide-based therapies take mechanistically — can genes be activating oligonucleotides?  Is there a place for multiple mechanism oligonucleotide medicines?
  • Are there any advantages of RNAi-based oligonucleotides over ASOs, and if so for what use?
Moderator:
Jeannie Lee, MD, PhD
  • Molecular Biologist, MGH
  • Professor of Genetics, HMS
Speakers:
Bob Brown, PhD
  • CSO, EVP of R&D, Dicerna
Brett Monia, PhD
  • CEO, Ionis
Alfred Sandrock, MD, PhD
  • EVP, R&D and CMO, Biogen
  • Q&A

    4:50 PM – 5:05 PM
4:45 PM – 4:55 PM

FIRST LOOK

RNA therapy for brain cancer

Pierpaolo Peruzzi, MD, PhD
  • Nuerosurgery, BWH
  • Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS
  • Q&A

    4:55 PM – 5:15 PM
8:30 AM – 8:55 AM

Venture Investing | Shaping GCT Translation

What is occurring in the GCT venture capital segment? Which elements are seeing the most activity? Which areas have cooled? How is the investment market segmented between gene therapy, cell therapy and gene editing? What makes a hot GCT company? How long will the market stay frothy? Some review of demographics — # of investments, sizes, etc. Why is the market hot and how long do we expect it to stay that way? Rank the top 5 geographic markets for GCT company creation and investing? Are there academic centers that have been especially adept at accelerating GCT outcomes? Do the business models for the rapid development of coronavirus vaccine have any lessons for how GCT technology can be brought to market more quickly?

Moderator:
Meredith Fisher, PhD
  • Partner, Mass General Brigham Innovation Fund
Speakers:
David Berry, MD, PhD
  • CEO, Valo Health
  • General Partner, Flagship Pioneering
Robert Nelsen
  • Managing Director, Co-founder, ARCH Venture Partners
Kush Parmar, MD, PhD
  • Managing Partner, 5AM Ventures
  • Q&A

    9:00 AM – 9:15 AM
9:00 AM – 9:25 AM

Regenerative Medicine | Stem Cells

The promise of stem cells has been a highlight in the realm of regenerative medicine. Unfortunately, that promise remains largely in the future. Recent breakthroughs have accelerated these potential interventions in particular for treating neurological disease. Among the topics the panel will consider are:

  • Stem cell sourcing
  • Therapeutic indication growth
  • Genetic and other modification in cell production
  • Cell production to final product optimization and challenges
  • How to optimize the final product
Moderator:
Ole Isacson, MD, PhD
  • Director, Neuroregeneration Research Institute, McLean
  • Professor, Neurology and Neuroscience, HMS
Speakers:
Kapil Bharti, PhD
  • Senior Investigator, Ocular and Stem Cell Translational Research Section, NIH
Joe Burns, PhD
  • VP, Head of Biology, Decibel Therapeutics
Erin Kimbrel, PhD
  • Executive Director, Regenerative Medicine, Astellas
Nabiha Saklayen, PhD
  • CEO and Co-Founder, Cellino
  • Q&A

    9:30 AM – 9:45 AM
9:25 AM – 9:35 AM

FIRST LOOK

Stem Cells

Bob Carter, MD, PhD
  • Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery, MGH
  • William and Elizabeth Sweet, Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS
  • Q&A

    9:35 AM – 9:55 AM
9:35 AM – 10:00 AM

Capital Formation ’21-30 | Investing Modes Driving GCT Technology and Timing

The dynamics of venture/PE investing and IPOs are fast evolving. What are the drivers – will the number of investors grow will the size of early rounds continue to grow? How is this reflected in GCT target areas, company design, and biotech overall? Do patients benefit from these trends? Is crossover investing a distinct class or a little of both? Why did it emerge and what are the characteristics of the players?  Will SPACs play a role in the growth of the gene and cell therapy industry. What is the role of corporate investment arms eg NVS, Bayer, GV, etc. – has a category killer emerged?  Are we nearing the limit of what the GCT market can absorb or will investment capital continue to grow unabated?

Moderator:
Roger Kitterman
  • VP, Venture, Mass General Brigham
Speakers:
Ellen Hukkelhoven, PhD
  • Managing Director, Perceptive Advisors
Peter Kolchinsky, PhD
  • Founder and Managing Partner, RA Capital Management
Deep Nishar
  • Senior Managing Partner, SoftBank Investment Advisors
Oleg Nodelman
  • Founder & Managing Partner, EcoR1 Capital
  • Q&A

    10:05 AM – 10:20 AM
10:00 AM – 10:10 AM

FIRST LOOK
10:10 AM – 10:35 AM

HOT TOPICS

Neurodegenerative Clinical Outcomes | Achieving GCT Success

Can stem cell-based platforms become successful treatments for neurodegenerative diseases?

  •  What are the commonalities driving GCT success in neurodegenerative disease and non-neurologic disease, what are the key differences?
  • Overcoming treatment administration challenges
  • GCT impact on degenerative stage of disease
  • How difficult will it be to titrate the size of the cell therapy effect in different neurological disorders and for different patients?
  • Demonstrating clinical value to patients and payers
  • Revised clinical trial models to address issues and concerns specific to GCT
Moderator:
Bob Carter, MD, PhD
  • Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery, MGH
  • William and Elizabeth Sweet, Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS
Speakers:
Erwan Bezard, PhD
  • INSERM Research Director, Institute of Neurodegenerative Diseases
Nikola Kojic, PhD
  • CEO and Co-Founder, Oryon Cell Therapies
Geoff MacKay
  • President & CEO, AVROBIO
Viviane Tabar, MD
  • Founding Investigator, BlueRock Therapeutics
  • Chair of Neurosurgery, Memorial Sloan Kettering
  • Q&A

    10:40 AM – 10:55 AM
10:35 AM – 11:35 AM

Disruptive Dozen: 12 Technologies that Will Reinvent GCT

Nearly one hundred senior Mass General Brigham Harvard faculty contributed to the creation of this group of twelve GCT technologies that they believe will breakthrough in the next two years. The Disruptive Dozen identifies and ranks the GCT technologies that will be available on at least an experimental basis to have the chance of significantly improving health care.

11:35 AM – 11:45 AM

Concluding Remarks

The co-chairs convene to reflect on the insights shared over the three days. They will discuss what to expect at the in-person GCT focused May 2-4, 2022 World Medical Innovation Forum.

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Inhibitory CD161 receptor recognized as a potential immunotherapy target in glioma-infiltrating T cells by single-cell analysis

Reporter: Dr. Premalata Pati, Ph.D., Postdoc

 

Brain tumors, especially the diffused Gliomas are of the most devastating forms of cancer and have so-far been resistant to immunotherapy. It is comprehended that T cells can penetrate the glioma cells, but it still remains unknown why infiltrating cells miscarry to mount a resistant reaction or stop the tumor development.

Gliomas are brain tumors that begin from neuroglial begetter cells. The conventional therapeutic methods including, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, have accomplished restricted changes inside glioma patients. Immunotherapy, a compliance in cancer treatment, has introduced a promising strategy with the capacity to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. This has been recognized since the spearheading revelation of lymphatics within the central nervous system. Glioma is not generally carcinogenic. As observed in a number of cases, the tumor cells viably reproduce and assault the adjoining tissues, by and large, gliomas are malignant in nature and tend to metastasize. There are four grades in glioma, and each grade has distinctive cell features and different treatment strategies. Glioblastoma is a grade IV glioma, which is the crucial aggravated form. This infers that all glioblastomas are gliomas, however, not all gliomas are glioblastomas.

Decades of investigations on infiltrating gliomas still take off vital questions with respect to the etiology, cellular lineage, and function of various cell types inside glial malignancies. In spite of the available treatment options such as surgical resection, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, the average survival rate for high-grade glioma patients remains 1–3 years (1).

A recent in vitro study performed by the researchers of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, USA, has recognized that CD161 is identified as a potential new target for immunotherapy of malignant brain tumors. The scientific team depicted their work in the Cell Journal, in a paper entitled, “Inhibitory CD161 receptor recognized in glioma-infiltrating T cells by single-cell analysis.” on 15th February 2021.

To further expand their research and findings, Dr. Kai Wucherpfennig, MD, PhD, Chief of the Center for Cancer Immunotherapy, at Dana-Farber stated that their research is additionally important in a number of other major human cancer types such as 

  • melanoma,
  • lung,
  • colon, and
  • liver cancer.

Dr. Wucherpfennig has praised the other authors of the report Mario Suva, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts Common Clinic; Aviv Regev, PhD, of the Klarman Cell Observatory at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and David Reardon, MD, clinical executive of the Center for Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber.

Hence, this new study elaborates the effectiveness of the potential effectors of anti-tumor immunity in subsets of T cells that co-express cytotoxic programs and several natural killer (NK) cell genes.

The Study-

IMAGE SOURCE: Experimental Strategy (Mathewson et al., 2021)

 

The group utilized single-cell RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) to mull over gene expression and the clonal picture of tumor-infiltrating T cells. It involved the participation of 31 patients suffering from diffused gliomas and glioblastoma. Their work illustrated that the ligand molecule CLEC2D activates CD161, which is an immune cell surface receptor that restrains the development of cancer combating activity of immune T cells and tumor cells in the brain. The study reveals that the activation of CD161 weakens the T cell response against tumor cells.

Based on the study, the facts suggest that the analysis of clonally expanded tumor-infiltrating T cells further identifies the NK gene KLRB1 that codes for CD161 as a candidate inhibitory receptor. This was followed by the use of 

  • CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology to inactivate the KLRB1 gene in T cells and showed that CD161 inhibits the tumor cell-killing function of T cells. Accordingly,
  • genetic inactivation of KLRB1 or
  • antibody-mediated CD161 blockade

enhances T cell-mediated killing of glioma cells in vitro and their anti-tumor function in vivo. KLRB1 and its associated transcriptional program are also expressed by substantial T cell populations in other forms of human cancers. The work provides an atlas of T cells in gliomas and highlights CD161 and other NK cell receptors as immune checkpoint targets.

Further, it has been identified that many cancer patients are being treated with immunotherapy drugs that disable their “immune checkpoints” and their molecular brakes are exploited by the cancer cells to suppress the body’s defensive response induced by T cells against tumors. Disabling these checkpoints lead the immune system to attack the cancer cells. One of the most frequently targeted checkpoints is PD-1. However, recent trials of drugs that target PD-1 in glioblastomas have failed to benefit the patients.

In the current study, the researchers found that fewer T cells from gliomas contained PD-1 than CD161. As a result, they said, “CD161 may represent an attractive target, as it is a cell surface molecule expressed by both CD8 and CD4 T cell subsets [the two types of T cells engaged in response against tumor cells] and a larger fraction of T cells express CD161 than the PD-1 protein.”

However, potential side effects of antibody-mediated blockade of the CLEC2D-CD161 pathway remain unknown and will need to be examined in a non-human primate model. The group hopes to use this finding in their future work by

utilizing their outline by expression of KLRB1 gene in tumor-infiltrating T cells in diffuse gliomas to make a remarkable contribution in therapeutics related to immunosuppression in brain tumors along with four other common human cancers ( Viz. melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), hepatocellular carcinoma, and colorectal cancer) and how this may be manipulated for prevalent survival of the patients.

