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Archive for the ‘Genomics Pharmacy’ Category


Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS): Strategies in Anticoagulant Selection: Diagnostics Approaches – Genetic Testing Aids vs. Biomarkers (Troponin types and BNP)

Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

UPDATED on 3/17/2018

An NT-proBNP <300 pg/ml strongly excludes the presence of acute HF.

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018 Mar 20;71(11):1191-1200. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2018.01.021.

N-Terminal Pro-B-Type Natriuretic Peptide in the Emergency Department: The ICON-RELOADED Study

 

A breakthrough in emergence of

  • Genetic Testing Aids as a Personalized approach, genomics-based approach to selecting antiplatelet therapy, for reduction in ischemic and bleeding events, and
  • Biochemical Biomarker approaches for dosing anti-thrombotic drugs are presented here.

“This study fills in a part of the puzzle of genomic testing,” said Craig Beavers, PharmD, of the University of Kentucky in Lexington. “It shows we can use genomic information in clinical decision making. It was interesting that there appeared to be a change in prescribing based on genomics.”

SOURCE

https://www.medpagetoday.com/meetingcoverage/acc/71722?xid=nl_mpt_DHE_2018-03-13&eun=g99985d0r&pos=3&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Headlines%202018-03-13&utm_term=Daily%20Headlines%20-%20Active%20User%20-%20180%20days

At 12 months, 25.9% of patients receiving standard care had experienced the trial’s primary composite endpoint — cardiovascular death, non-fatal MI or stroke, and Bleeding Academic Research Consortium (BARC) 3-5 major bleeding — compared with 15.8% of patients receiving an anticoagulant drug on the basis of genetic testing (P<0.001), reported Diego Ardissino, MD, of Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Parma in Italy, and colleagues.

PHARMCLO is the first trial to combine clinical characteristics with genetic information to inform the choice of P2Y12 receptor antagonist in patients with ACS, Ardissino said in a presentation at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting. The study was simultaneously published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“Selecting treatment on the basis of genetic data in addition to considerations concerning the patients’ clinical characteristics may lead to a more personalized, and therefore more efficient, antiplatelet therapy, thus reducing both ischemic and bleeding risk,” he said. “PHARMCLO is the first step of a new approach that will see a shift in emphasis away from trying to discover ever-more potent anti-thrombotic drugs, and toward ensuring that the right therapy is given to each individual patient.”

However, PHARMCLO was halted after about a fourth of the intended population was recruited. The Ethics Committee of Modena (Italy) required the trial to be prematurely stopped because of a lack of in vitro diagnosis certification for the testing instruments. The original patients were still followed, Ardissino stated.

The authors enrolled 888 patients, and randomly assigned them to be tested for

  • three genes associated with resistance to clopidogrel (Plavix), and then were assigned a
  • treatment based on clinical data informed by the testing results.
  • Tested genes were ABCB1, 2C19*2 and 2C19*17 with the STQ3 system.
  • Another group was assigned to treatment without reference to genetic testing.
  • Standard of care treatment was with Clopidogrel, Ticagrelor (Brilinta), or Prasugrel (Effient).
  1. Clopidogrel was more frequently used in the standard arm (50.7% versus 43.3%), while
  2. Ticagrelor in the pharmacogenomic arm (42.6% versus 32.7%, P<0.05) and
  3. Prasugrel were used equally in both.

The primary endpoint hazard ratio was 0.58 versus the standard arm (95% CI 0.43-0.78, P<0.001).

Previous studies have shown Prasugrel and Ticagrelor to be superior to Clopidogrel at preventing ischemic events. However, prasugrel and ticagrelor, which are more potent, are also known to increase the risk of bleeding. The findings suggest that having more information about a specific patient’s likely response to clopidogrel can help doctors weigh this trade-off, Ardissino said.

 SOURCES

The STANDARD OF CARE in Diagnosis of Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS) using BioMarkers in serum blood relays of values of Troponin types and BNP for dosing anti-thrombotic drugs.

The team at LPBI Group published the following articles on this topic:

A search into our Journal Archive for “Acute Coronary Syndrome” yielded 210 articles

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/?s=Acute+Coronary+Syndrome

  1. High Sensitivity Troponin (hs cTn) Assays 

  • Previously undiscerned value of hs-troponin

Curators: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/06/18/previously-undiscerned-value-of-hs-troponin/

  • Recent Insights into the High Sensitivity Troponins for Acute Coronary Syndromes

Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/09/08/recent-insights-into-the-high-sensitivity-troponins-for-acute-coronary-syndromes/

  • Dealing with the Use of the High Sensitivity Troponin (hs cTn) Assays: Preparing the United States for High-Sensitivity Cardiac Troponin Assays

Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Author and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RD

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/05/18/dealing-with-the-use-of-the-hs-ctn-assays/

  • Preparing the United States for High-Sensitivity Cardiac Troponin Assays

Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/06/13/high-sensitivity-cardiac-troponin-assays/

 

2. BNP and proBNP

Brain natriuretic peptide (BNP), also known as B-type natriuretic peptide, is a hormone secreted by cardiomyocytes in the heart ventricles in response to stretching caused by increased ventricular blood volume, decrease in systemic vascular resistance and central venous pressure as well as an increase in natriuresis. The net effect of these peptides is a decrease in blood pressure due to the decrease in systemic vascular resistance and, thus, afterload. Additionally, the actions of both BNP and ANP result in a decrease in cardiac output due to an overall decrease in central venous pressure and preload as a result of the reduction in blood volume that follows natriuresis and diuresis.

SOURCE

Maisel A, Krishnaswamy P, Nowak R, McCord J, Hollander J, Duc P, Omland T, Storrow A, Abraham W, Wu A, Clopton P, Steg P, Westheim A, Knudsen C, Perez A, Kazanegra R, Herrmann H, McCullough P (2002). “Rapid measurement of B-type natriuretic peptide in the emergency diagnosis of heart failure“. N Engl J Med347 (3): 161–7. 

 

The team at LPBI Group published the following articles on this topic:

  • Effect of Coronary Atherosclerosis and Myocardial Ischemia on Plasma Levels of High-Sensitivity Troponin T and NT-proBNP in Patients With Stable Angina

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/02/17/effect-of-coronary-atherosclerosis-and-myocardial-ischemia-on-plasma-levels-of-high-sensitivity-troponin-t-and-nt-probnp-in-patients-with-stable-angina/

  • More on the Performance of High Sensitivity Troponin T and with Amino Terminal Pro BNP in Diabetes

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

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/01/20/more-on-the-performance-of-high-sensitivity-troponin-t-and-with-amino-terminal-pro-bnp-in-diabetes/

  • Erythropoietin (EPO) and Intravenous Iron (Fe) as Therapeutics for Anemia in Severe and Resistant CHF: The Elevated N-terminal proBNP Biomarker

Co-Author of the FIRST Article: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP. Reviewer and Curator of the SECOND and of the THIRD Articles: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Article Architecture Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/12/10/epo-as-therapeutics-for-anemia-in-chf/

  • Highlights of LIVE Day 1: World Medical Innovation Forum – CARDIOVASCULAR • MAY 1-3, 2017  BOSTON, MA • UNITED STATES

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2017/05/01/highlights-of-live-day-1-world-medical-innovation-forum-cardiovascular-%E2%80%A2-may-1-3-2017-boston-ma-%E2%80%A2-united-states/

 

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Pharmacotyping Pancreatic Cancer Patients in the Future: Two Approaches – ORGANOIDS by David Tuveson and Hans Clevers and/or MICRODOSING Devices by Robert Langer

Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

UPDATED on 4/5/2018

Featured video: Magical Bob

A fascination with magic leads Institute Professor Robert Langer to solve world problems using the marvels of chemical engineering.Watch Video

MIT News Office
March 27, 2018

http://news.mit.edu/2018/featured-video-magical-bob-langer-0327

 

This curation provides the resources for edification on Pharmacotyping Pancreatic Cancer Patients in the Future

 

  • Professor Hans Clevers at Clevers Group, Hubrecht University

https://www.hubrecht.eu/onderzoekers/clevers-group/

  • Prof. Robert Langer, MIT

http://web.mit.edu/langerlab/langer.html

Langer’s articles on Drug Delivery

https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=Langer+on+Drug+Delivery&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwixsd2w88TTAhVG4iYKHRaIAvEQgQMIJDAA

organoids, which I know you’re pretty involved in with Hans Clevers. What are your plans for organoids of pancreatic cancer?

Organoids are a really terrific model of a patient’s tumour that you generate from tissue that is either removed at the time of surgery or when they get a small needle biopsy. Culturing the tissue and observing an outgrowth of it is usually successful and when you have the cells, you can perform molecular diagnostics of any type. With a patient-derived organoid, you can sequence the exome and the RNA, and you can perform drug testing, which I call ‘pharmacotyping’, where you’re evaluating compounds that by themselves or in combination show potency against the cells. A major goal of our lab is to work towards being able to use organoids to choose therapies that will work for an individual patient – personalized medicine.

