Archive for the ‘Medical and Population Genetics’ Category

The History of Hematology and Related Sciences

Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP


The History of Hematology and Related Sciences: A Historical Review of Hematological Diagnosis from 1880 -1980


Blood Description: The Analysis of Blood Elements a Window into Diseases

Diagnosing bacterial infection (BI) remains a challenge for the attending physician. An ex vivo infection model based on human fixed polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) gives an autofluorescence signal that differs significantly between stimulated and unstimulated cells. We took advantage of this property for use in an in vivo pneumonia mouse model and in patients hospitalized with bacterial pneumonia. A 2-fold decrease was observed in autofluorescence intensity for cytospined PMNs from broncho-alveolar lavage (BAL) in the pneumonia mouse model and a 2.7-fold decrease was observed in patients with pneumonia when compared with control mice or patients without pneumonia, respectively. This optical method provided an autofluorescence mean intensity cut-off, allowing for easy diagnosis of BI. Originally set up on a confocal microscope, the assay was also effective using a standard epifluorescence microscope. Assessing the autofluorescence of PMNs provides a fast, simple, cheap and reliable method optimizing the efficiency and the time needed for early diagnosis of severe infections. Rationalized therapeutic decisions supported by the results from this method can improve the outcome of patients suspected of having an infection.

Monsel A, Le´cart S, Roquilly A, Broquet A, Jacqueline C, et al. (2014) Analysis of Autofluorescence in Polymorphonuclear Neutrophils: A New Tool for Early Infection Diagnosis. PLoS ONE 9(3): e92564.

This study was designed to validate or refute the reliability of total lymphocyte count (TLC) and other hematological parameters as a substitute for CD4 cell counts. Participants consisted of two groups, including 416 antiretroviral naive (G1) and 328 antiretroviral experienced (G2) patients. CD4+ T cell counts were performed using a Cyflow machine. Hematological parameters were analyzed using a hematology analyzer. The median ± SEM CD4 count (range) of participants in G1 was 199 ± 10.9 (5–1840 cells/μL) and the median ± SEM TLC (range) was 1. 61 ± 0.05 (0.07–6.63 × 103/μL). The corresponding values among G2 were 421 ± 15.8 (13–1801) and 2.13 ± 0.04 (0.06–5.58), respectively. Using a threshold value of 1.2 × 103/μL for TLC alone, the sensitivity of G1 was 88.4% (specificity (SP) 67.4%, the positive predictive value (PPV) 53.5% and negative predictive value (NPV) of 93.2% for CD4 , 200 cells/μL, the sensitivity for G2 was 83.3%, SP 85.3%, PPV 23.8%, and NPV of 93.2%. Using multiple parameters, including TLC , 1.2 × 103/μL, hemoglobin , 10 g/dL, and platelets , 150 × 103/L, the sensitivity increased to 96.0% (SP, 82.7%; PPV, 80%; NPV, 96.7%) among G1, while no change was observed in the G2 cohort. TLC , 1.2 × 103/μL alone is an insensitive predictor of CD4 count of , 200 cells/μL. Incorporating hemoglobin , 10 g/dL, and platelets , 150 × 103/L enhances the ability of TLC , 1.2 × 103/μL to predict CD4 count , 200 cells/μL among the antiretroviral-naïve cohort. We recommend the use of multiple, inexpensively measured hematological parameters in the form of an algorithm for predicting CD4 count level.

Evaluating Total Lymphocyte Counts and Other Hematological Parameters as a Substitute for CD4 Counts in the Management of HIV Patients in Northeastern Nigeria. BA Denue, AU Abja, IM Kida, AH Gabdo, AA Bukar and CB Akawu.
Retrovirology: Research and Treatment 2013:5 9–16 http://dx.doi.org:/10.4137/RRT.S11562