References

(1) Anders I. Persson, QiWen Fan, Joanna J. Phillips, William A. Weiss, 39 – Glioma, Editor(s): Sid Gilman, Neurobiology of Disease, Academic Press, 2007, Pages 433-444, ISBN 9780120885923, https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-012088592-3/50041-4.

Main Source

Mathewson ND, Ashenberg O, Tirosh I, Gritsch S, Perez EM, Marx S, et al. 2021. Inhibitory CD161 receptor identified in glioma-infiltrating T cells by single-cell analysis. Cell.https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(21)00065-9?elqTrackId=c3dd8ff1d51f4aea87edd0153b4f2dc7

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Reporter: Adina Hazan, PhD

Elizabeth Unger from the Tian group at UC Davis, Jacob Keller from the Looger lab from HHMI, Michael Altermatt from the Gradinaru group at California Institute of Technology, and colleagues did just this, by redesigned the binding pocket of periplasmic binding proteins (PBPs) using artificial intelligence, such that it became a fluorescent sensor specific for serotonin. Not only this, the group showed that it could express and use this molecule to detect serotonin on the cell, tissue, and whole animal level.

By starting with a microbial PBP and early version of an acetyl choline sensor (iAChSnFR), the scientists used machine learning and modeling to redesign the binding site to exhibit a higher affinity and specificity to serotonin. After three repeats of mutagenesis, modeling, and library readouts, they produced iSeroSnFR. This version harbors 19 mutations compared to iAChSnFR0.6 and a Kd of 310 µM. This results in an increase in fluorescence in HEK293T cells expressing the serotonin receptor of 800%. Of over 40 neurotransmitters, amino acids, and small molecules screened, only two endogenous molecules evoked some fluorescence, but at significantly higher concentrations.

To acutely test the ability of the sensor to detect rapid changes of serotonin in the environment, the researchers used caged serotonin, a technique in which the serotonin is rapidly released into the environment with light pulses, and showed that iSeroSnFR accurately and robustly produced a signal with each flash of light. With this tool, it was then possible to move to ex-vivo mouse brain slices and detect endogenous serotonin release patterns across the brain. Three weeks after targeted injection of iSeroSnFR to specifically deliver the receptor into the prefrontal cortex and dorsal striatum, strong fluorescent signal could be detected during perfusion of serotonin or electrical stimulation.

Most significantly, this molecule was also shown to be detected in freely moving mice, a tool which could offer critical insight into the acute role of serotonin regulation during important functions such as mood and alertness. Through optical fiber placements in the basolateral amygdala and prefrontal cortex, the team measured dynamic and real-time changes in serotonin release in fear-trained mice, social interactions, and sleep wake cycles. For example, while both areas of the brain have been established as relevant to the fear response, they reliably tracked that the PFC response was immediate, while the BSA displayed a delayed response. This additional temporal resolution of neuromodulation may have important implications in neurotransmitter pharmacology of the central nervous system.

This study provided the scientific community with several insights and tools. The serotonin sensor itself will be a critical tool in the study of the central nervous system and possibly beyond. Additionally, an AI approach to mutagenesis in order to redesign a binding pocket of a receptor opens new avenues to the development of pharmacological tools and may lead to many new designs in therapeutics and research.

SOURCE:

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Double Mutant PI3KA Found to Lead to Higher Oncogenic Signaling in Cancer Cells

Curator: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

PIK3CA (Phosphatidylinsitol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) 3-kinase catalytic subunit α) is one of the most frequently mutated oncogenes in various tumor types ([1] and http://www.sanger.ac.uk/genetics/CGP/cosmic). Oncogenic mutations leading to the overactivation of PIK3CA, especially in context in of inactivating PTEN mutations, result in overtly high signaling activity and associated with the malignant phenotype.

In a Perspective article (Double trouble for cancer gene: Double mutations in an oncogene enhance tumor growth) in the journal Science[2], Dr. Alex Toker discusses the recent results of Vasan et al. in the same issue of Science[3] on the finding that double mutations in the same allele of PIK3CA are more frequent in cancer genomes than previously identified and these double mutations lead to increased PI3K pathway activation, increased tumor growth, and increased sensitivity to PI3K inhibitors in human breast cancer.

 

 

From Dr. Melvin Crasto blog NewDrugApprovals.org

Alpelisib: PIK3CA inhibitor:

Alpelisib: New PIK3CA inhibitor approved for HER2 negative metastatic breast cancer

 

FDA approves first PI3K inhibitor for breast cancer

syn https://newdrugapprovals.org/2018/06/25/alpelisib-byl-719/

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Piqray (alpelisib) tablets, to be used in combination with the FDA-approved endocrine therapy fulvestrant, to treat postmenopausal women, and men, with hormone receptor (HR)-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative, PIK3CA-mutated, advanced or metastatic breast cancer (as detected by an FDA-approved test) following progression on or after an endocrine-based regimen.

The FDA also approved the companion diagnostic test, therascreen PIK3CA RGQ PCR Kit, to detect the PIK3CA mutation in a tissue and/or a liquid biopsy. Patients who are negative by

May 24, 2019

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Piqray (alpelisib) tablets, to be used in combination with the FDA-approved endocrine therapy fulvestrant, to treat postmenopausal women, and men, with hormone receptor (HR)-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative, PIK3CA-mutated, advanced or metastatic breast cancer (as detected by an FDA-approved test) following progression on or after an endocrine-based regimen.

The FDA also approved the companion diagnostic test, therascreen PIK3CA RGQ PCR Kit, to detect the PIK3CA mutation in a tissue and/or a liquid biopsy. Patients who are negative by the therascreen test using the liquid biopsy should undergo tumor biopsy for PIK3CA mutation testing.

“Piqray is the first PI3K inhibitor to demonstrate a clinically meaningful benefit in treating patients with this type of breast cancer. The ability to target treatment to a patient’s specific genetic mutation or biomarker is becoming increasingly common in cancer treatment, and companion diagnostic tests assist oncologists in selecting patients who may benefit from these targeted treatments,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence and acting director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “For this approval, we employed some of our newer regulatory tools to streamline reviews without compromising the quality of our assessment. This drug is the first novel drug approved under the Real-Time Oncology Review pilot program. We also used the updated Assessment Aid, a multidisciplinary review template that helps focus our written review on critical thinking and consistency and reduces time spent on administrative tasks.”

Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other organs in the body (most often the bones, lungs, liver or brain). When breast cancer is hormone-receptor positive, patients may be treated with anti-hormonal treatment (also called endocrine therapy), alone or in combination with other medicines, or chemotherapy.

The efficacy of Piqray was studied in the SOLAR-1 trial, a randomized trial of 572 postmenopausal women and men with HR-positive, HER2-negative, advanced or metastatic breast cancer whose cancer had progressed while on or after receiving an aromatase inhibitor. Results from the trial showed the addition of Piqray to fulvestrant significantly prolonged progression- free survival (median of 11 months vs. 5.7 months) in patients whose tumors had a PIK3CA mutation.

Common side effects of Piqray are high blood sugar levels, increase in creatinine, diarrhea, rash, decrease in lymphocyte count in the blood, elevated liver enzymes, nausea, fatigue, low red blood cell count, increase in lipase (enzymes released by the pancreas), decreased appetite, stomatitis, vomiting, weight loss, low calcium levels, aPTT prolonged (blood clotting taking longer to occur than it should), and hair loss.

Health care professionals are advised to monitor patients taking Piqray for severe hypersensitivity reactions (intolerance). Patients are warned of potentially severe skin reactions (rashes that may result in peeling and blistering of skin or mucous membranes like the lips and gums). Health care professionals are advised not to initiate treatment in patients with a history of severe skin reactions such as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, erythema multiforme, or toxic epidermal necrolysis. Patients on Piqray have reported severe hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), and the safety of Piqray in patients with Type 1 or uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes has not been established. Before initiating treatment with Piqray, health care professionals are advised to check fasting glucose and HbA1c, and to optimize glycemic control. Patients should be monitored for pneumonitis/interstitial lung disease (inflammation of lung tissue) and diarrhea during treatment. Piqray must be dispensed with a patient Medication Guide that describes important information about the drug’s uses and risks.

Piqray is the first new drug application (NDA) for a new molecular entity approved under the Real-Time Oncology Review (RTOR) pilot program, which permits the FDA to begin analyzing key efficacy and safety datasets prior to the official submission of an application, allowing the review team to begin their review and communicate with the applicant earlier. Piqray also used the updated Assessment Aid (AAid), a multidisciplinary review template intended to focus the FDA’s written review on critical thinking and consistency and reduce time spent on administrative tasks. With these two pilot programs, today’s approval of Piqray comes approximately three months ahead of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) VI deadline of August 18, 2019.

The FDA granted this application Priority Review designation. The FDA granted approval of Piqray to Novartis. The FDA granted approval of the therascreen PIK3CA RGQ PCR Kit to QIAGEN Manchester, Ltd.

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-pi3k-inhibitor-breast-cancer?utm_campaign=052419_PR_FDA%20approves%20first%20PI3K%20inhibitor%20for%20breast%20cancer&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua

 

Alpelisib

(2S)-1-N-[4-methyl-5-[2-(1,1,1-trifluoro-2-methylpropan-2-yl)pyridin-4-yl]-1,3-thiazol-2-yl]pyrrolidine-1,2-dicarboxamide

PDT PAT WO 2010/029082

CHEMICAL NAMES: Alpelisib; CAS 1217486-61-7; BYL-719; BYL719; UNII-08W5N2C97Q; BYL 719
MOLECULAR FORMULA: C19H22F3N5O2S
MOLECULAR WEIGHT: 441.473 g/mol
  1. alpelisib
  2. 1217486-61-7
  3. BYL-719
  4. BYL719
  5. UNII-08W5N2C97Q
  6. BYL 719
  7. Alpelisib (BYL719)
  8. (S)-N1-(4-Methyl-5-(2-(1,1,1-trifluoro-2-methylpropan-2-yl)pyridin-4-yl)thiazol-2-yl)pyrrolidine-1,2-dicarboxamide
  9. NVP-BYL719

Alpelisib is an orally bioavailable phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor with potential antineoplastic activity. Alpelisib specifically inhibits PI3K in the PI3K/AKT kinase (or protein kinase B) signaling pathway, thereby inhibiting the activation of the PI3K signaling pathway. This may result in inhibition of tumor cell growth and survival in susceptible tumor cell populations. Activation of the PI3K signaling pathway is frequently associated with tumorigenesis. Dysregulated PI3K signaling may contribute to tumor resistance to a variety of antineoplastic agents.

Alpelisib has been used in trials studying the treatment and basic science of Neoplasms, Solid Tumors, BREAST CANCER, 3rd Line GIST, and Rectal Cancer, among others.

 

SYN 2

POLYMORPHS

https://patents.google.com/patent/WO2012175522A1/en

(S)-pyrrolidine-l,2-dicarboxylic acid 2-amide l-(4-methyl-5-[2-(2,2,2-trifluoro-l,l- dimethyl-ethyl)-pyridin-4-yl]-thiazol-2-yl)-amidei hereafter referred to as compound I,

is an alpha-selective phosphatidylinositol 3 -kinase (PI3K) inhibitor. Compound I was originally described in WO 2010/029082, wherein the synthesis of its free base form was described. There is a need for additional solid forms of compound I, for use in drug substance and drug product development. It has been found that new solid forms of compound I can be prepared as one or more polymorph forms, including solvate forms. These polymorph forms exhibit new physical properties that may be exploited in order to obtain new pharmacological properties, and that may be utilized in drug substance and drug product development. Summary of the Invention

In one aspect, provided herein is a crystalline form of the compound of formula I, or a solvate of the crystalline form of the compound of formula I, or a salt of the crystalline form of the compound of formula I, or a solvate of a salt of the crystalline form of the compound of formula I. In one embodiment, the crystalline form of the compound of formula I has the polymorph form SA, SB, Sc, or SD.