Organoids could be made moot by implantable microdevices for drug delivery into tumors, developed by Bob Langer. These devices are the size of a pencil lead and contain reservoirs that release microdoses of different drugs; the device can be injected into the tumor to deliver drugs, and can then be carefully dissected out and analyzed to gain insight into the sensitivity of cancer cells to different anticancer agents. Bob and I are kind of engaged in a friendly contest to see whether organoids or microdosing devices are going to come out on top. I suspect that both approaches will be important for pharmacotyping cancer patients in the future.

From the science side, we use organoids to discover things about pancreatic cancer. They’re great models, probably the best that I know of to rapidly discover new things about cancer because you can grow normal tissue as well as malignant tissue. So, from the same patient you can do a comparison easily to find out what’s different in the tumor. Organoids are crazy interesting, and when I see other people in the pancreatic cancer field I tell them, you should stop what you’re doing and work on these because it’s the faster way of studying this disease.

SOURCE

Other related articles on Pancreatic Cancer and Drug Delivery published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following:

 

Pancreatic Cancer: Articles of Note @PharmaceuticalIntelligence.com

Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/05/26/pancreatic-cancer-articles-of-note-pharmaceuticalintelligence-com/

Keyword Search: “Pancreatic Cancer” – 275 Article Titles

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit.php?s=Pancreatic+Cancer&post_status=all&post_type=post&action=-1&m=0&cat=0&paged=1&action2=-1

Keyword Search: Drug Delivery: 542 Articles Titles

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit.php?s=Drug+Delivery&post_status=all&post_type=post&action=-1&m=0&cat=0&paged=1&action2=-1

Keyword Search: Personalized Medicine: 597 Article Titles

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit.php?s=Personalized+Medicine&post_status=all&post_type=post&action=-1&m=0&cat=0&paged=1&action2=-1

  • Cancer Biology & Genomics for Disease Diagnosis, on Amazon since 8/11/2015

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B013RVYR2K

 

 

VOLUME TWO WILL BE AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM ON MAY 1, 2017

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

 

Scientists think excessive population growth is a cause of scarcity and environmental degradation. A male pill could reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, which accounts for 40 percent of all pregnancies worldwide.

 

But, big drug companies long ago dropped out of the search for a male contraceptive pill which is able to chemically intercept millions of sperm before they reach a woman’s egg. Right now the chemical burden for contraception relies solely on the female. There’s not much activity in the male contraception field because an effective solution is available on the female side.

 

Presently, male contraception means a condom or a vasectomy. But researchers from Center for Drug Discovery at Baylor College of Medicine, USA are renewing the search for a better option—an easy-to-take pill that’s safe, fast-acting, and reversible.

 

The scientists began with lists of genes active in the testes for sperm production and motility and then created knockout mice that lack those genes. Using the gene-editing technology called CRISPR, in collaboration with Japanese scientists, they have so far made more than 75 of these “knockout” mice.

 

They allowed these mice to mate with normal (wild type) female mice, and if their female partners don’t get pregnant after three to six months, it means the gene might be a target for a contraceptive. Out of 2300 genes that are particularly active in the testes of mice, the researchers have identified 30 genes whose deletion makes the male infertile. Next the scientists are planning a novel screening approach to test whether any of about two billion chemicals can disable these genes in a test tube. Promising chemicals could then be fed to male mice to see if they cause infertility.

 

Female birth control pills use hormones to inhibit a woman’s ovaries from releasing eggs. But hormones have side effects like weight gain, mood changes, and headaches. A trial of one male contraceptive hormone was stopped early in 2011 after one participant committed suicide and others reported depression. Moreover, some drug candidates have made animals permanently sterile which is not the goal of the research. The challenge is to prevent sperm being made without permanently sterilizing the individual.

 

As a better way to test drugs, Scientists at University of Georgia, USA are investigating yet another high-tech approach. They are turning human skin cells into stem cells that look and act like the spermatogonial cells in the testes. Testing drugs on such cells might provide more accurate leads than tests on mice.

 

The male pill would also have to start working quickly, a lot sooner than the female pill, which takes about a week to function. Scientists from University of Dundee, U.K. admitted that there are lots of challenges. Because, a women’s ovary usually release one mature egg each month, while a man makes millions of sperm every day. So, the male pill has to be made 100 percent effective and act instantaneously.

 

References:

 

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603676/the-search-for-a-perfect-male-birth-control-pill/

 

https://futurism.com/videos/the-perfect-male-birth-control-pill-is-coming-soon/?utm_source=Digest&utm_campaign=c42fc7b9b6-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_03_20&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_03cd0a26cd-c42fc7b9b6-246845533

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/the-male-pill-is-coming—and-its-going-to-change-everything/

 

http://www.mensfitness.com/women/sex-tips/male-birth-control-pill-making

 

http://health.howstuffworks.com/sexual-health/contraception/male-bc-pill.htm

 

http://europe.newsweek.com/male-contraception-side-effects-study-pill-injection-518237?rm=eu

 

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/01/07/health/male-birth-control-pill/index.html

 

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/contraception-guide/Pages/male-pill.aspx

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

 

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a group of small non-coding RNA molecules that play a major role in posttranscriptional regulation of gene expression and are expressed in an organ-specific manner. One miRNA can potentially regulate the expression of several genes, depending on cell type and differentiation stage. They control every cellular process and their altered regulation is involved in human diseases. miRNAs are differentially expressed in the male and female gonads and have an organ-specific reproductive function. Exerting their affect through germ cells and gonadal somatic cells, miRNAs regulate key proteins necessary for gonad development. The role of miRNAs in the testes is only starting to emerge though they have been shown to be required for adequate spermatogenesis. In the ovary, miRNAs play a fundamental role in follicles’ assembly, growth, differentiation, and ovulation.

 

Deciphering the underlying causes of idiopathic male infertility is one of the main challenges in reproductive medicine. This is especially relevant in infertile patients displaying normal seminal parameters and no urogenital or genetic abnormalities. In these cases, the search for additional sperm biomarkers is of high interest. This study was aimed to determine the implications of the sperm miRNA expression profiles in the reproductive capacity of normozoospermic infertile individuals. The expression levels of 736 miRNAs were evaluated in spermatozoa from normozoospermic infertile males and normozoospermic fertile males analyzed under the same conditions. 57 miRNAs were differentially expressed between populations; 20 of them was regulated by a host gene promoter that in three cases comprised genes involved in fertility. The predicted targets of the differentially expressed miRNAs unveiled a significant enrichment of biological processes related to embryonic morphogenesis and chromatin modification. Normozoospermic infertile individuals exhibit a specific sperm miRNA expression profile clearly differentiated from normozoospermic fertile individuals. This miRNA cargo has potential implications in the individuals’ reproductive competence.

 

Circulating or “extracellular” miRNAs detected in biological fluids, could be used as potential diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers of several disease, such as cancer, gynecological and pregnancy disorders. However, their contributions in female infertility and in vitro fertilization (IVF) remain unknown. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a frequent endocrine disorder in women. PCOS is associated with altered features of androgen metabolism, increased insulin resistance and impaired fertility. Furthermore, PCOS, being a syndrome diagnosis, is heterogeneous and characterized by polycystic ovaries, chronic anovulation and evidence of hyperandrogenism, as well as being associated with chronic low-grade inflammation and an increased life time risk of type 2 diabetes. Altered miRNA levels have been associated with diabetes, insulin resistance, inflammation and various cancers. Studies have shown that circulating miRNAs are present in whole blood, serum, plasma and the follicular fluid of PCOS patients and that these might serve as potential biomarkers and a new approach for the diagnosis of PCOS. Presence of miRNA in mammalian follicular fluid has been demonstrated to be enclosed within microvesicles and exosomes or they can also be associated to protein complexes. The presence of microvesicles and exosomes carrying microRNAs in follicular fluid could represent an alternative mechanism of autocrine and paracrine communication inside the ovarian follicle. The investigation of the expression profiles of five circulating miRNAs (let-7b, miR-29a, miR-30a, miR-140 and miR-320a) in human follicular fluid from women with normal ovarian reserve and with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and their ability to predict IVF outcomes showed that these miRNAs could provide new helpful biomarkers to facilitate personalized medical care for oocyte quality in ART (Assisted Reproductive Treatment) and during IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).

 

References:

 

http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-319-31973-5_12

 

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/andr.12276/abstract;jsessionid=F805A89DCC94BDBD42D6D60C40AD4AB0.f03t03

 

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009279716302241

 

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10815-016-0657-9

 

http://www.nature.com/articles/srep24976

 

 

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Postmarketing Safety or Effectiveness Data Needed: The 2013 paper was funded by the firm Sarepta Therapeutics, sellers of eteplirsen, a surge in its shares seen after the approval. Eteplirsen will cost patients around $300,000 a year.

 

Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

On September 19, the FDA okayed eteplirsen to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a rare genetic disorder that results in muscle degeneration and premature death. Several of its top officials disagreed with the drug’s approval, questioning how beneficial it will be for patients, as ForbesMedPage Today and others reported.

http://retractionwatch.com/2016/09/21/amid-controversial-sarepta-approval-decision-fda-head-calls-for-key-study-retraction/

Factors at play for FDA Approval of eteplirsen

  1. the help of the families of young boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, emotional scenes from these families who have campaigned for so long
  2. an executive team from Sarepta who wouldn’t give up,

Ed Kaye, Sarepta, CEO – EK: It’s all about resilience. One of the things we’ve had is a group of people of like minds and anytime one of us gets down, somebody else is there to pick you up. One of the things we’ve always done is: Every time we’ve felt sorry for ourselves, we just need to think about those patients and what they go through. Our struggles in comparison very quickly become meaningless. You end up saying to yourself: What am I complaining about? Quit whining; get up and do your job.

and

3. an emerging new philosophy from some within the FDA, eteplirsen, now Exondys 51, was approved in patients with a confirmed mutation of the dystrophin gene amenable to exon 51 skipping.

http://www.fiercebiotech.com/biotech/sarepta-ceo-ed-kaye-fda-courage-nice-and-resilience?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal&mrkid=993697&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTXpBeU56aGpNREV3T1RZMiIsInQiOiJIM2poTkVOQ0N6YmxaenVHZDM1RlVvbTFmRkdwZGdxQ0pmYXNVOG5PKzRyenFXTkRMV0dcL3l0bVBPNkJ2NFV3Rnc3bWVFVnUwMCs3YVhWeVhvRkkrUU5FMFJ1RndSQTlHWFRnQmFTbUo3ODg9In0%3D

9/19/2016

FDA grants accelerated approval to first drug for Duchenne muscular dystrophy

The accelerated approval of Exondys 51 is based on the surrogate endpoint of dystrophin increase in skeletal muscle observed in some Exondys 51-treated patients. The FDA has concluded that the data submitted by the applicant demonstrated an increase in dystrophin production that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit in some patients with DMD who have a confirmed mutation of the dystrophin gene amenable to exon 51 skipping. A clinical benefit of Exondys 51, including improved motor function, has not been established. In making this decision, the FDA considered the potential risks associated with the drug, the life-threatening and debilitating nature of the disease for these children and the lack of available therapy.

The FDA granted Exondys 51 fast track designation, which is a designation to facilitate the development and expedite the review of drugs that are intended to treat serious conditions and that demonstrate the potential to address an unmet medical need. It was also granted priority review and orphan drug designationPriority review status is granted to applications for drugs that, if approved, would be a significant improvement in safety or effectiveness in the treatment of a serious condition. Orphan drug designation provides incentives such as clinical trial tax credits, user fee waiver and eligibility for orphan drug exclusivity to assist and encourage the development of drugs for rare diseases.

SOURCE

http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm521263.htm

The viability of this drug approval depends  on “to be gathered” Postmarketing safety or effectiveness data, aka follow-up confirmatory trials.

Sarepta CEO Ed Kaye on FDA courage, NICE and resilience

BA: When it comes to flexibility, however, the FDA will likely not be flexible if your drug doesn’t prove the desired efficacy in your longer term postmarketing studies. If at the end of this period your drug doesn’t come through, how easy will it be for you to take this off the market? I don’t think anyone, including the FDA, wants a repeat of what happened in 2011 when Roche saw its breast cancer license for Avastin, which had been approved under an accelerated review, pulled after not being safe or effective enough in the follow-up confirmatory trials. But you face this as a possible scenario.

EK: That’s true, but one of the things we’re trying to do to mitigate that is to obviously, with our ongoing studies, prove the efficacy that the FDA wants to see. And you know, if there is a problem with one study then we’d hope to have other data that are supportive. The other thing we’re doing of course is developing that next-generation chemistry in DMD that could prove more effective, so we could certainly consider using that next-gen chemistry to take our work forward and try and make it better.

We have a lot of shots on goal to make sure we can continue to supply a product for these boys, but there is always a risk. If we can’t show efficacy in the way the FDA wants, then yes they have the option to take it off the market.

http://www.fiercebiotech.com/biotech/sarepta-ceo-ed-kaye-fda-courage-nice-and-resilience?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal&mrkid=993697&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTXpBeU56aGpNREV3T1RZMiIsInQiOiJIM2poTkVOQ0N6YmxaenVHZDM1RlVvbTFmRkdwZGdxQ0pmYXNVOG5PKzRyenFXTkRMV0dcL3l0bVBPNkJ2NFV3Rnc3bWVFVnUwMCs3YVhWeVhvRkkrUU5FMFJ1RndSQTlHWFRnQmFTbUo3ODg9In0%3D

Need for follow-up confirmatory trials remains outstanding

FDA’s Postmarketing Surveillance Programs

http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Surveillance/ucm090385.htm

FDA’s Regulations and Policies and Procedures for Postmarketing Surveillance Programs

http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Surveillance/ucm090394.htm

 

Positions on Sarepta’s eteplirsen Scientific Approach

Gene Editing for Exon 51: Why CRISPR Snipping might be better than Exon Skipping for DMD

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/01/23/gene-editing-for-exon-51-why-crispr-snipping-might-be-better-than-exon-skipping-for-dmd/

 

QUOTE START

Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Amid controversial Sarepta approval decision, FDA head calls for key study retraction

with one comment

FDAThe head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has called for the retraction of a study about a drug that the agency itself approved earlier this week, despite senior staff opposing the approval.

On September 19, the FDA okayed eteplirsen to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a rare genetic disorder that results in muscle degeneration and premature death. Several of its top officials disagreed with the drug’s approval, questioning how beneficial it will be for patients, as ForbesMedPage Today and others reported.

In a lengthy report Commissioner Robert Califf sent to senior FDA officials on September 16 — that was made public on September 19 — he called for the retraction of a 2013 study published in Annals of Neurologyfunded by the seller of eteplirsen, which showed beneficial effects of the drug in DMD patients. Califf writes inthe report:

The publication, now known to be misleading, should probably be retracted by its authors.

In a footnote in the report, Califf adds:

In view of the scientific deficiencies identified in this analysis, I believe it would be appropriate to initiate a dialogue that would lead to a formal correction or retraction (as appropriate) of the published report.

The study was not the key factor in the agency’s decision to approve the drug, according to Steve Usdin, Washington editor of the publication BioCentury; still, Usdin told Retraction Watch he is “really surprised” at the call for retraction from top FDA staff, the first he has come across in the last two decades.

The 2013 paper was funded by the firm Sarepta Therapeutics, sellers of eteplirsen, which has seen a surge in its shares after the approval. Eteplirsen will cost patients around $300,000 a year.

DMD affects around 1 in 3,600 boys due to a mutation in the gene that codes for the protein dystrophin, which is important for structural stability of muscles. Eteplirsen is the first drug to treat DMD, and was initially given a green light by Janet Woodcock, director of Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, after a split vote from the FDA’s advisory committee. Despite Califf’s issues with the literature supporting the drug’s use in DMD, he did not overturn Woodcock’s decision, and the agency approved the drug this week.

In 2014, an inspection team visited the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, where the research was conducted, according to the report. In the report, Ellis Unger, director of the Office of Drug Evaluation I in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation, notes:

We found the analytical procedures to be typical of an academic research center, seemingly appropriate for what was simply an exploratory phase 1/2 study, but not suitable for an adequate and well controlled study aimed to serve as the basis for a regulatory action. The procedures and controls that one would expect to see in support of a phase 3 registrational trial were not in evidence.

Specifically, Unger describes concerns about blinding during the experiments, and notes:

The immunohistochemistry images were only faintly stained, and had been read by a single technician using an older liquid crystal display (LCD) computer monitor in a windowed room where lighting was not controlled. (The technician had to suspend reading around mid-day, when brighter light began to fill the room and reading became impossible.)

Unger adds:

Having uncovered numerous technical and operational shortcomings in Columbus, our team worked collaboratively with the applicant to develop improved methods for a reassessment of the stored images…This re-analysis, along with the study published in 2013, provides an instructive example of an investigation with extraordinary results that could not be verified.

Luciana Borio, acting chief scientist at the FDA, is cited in the report saying:

I would be remiss if I did not note that the sponsor has exhibited serious irresponsibility by playing a role in publishing and promoting selective data during the development of this product. Not only was there a misleading published article with respect to the results of Study–which has never been retracted—but Sarepta also issued a press release relying on the misleading article and its findings…As determined by the review team, and as acknowledged by Dr. Woodcock, the article’s scientific findings—with respect to the demonstrated effect of eteplirsen on both surrogate and clinical endpoints—do not withstand proper and objective analyses of the data. Sarepta’s misleading communications led to unrealistic expectations and hope for DMD patients and their families.

Here’s how Sarepta describes the study’s findings in the press release Borio refers to:

Published study results showed that once-weekly treatment with eteplirsen resulted in a statistically significant increase from baseline in novel dystrophin, the protein that is lacking in patients with DMD. In addition, eteplirsen-treated patients evaluable on the 6-minute walk test (6MWT) demonstrated stabilization in walking ability compared to a placebo/delayed-treatment cohort. Eteplirsen was well tolerated in the study with no clinically significant treatment-related adverse events. These data will form the basis of a New Drug Application (NDA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for eteplirsen planned for the first half of 2014.