In another aspect, provided herein is a pharmaceutical composition comprising a crystalline compound of formula I. In one embodiment of the pharmaceutical composition, the crystalline compound of formula I has the polymorph form SA, SB,Sc, or So.

In another aspect, provided herein is a method for the treatment of disorders mediated by PI3K, comprising administering to a patient in need of such treatment an effective amount of a crystalline compound of formula I, particularly SA, SB, SC,or SD .

In yet another aspect, provided herein is the use of a crystalline compound of formula I, particularly SA, SB, SC, or SD, for the preparation of a medicament for the treatment of disorders mediated by PI3K.

 

Source: https://newdrugapprovals.org/?s=alpelisib&submit=

 

Pharmacology and Toxicology from drugbank.ca

Indication

Alpelisib is indicated in combination with fulvestrant to treat postmenopausal women, and men, with advanced or metastatic breast cancer.Label This cancer must be hormone receptor (HR)-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative, and PIK3CA­ mutated.Label The cancer must be detected by an FDA-approved test following progression on or after an endocrine-based regimen.Label

Associated Conditions

Contraindications & Blackbox Warnings

Learn about our commercial Contraindications & Blackbox Warnings data.

LEARN MORE

 

Pharmacodynamics

Alpelisib does not prolong the QTcF interval.Label Patients taking alpelisib experience a dose dependent benefit from treatment with a 51% advantage of a 200mg daily dose over a 100mg dose and a 22% advantage of 300mg once daily over 150mg twice daily.6 This suggests patients requiring a lower dose may benefit from twice daily dosing.6

Mechanism of action

Phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase-α (PI3Kα) is responsible for cell proliferation in response to growth factor-tyrosine kinase pathway activation.3 In some cancers PI3Kα’s p110α catalytic subunit is mutated making it hyperactive.3 Alpelisib inhibits (PI3K), with the highest specificity for PI3Kα.Label

TARGET ACTIONS ORGANISM
APhosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase catalytic subunit alpha isoform inhibitor Humans

Absorption

Alpelisib reached a peak concentration in plasma of 1320±912ng/mL after 2 hours.4 Alpelisib has an AUClast of 11,100±3760h ng/mL and an AUCINF of 11,100±3770h ng/mL.4 A large, high fat meal increases the AUC by 73% and Cmax by 84% while a small, low fat meal increases the AUC by 77% and Cmax by 145%.Label

Volume of distribution

The apparent volume of distribution at steady state is 114L.Label

Protein binding

Alpelisib is 89% protein bound.Label

Metabolism

Alpelisib is metabolized by hydrolysis reactions to form the primary metabolite.Label It is also metabolized by CYP3A4.Label The full metabolism of Alpelisib has yet to be determined but a series of reactions have been proposed.4,5 The main metabolic reaction is the substitution of an amine group on alpelisib for a hydroxyl group to form a metabolite known as M44,5 or BZG791.Label Alpelisib can also be glucuronidated to form the M1 and M12 metabolites.4,5

Hover over products below to view reaction partners

Route of elimination

36% of an oral dose is eliminated as unchanged drug in the feces and 32% as the primary metabolite BZG791 in the feces.Label 2% of an oral dose is eliminated in the urine as unchanged drug and 7.1% as the primary metabolite BZG791.Label In total 81% of an oral dose is eliminated in the feces and 14% is eliminated in the urine.Label

Half-life

The mean half life of alprelisib is 8 to 9 hours.Label

Clearance

The mean apparent oral clearance was 39.0L/h.4 The predicted clearance is 9.2L/hr under fed conditions.Label

Adverse Effects

Learn about our commercial Adverse Effects data.

LEARN MORE

 

Toxicity

LD50 and Overdose

Patients experiencing an overdose may present with hyperglycemia, nausea, asthenia, and rash.Label There is no antidote for an overdose of alpelisib so patients should be treated symptomatically.Label Data regarding an LD50 is not readily available.MSDS In clinical trials, patients were given doses of up to 450mg once daily.Label

Pregnancy, Lactation, and Fertility

Following administration in rats and rabbits during organogenesis, adverse effects on the reproductive system, such as embryo-fetal mortality, reduced fetal weights, and increased incidences of fetal malformations, were observed.Label Based on these findings of animals studies and its mechanism of action, it is proposed that alpelisib may cause embryo-fetal toxicity when administered to pregnant patients.Label There is no data available regarding the presence of alpelisib in breast milk so breast feeding mothers are advised not to breastfeed while taking this medication and for 1 week after their last dose.Label Based on animal studies, alpelisib may impair fertility of humans.Label

Carcinogenicity and Mutagenicity

Studies of carcinogenicity have yet to be performed.Label Alpelisib has not been found to be mutagenic in the Ames test.Label It is not aneugenic, clastogenic, or genotoxic in further assays.Label

Affected organisms

Not Available

Pathways

Not Available

Pharmacogenomic Effects/ADRs 

 

Not Available

 

Source: https://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB12015

References

  1. Yuan TL, Cantley LC: PI3K pathway alterations in cancer: variations on a theme. Oncogene 2008, 27(41):5497-5510.
  2. Toker A: Double trouble for cancer gene. Science 2019, 366(6466):685-686.
  3. Vasan N, Razavi P, Johnson JL, Shao H, Shah H, Antoine A, Ladewig E, Gorelick A, Lin TY, Toska E et al: Double PIK3CA mutations in cis increase oncogenicity and sensitivity to PI3Kalpha inhibitors. Science 2019, 366(6466):714-723.

 

 

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Systems Biology analysis of Transcription Networks, Artificial Intelligence, and High-End Computing Coming to Fruition in Personalized Oncology

Curator: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

In the June 2020 issue of the journal Science, writer Roxanne Khamsi has an interesting article “Computing Cancer’s Weak Spots; An algorithm to unmask tumors’ molecular linchpins is tested in patients”[1], describing some early successes in the incorporation of cancer genome sequencing in conjunction with artificial intelligence algorithms toward a personalized clinical treatment decision for various tumor types.  In 2016, oncologists Amy Tiersten collaborated with systems biologist Andrea Califano and cell biologist Jose Silva at Mount Sinai Hospital to develop a systems biology approach to determine that the drug ruxolitinib, a STAT3 inhibitor, would be effective for one of her patient’s aggressively recurring, Herceptin-resistant breast tumor.  Dr. Califano, instead of defining networks of driver mutations, focused on identifying a few transcription factors that act as ‘linchpins’ or master controllers of transcriptional networks withing tumor cells, and in doing so hoping to, in essence, ‘bottleneck’ the transcriptional machinery of potential oncogenic products. As Dr. Castilano states

“targeting those master regulators and you will stop cancer in its tracks, no matter what mutation initially caused it.”

It is important to note that this approach also relies on the ability to sequence tumors  by RNA-seq to determine the underlying mutations which alter which master regulators are pertinent in any one tumor.  And given the wide tumor heterogeneity in tumor samples, this sequencing effort may have to involve multiple biopsies (as discussed in earlier posts on tumor heterogeneity in renal cancer).

As stated in the article, Califano co-founded a company called Darwin-Health in 2015 to guide doctors by identifying the key transcription factors in a patient’s tumor and suggesting personalized therapeutics to those identified molecular targets (OncoTarget™).  He had collaborated with the Jackson Laboratory and most recently Columbia University to conduct a $15 million 3000 patient clinical trial.  This was a bit of a stretch from his initial training as a physicist and, in 1986, IBM hired him for some artificial intelligence projects.  He then landed in 2003 at Columbia and has been working on identifying these transcriptional nodes that govern cancer survival and tumorigenicity.  Dr. Califano had figured that the number of genetic mutations which potentially could be drivers were too vast:

A 2018 study which analyzed more than 9000 tumor samples reported over 1.5 million mutations[2]

and impossible to develop therapeutics against.  He reasoned that you would just have to identify the common connections between these pathways or transcriptional nodes and termed them master regulators.

A Pan-Cancer Analysis of Enhancer Expression in Nearly 9000 Patient Samples

Chen H, Li C, Peng X, et al. Cell. 2018;173(2):386-399.e12.

Abstract

The role of enhancers, a key class of non-coding regulatory DNA elements, in cancer development has increasingly been appreciated. Here, we present the detection and characterization of a large number of expressed enhancers in a genome-wide analysis of 8928 tumor samples across 33 cancer types using TCGA RNA-seq data. Compared with matched normal tissues, global enhancer activation was observed in most cancers. Across cancer types, global enhancer activity was positively associated with aneuploidy, but not mutation load, suggesting a hypothesis centered on “chromatin-state” to explain their interplay. Integrating eQTL, mRNA co-expression, and Hi-C data analysis, we developed a computational method to infer causal enhancer-gene interactions, revealing enhancers of clinically actionable genes. Having identified an enhancer ∼140 kb downstream of PD-L1, a major immunotherapy target, we validated it experimentally. This study provides a systematic view of enhancer activity in diverse tumor contexts and suggests the clinical implications of enhancers.

 

A diagram of how concentrating on these transcriptional linchpins or nodes may be more therapeutically advantageous as only one pharmacologic agent is needed versus multiple agents to inhibit the various upstream pathways:

 

 

From: Khamsi R: Computing cancer’s weak spots. Science 2020, 368(6496):1174-1177.

 

VIPER Algorithm (Virtual Inference of Protein activity by Enriched Regulon Analysis)

The algorithm that Califano and DarwinHealth developed is a systems biology approach using a tumor’s RNASeq data to determine controlling nodes of transcription.  They have recently used the VIPER algorithm to look at RNA-Seq data from more than 10,000 tumor samples from TCGA and identified 407 transcription factor genes that acted as these linchpins across all tumor types.  Only 20 to 25 of  them were implicated in just one tumor type so these potential nodes are common in many forms of cancer.

Other institutions like the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories have been using VIPER in their patient tumor analysis.  Linchpins for other tumor types have been found.  For instance, VIPER identified transcription factors IKZF1 and IKF3 as linchpins in multiple myeloma.  But currently approved therapeutics are hard to come by for targets with are transcription factors, as most pharma has concentrated on inhibiting an easier target like kinases and their associated activity.  In general, developing transcription factor inhibitors in more difficult an undertaking for multiple reasons.

Network-based inference of protein activity helps functionalize the genetic landscape of cancer. Alvarez MJ, Shen Y, Giorgi FM, Lachmann A, Ding BB, Ye BH, Califano A:. Nature genetics 2016, 48(8):838-847 [3]

Abstract

Identifying the multiple dysregulated oncoproteins that contribute to tumorigenesis in a given patient is crucial for developing personalized treatment plans. However, accurate inference of aberrant protein activity in biological samples is still challenging as genetic alterations are only partially predictive and direct measurements of protein activity are generally not feasible. To address this problem we introduce and experimentally validate a new algorithm, VIPER (Virtual Inference of Protein-activity by Enriched Regulon analysis), for the accurate assessment of protein activity from gene expression data. We use VIPER to evaluate the functional relevance of genetic alterations in regulatory proteins across all TCGA samples. In addition to accurately inferring aberrant protein activity induced by established mutations, we also identify a significant fraction of tumors with aberrant activity of druggable oncoproteins—despite a lack of mutations, and vice-versa. In vitro assays confirmed that VIPER-inferred protein activity outperforms mutational analysis in predicting sensitivity to targeted inhibitors.