However, Usdin noted that the drug’s approval and the study are two independent events, adding that the 2013 study just “got the ball rolling” for eteplirsen, and the FDA conducted many of its own experiments analyses, as detailed in the newly released report.

Jerry Mendell, the corresponding author of the study (which has so far been cited 118 times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science) from Ohio State University in Columbus, told us the allegations were “unfounded” and said the data are “valid.” Therefore, he added, he will not be approaching the journal for a retraction, noting that the FDA asked him hundreds of questions about the paper and audited the trials.

Clifford Saper, the editor-in-chief of Annals of Neurology from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (which is part of Harvard Medical School), said in an email:

It takes more than a call by a politician for retraction of a paper. It takes actual evidence.

He added:

If the FDA commissioner has, or knows of someone who has, evidence for an error in a paper published in Annals of Neurology, I encourage him to send that evidence to me and a copy to the authors of the article, for their reply. At that point we will engage in a scientific review of the evidence and make appropriate responses.

Linda Lowes, sixth author of the present study, is the last author of a 2016 study in Physical Therapy that was retracted months after publication. Its notice reads:

This article has been retracted by the author due to unintentional deviations in the use of the described modified technique to assess plagiocephaly in the study participants, such that the use of the modified technique cannot be defended for the stated purpose in this population at this time.

Califf was a cardiologist at Duke University during the high-profile scandal of researcher Anil Potti at Duke, which led to more than 10 retractions, settled lawsuits, and medical board reprimands. In 2015, he told TheTriangle Business Journal:

I wish I had gotten myself more involved earlier…There were systems that were not adequate, as we stated. … That was a tough one, I think, for the whole institution.

We’ve contacted the FDA for comment, and will update the post with anything else we learn.

END QUOTE

Correction 9/21/16 10:44 p.m. eastern: When originally published, this post incorrectly reported that Califf was part of an inspection team that visited the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, and attributed quotes from Ellis Unger to Califf. We have made appropriate corrections, and apologize for the error.

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SOURCE

http://retractionwatch.com/2016/09/21/amid-controversial-sarepta-approval-decision-fda-head-calls-for-key-study-retraction/

Related Resources on FDA’s Policies on Drugs:

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Durable responses with checkpoint inhibitor

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator

LPBI

 

Immunotherapy Active in ‘Universally Lethal’ Glioblastoma

ACTIVATE CME    by Kristin Jenkins 

  • Contributing Writer, MedPage Today

http://www.medpagetoday.com/HematologyOncology/BrainCancer/57641

 

Two pediatric siblings with recurrent multifocal glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) refractory to current standard therapies exhibited “remarkable and durable” responses to immune checkpoint inhibition with single-agent nivolumab (Opdivo), researchers said.

Following pre-clinical testing in 37 biallelic mismatch repair deficiency (bMMRD) cancers, a regimen of 3 mg/kg nivolumab every 2 weeks resulted in clinically significant responses and a profound radiologic response, Uri Tabori, MD, of The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The 6-year-old white female patient and her 3.5-year-old brother resumed normal schooling and daily activities after 9 and 5 months of therapy, respectively, the researchers said.

“This observation is especially encouraging because these children are still clinically stable, whereas most relapsed pediatric GBMs will progress within 1 to 2 months despite salvage treatment, and survival is usually 3 to 6 months post-recurrence. It also highlights the utility of germline predisposition in guiding novel treatment options — in this case, immunotherapy — for cancer treatment.”

Findings from this lab study and small case series report may have implications for GBM as well as for other hypermutant cancers arising from primary (genetic predisposition) or secondary MMRD, the researchers said. “Given the increasing availability of commercial sequencing platforms, analysis of mutation burden and neoantigens can play a role in transforming treatment of these patients.”

Still, they added that these results, while encouraging, need to be validated in multinational prospective clinical trials of these “universally lethal” bMMRD-driven hypermutant cancers.

“Sometimes very small studies can yield meaningful results,” Robert Fenstermaker, MD, of Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., told MedPage Today via email. “Although anecdotal, the results of this study are quite encouraging because they tend to confirm current theory about immunotherapy for glioblastoma.”

Although these kinds of clinical responses to single-agent drug therapy in GBM are uncommon and the results may not be broadly applicable to all glioblastoma patients, this paper “is of much greater importance than just these few cases,” Fenstermaker emphasized. “The excellent responses in these particular cases suggest that an immune checkpoint inhibitor (nivolumab) may have enabled the immune system to respond fully.”

This “very small case series” report of a “compelling clinical experience” is a “fascinating and beautiful example of how mechanistic insight can be linked to rationally designed clinical applications — in turn, stimulating new downstream ideas,” Stephanie Weiss, MD, a radiation oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, commented in an email.

“This series also tests ‘proof of principle,’ that bMMRD tumors are hypermutated and associated with a high neoantigen load, and therefore may respond much like other immune checkpoint inhibitor-sensitive tumors. In this sense, the results reveal a tantalizing glimpse into the disease process of at least a subset of GBMs and can guide high-quality study of novel treatment for GBM.”

For the study, Tabori and colleagues performed exome sequencing and neoantigen prediction on 37 bMMRD-associated tumors, including 21 GBMs, and compared them with childhood and adult brain neoplasms.

The bMMRD GBMs were found to be hypermutant and to have an extremely strong neoantigen load — up to 16 times higher than the signature commonly seen in known immune checkpoint inhibitors (P<.001).

The female patient, diagnosed with a left parietal GBM, underwent near-total resection and focal irradiation over 6.5 weeks. After a clinical remission lasting 3 months, surveillance MRI revealed recurrence in the initial tumor bed and a second lesion in the left temporal lobe.

Six months earlier, the index patient’s brother had been diagnosed with a right frontoparietal GBM and treated with surgery, focal irradiation, and temozolomide (Temodal). Ten months after diagnosis, surveillance MRI revealed an asymptomatic diffuse multinodular GBM recurrence.

When given nivolumab as a last-resort therapeutic agent, both children initially experienced serious symptoms that on imaging mimicked tutor progression. After symptomatic management and observation, both stabilized, and follow-up imaging demonstrated significant improvement in tumor-related abnormalities.

Fenstermaker said that important next steps lie ahead, such as combining immune checkpoint inhibitors with specific cancer vaccines designed to immunize patients with glioblastomas other than this rare hypermutated type. “There are a number of prospective vaccines currently in the glioblastoma drug pipeline that would be candidates for this kind of approach,” he told MedPage Today. Examples include SurVaxM, NeoVax, HSPPC-96, and various dendritic cell vaccines.

In addition, newer genomic techniques are being developed that could make it possible to create a personalized profile of the mutant proteins in a given patient’s tumor, he noted. “One can imagine combining such a personalized vaccine against these mutant proteins together with an immune checkpoint inhibitor. Such a combination might result in many more responses like the ones seen in this small study.”

 

PD-1 Blockade in Tumors with Mismatch-Repair Deficiency

Dung T. Le, Jennifer N. Uram, Hao Wang, Bjarne R. Bartlett, Holly Kemberling, Aleksandra D. Eyring, et al.
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1500596

BACKGROUND

Somatic mutations have the potential to encode “non-self” immunogenic antigens. We hypothesized that tumors with a large number of somatic mutations due to mismatch-repair defects may be susceptible to immune checkpoint blockade.

METHODS

We conducted a phase 2 study to evaluate the clinical activity of pembrolizumab, an anti–programmed death 1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, in 41 patients with progressive metastatic carcinoma with or without mismatch-repair deficiency. Pembrolizumab was administered intravenously at a dose of 10 mg per kilogram of body weight every 14 days in patients with mismatch repair–deficient colorectal cancers, patients with mismatch repair–proficient colorectal cancers, and patients with mismatch repair–deficient cancers that were not colorectal. The coprimary end points were the immune-related objective response rate and the 20-week immune-related progression-free survival rate.

RESULTS

The immune-related objective response rate and immune-related progression-free survival rate were 40% (4 of 10 patients) and 78% (7 of 9 patients), respectively, for mismatch repair–deficient colorectal cancers and 0% (0 of 18 patients) and 11% (2 of 18 patients) for mismatch repair–proficient colorectal cancers. The median progression-free survival and overall survival were not reached in the cohort with mismatch repair–deficient colorectal cancer but were 2.2 and 5.0 months, respectively, in the cohort with mismatch repair–proficient colorectal cancer (hazard ratio for disease progression or death, 0.10 [P<0.001], and hazard ratio for death, 0.22 [P=0.05]). Patients with mismatch repair–deficient noncolorectal cancer had responses similar to those of patients with mismatch repair–deficient colorectal cancer (immune-related objective response rate, 71% [5 of 7 patients]; immune-related progression-free survival rate, 67% [4 of 6 patients]). Whole-exome sequencing revealed a mean of 1782 somatic mutations per tumor in mismatch repair–deficient tumors, as compared with 73 in mismatch repair–proficient tumors (P=0.007), and high somatic mutation loads were associated with prolonged progression-free survival (P=0.02).

CONCLUSIONS

This study showed that mismatch-repair status predicted clinical benefit of immune checkpoint blockade with pembrolizumab. (Funded by Johns Hopkins University and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01876511.)

Eric BouffetValérie LaroucheBrittany B. CampbellDaniele MericoRichard de Borja, et al.

Purpose Recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is incurable with current therapies. Biallelic mismatch repair deficiency (bMMRD) is a highly penetrant childhood cancer syndrome often resulting in GBM characterized by a high mutational burden. Evidence suggests that high mutation and neoantigen loads are associated with response to immune checkpoint inhibition.

Patients and Methods We performed exome sequencing and neoantigen prediction on 37 bMMRD cancers and compared them with childhood and adult brain neoplasms. Neoantigen prediction bMMRD GBM was compared with responsive adult cancers from multiple tissues. Two siblings with recurrent multifocal bMMRD GBM were treated with the immune checkpoint inhibitor nivolumab.

Results All malignant tumors (n = 32) were hypermutant. Although bMMRD brain tumors had the highest mutational load because of secondary polymerase mutations (mean, 17,740 ± standard deviation, 7,703), all other high-grade tumors were hypermutant (mean, 1,589 ± standard deviation, 1,043), similar to other cancers that responded favorably to immune checkpoint inhibitors. bMMRD GBM had a significantly higher mutational load than sporadic pediatric and adult gliomas and all other brain tumors (P < .001). bMMRD GBM harbored mean neoantigen loads seven to 16 times higher than those in immunoresponsive melanomas, lung cancers, or microsatellite-unstable GI cancers (P < .001). On the basis of these preclinical data, we treated two bMMRD siblings with recurrent multifocal GBM with the anti–programmed death-1 inhibitor nivolumab, which resulted in clinically significant responses and a profound radiologic response.

Conclusion This report of initial and durable responses of recurrent GBM to immune checkpoint inhibition may have implications for GBM in general and other hypermutant cancers arising from primary (genetic predisposition) or secondary MMRD.

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a highly malignant brain tumor and the most common cause of death among children with CNS neoplasms.1 Despite primary management, which consists of surgical resection followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy, most GBMs will recur, resulting in rapid death. Patients with recurrent disease have a particularly poor prognosis, with a median survival of fewer than 6 months; no effective therapies currently exist.

In contrast to adult CNS malignancies, a significant proportion of childhood brain tumors occur in the context of cancer predisposition syndromes.2 Pediatric GBMs are associated with germline mutations in TP53 (Li-Fraumeni syndrome)1 and the mismatch repair (MMR) genes (biallelic MMR deficiency syndrome [bMMRD]).3 Patients with bMMRD are unique in both the molecular events that lead to GBM formation and opportunities for innovative management of these tumors to possibly improve survival.

bMMRD is caused by homozygous germline mutations in one of the four MMR genes (PMS2, MLH1, MSH2, and MSH6) and is arguably the most penetrant cancer predisposition syndrome, with 100% of biallelic mutation carriers developing cancers in the first two decades of life. These are most commonly malignant gliomas, hematologic malignancies, and GI cancers.3,4 Understanding the relationship between the bMMRD somatic mutational landscape and tumor biology can lead to development of novel therapies and improved patient outcomes.

bMMRD GBMs harbor the highest mutation load among human cancers.5 Combined germline mutations in the MMR genes and somatic mutations in DNA polymerase result in complete ablation of proofreading during DNA replication and underpin this phenomenon. bMMRD GBMs, in contrast to other childhood cancers and adult MMR-proficient gliomas, exhibit a molecular signature characterized by single-nucleotide changes present in exponentially higher numbers. An important characteristic of non-bMMRD cancers exhibiting high mutation loads—subsets of malignant melanomas and lung, bladder, and microsatellite-unstable GI cancers—is responsiveness to immune checkpoint inhibitors.69

Checkpoint inhibitors target the immunomodulatory effect of CTLA-4 (cytotoxic T lymphocyte–associated protein 4) and programmed death-1 (PD-1)/programmed death-ligand 1, restoring effector T-cell function and antitumor activity. Recent reports have shown that patients whose tumors bear a high mutation load and/or definedtumor-associated antigen (neoantigen) signatures derive enhanced clinical benefit from checkpoint inhibitor therapy.10

Nivolumab is an anti–PD-1–directed immune checkpoint inhibitor approved for use in the treatment of non–small-cell lung cancer11and melanoma and under clinical investigation in multiple adult and pediatric tumors.12,13 However, this response is currently unknown in bMMRD-associated cancers and the uniformly lethal GBM.

 

Fig 1.

Fig 1.   Clinical and molecular features of the biallelic mismatch repair (MMR) deficiency (bMMRD) family. (A) Pedigree of the family with both bMMRD-affected children (solid square and circle). Both siblings presented with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), whereas parents remained unaffected, as observed in other bMMRD families. (B) Immunohistochemistry staining of the index patient’s GBM for the four MMR genes: MSH2, MSH6,MLH1, and PMS2. A PMS2-negative stain in both tumor and normal cells prompted subsequent genetic testing that confirmed the diagnosis of bMMRD. NF1, neurofibromatosis type 1.   http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/early/2016/03/17/JCO.2016.66.6552/F1.small.gif

 

To examine whether immune checkpoint inhibitors would be applicable for bMMRD cancers, we surveyed the extent of hypermutation across bMMRD tumors form various tissues. Exome sequencing of 37 cancers collected from the bMMRD consortium revealed that all malignant tumors (n = 32) were hypermutant. Although bMMRD brain tumors had the highest mutational load resulting from secondary polymerase mutations (mean, 17,740 ± standard deviation [SD], 7,703), all other high-grade tumors were hypermutant, harboring more than 100 exonic mutations (mean, 1,589 ± SD, 1,043; Fig 2A). Lower-grade bMMRD tumors (n = 5) did not exhibit hypermutation (mean, 40 ± SD, 18). Importantly, bMMRD GBMs had a significantly higher mutational load than sporadic pediatric and adult gliomas and all other brain tumors (P < .001; Fig 2A). To test the extent to which hypermutation translates to a strong neoantigen signature, a current predictor of response to immune checkpoint inhibition, we performed genome-wide somatic neoepitope analysis using similar algorithms previously used for melanoma, lung, and colon cancers.9,14,15 For each study, we compared our cohort of tumors with other tumors that were reported to respond to immune checkpoint inhibitors (Fig 2B). Strikingly, bMMRD GBMs had a significantly higher number of predicted neoantigens, whereas other tumors responded with a fraction of the neoantigens found in our patients (P < .001; Fig 2B). The mean neoantigen load was seven to 16 times higher than those of immunoresponsive melanomas, lung cancers, and microsatellite-unstable GI cancers.

 

Fig 2.

Fig 2.  Tumor mutation and neoantigen analysis. (A) Boxplot comparing the number of mutations per tumor exome in several biallelic mismatch repair deficiency (bMMRD) cancer types with pediatric and adult brain tumors. (B) Ratio of the number of neoantigens found in immunoresponsive tumors from melanoma (n = 27), lung cancer (n = 14), and colon cancer (n = 7) data sets compared with median number of neoantigens in bMMRD glioblastoma multiforme (GBM; n = 13). ATRT, atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor; DIPG, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma; L/L, leukemia/lymphoma; LGG, low-grade glioma; MB, medulloblastoma; PA, pilocytic astrocytoma; PNET, primitive neuroectodermal tumor.

 

We describe two pediatric patients with recurrent multifocal GBM refractory to current standard therapies who exhibited remarkable and durable responses to immune checkpoint inhibition with single-agent nivolumab. This observation is especially encouraging because these children are still clinically stable, whereas most relapsed pediatric GBMs will progress within 1 to 2 months19 despite salvage treatment, and survival is usually 3 to 6 months postrecurrence.20 Furthermore, bMMRD GBMs have outcomes similar to those of sporadic childhood GBMs,21 and data gathered from the consortium reveal a mean time from relapse to death of 2.6 months in bMMRD GBM. To our knowledge, this is the first report of such a response in childhood or adult GBM. It also highlights the utility of germline predisposition in guiding novel treatment options—in this case, immunotherapy—for cancer treatment. ….

sjwilliamspa

Not sure if the link between PD-L1 response and MMR status is causal in this ase. there are many tumors with MMR and especially all tumors had high degree of MMR. Perhaps they need to look at tumors that have a more stable genome like certain hepatocarcinomas.

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Gene Editing with CRISPR gets Crisper

Curators: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

 

CRISPR Moves from Butchery to Surgery   

More Genomes Are Going Under the CRISPR Knife, So Surgical Standards Are Rising

http://www.genengnews.com/gen-articles/crispr-moves-from-butchery-to-surgery/5759/

  • The Dharmacon subsidary of GE Healthcare provides the Edit-R Lentiviral Gene Engineering platform. It is based on the natural S. pyrogenes system, but unlike that system, which uses a single guide RNA (sgRNA), the platform uses two component RNAs, a gene-specific CRISPR RNA (crRNA) and a universal trans-activating crRNA (tracrRNA). Once hybridized to the universal tracrRNA (blue), the crRNA (green) directs the Cas9 nuclease to a specific genomic region to induce a double- strand break.