 

 

 

 

Figure 1 

Schematic overview of the VIPER algorithm From: Alvarez MJ, Shen Y, Giorgi FM, Lachmann A, Ding BB, Ye BH, Califano A: Functional characterization of somatic mutations in cancer using network-based inference of protein activity. Nature genetics 2016, 48(8):838-847.

(a) Molecular layers profiled by different technologies. Transcriptomics measures steady-state mRNA levels; Proteomics quantifies protein levels, including some defined post-translational isoforms; VIPER infers protein activity based on the protein’s regulon, reflecting the abundance of the active protein isoform, including post-translational modifications, proper subcellular localization and interaction with co-factors. (b) Representation of VIPER workflow. A regulatory model is generated from ARACNe-inferred context-specific interactome and Mode of Regulation computed from the correlation between regulator and target genes. Single-sample gene expression signatures are computed from genome-wide expression data, and transformed into regulatory protein activity profiles by the aREA algorithm. (c) Three possible scenarios for the aREA analysis, including increased, decreased or no change in protein activity. The gene expression signature and its absolute value (|GES|) are indicated by color scale bars, induced and repressed target genes according to the regulatory model are indicated by blue and red vertical lines. (d) Pleiotropy Correction is performed by evaluating whether the enrichment of a given regulon (R4) is driven by genes co-regulated by a second regulator (R4∩R1). (e) Benchmark results for VIPER analysis based on multiple-samples gene expression signatures (msVIPER) and single-sample gene expression signatures (VIPER). Boxplots show the accuracy (relative rank for the silenced protein), and the specificity (fraction of proteins inferred as differentially active at p < 0.05) for the 6 benchmark experiments (see Table 2). Different colors indicate different implementations of the aREA algorithm, including 2-tail (2T) and 3-tail (3T), Interaction Confidence (IC) and Pleiotropy Correction (PC).

 Other articles from Andrea Califano on VIPER algorithm in cancer include:

Resistance to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in triple-negative breast cancer mediated by a reversible drug-tolerant state.

Echeverria GV, Ge Z, Seth S, Zhang X, Jeter-Jones S, Zhou X, Cai S, Tu Y, McCoy A, Peoples M, Sun Y, Qiu H, Chang Q, Bristow C, Carugo A, Shao J, Ma X, Harris A, Mundi P, Lau R, Ramamoorthy V, Wu Y, Alvarez MJ, Califano A, Moulder SL, Symmans WF, Marszalek JR, Heffernan TP, Chang JT, Piwnica-Worms H.Sci Transl Med. 2019 Apr 17;11(488):eaav0936. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aav0936.PMID: 30996079

An Integrated Systems Biology Approach Identifies TRIM25 as a Key Determinant of Breast Cancer Metastasis.

Walsh LA, Alvarez MJ, Sabio EY, Reyngold M, Makarov V, Mukherjee S, Lee KW, Desrichard A, Turcan Ş, Dalin MG, Rajasekhar VK, Chen S, Vahdat LT, Califano A, Chan TA.Cell Rep. 2017 Aug 15;20(7):1623-1640. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.07.052.PMID: 28813674

Inhibition of the autocrine IL-6-JAK2-STAT3-calprotectin axis as targeted therapy for HR-/HER2+ breast cancers.

Rodriguez-Barrueco R, Yu J, Saucedo-Cuevas LP, Olivan M, Llobet-Navas D, Putcha P, Castro V, Murga-Penas EM, Collazo-Lorduy A, Castillo-Martin M, Alvarez M, Cordon-Cardo C, Kalinsky K, Maurer M, Califano A, Silva JM.Genes Dev. 2015 Aug 1;29(15):1631-48. doi: 10.1101/gad.262642.115. Epub 2015 Jul 30.PMID: 26227964

Master regulators used as breast cancer metastasis classifier.

Lim WK, Lyashenko E, Califano A.Pac Symp Biocomput. 2009:504-15.PMID: 19209726 Free

 

Additional References

 

  1. Khamsi R: Computing cancer’s weak spots. Science 2020, 368(6496):1174-1177.
  2. Chen H, Li C, Peng X, Zhou Z, Weinstein JN, Liang H: A Pan-Cancer Analysis of Enhancer Expression in Nearly 9000 Patient Samples. Cell 2018, 173(2):386-399 e312.
  3. Alvarez MJ, Shen Y, Giorgi FM, Lachmann A, Ding BB, Ye BH, Califano A: Functional characterization of somatic mutations in cancer using network-based inference of protein activity. Nature genetics 2016, 48(8):838-847.

 

Other articles of Note on this Open Access Online Journal Include:

Issues in Personalized Medicine in Cancer: Intratumor Heterogeneity and Branched Evolution Revealed by Multiregion Sequencing

 

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Live Conference Coverage AACR 2020 in Real Time: Monday June 22, 2020 Late Day Sessions

 

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3:45 PM – 5:45 PM EDT

Virtual Educational Session

Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, Experimental and Molecular Therapeutics, Drug Development, Molecular and Cellular Biology/Genetics

Obstacles and opportunities for protein degradation drug discovery

Lyn H. Jones
  • PROTACs ubiquitin mediated by E3 ligases;  first discovered by DeShaies and targeted to specific proteins
  • PROTACs used in drug discovery against a host of types of targets including kinases and membrane receptors
  • PROTACs can be modular but lack molecular structural activity relationships
  • can use chemical probes for target validation
  • four requirements: candidate exposure at site of action (for example lipophilicity for candidates needed to cross membranes and accumulate in lysosomes), target engagement (ternary occupancy as measured by FRET), functional pharmacology, relevant phenotype
  • PROTACs hijack the proteosomal degradation system

Proteolysis-targeting chimeras as therapeutics and tools for biological discovery

George Burslem
  • first PROTAC developed to coopt the VHL ubiquitin ligase system which degrades HIF1alpha but now modified for EREalpha
  • in screen for potential PROTACS there were compounds which bound high affinity but no degradation so phenotypic screening very important
  • when look at molecular dynamics can see where PROTAC can add additional protein protein interaction, verifed by site directed mutagenesis
  • able to target bcr-Abl
  • he says this is a rapidly expanding field because of all the new E3 ligase targets being discovered

Expanding the horizons of cereblon modulators

Mary Matyskiela

Translating cellular targeted protein degradation to in vivo models using an enzymology framework

Stewart L Fisher
  • new targeting compounds have an E3 ligase binding domain, a target binding domain and a linker domain
  • in vivo these compounds are very effective; BRD4 degraders good invitro and in vivo with little effect on body weight
  • degraders are essential activators of E3 ligases as these degraders bring targets in close proximity so activates a catalytic cycle of a multistep process (has now high turnover number)
  • in enzymatic pathway the degraders make a productive complex so instead of a kcat think of measuring a kprod or productivity of degraders linked up an E3 ligase
  • the degraders are also affecting the rebound protein synthesis; so Emax never to zero and see a small rebound of protein synthesis

 

Data-Driven Approaches for Choosing Combinatorial Therapies

Drug combinations remain the gold standard for treating cancer, as they significantly outperform single agents. However, due to the enormous size of drug combination space, it is virtually impossible to interrogate all possible combinations. This session will discuss approaches to identify novel combinations using both experimental and computational approaches. Speakers will discuss i) approaches to drug screening in cell lines, the impact of the microenvironment, and attempts to more

Bence Szalai, James E Korkola, Lisa Tucker-Kellogg, Jeffrey W Tyner

DETAILS

Monday, June 22

3:45 PM – 5:21 PM EDT

Virtual Educational Session

Tumor Biology

Cancer Stem Cells and Therapeutic Resistance

Cancer stem cells are a subpopulation of cells with a high capacity for self-renewal, differentiation and resistance to therapy. In this session, we will define cancer stem cells, discuss cellular plasticity, interactions between cancer stem cells and the tumor microenvironment, and mechanisms that contribute to therapeutic resistance.

Robert S Kerbel, Dolores Hambardzumyan, Jennifer S. Yu

DETAILS

Monday, June 22

3:45 PM – 5:45 PM EDT

Virtual Educational Session

Drug Development, Experimental and Molecular Therapeutics

Molecular Imaging in Cancer Research

This session will cover the fundamentals as well as the major advances made in the field of molecular imaging. Topics covered will include the basics for optical, nuclear, and ultrasound imaging; the pros and cons of each modality; and the recent translational advancements. Learning objectives include the fundamentals of each imaging modality, recent advances in the technology, the processes involved to translate an imaging agent from bench to bedside, and how molecular imaging can gui

Julie Sutcliffe, Summer L Gibbs, Mark D Pagel, Katherine W Ferrara

DETAILS

Monday, June 22

3:45 PM – 5:45 PM EDT

Virtual Educational Session

Tumor Biology, Immunology, Experimental and Molecular Therapeutics, Drug Development

Tumor Endothelium: The Gatekeepers of Tumor Immune Surveillance

Tumor-associated endothelium is a gatekeeper that coordinates the entry and egress of innate and adaptive immune cells within the tumor microenvironment. This is achieved, in part, via the coordinated expression of chemokines and cell adhesion molecules on the endothelial cell surface that attract and retain circulating leukocytes. Crosstalk between adaptive immune cells and the tumor endothelium is therefore essential for tumor immune surveillance and the success of immune-based thera

Dai Fukumura, Maria M Steele, Wen Jiang, Andrew C Dudley

DETAILS

Monday, June 22

3:45 PM – 5:45 PM EDT

Virtual Educational Session

Immunology, Experimental and Molecular Therapeutics

Novel Strategies in Cancer Immunotherapy: The Next Generation of Targets for Anticancer Immunotherapy

T-cell immunotherapy in the form of immune checkpoint blockade or cellular T-cell therapies has been tremendously successful in some types of cancer. This success has opened the door to consider what other modalities or types of immune cells can be harnessed for exert antitumor functions. In this session, experts in their respective fields will discuss topics including novel approaches in immunotherapy, including NK cells, macrophage, and viral oncotherapies.

Evanthia Galanis, Kerry S Campbell, Milan G Chheda, Jennifer L Guerriero

DETAILS

Monday, June 22

3:45 PM – 5:45 PM EDT

Virtual Educational Session

Tumor Biology, Drug Development, Immunology, Clinical Research Excluding Trials

Benign Cells as Drivers of Cancer Progression: Fat and Beyond

Carcinomas develop metastases and resistance to therapy as a result of interaction with tumor microenvironment, composed of various nonmalignant cell types. Understanding the complexity and origins of tumor stromal cells is a prerequisite for development of effective treatments. The link between obesity and cancer progression has revealed the engagement of adipose stromal cells (ASC) and adipocytes from adjacent fat tissue. However, the molecular mechanisms through which they stimulate

Guojun Wu, Matteo Ligorio, Mikhail Kolonin, Maria T Diaz-Meco

DETAILS

Monday, June 22

3:45 PM – 5:45 PM EDT

Virtual Educational Session

Clinical Research Excluding Trials, Experimental and Molecular Therapeutics, Tumor Biology

Dharma Master Jiantai Symposium on Lung Cancer: Know Thy Organ – Lessons Learned from Lung and Pancreatic Cancer Research

The term “cancer” encompasses hundreds of distinct disease entities involving almost every possible site in the human body. Effectively interrogating cancer, either in animals models or human specimens, requires a deep understanding of the involved organ. This includes both the normal cellular constituents of the affected tissue as well as unique aspects of tissue-specific tumorigenesis. It is critical to “Know Thy Organ” when studying cancer. This session will focus on two of the most

Trudy G Oliver, Hossein Borghaei, Laura Delong Wood, Howard C Crawford

DETAILS

Monday, June 22

3:45 PM – 5:45 PM EDT

Virtual Methods Workshop

Clinical Trials

Clinical Trial Design: Part 1: Novel Approaches and Methods in Clinical Trial Design

Good clinical trial design has always had to balance the competing interests of effectively and convincingly answering the question with the limitations imposed by scarce resources, complex logistics, and risks and potential benefits to participants. New targeted therapies, immuno-oncology, and novel combination treatments add new challenges on top of the old ones. This session will introduce these concerns and 1) suggest ways to consider what outcomes are relevant, 2) how we can best

Mary W. Redman, Nolan A. Wages, Susan G Hilsenbeck, Karyn A. Goodman

DETAILS

Monday, June 22

3:45 PM – 5:45 PM EDT

Virtual Methods Workshop

Tumor Biology, Drug Development

High-Throughput Screens for Drivers of Progression and Resistance

The sequencing of human cancers now provides a landscape of the genetic alterations that occur in human cancer, and increasingly knowledge of somatic genetic alterations is becoming part of the evaluation of cancer patients. In some cases, this information leads directly to the selection of particular therapeutic approaches; however, we still lack the ability to decipher the significance of genetic alterations in many cancers. This session will focus on recent developments that permit the identification of molecular targets in specific cancers. This information, coupled with genomic characterization of cancer, will facilitate the development of new therapeutic agents and provide a path to implement precision cancer medicine to all patients.

William C Hahn, Mark A Dawson, Mariella Filbin, Michael Bassik

DETAILS

Monday, June 22

3:45 PM – 5:15 PM EDT

Defining a cancer dependency map

William C Hahn

Introduction

William C Hahn

Genome-scale CRISPR screens in 3D spheroids identify cancer vulnerabilities

Michael Bassik

Utilizing single-cell RNAseq and CRISPR screens to target cancer stem cells in pediatric brain tumors

Mariella Filbin
  • many gliomas are defined by discreet mutational spectra that also discriminates based on age and site as well (for example many cortical tumors have mainly V600E Braf mutations while thalamus will be FGFR1
  • they did single cell RNAseq on needle biopsy from 7 gliomas which gave about 3500 high quality single cells; obtained full length RNA
  • tumors clustered mainly where the patient it came from but had stromal cell contamination probably so did a deconvolution?  Copy number variation showed which were tumor cells and did principle component analysis
  • it seems they used a human glioma model as training set
  • identified a stem cell like glioma cell so concentrated on the genes altered in these for translational studies
  • developed multiple PDX models from patients
  • PDX transcriptome closest to patient transcriptome but organoid grown in serum free very close while organoids grown in serum very distinct transcriptome
  • developed a CRISPR barcoded library to determine genes for survival genes
  • pulled out BMI1  and EZH2 (polycomb complex proteins) as good targets

Virtual Methods Workshop

Prevention Research, Survivorship, Clinical Research Excluding Trials, Epidemiology

Implementation Science Methods for Cancer Prevention and Control in Diverse Populations: Integration of Implementation Science Methods in Care Settings

Through this Education Session we will use examples from ongoing research to provide an overview of implementation science approaches to cancer prevention and control research. We draw on examples to highlight study design approaches, research methods, and real-world solutions when applying implementation science to achieve health equity. Approaches to defining change in the care setting and measuring sustained changes are also emphasized. Using real examples of patient navigation prog

Graham A Colditz, Sanja Percac-Lima, Nathalie Huguet

DETAILS

Monday, June 22

3:45 PM – 5:30 PM EDT

Virtual Educational Session

Regulatory Science and Policy, Epidemiology

COVID-19 and Cancer: Guidance for Clinical Trial Conduct and Considerations for RWE

This session will consider the use of real-world evidence in the context of oncology clinical trials affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Key aspects of the FDA’s recent “Guidance on Conduct of Clinical Trials of Medical Products of Medical Products during COVID-19 Public Health Emergency” will be discussed, including telemedicine, accounting for missing data, obtaining laboratory tests and images locally, using remote informed consent procedures, and additional considerations for contin

Wendy Rubinstein, Paul G. Kluetz, Amy P. Abernethy, Jonathan Hirsch, C.K. Wang

 

 

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RNA from the SARS-CoV-2 virus taking over the cells it infects: Virulence – Pathogen’s ability to infect a Resistant Host: The Imbalance between Controlling Virus Replication versus Activation of the Adaptive Immune Response

Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN – I added colors and bold face

 

UPDATED on 9/8/2020

What bats can teach us about developing immunity to Covid-19 | Free to read

Clive Cookson, Anna Gross and Ian Bott, London

https://www.ft.com/content/743ce7a0-60eb-482d-b1f4-d4de11182fa9?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=af64422080-briefing-dy-20200908&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-af64422080-43323101

 

UPDATED on 6/29/2020

Another duality and paradox in the Treatment of COVID-19 Patients in ICUs was expressed by Mike Yoffe, MD, PhD, David H. Koch Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Yaffe has a joint appointment in Acute Care Surgery, Trauma, and Surgical Critical Care, and in Surgical Oncology @BIDMC

on 6/29 at SOLUTIONS with/in/sight at Koch Institute @MIT

How Are Cancer Researchers Fighting COVID-19? (Part II)” Jun 29, 2020 11:30 AM EST

Mike Yoffe, MD, PhD 

In COVID-19 patients: two life threatening conditions are seen in ICUs:

  • Blood Clotting – Hypercoagulability or Thrombophilia
  • Cytokine Storm – immuno-inflammatory response
  • The coexistence of 1 and 2 – HINDERS the ability to use effectively tPA as an anti-clotting agent while the cytokine storm is present.

Mike Yoffe’s related domain of expertise:

Signaling pathways and networks that control cytokine responses and inflammation

Misregulation of cytokine feedback loops, along with inappropriate activation of the blood clotting cascade causes dysregulation of cell signaling pathways in innate immune cells (neutrophils and macrophages), resulting in tissue damage and multiple organ failure following trauma or sepsis. Our research is focused on understanding the role of the p38-MK2 pathway in cytokine control and innate immune function, and on cross-talk between cytokines, clotting factors, and neutrophil NADPH oxidase-derived ROS in tissue damage, coagulopathy, and inflammation, using biochemistry, cell biology, and mouse knock-out/knock-in models.  We recently discovered a particularly important link between abnormal blood clotting and the complement pathway cytokine C5a which causes excessive production of extracellular ROS and organ damage by neutrophils after traumatic injury.

SOURCE

https://www.bidmc.org/research/research-by-department/surgery/acute-care-surgery-trauma-and-surgical-critical-care/michael-b-yaffe

 

See

The Genome Structure of CORONAVIRUS, SARS-CoV-2

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2020/05/04/the-genome-structure-of-coronavirus-sars-cov-2-i-awaited-for-this-article-for-60-days/

 

Imbalanced Host Response to SARS-CoV-2 Drives Development of COVID-19

Open Access Published:May 15, 2020DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.04.026

Highlights

  • SARS-CoV-2 infection induces low IFN-I and -III levels with a moderate ISG response
  • Strong chemokine expression is consistent across in vitroex vivo, and in vivo models
  • Low innate antiviral defenses and high pro-inflammatory cues contribute to COVID-19

Summary

Viral pandemics, such as the one caused by SARS-CoV-2, pose an imminent threat to humanity. Because of its recent emergence, there is a paucity of information regarding viral behavior and host response following SARS-CoV-2 infection. Here we offer an in-depth analysis of the transcriptional response to SARS-CoV-2 compared with other respiratory viruses. Cell and animal models of SARS-CoV-2 infection, in addition to transcriptional and serum profiling of COVID-19 patients, consistently revealed a unique and inappropriate inflammatory response. This response is defined by low levels of type I and III interferons juxtaposed to elevated chemokines and high expression of IL-6. We propose that reduced innate antiviral defenses coupled with exuberant inflammatory cytokine production are the defining and driving features of COVID-19.

Graphical Abstract

Keywords

Results

Defining the Transcriptional Response to SARS-CoV-2 Relative to Other Respiratory Viruses

To compare the transcriptional response of SARS-CoV-2 with other respiratory viruses, including MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV-1, human parainfluenza virus 3 (HPIV3), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and IAV, we first chose to focus on infection in a variety of respiratory cell lines (Figure 1). To this end, we collected poly(A) RNA from infected cells and performed RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) to estimate viral load. These data show that virus infection levels ranged from 0.1% to more than 50% of total RNA reads (Figure 1A).

Discussion

In the present study, we focus on defining the host response to SARS-CoV-2 and other human respiratory viruses in cell lines, primary cell cultures, ferrets, and COVID-19 patients. In general, our data show that the overall transcriptional footprint of SARS-CoV-2 infection was distinct in comparison with other highly pathogenic coronaviruses and common respiratory viruses such as IAV, HPIV3, and RSV. It is noteworthy that, despite a reduced IFN-I and -III response to SARS-CoV-2, we observed a consistent chemokine signature. One exception to this observation is the response to high-MOI infection in A549-ACE2 and Calu-3 cells, where replication was robust and an IFN-I and -III signature could be observed. In both of these examples, cells were infected at a rate to theoretically deliver two functional virions per cell in addition to any defective interfering particles within the virus stock that were not accounted for by plaque assays. Under these conditions, the threshold for PAMP may be achieved prior to the ability of the virus to evade detection through production of a viral antagonist. Alternatively, addition of multiple genomes to a single cell may disrupt the stoichiometry of viral components, which, in turn, may itself generate PAMPs that would not form otherwise. These ideas are supported by the fact that, at a low-MOI infection in A549-ACE2 cells, high levels of replication could also be achieved, but in the absence of IFN-I and -III induction. Taken together, these data suggest that, at low MOIs, the virus is not a strong inducer of the IFN-I and -III system, as opposed to conditions where the MOI is high.
Taken together, the data presented here suggest that the response to SARS-CoV-2 is imbalanced with regard to controlling virus replication versus activation of the adaptive immune response. Given this dynamic, treatments for COVID-19 have less to do with the IFN response and more to do with controlling inflammation. Because our data suggest that numerous chemokines and ILs are elevated in COVID-19 patients, future efforts should focus on U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs that can be rapidly deployed and have immunomodulating properties.