    Scientists recently convened at the CRISPR Precision Gene Editing Congress, held in Boston, to discuss the new technology. As with any new technique, scientists have discovered that CRISPR comes with its own set of challenges, and the Congress focused its discussion around improving specificity, efficiency, and delivery.

    In the naturally occurring system, CRISPR-Cas9 works like a self-vaccination in the bacterial immune system by targeting and cleaving viral DNA sequences stored from previous encounters with invading phages. The endogenous system uses two RNA elements, CRISPR RNA (crRNA) and trans-activating RNA (tracrRNA), which come together and guide the Cas9 nuclease to the target DNA.

    Early publications that demonstrated CRISPR gene editing in mammalian cells combined the crRNA and tracrRNA sequences to form one long transcript called asingle-guide RNA (sgRNA). However, an alternative approach is being explored by scientists at the Dharmacon subsidiary of GE Healthcare. These scientists have a system that mimics the endogenous system through a synthetic two-component approach thatpreserves individual crRNA and tracrRNA. The tracrRNA is universal to any gene target or species; the crRNA contains the information needed to target the gene of interest.

    Predesigned Guide RNAs

    In contrast to sgRNAs, which are generated through either in vitro transcription of a DNA template or a plasmid-based expression system, synthetic crRNA and tracrRNA eliminate the need for additional cloning and purification steps. The efficacy of guide RNA (gRNA), whether delivered as a sgRNA or individual crRNA and tracrRNA, depends not only on DNA binding, but also on the generation of an indel that will deliver the coup de grâce to gene function.

    “Almost all of the gRNAs were able to create a break in genomic DNA,” said Louise Baskin, senior product manager at Dharmacon. “But there was a very wide range in efficiency and in creating functional protein knock-outs.”

    To remove the guesswork from gRNA design, Dharmacon developed an algorithm to predict gene knockout efficiency using wet-lab data. They also incorporated specificity as a component of their algorithm, using a much more comprehensive alignment tool to predict potential off-target effects caused by mismatches and bulges often missed by other alignment tools. Customers can enter their target gene to access predesigned gRNAs as either two-component RNAs or lentiviral sgRNA vectors for multiple applications.

    “We put time and effort into our algorithm to ensure that our guide RNAs are not only functional but also highly specific,” asserts Baskin. “As a result, customers don’t have to do any design work.”

    Donor DNA Formats

    http://www.genengnews.com/Media/images/Article/thumb_MilliporeSigma_CRISPR3120824917.jpg
    MilliporeSigma’s CRISPR Epigenetic Activator is based on fusion of a nuclease-deficient Cas9 (dCas9) to the catalytic histone acetyltransferase (HAT) core domain of the human E1A-associated protein p300. This technology allows researchers to target specific DNA regions or gene sequences. Researchers can localize epigenetic changes to their target of interest and see the effects of those changes in gene expression.

    Knockout experiments are a powerful tool for analyzing gene function. However, for researchers who want to introduce DNA into the genome, guide design, donor DNA selection, and Cas9 activity are paramount to successful DNA integration.MilliporeSigma offers two formats for donor DNA: double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) plasmids and single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) oligonucleotides. The most appropriate format depends on cell type and length of the donor DNA. “There are some cell types that have immune responses to dsDNA,” said Gregory Davis, Ph.D., R&D manager, MilliporeSigma.

  • The ssDNA format can save researchers time and money, but it has a limited carrying capacity of approximately 120 base pairs.In addition to selecting an appropriate donor DNA format, controlling where, how, and when the Cas9 enzyme cuts can affect gene-editing efficiency. Scientists are playing tug-of-war, trying to pull cells toward the preferred homology-directed repair (HDR) and away from the less favored nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) repair mechanism.One method to achieve this modifies the Cas9 enzyme to generate a nickase that cuts only one DNA strand instead of creating a double-strand break. Accordingly, MilliporeSigma has created a Cas9 paired-nickase system that promotes HDR, while also limiting off-target effects and increasing the number of sequences available for site-dependent gene modifications, such as disease-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).“The best thing you can do is to cut as close to the SNP as possible,” advised Dr. Davis. “As you move the double-stranded break away from the site of mutation you get an exponential drop in the frequency of recombination.”

 

  • Ribonucleo-protein Complexes

    Another strategy to improve gene-editing efficiency, developed by Thermo Fisher, involves combining purified Cas9 protein with gRNA to generate a stable ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex. In contrast to plasmid- or mRNA-based formats, which require transcription and/or translation, the Cas9 RNP complex cuts DNA immediately after entering the cell. Rapid clearance of the complex from the cell helps to minimize off-target effects, and, unlike a viral vector, the transient complex does not introduce foreign DNA sequences into the genome.

    To deliver their Cas9 RNP complex to cells, Thermo Fisher has developed a lipofectamine transfection reagent called CRISPRMAX. “We went back to the drawing board with our delivery, screened a bunch of components, and got a brand-new, fully  optimized lipid nanoparticle formulation,” explained Jon Chesnut, Ph.D., the company’s senior director of synthetic biology R&D. “The formulation is specifically designed for delivering the RNP to cells more efficiently.”

    Besides the reagent and the formulation, Thermo Fisher has also developed a range of gene-editing tools. For example, it has introduced the Neon® transfection system for delivering DNA, RNA, or protein into cells via electroporation. Dr. Chesnut emphasized the company’s focus on simplifying complex workflows by optimizing protocols and pairing everything with the appropriate up- and downstream reagents.

From Mammalian Cells to Microbes

One of the first sources of CRISPR technology was the Feng Zhang laboratory at the Broad Institute, which counted among its first licensees a company called GenScript. This company offers a gene-editing service called GenCRISPR™ to establish mammalian cell lines with CRISPR-derived gene knockouts.

“There are a lot of challenges with mammalian cells, and each cell line has its own set of issues,” said Laura Geuss, a marketing specialist at GenScript. “We try to offer a variety of packages that can help customers who have difficult-to-work-with cells.” These packages include both viral-based and transient transfection techniques.

However, the most distinctive service offered by GenScript is its microbial genome-editing service for bacteria (Escherichia coli) and yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). The company’s strategy for gene editing in bacteria can enable seamless knockins, knockouts, or gene replacements by combining CRISPR with lambda red recombineering. Traditionally one of the most effective methods for gene editing in microbes, recombineering allows editing without restriction enzymes through in vivo homologous recombination mediated by a phage-based recombination system such as lambda red.

On its own, lambda red technology cannot target multiple genes, but when paired with CRISPR, it allows the editing of multiple genes with greater efficiency than is possible with CRISPR alone, as the lambda red proteins help repair double-strand breaks in E. coli. The ability to knockout different gene combinations makes Genscript’s microbial editing service particularly well suited for the optimization of metabolic pathways.

Pooled and Arrayed Library Strategies

Scientists are using CRISPR technology for applications such as metabolic engineering and drug development. Yet another application area benefitting from CRISPR technology is cancer research. Here, the use of pooled CRISPR libraries is becoming commonplace. Pooled CRISPR libraries can help detect mutations that affect drug resistance, and they can aid in patient stratification and clinical trial design.

Pooled screening uses proliferation or viability as a phenotype to assess how genetic alterations, resulting from the application of a pooled CRISPR library, affect cell growth and death in the presence of a therapeutic compound. The enrichment or depletion of different gRNA populations is quantified using deep sequencing to identify the genomic edits that result in changes to cell viability.

MilliporeSigma provides pooled CRISPR libraries ranging from the whole human genome to smaller custom pools for these gene-function experiments. For pharmaceutical and biotech companies, Horizon Discovery offers a pooled screening service, ResponderSCREEN, which provides a whole-genome pooled screen to identify genes that confer sensitivity or resistance to a compound. This service is comprehensive, taking clients from experimental design all the way through to suggestions for follow-up studies.

Horizon Discovery maintains a Research Biotech business unit that is focused on target discovery and enabling translational medicine in oncology. “Our internal backbone gives us the ability to provide expert advice demonstrated by results,” said Jon Moore, Ph.D., the company’s CSO.

In contrast to a pooled screen, where thousands of gRNA are combined in one tube, an arrayed screen applies one gRNA per well, removing the need for deep sequencing and broadening the options for different endpoint assays. To establish and distribute a whole-genome arrayed lentiviral CRISPR library, MilliporeSigma partnered with the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. “This is the first and only arrayed CRISPR library in the world,” declared Shawn Shafer, Ph.D., functional genomics market segment manager, MilliporeSigma. “We were really proud to partner with Sanger on this.”

Pooled and arrayed screens are powerful tools for studying gene function. The appropriate platform for an experiment, however, will be determined by the desired endpoint assay.

Detection and Quantification of Edits

 

The QX200 Droplet Digital PCR System from Bio-Rad Laboratories can provide researchers with an absolute measure of target DNA molecules for EvaGreen or probe-based digital PCR applications. The system, which can provide rapid, low-cost, ultra-sensitive quantification of both NHEJ- and HDR-editing events, consists of two instruments, the QX200 Droplet Generator and the QX200 Droplet Reader, and their associated consumables.

Finally, one last challenge for CRISPR lies in the detection and quantification of changes made to the genome post-editing. Conventional methods for detecting these alterations include gel methods and next-generation sequencing. While gel methods lack sensitivity and scalability, next-generation sequencing is costly and requires intensive bioinformatics.

To address this gap, Bio-Rad Laboratories developed a set of assay strategies to enable sensitive and precise edit detection with its Droplet Digital PCR (ddPCR) technology. The platform is designed to enable absolute quantification of nucleic acids with high sensitivity, high precision, and short turnaround time through massive droplet partitioning of samples.

Using a validated assay, a typical ddPCR experiment takes about five to six hours to complete. The ddPCR platform enables detection of rare mutations, and publications have reported detection of precise edits at a frequency of <0.05%, and of NHEJ-derived indels at a frequency as low as 0.1%. In addition to quantifying precise edits, indels, and computationally predicted off-target mutations, ddPCR can also be used to characterize the consequences of edits at the RNA level.

According to a recently published Science paper, the laboratory of Charles A. Gersbach, Ph.D., at Duke University used ddPCR in a study of muscle function in a mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Specifically, ddPCR was used to assess the efficiency of CRISPR-Cas9 in removing the mutated exon 23 from the dystrophin gene. (Exon 23 deletion by CRISPR-Cas9 resulted in expression of the modified dystrophin gene and significant enhancement of muscle force.)

Quantitative ddPCR showed that exon 23 was deleted in ~2% of all alleles from the whole-muscle lysate. Further ddPCR studies found that 59% of mRNA transcripts reflected the deletion.

“There’s an overarching idea that the genome-editing field is moving extremely quickly, and for good reason,” asserted Jennifer Berman, Ph.D., staff scientist, Bio-Rad Laboratories. “There’s a lot of exciting work to be done, but detection and quantification of edits can be a bottleneck for researchers.”

The gene-editing field is moving quickly, and new innovations are finding their way into the laboratory as researchers lay the foundation for precise, well-controlled gene editing with CRISPR.

 

Are Current Cancer Drug Discovery Methods Flawed?

GEN May 3, 2016   http://www.genengnews.com/gen-news-highlights/are-current-cancer-drug-discovery-methods-flawed/81252682/

 

Researchers utilized a systems biology approach to develop new methods to assess drug sensitivity in cells. [The Institute for Systems Biology]

Understanding how cells respond and proliferate in the presence of anticancer compounds has been the foundation of drug discovery ideology for decades. Now, a new study from scientists at Vanderbilt University casts significant suspicion on the primary method used to test compounds for anticancer activity in cells—instilling doubt on methods employed by the entire scientific enterprise and pharmaceutical industry to discover new cancer drugs.

“More than 90% of candidate cancer drugs fail in late-stage clinical trials, costing hundreds of millions of dollars,” explained co-senior author Vito Quaranta, M.D., director of the Quantitative Systems Biology Center at Vanderbilt. “The flawed in vitro drug discovery metric may not be the only responsible factor, but it may be worth pursuing an estimate of its impact.”

The Vanderbilt investigators have developed what they believe to be a new metric for evaluating a compound’s effect on cell proliferation—called the DIP (drug-induced proliferation) rate—that overcomes the flawed bias in the traditional method.

The findings from this study were published recently in Nature Methods in an article entitled “An Unbiased Metric of Antiproliferative Drug Effect In Vitro.”

For more than three decades, researchers have evaluated the ability of a compound to kill cells by adding the compound in vitro and counting how many cells are alive after 72 hours. Yet, proliferation assays that measure cell number at a single time point don’t take into account the bias introduced by exponential cell proliferation, even in the presence of the drug.

“Cells are not uniform, they all proliferate exponentially, but at different rates,” Dr. Quaranta noted. “At 72 hours, some cells will have doubled three times and others will not have doubled at all.”

Dr. Quaranta added that drugs don’t all behave the same way on every cell line—for example, a drug might have an immediate effect on one cell line and a delayed effect on another.

The research team decided to take a systems biology approach, a mixture of experimentation and mathematical modeling, to demonstrate the time-dependent bias in static proliferation assays and to develop the time-independent DIP rate metric.

“Systems biology is what really makes the difference here,” Dr. Quaranta remarked. “It’s about understanding cells—and life—as dynamic systems.”This new study is of particular importance in light of recent international efforts to generate data sets that include the responses of thousands of cell lines to hundreds of compounds. Using the

  • Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia (CCLE) and
  • Genomics of Drug Sensitivity in Cancer (GDSC) databases

will allow drug discovery scientists to include drug response data along with genomic and proteomic data that detail each cell line’s molecular makeup.

“The idea is to look for statistical correlations—these particular cell lines with this particular makeup are sensitive to these types of compounds—to use these large databases as discovery tools for new therapeutic targets in cancer,” Dr. Quaranta stated. “If the metric by which you’ve evaluated the drug sensitivity of the cells is wrong, your statistical correlations are basically no good.”

The Vanderbilt team evaluated the responses from four different melanoma cell lines to the drug vemurafenib, currently used to treat melanoma, with the standard metric—used for the CCLE and GDSC databases—and with the DIP rate. In one cell line, they found a glaring disagreement between the two metrics.

“The static metric says that the cell line is very sensitive to vemurafenib. However, our analysis shows this is not the case,” said co-lead study author Leonard Harris, Ph.D., a systems biology postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt. “A brief period of drug sensitivity, quickly followed by rebound, fools the static metric, but not the DIP rate.”

Dr. Quaranta added that the findings “suggest we should expect melanoma tumors treated with this drug to come back, and that’s what has happened, puzzling investigators. DIP rate analyses may help solve this conundrum, leading to better treatment strategies.”

The researchers noted that using the DIP rate is possible because of advances in automation, robotics, microscopy, and image processing. Moreover, the DIP rate metric offers another advantage—it can reveal which drugs are truly cytotoxic (cell killing), rather than merely cytostatic (cell growth inhibiting). Although cytostatic drugs may initially have promising therapeutic effects, they may leave tumor cells alive that then have the potential to cause the cancer to recur.

The Vanderbilt team is currently in the process of identifying commercial entities that can further refine the software and make it widely available to the research community to inform drug discovery.

 

An unbiased metric of antiproliferative drug effect in vitro

Leonard A HarrisPeter L FrickShawn P GarbettKeisha N HardemanB Bishal PaudelCarlos F LopezVito Quaranta & Darren R Tyson
Nature Methods 2 May (2016)
                 doi:10.1038/nmeth.3852

In vitro cell proliferation assays are widely used in pharmacology, molecular biology, and drug discovery. Using theoretical modeling and experimentation, we show that current metrics of antiproliferative small molecule effect suffer from time-dependent bias, leading to inaccurate assessments of parameters such as drug potency and efficacy. We propose the drug-induced proliferation (DIP) rate, the slope of the line on a plot of cell population doublings versus time, as an alternative, time-independent metric.

  1. Zuber, J. et al. Nat. Biotechnol. 29, 7983 (2011).
  2. Berns, K. et al. Nature 428, 431437 (2004).
  3. Bonnans, C., Chou, J. & Werb, Z. Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol. 15, 786801 (2014).
  4. Garnett, M.J. et al. Nature 483, 570575 (2012)

 

Mapping Traits to Genes with CRISPR

Researchers develop a technique to direct chromosome recombination with CRISPR/Cas9, allowing high-resolution genetic mapping of phenotypic traits in yeast.

By Catherine Offord | May 5, 2016

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/46029/title/Mapping-Traits-to-Genes-with-CRISPR

 

Researchers used CRISPR/Cas9 to make a targeted double-strand break (DSB) in one arm of a yeast chromosome labeled with a green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene. A within-cell mechanism called homologous repair (HR) mends the broken arm using its homolog, resulting in a recombined region from the site of the break to the chromosome tip. When this cell divides by mitosis, each daughter cell will contain a homozygous section in an outcome known as “loss of heterozygosity” (LOH). One of the daughter cells is detectable because, due to complete loss of the GFP gene, it will no longer be fluorescent.REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM M.J. SADHU ET AL., SCIENCE

When mapping phenotypic traits to specific loci, scientists typically rely on the natural recombination of chromosomes during meiotic cell division in order to infer the positions of responsible genes. But recombination events vary with species and chromosome region, giving researchers little control over which areas of the genome are shuffled. Now, a team at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), has found a way around these problems by using CRISPR/Cas9 to direct targeted recombination events during mitotic cell division in yeast. The team described its technique today (May 5) in Science.