SOURCE

https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(20)30489-X

SARS-CoV-2 ORF3b is a potent interferon antagonist whose activity is further increased by a naturally occurring elongation variant

Yoriyuki KonnoIzumi KimuraKeiya UriuMasaya FukushiTakashi IrieYoshio KoyanagiSo NakagawaKei Sato

Abstract

One of the features distinguishing SARS-CoV-2 from its more pathogenic counterpart SARS-CoV is the presence of premature stop codons in its ORF3b gene. Here, we show that SARS-CoV-2 ORF3b is a potent interferon antagonist, suppressing the induction of type I interferon more efficiently than its SARS-CoV ortholog. Phylogenetic analyses and functional assays revealed that SARS-CoV-2-related viruses from bats and pangolins also encode truncated ORF3b gene products with strong anti-interferon activity. Furthermore, analyses of more than 15,000 SARS-CoV-2 sequences identified a natural variant, in which a longer ORF3b reading frame was reconstituted. This variant was isolated from two patients with severe disease and further increased the ability of ORF3b to suppress interferon induction. Thus, our findings not only help to explain the poor interferon response in COVID-19 patients, but also describe a possibility of the emergence of natural SARS-CoV-2 quasi-species with extended ORF3b that may exacerbate COVID-19 symptoms.

Highlights

  • ORF3b of SARS-CoV-2 and related bat and pangolin viruses is a potent IFN antagonist

  • SARS-CoV-2 ORF3b suppresses IFN induction more efficiently than SARS-CoV ortholog

  • The anti-IFN activity of ORF3b depends on the length of its C-terminus

  • An ORF3b with increased IFN antagonism was isolated from two severe COVID-19 cases

Competing Interest Statement

The authors have declared no competing interest.

Paper in collection COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 preprints from medRxiv and bioRxiv

 

SOURCE

https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.11.088179v1

 

 

A deep dive into how the new coronavirus infects cells has found that it orchestrates a hostile takeover of their genes unlike any other known viruses do, producing what one leading scientist calls “unique” and “aberrant” changes.Recent studies show that in seizing control of genes in the human cells it invades, the virus changes how segments of DNA are read, doing so in a way that might explain why the elderly are more likely to die of Covid-19 and why antiviral drugs might not only save sick patients’ lives but also prevent severe disease if taken before infection.“It’s something I have never seen in my 20 years of” studying viruses, said virologist Benjamin tenOever of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, referring to how SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, hijacks cells’ genomes.The “something” he and his colleagues saw is how SARS-CoV-2 blocks one virus-fighting set of genes but allows another set to launch, a pattern never seen with other viruses. Influenza and the original SARS virus (in the early 2000s), for instance, interfere with both arms of the body’s immune response — what tenOever dubs “call to arms” genes and “call for reinforcement” genes.The first group of genes produces interferons. These proteins, which infected cells release, are biological semaphores, signaling to neighboring cells to activate some 500 of their own genes that will slow down the virus’ ability to make millions of copies of itself if it invades them. This lasts seven to 10 days, tenOever said, controlling virus replication and thereby buying time for the second group of genes to act.This second set of genes produce their own secreted proteins, called chemokines, that emit a biochemical “come here!” alarm. When far-flung antibody-making B cells and virus-killing T cells sense the alarm, they race to its source. If all goes well, the first set of genes holds the virus at bay long enough for the lethal professional killers to arrive and start eradicating viruses.

“Most other viruses interfere with some aspect of both the call to arms and the call for reinforcements,” tenOever said. “If they didn’t, no one would ever get a viral illness”: The one-two punch would pummel any incipient infection into submission.

SARS-CoV-2, however, uniquely blocks one cellular defense but activates the other, he and his colleagues reported in a study published last week in Cell. They studied healthy human lung cells growing in lab dishes, ferrets (which the virus infects easily), and lung cells from Covid-19 patients. In all three, they found that within three days of infection, the virus induces cells’ call-for-reinforcement genes to produce cytokines. But it blocks their call-to-arms genes — the interferons that dampen the virus’ replication.

The result is essentially no brakes on the virus’s replication, but a storm of inflammatory molecules in the lungs, which is what tenOever calls an “unique” and “aberrant” consequence of how SARS-CoV-2 manipulates the genome of its target.

In another new study, scientists in Japan last week identified how SARS-CoV-2 accomplishes that genetic manipulation. Its ORF3b gene produces a protein called a transcription factor that has “strong anti-interferon activity,” Kei Sato of the University of Tokyo and colleagues found — stronger than the original SARS virus or influenza viruses. The protein basically blocks the cell from recognizing that a virus is present, in a way that prevents interferon genes from being expressed.

In fact, the Icahn School team found no interferons in the lung cells of Covid-19 patients. Without interferons, tenOever said, “there is nothing to stop the virus from replicating and festering in the lungs forever.”

That causes lung cells to emit even more “call-for-reinforcement” genes, summoning more and more immune cells. Now the lungs have macrophages and neutrophils and other immune cells “everywhere,” tenOever said, causing such runaway inflammation “that you start having inflammation that induces more inflammation.”

At the same time, unchecked viral replication kills lung cells involved in oxygen exchange. “And suddenly you’re in the hospital in severe respiratory distress,” he said.

In elderly people, as well as those with diabetes, heart disease, and other underlying conditions, the call-to-arms part of the immune system is weaker than in younger, healthier people, even before the coronavirus arrives. That reduces even further the cells’ ability to knock down virus replication with interferons, and imbalances the immune system toward the dangerous inflammatory response.

The discovery that SARS-CoV-2 strongly suppresses infected cells’ production of interferons has raised an intriguing possibility: that taking interferons might prevent severe Covid-19 or even prevent it in the first place, said Vineet Menachery of the University of Texas Medical Branch.

In a study of human cells growing in lab dishes, described in a preprint (not peer-reviewed or published in a journal yet), he and his colleagues also found that SARS-CoV-2 “prevents the vast amount” of interferon genes from turning on. But when cells growing in lab dishes received the interferon IFN-1 before exposure to the coronavirus, “the virus has a difficult time replicating.”

After a few days, the amount of virus in infected but interferon-treated cells was 1,000- to 10,000-fold lower than in infected cells not pre-treated with interferon. (The original SARS virus, in contrast, is insensitive to interferon.)

Ending the pandemic and preventing its return is assumed to require an effective vaccine to prevent infectionand antiviral drugs such as remdesivir to treat the very sick, but the genetic studies suggest a third strategy: preventive drugs.

It’s possible that treatment with so-called type-1 interferon “could stop the virus before it could get established,” Menachery said.

Giving drugs to healthy people is always a dicey proposition, since all drugs have side effects — something considered less acceptable than when a drug is used to treat an illness. “Interferon treatment is rife with complications,” Menachery warned. The various interferons, which are prescribed for hepatitis, cancers, and many other diseases, can cause flu-like symptoms.

But the risk-benefit equation might shift, both for individuals and for society, if interferons or antivirals or other medications are shown to reduce the risk of developing serious Covid-19 or even make any infection nearly asymptomatic.

Interferon “would be warning the cells the virus is coming,” Menachery said, so such pretreatment might “allow treated cells to fend off the virus better and limit its spread.” Determining that will of course require clinical trials, which are underway.

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Live Notes, Real Time Conference Coverage 2020 AACR Virtual Meeting April 28, 2020 Session on Novel Targets and Therapies 2:35 PM

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

 

Session VMS.ET04.01 – Novel Targets and Therapies

Targeting chromatin remodeling-associated genetic vulnerabilities in cancer: PBRM1 defects are synthetic lethal with PARP and ATR inhibitors

Presenter/AuthorsRoman Merial Chabanon, Daphné Morel, Léo Colmet-Daage, Thomas Eychenne, Nicolas Dorvault, Ilirjana Bajrami, Marlène Garrido, Suzanna Hopkins, Cornelia Meisenberg, Andrew Lamb, Theo Roumeliotis, Samuel Jouny, Clémence Astier, Asha Konde, Geneviève Almouzni, Jyoti Choudhary, Jean-Charles Soria, Jessica Downs, Christopher J. Lord, Sophie Postel-Vinay. Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France, The Francis Crick Institute, London, United Kingdom, Institute of Cancer Research, London, United Kingdom, Sage Bionetworks, Seattle, WA, Institute of Cancer Research, London, United Kingdom, Institute of Cancer Research, London, United Kingdom, Institut Curie, Paris, France, Université Paris-Sud/Université Paris-Saclay, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, France, Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus and U981 INSERM, ATIP-Avenir group, Villejuif, FranceDisclosures R.M. Chabanon: None. D. Morel: None. L. Colmet-Daage: None. T. Eychenne: None. N. Dorvault: None. I. Bajrami: None. M. Garrido: None. S. Hopkins: ; Fishawack Group of Companies. C. Meisenberg: None. A. Lamb: None. T. Roumeliotis: None. S. Jouny: None. C. Astier: None. A. Konde: None. G. Almouzni: None. J. Choudhary: None. J. Soria: ; Medimmune/AstraZeneca. ; Astex. ; Gritstone. ; Clovis. ; GSK. ; GamaMabs. ; Lilly. ; MSD. ; Mission Therapeutics. ; Merus. ; Pfizer. ; PharmaMar. ; Pierre Fabre. ; Roche/Genentech. ; Sanofi. ; Servier. ; Symphogen. ; Takeda. J. Downs: None. C.J. Lord: ; AstraZeneca. ; Merck KGaA. ; Artios. ; Tango. ; Sun Pharma. ; GLG. ; Vertex. ; Ono Pharma. ; Third Rock Ventures. S. Postel-Vinay: ; Merck KGaA. ; Principal investigator of clinical trials for Gustave Roussy.; Boehringer Ingelheim. ; Principal investigator of clinical trials for Gustave Roussy.; Roche. ; Principal investigator of clinical trials for Gustave Roussy. Benefited from reimbursement for attending symposia.; AstraZeneca. ; Principal investigator of clinical trials for Gustave Roussy.; Clovis. ; Principal investigator of clinical trials for Gustave Roussy.; Bristol-Myers Squibb. ; Principal investigator of clinical trials for Gustave Roussy.; Agios. ; Principal investigator of clinical trials for Gustave Roussy.; GSK.AbstractAim: Polybromo-1 (PBRM1), a specific subunit of the pBAF chromatin remodeling complex, is frequently inactivated in cancer. For example, 40% of clear cell Renal Cell Carcinoma (ccRCC) and 15% of cholangiocarcinoma present deleterious PBRM1 mutations. There is currently no precision medicine-based therapeutic approach that targets PBRM1 defects. To identify novel, targeted therapeutic strategies for PBRM1-defective cancers, we carried out high-throughput functional genomics and drug screenings followed by in vitro and in vivo validation studies.
Methods: High-throughput siRNA-drug sensitization and drug sensitivity screens evaluating > 150 cancer-relevant small molecules in dose-response were performed in Pbrm1 siRNA-transfected mouse embryonic stem cells (mES) and isogenic PBRM1-KO or -WT HAP1 cells, respectively. After identification of PBRM1-selective small molecules, revalidation was carried out in a series of in-house-generated isogenic models of PBRM1 deficiency – including 786-O (ccRCC), A498 (ccRCC), U2OS (osteosarcoma) and H1299 (non-small cell lung cancer) human cancer cell lines – and non-isogenic ccRCC models, using multiple clinical compounds. Mechanistic dissection was performed using immunofluorescence, RT-qPCR, western blotting, DNA fiber assay, transcriptomics, proteomics and DRIP-sequencing to evaluate markers of DNA damage response (DDR), replication stress and cell-autonomous innate immune signaling. Preclinical data were integrated with TCGA tumor data.
Results: Parallel high-throughput drug screens independently identified PARP inhibitors (PARPi) as being synthetic lethal with PBRM1 defects – a cell type-independent effect which was exacerbated by ATR inhibitors (ATRi) and which we revalidated in vitro in isogenic and non-isogenic systems and in vivo in a xenograft model. PBRM1 defects were associated with increased replication fork stress (higher γH2AX and RPA foci levels, decreased replication fork speed and increased ATM checkpoint activation), R-loop accumulation and enhanced genomic instability in vitro; these effects were exacerbated upon PARPi exposure. In patient tumor samples, we also found that PBRM1-mutant cancers possessed a higher mutational load. Finally, we found that ATRi selectively activated the cGAS/STING cytosolic DNA sensing pathway in PBRM1-deficient cells, resulting in increased expression of type I interferon genes.
Conclusion: PBRM1-defective cancer cells present increased replication fork stress, R-loop formation, genome instability and are selectively sensitive to PARPi and ATRi through a synthetic lethal mechanism that is cell type-independent. Our data provide the pre-clinical rationale for assessing PARPi as a monotherapy or in combination with ATRi or immune-modulating agents in molecularly-selected patients with PBRM1-defective cancers.