“Current methods rely on events that happen naturally during meiosis,” explained study coauthor Leonid Kruglyak of UCLA. “Whatever rate those events occur at, you’re kind of stuck with. Our idea was that using CRISPR, we can generate those events at will, exactly where we want them, in large numbers, and in a way that’s easy for us to pull out the cells in which they happened.”

Generally, researchers use coinheritance of a trait of interest with specific genetic markers—whose positions are known—to figure out what part of the genome is responsible for a given phenotype. But the procedure often requires impractically large numbers of progeny or generations to observe the few cases in which coinheritance happens to be disrupted informatively. What’s more, the resolution of mapping is limited by the length of the smallest sequence shuffled by recombination—and that sequence could include several genes or gene variants.

“Once you get down to that minimal region, you’re done,” said Kruglyak. “You need to switch to other methods to test every gene and every variant in that region, and that can be anywhere from challenging to impossible.”

But programmable, DNA-cutting champion CRISPR/Cas9 offered an alternative. During mitotic—rather than meiotic—cell division, rare, double-strand breaks in one arm of a chromosome preparing to split are sometimes repaired by a mechanism called homologous recombination. This mechanism uses the other chromosome in the homologous pair to replace the sequence from the break down to the end of the broken arm. Normally, such mitotic recombination happens so rarely as to be impractical for mapping purposes. With CRISPR/Cas9, however, the researchers found that they could direct double-strand breaks to any locus along a chromosome of interest (provided it was heterozygous—to ensure that only one of the chromosomes would be cut), thus controlling the sites of recombination.

Combining this technique with a signal of recombination success, such as a green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene at the tip of one chromosome in the pair, allowed the researchers to pick out cells in which recombination had occurred: if the technique failed, both daughter cells produced by mitotic division would be heterozygous, with one copy of the signal gene each. But if it succeeded, one cell would end up with two copies, and the other cell with none—an outcome called loss of heterozygosity.

“If we get loss of heterozygosity . . . half the cells derived after that loss of heterozygosity event won’t have GFP anymore,” study coauthor Meru Sadhu of UCLA explained. “We search for these cells that don’t have GFP out of the general population of cells.” If these non-fluorescent cells with loss of heterozygosity have the same phenotype as the parent for a trait of interest, then CRISPR/Cas9-targeted recombination missed the responsible gene. If the phenotype is affected, however, then the trait must be linked to a locus in the recombined, now-homozygous region, somewhere between the cut site and the GFP gene.

By systematically making cuts using CRISPR/Cas9 along chromosomes in a hybrid, diploid strain ofSaccharomyces cerevisiae yeast, picking out non-fluorescent cells, and then observing the phenotype, the UCLA team demonstrated that it could rapidly identify the phenotypic contribution of specific gene variants. “We can simply walk along the chromosome and at every [variant] position we can ask, does it matter for the trait we’re studying?” explained Kruglyak.

For example, the team showed that manganese sensitivity—a well-defined phenotypic trait in lab yeast—could be pinpointed using this method to a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in a gene encoding the Pmr1 protein (a manganese transporter).

Jason Moffat, a molecular geneticist at the University of Toronto who was not involved in the work, toldThe Scientist that researchers had “dreamed about” exploiting these sorts of mechanisms for mapping purposes, but without CRISPR, such techniques were previously out of reach. Until now, “it hasn’t been so easy to actually make double-stranded breaks on one copy of a pair of chromosomes, and then follow loss of heterozygosity in mitosis,” he said, adding that he hopes to see the approach translated into human cell lines.

Applying the technique beyond yeast will be important, agreed cell and developmental biologist Ethan Bier of the University of California, San Diego, because chromosomal repair varies among organisms. “In yeast, they absolutely demonstrate the power of [this method],” he said. “We’ll just have to see how the technology develops in other systems that are going to be far less suited to the technology than yeast. . . . I would like to see it implemented in another system to show that they can get the same oomph out of it in, say, mammalian somatic cells.”

Kruglyak told The Scientist that work in higher organisms, though planned, is still in early stages; currently, his team is working to apply the technique to map loci responsible for trait differences between—rather than within—yeast species.

“We have a much poorer understanding of the differences across species,” Sadhu explained. “Except for a few specific examples, we’re pretty much in the dark there.”

M.J. Sadhu, “CRISPR-directed mitotic recombination enables genetic mapping without crosses,” Science, doi:10.1126/science.aaf5124, 2016.

 

CRISPR-directed mitotic recombination enables genetic mapping without crosses

Meru J Sadhu, Joshua S Bloom, Laura Day, Leonid Kruglyak

Thank you, David, for the kind words and comments. We agree that the most immediate applications of the CRISPR-based recombination mapping will be in unicellular organisms and cell culture. We also think the method holds a lot of promise for research in multicellular organisms, although we did not mean to imply that it “will be an efficient mapping method for all multicellular organisms”. Every organism will have its own set of constraints as well as experimental tools that will be relevant when adapting a new technique. To best help experts working on these organisms, here are our thoughts on your questions.

You asked about mutagenesis during recombination. We Sanger sequenced 72 of our LOH lines at the recombination site and did not observe any mutations, as described in the supplementary materials. We expect the absence of mutagenesis is because we targeted heterozygous sites where the untargeted allele did not have a usable PAM site; thus, following LOH, the targeted site is no longer present and cutting stops. In your experiments you targeted sites that were homozygous; thus, following recombination, the CRISPR target site persisted, and continued cutting ultimately led to repair by NHEJ and mutagenesis.

As to the more general question of the optimal mapping strategies in different organisms, they will depend on the ease of generating and screening for editing events, the cost and logistics of maintaining and typing many lines, and generation time, among other factors. It sounds like in Drosophila today, your related approach of generating markers with CRISPR, and then enriching for natural recombination events that separate them, is preferable. In yeast, we’ve found the opposite to be the case. As you note, even in Drosophila, our approach may be preferable for regions with low or highly non-uniform recombination rates.

Finally, mapping in sterile interspecies hybrids should be straightforward for unicellular hybrids (of which there are many examples) and for cells cultured from hybrid animals or plants. For studies in hybrid multicellular organisms, we agree that driving mitotic recombination in the early embryo may be the most promising approach. Chimeric individuals with mitotic clones will be sufficient for many traits. Depending on the system, it may in fact be possible to generate diploid individuals with uniform LOH genotype, but this is certainly beyond the scope of our paper. The calculation of the number of lines assumes that the mapping is done in a single step; as you note in your earlier comment, mapping sequentially can reduce this number dramatically.

This is a lovely method and should find wide applicability in many settings, especially for microorganisms and cell lines. However, it is not clear that this approach will be, as implied by the discussion, an efficient mapping method for all multicellular organisms. I have performed similar experiments in Drosophila, focused on meiotic recombination, on a much smaller scale, and found that CRISPR-Cas9 can indeed generate targeted recombination at gRNA target sites. In every case I tested, I found that the recombination event was associated with a deletion at the gRNA site, which is probably unimportant for most mapping efforts, but may be a concern in some specific cases, for example for clinical applications. It would be interesting to know how often mutations occurred at the targeted gRNA site in this study.

The wider issue, however, is whether CRISPR-mediated recombination will be more efficient than other methods of mapping. After careful consideration of all the costs and the time involved in each of the steps for Drosophila, we have decided that targeted meiotic recombination using flanking visible markers will be, in most cases, considerably more efficient than CRISPR-mediated recombination. This is mainly due to the large expense of injecting embryos and the extensive effort and time required to screen injected animals for appropriate events. It is both cheaper and faster to generate markers (with CRISPR) and then perform a large meiotic recombination mapping experiment than it would be to generate the lines required for CRISPR-mediated recombination mapping. It is possible to dramatically reduce costs by, for example, mapping sequentially at finer resolution. But this approach would require much more time than marker-assisted mapping. If someone develops a rapid and cheap method of reliably introducing DNA into Drosophila embryos, then this calculus might change.

However, it is possible to imagine situations where CRISPR-mediated mapping would be preferable, even for Drosophila. For example, some genomic regions display extremely low or highly non-uniform recombination rates. It is possible that CRISPR-mediated mapping could provide a reasonable approach to fine mapping genes in these regions.

The authors also propose the exciting possibility that CRISPR-mediated loss of heterozygosity could be used to map traits in sterile species hybrids. It is not entirely obvious to me how this experiment would proceed and I hope the authors can illuminate me. If we imagine driving a recombination event in the early embryo (with maternal Cas9 from one parent and gRNA from a second parent), then at best we would end up with chimeric individuals carrying mitotic clones. I don’t think one could generate diploid animals where all cells carried the same loss of heterozygosity event. Even if we could, this experiment would require construction of a substantial number of stable transgenic lines expressing gRNAs. Mapping an ~20Mbp chromosome arm to ~10kb would require on the order of two-thousand transgenic lines. Not an undertaking to be taken lightly. It is already possible to perform similar tests (hemizygosity tests) using D. melanogaster deficiency lines in crosses with D. simulans, so perhaps CRISPR-mediated LOH could complement these deficiency screens for fine mapping efforts. But, at the moment, it is not clear to me how to do the experiment.

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