1057 – Targeting MTHFD2 using first-in-class inhibitors kills haematological and solid cancer through thymineless-induced replication stress

Presenter/AuthorsThomas Helleday. University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United KingdomDisclosures T. Helleday: None.AbstractSummary
Thymidine synthesis pathways are upregulated pathways in cancer. Since the 1940s, targeting nucleotide and folate metabolism to induce thymineless death has remained first-line anti-cancer treatment. Recent discoveries that showing cancer cells have rewired networks and exploit unique enzymes for proliferation, have renewed interest in metabolic pathways. The cancer-specific expression of MTHFD2 has gained wide-spread attention and here we describe an emerging role for MTHFD2 in the DNA damage response (DDR). The folate metabolism enzyme MTHFD2 is one of the most consistently overexpressed metabolic enzymes in cancer and an emerging anticancer target. We show a novel role for MTHFD2 being essential for DNA replication and genomic stability in cancer cells. We describe first-in-class nanomolar MTHFD2 inhibitors (MTHFD2i), with protein co-crystal structures demonstrating binding in the active site of MTHFD2 and engaging with the target in cells and tumours. We show MTHFD2i reduce replication fork speed and induce replication stress, followed by S phase arrest, apoptosis and killing of a range of haematological and solid cancer cells in vitro and in vivo, with a therapeutic window spanning up to four orders of magnitude compared to non-transformed cells. Mechanistically, MTHFD2i prevent thymidine production leading to mis-incorporation of uracil into DNA and replication stress. As MTHFD2 expression is cancer specific there is a potential of MTHFD2i to synergize with other treatments. Here, we show MTHFD2i synergize with dUTPase inhibitors as well as other DDR inhibitors and demonstrate the mechanism of action. These results demonstrate a new link between MTHFD2-dependent cancer metabolism and replication stress that can be exploited therapeutically.
Keywords
MTHFD2, one-carbon metabolism, folate metabolism, DNA replication, replication stress, synthetic lethal, thymineless death, small-molecule inhibitor, DNA damage response

 

 

1060 – Genetic and pharmacologic inhibition of Skp2, an E3 ubiquitin ligase and RB1-target, has antitumor activity in RB1-deficient human and mouse small cell lung cancer (SCLC)

Presenter/Authors
Hongling ZhaoVineeth SukrithanNiloy IqbalCari NicholasYingjiao XueJoseph LockerJuntao ZouLiang ZhuEdward L. Schwartz. Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY
Disclosures
 H. Zhao: None. V. Sukrithan: None. N. Iqbal: None. C. Nicholas: None. Y. Xue: None. J. Locker: None. J. Zou: None. L. Zhu: None. E.L. Schwartz: None.
Abstract
The identification of driver mutations and their corresponding targeted drugs has led to significant improvements in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and other solid tumors; however, similar advances have not been made in the treatment of small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Due to their aggressive growth, frequent metastases, and resistance to chemotherapy, the five-year overall survival of SCLC is less than 5%. While SCLC tumors can be sensitive to first-line therapy of cisplatin and etoposide, most patients relapse, often in less than 3 months after initial therapy. Dozens of drugs have been tested clinically in SCLC, including more than 40 agents that have failed in phase III trials.
The near uniform bi-allelic inactivation of the tumor suppressor gene RB1 is a defining feature of SCLC. RB1 is mutated in highly aggressive tumors, including SCLC, where its functional loss, along with that of TP53, is both required and sufficient for tumorigenesis. While it is known that RB1 mutant cells fail to arrest at G1/S in response to checkpoint signals, this information has not led to effective strategies to treat RB1-deficient tumors, and it has been challenging to develop targeted drugs for tumors that are driven by the loss of gene function.
Our group previously identified Skp2, a substrate recruiting subunit of the SCF-Skp2 E3 ubiquitin ligase, as an early repression target of pRb whose knockout blocked tumorigenesis in Rb1-deficient prostate and pituitary tumors. Here we used genetic mouse models to demonstrate that deletion of Skp2 completely blocked the formation of SCLC in Rb1/p53-knockout mice (RP mice). Skp2 KO caused an increased accumulation of the Skp2-degradation target p27, a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, and we confirmed this was the mechanism of protection in the RP-Skp2 KO mice by using the knock-in of a mutant p27 that was unable to bind to Skp2. Building on the observed synthetic lethality between Rb1 and Skp2, we found that small molecules that bind to and/or inhibit Skp2 induced apoptosis and inhibited SCLC cell growth. In a panel of SCLC cell lines, growth inhibition by a Skp2 inhibitor was not correlated with sensitivity/resistance to etoposide. Targeting Skp2 also had in vivo antitumor activity in mouse tumors and human patient-derived xenograft models of SCLC. Using the genetic and pharmacologic approaches, antitumor activity was seen in vivo in established SCLC primary lung tumors, in liver metastases, and in chemotherapy-resistant tumors. The identification and validation of an actionable target downstream of RB1 could have a broad impact on treatment of SCLC and other advanced tumors with mutant RB1, for which there are currently no targeted therapies available.

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Live Notes, Real Time Conference Coverage 2020 AACR Virtual Meeting April 27, 2020 Minisymposium on Signaling in Cancer 11:45am-1:30 pm

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, PhD.

SESSION VMS.MCB01.01 – Emerging Signaling Vulnerabilities in Cancer
April 27, 2020, 11:45 AM – 1:30 PM
Virtual Meeting: All Session Times Are U.S. EDT
DESCRIPTION

All session times are U.S. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). Access to AACR Virtual Annual Meeting I sessions are free with registration. Register now at http://www.aacr.org/virtualam2020

Session Type

Virtual Minisymposium

Track(s)

Molecular and Cellular Biology/Genetics

16 Presentations
11:45 AM – 1:30 PM
– Chairperson

J. Silvio Gutkind. UCSD Moores Cancer Center, La Jolla, CA

11:45 AM – 1:30 PM
– Chairperson

  • in 80’s and 90’s signaling focused on defects and also oncogene addiction.  Now the field is switching to finding vulnerabilities in signaling cascades in cancer

Adrienne D. Cox. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

11:45 AM – 11:55 AM
– Introduction

J. Silvio Gutkind. UCSD Moores Cancer Center, La Jolla, CA

11:55 AM – 12:05 PM
1085 – Interrogating the RAS interactome identifies EFR3A as a novel enhancer of RAS oncogenesis

Hema Adhikari, Walaa Kattan, John F. Hancock, Christopher M. Counter. Duke University, Durham, NC, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Abstract: Activating mutations in one of the three RAS genes (HRAS, NRAS, and KRAS) are detected in as much as a third of all human cancers. As oncogenic RAS mediates it tumorigenic signaling through protein-protein interactions primarily at the plasma membrane, we sought to document the protein networks engaged by each RAS isoform to identify new vulnerabilities for future therapeutic development. To this end, we determined interactomes of oncogenic HRAS, NRAS, and KRAS by BirA-mediated proximity labeling. This analysis identified roughly ** proteins shared among multiple interactomes, as well as a smaller subset unique to a single RAS oncoprotein. To identify those interactome components promoting RAS oncogenesis, we created and screened sgRNA library targeting the interactomes for genes modifying oncogenic HRAS-, NRAS-, or KRAS-mediated transformation. This analysis identified the protein EFR3A as not only a common component of all three RAS interactomes, but when inactivated, uniformly reduced the growth of cells transformed by any of the three RAS isoforms. EFR3A recruits a complex containing the druggable phosphatidylinositol (Ptdlns) 4 kinase alpha (PI4KA) to the plasma membrane to generate the Ptdlns species PI4P. We show that EFR3A sgRNA reduced multiple RAS effector signaling pathways, suggesting that EFR3A acts at the level of the oncoprotein itself. As lipids play a critical role in the membrane localization of RAS, we tested and found that EFR3A sgRNA reduced not only the occupancy of RAS at the plasma membrane, but also the nanoclustering necessary for signaling. Furthermore, the loss of oncogenic RAS signaling induced by EFR3A sgRNA was rescued by targeting PI4K to the plasma membrane. Taken together, these data support a model whereby EFR3A recruits PI4K to oncogenic RAS to promote plasma membrane localization and nonclustering, and in turn, signaling and transformation. To investigate the therapeutic potential of this new RAS enhancer, we show that EFR3A sgRNA reduced oncogenic KRAS signaling and transformed growth in a panel of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cell lines. Encouraged by these results we are exploring whether genetically inactivating the kinase activity of PI4KA inhibits oncogenic signaling and transformation in PDAC cell lines. If true, pharmacologically targeting PI4K may hold promise as a way to enhance the anti-neoplastic activity of drugs targeting oncogenic RAS or its effectors.

@DukeU

@DukeMedSchool

@MDAndersonNews

  • different isoforms of ras mutations exist differentially in various tumor types e.g. nras vs kras
  • the C terminal end serve as hotspots of mutations and probably isoform specific functions
  • they determined the interactomes of nras and kras and determined how many candidates are ras specific
  • they overlayed results from proteomic and CRSPR screen; EFR3a was a potential target that stuck out
  • using TCGA patients with higher EFR3a had poorer prognosis
  • EFR3a promotes Ras signaling; and required for RAS driven tumor growth (in RAS addicted tumors?)
  • EGFR3a promotes clustering of oncogenic RAS at plasma membrane

 

12:05 PM – 12:10 PM
– Discussion

12:10 PM – 12:20 PM
1086 – Downstream kinase signaling is dictated by specific KRAS mutations; Konstantin Budagyan, Jonathan Chernoff. Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA @FoxChaseCancer

Abstract: Oncogenic KRAS mutations are common in colorectal cancer (CRC), found in ~50% of tumors, and are associated with poor prognosis and resistance to therapy. There is substantial diversity of KRAS alleles observed in CRC. Importantly, emerging clinical and experimental analysis of relatively common KRAS mutations at amino acids G12, G13, A146, and Q61 suggest that each mutation differently influences the clinical properties of a disease and response to therapy. For example, KRAS G12 mutations confer resistance to EGFR-targeted therapy, while G13D mutations do not. Although there is clinical evidence to suggest biological differences between mutant KRAS alleles, it is not yet known what drives these differences and whether they can be exploited for allele-specific therapy. We hypothesized that different KRAS mutants elicit variable alterations in downstream signaling pathways. To investigate this hypothesis, we created a novel system by which we can model KRAS mutants in isogenic mouse colon epithelial cell lines. To generate the cell lines, we developed an assay using fluorescent co-selection for CRISPR-driven genome editing. This assay involves simultaneous introduction of single-guide RNAs (sgRNAs) to two different endogenous loci resulting in double-editing events. We first introduced Cas9 and blue fluorescent protein (BFP) into mouse colon epithelial cell line containing heterozygous KRAS G12D mutation. We then used sgRNAs targeting BFP and the mutant G12D KRAS allele along with homology-directed repair (HDR) templates for a GFP gene and a KRAS mutant allele of our choice. Cells that successfully undergo HDR are GFP-positive and contain the desired KRAS mutation. Therefore, selection for GFP-positive cells allows us to identify those with phenotypically silent KRAS edits. Ultimately, this method allows us to toggle between different mutant alleles while preserving the wild-type allele, all in an isogenic background. Using this method, we have generated cell lines with endogenous heterozygous KRAS mutations commonly seen in CRC (G12D, G12V, G12C, G12R, G13D). In order to elucidate cellular signaling pathway differences between the KRAS mutants, we screened the mutated cell lines using a small-molecule library of ~160 protein kinase inhibitors. We found that there are mutation-specific differences in drug sensitivity profiles. These observations suggest that KRAS mutants drive specific cellular signaling pathways, and that further exploration of these pathways may prove to be valuable for identification of novel therapeutic opportunities in CRC.

  • Flourescent coselection of KRAS edits by CRSPR screen in a colorectal cancer line; a cell that is competent to undergo HR can undergo combination multiple KRAS
  • target only mutant allele while leaving wild type intact;
  • it was KRAS editing event in APC  +/- mouse cell line
  • this enabled a screen for kinase inhibitors that decreased tumor growth in isogenic cell lines; PKC alpha and beta 1 inhibitors, also CDK4 inhibitors inhibited cell growth
  • questions about heterogeneity in KRAS clones; they looked at off target guides and looked at effects in screens; then they used top two clones that did not have off target;  questions about 3D culture- they have not done that; Question ? dependency on AKT activity? perhaps the G12E has different downstream effectors

 

12:20 PM – 12:25 PM
– Discussion

12:25 PM – 12:35 PM
1087 – NF1 regulates the RAS-related GTPases, RRAS and RRAS2, independent of RAS activity; Jillian M. Silva, Lizzeth Canche, Frank McCormick. University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA @UCSFMedicine

Abstract: Neurofibromin, which is encoded by the neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) gene, is a tumor suppressor that acts as a RAS-GTPase activating protein (RAS-GAP) to stimulate the intrinsic GTPase activity of RAS as well as the closely related RAS subfamily members, RRAS, RRAS2, and MRAS. This results in the conversion of the active GTP-bound form of RAS into the inactive GDP-bound state leading to the downregulation of several RAS downstream effector pathways, most notably MAPK signaling. While the region of NF1 that regulates RAS activity represents only a small fraction of the entire protein, a large extent of the NF1 structural domains and their corresponding mechanistic functions remain uncharacterized despite the fact there is a high frequency of NF1 mutations in several different types of cancer. Thus, we wanted to elucidate the underlying biochemical and signaling functions of NF1 that are unrelated to the regulation of RAS and how loss of these functions contributes to the pathogenesis of cancer. To accomplish this objective, we used CRISPR-Cas9 methods to knockout NF1 in an isogenic “RASless” MEF model system, which is devoid of the major oncogenic RAS isoforms (HRAS, KRAS, and NRAS) and reconstituted with the KRAS4b wild-type or mutant KRASG12C or KRASG12D isoform. Loss of NF1 led to elevated RAS-GTP levels, however, this increase was not as profound as the levels in KRAS-mutated cells or provided a proliferative advantage. Although ablation of NF1 resulted in sustained activation of MAPK signaling, it also unexpectedly, resulted in a robust increase in AKT phosphorylation compared to KRAS-mutated cells. Surprisingly, loss of NF1 in KRAS4b wild-type and KRAS-mutated cells potently suppressed the RAS-related GTPases, RRAS and RRAS2, with modest effects on MRAS, at both the transcript and protein levels. A Clariom™D transcriptome microarray analysis revealed a significant downregulation in the NF-κB target genes, insulin-like growth factor binding protein 2 (IGFBP2), argininosuccinate synthetase 1 (ASS1), and DUSP1, in both the NF1 knockout KRAS4b wild-type and KRAS-mutated cells. Moreover, NF1Null melanoma cells also displayed a potent suppression of RRAS and RRAS2 as well as these NF-κB transcription factors. Since RRAS and RRAS2 both contain the same NF-κB transcription factor binding sites, we hypothesize that IGFBP2, ASS1, and/or DUSP1 may contribute to the NF1-mediated regulation of these RAS-related GTPases. More importantly, this study provides the first evidence of at least one novel RAS-independent function of NF1 to regulate the RAS-related subfamily members, RRAS and RRAS2, in a manner exclusive of its RAS-GTPase activity and this may provide insight into new potential biomarkers and molecular targets for treating patients with mutations in NF1.
  • NF1 and SPRED work together to signal from RTK cKIT through RAS
  • NF1 knockout cells had higher KRAS and had increased cell proliferation
  • NF1 -/-  or SPRED loss had increased ERK phosphorylation and some increase in AKT activity compared to parental cells
  • they used isogenic cell lines devoid of all RAS isoforms and then reconstituted with specific RAS WT or mutants
  • NF1 and SPRED KO both reduce RRAS expression; in an AKT independent mannner
  • NF1 SPRED KO cells have almost no IGFBP2 protein expression and SNAIL so maybe affecting EMT?
  • this effect is independent of its RAS GTPAse activity (noncanonical)

12:35 PM – 12:40 PM
– Discussion

12:40 PM – 12:50 PM
1088 – Elucidating the regulation of delayed-early gene targets of sustained MAPK signaling; Kali J. Dale, Martin McMahon. University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, Huntsman Cancer Institute, Salt Lake City, UT

Abstract: RAS and its downstream effector, BRAF, are commonly mutated proto-oncogenes in many types of human cancer. Mutationally activated RAS or BRAF signal through the MEK→ERK MAP kinase (MAPK) pathway to regulate key cancer cell hallmarks such as cell division cycle progression, reduced programmed cell death, and enhanced cell motility. Amongst the list of RAS/RAF-regulated genes are those encoding integrins, alpha-beta heterodimeric transmembrane proteins that regulate cell adhesion to the extracellular matrix. Altered integrin expression has been linked to the acquisition of more aggressive behavior by melanoma, lung, and breast cancer cells leading to diminished survival of cancer patients. We have previously documented the ability of the RAS-activated MAPK pathway to induce the expression of ITGB3 encoding integrin β3 in several different cell types. RAS/RAF-mediated induction of ITGB3 mRNA requires sustained, high-level activation of RAF→MEK→ERK signaling mediated by oncogene activation and is classified as “delayed-early”, in that it is sensitive to the protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide. However, to date, the regulatory mechanisms that allow for induced ITGB3 downstream of sustained, high-level activation of MAPK signaling remains obscure. We have identified over 300 DEGs, including those expressing additional cell surface proteins, that display similar regulatory characteristics as ITGB3. We use integrin β3 as a model to test our hypothesis that there is a different mechanism of regulation for delayed-early genes (DEG) compared to the canonical regulation of Immediate-Early genes. There are three regions in the chromatin upstream of the ITGB3 that become more accessible during RAF activation. We are relating the chromatin changes seen during RAF activation to active enhancer histone marks. To elucidate the essential genes of this regulation process, we are employing the use of a genome-wide CRISPR knockout screen. The work presented from this abstract will help elucidate the regulatory properties of oncogenic progression in BRAF mutated cancers that could lead to the identification of biomarkers.

12:50 PM – 12:55 PM
– Discussion

12:55 PM – 1:05 PM
1090 – Regulation of PTEN translation by PI3K signaling maintains pathway homeostasis

Radha Mukherjee, Kiran Gireesan Vanaja, Jacob A. Boyer, Juan Qiu, Xiaoping Chen, Elisa De Stanchina, Sarat Chandarlapaty, Andre Levchenko, Neal Rosen. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, Yale University, West Haven, CT, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY @sloan_kettering

Abstract: The PI3K pathway is a key regulator of metabolism, cell proliferation and migration and some of its components (e.g. PIK3CA and PTEN) are frequently altered in cancer by genetic events that deregulate its output. However, PI3K signaling is not usually the primary driver of these tumors and inhibitors of components of the pathway have only modest antitumor effects. We now show that both physiologic and oncogenic activation of the PI3K signaling by growth factors and an activating hotspot PIK3CA mutation respectively, cause an increase in the expression of the lipid phosphatase PTEN, thus limiting the duration of the signal and the output of the pathway in tumors. Pharmacologic and physiologic inhibition of the pathway by HER2/PI3K/AKT/mTOR inhibitors and nutrient starvation respectively reduce PTEN, thus buffering the effects of inhibition and contributing to the rebound in pathway activity that occurs in tumors. This regulation is found to be a feature of multiple types of cancer, non-cancer cell line and PDX models thereby highlighting its role as a key conserved feedback loop within the PI3K signaling network, both in vitro and in vivo. Regulation of expression is due to mTOR/4EBP1 dependent control of PTEN translation and is lost when 4EBP1 is knocked out. Translational regulation of PTEN is therefore a major homeostatic regulator of physiologic PI3K signaling and plays a role in reducing the output of oncogenic mutants that deregulate the pathway and the antitumor activity of PI3K pathway inhibitors.

  • mTOR can be a potent regulator of PTEN and therefore a major issue when developing PI3K inhibitors

1:05 PM – 1:10 PM
– Discussion

1:10 PM – 1:20 PM
1091 – BI-3406 and BI 1701963: Potent and selective SOS1::KRAS inhibitors induce regressions in combination with MEK inhibitors or irinotecan

Daniel Gerlach, Michael Gmachl, Juergen Ramharter, Jessica Teh, Szu-Chin Fu, Francesca Trapani, Dirk Kessler, Klaus Rumpel, Dana-Adriana Botesteanu, Peter Ettmayer, Heribert Arnhof, Thomas Gerstberger, Christiane Kofink, Tobias Wunberg, Christopher P. Vellano, Timothy P. Heffernan, Joseph R. Marszalek, Mark Pearson, Darryl B. McConnell, Norbert Kraut, Marco H. Hofmann. Boehringer Ingelheim RCV GmbH & Co KG, Vienna, Austria, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, Boehringer Ingelheim RCV GmbH & Co KG, Vienna, Austria

  • there is rational for developing an SOS1 inhibitor (GEF); BI3406 shows better PK and PD as a candidate
  • most sensitive cell lines to inhibitor carry KRAS mutation; NRAS or BRAF mutations are not sensititve
  • KRAS mutation defines sensitivity so they created KRAS mut isogenic cell lines
  • found best to co inhibit SOS and MEK as observed plasticity with only SOS
  • dual combination in lung NSCLC pancreatic showed enhanced efficacy compared to monotherapy
  • SOS1 inhibition plus irinotecan enhances DNA double strand breaks; no increased DNA damage in normal stroma but preferentially in tumor cells
  • these SOS1 had broad activity against KRAS mutant models;
  • phase 1 started in 2019;

@Boehringer

1:20 PM – 1:25 PM
– Discussion

1:25 PM – 1:30 PM
– Closing Remarks

Adrienne D. Cox. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

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