Sepsis is a syndrome that results in high morbidity and mortality. We investigated the delta neutrophil index (DN) as a predictive marker of early mortality in patients with gram-negative bacteremia. Retrospective study. The DN was measured at onset of bacteremia and 24 hours and 72 hours later. The DN was calculated using an automatic hematology analyzer. Factors associated with 10-day mortality were assessed using logistic regression. A total of 172 patients with gram-negative bacteremia were included in the analysis; of these, 17 patients died within 10 days of bacteremia onset. In multivariate analysis, Sequental organ failure assessment scores (odds ratio [OR]: 2.24, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.31 to 3.84; P = 0.003), DN-day 1 ≥ 7.6% (OR: 305.18, 95% CI: 1.73 to 53983.52; P = 0.030) and DN-day 3 ≥ DN day 1 (OR: 77.77, 95% CI: 1.90 to 3188.05; P = 0.022) were independent factors associated with early mortality in gram-negative bacteremia. Of four multivariate models developed and tested using various factors, the model using both DN-day 1 ≥ 7.6% and DN-day 3 ≥ DN-day 1 was most predictive early mortality. DN may be a useful marker of early mortality in patients with gram-negative bacteremia. We found both DN-day 1 and DN trend to be significantly associated with early mortality.

Delta Neutrophil Index as a Prognostic Marker of Early Mortality in Gram Negative Bacteremia. HW Kim, JH Yoon, SJ Jin, SB Kim, NS Ku, SJ Jeong,
et al. Infect Chemother 2014;46(2):94-102. pISSN 2093-2340·eISSN 2092-6448
Various indices derived from red blood cell (RBC) parameters have been described for distinguishing thalassemia and iron deficiency. We studied the microcytic to hypochromic RBC ratio as a discriminant index in microcytic anemia and compared it to traditional indices in a learning set and confirmed our findings in a validation set. The learning set comprised samples from 371 patients with microcytic anemia mean cell volume (MCV < 80 fL), which were measured on a CELL-DYN Sapphire analyzer and various discriminant functions calculated. Optimal cutoff values were established using ROC analysis. These values were used in the validation set of 338 patients. In the learning set, a microcytic to hypochromic RBC ratio >6.4 was strongly indicative of thalassemia (area under the curve 0.948). Green-King and England-Fraser indices showed comparable area under the ROC curve. However, the microcytic to hypochromic ratio had the highest sensitivity (0.964). In the validation set, 91.1% of microcytic patients were correctly classified using the M/H ratio. Overall, the microcytic to hypochromic ratio as measured in CELL-DYN Sapphire performed equally well as the Green-King index in identifying thalassemia carriers, but with higher sensitivity, making it a quick and inexpensive screening tool.
Differential diagnosis of microcytic anemia: the role of microcytic and hypochromic erythrocytes. E. Urrechaga, J.J.M.L. Hoffmann, S. Izquierdo, J.F. Escanero. Intl Jf Lab Hematology Aug 2014. http://dx.doi.org:/10.1111/ijlh.12290

Achievement of complete response (CR) to therapy in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) has become a feasible goal, directly correlating with prolonged survival. It has been established that the classic definition of CR actually encompasses a variety of disease loads, and more sensitive multiparameter flow cytometry [and polymerase chain reaction methods] can detect the disease burden with a much higher sensitivity. Detection of malignant cells with a sensitivity of 1 tumor cell in 10,000 cells (10–4), using the above-mentioned sophisticated techniques, is the current cutoff for minimal residual disease (MRD). Tumor burdens lower than 10–4 are defined as MRD-negative. Several studies in CLL have determined the achievement of MRD negativity as an independent favorable prognostic factor, leading to prolonged disease-free and overall survival, regardless of the treatment protocol or the presence of other pre-existing prognostic indicators. Minimal residual disease evaluation using flow cytometry is a sensitive and applicable approach which is expected to become an integral part of future prospective trials in CLL designed to assess the role of MRD surveillance in treatment tailoring.

Minimal Residual Disease Surveillance in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia by Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting. S Ringelstein-Harlev, R Fineman.
Rambam Maimonides Med J. Oct 2014   5 (4)  e0027. http://dx.doi.org:/10.5041/RMMJ.10161

Natural Killer cells (CD3-CD16+CD56+) are a major players in innate immunity, both as direct cytotoxic effectors as well as regulators for other innate immunity cell types. We have shown that, using the FlowCellect™ human NK cell characterization kit, one can achieve accurate phenotyping on a variety of sample types, including whole blood samples. Using the same kit to perform an NK cell cytotoxicity test, we demonstrate that unbound K562 target cells can be clearly distinguished from those that have been engaged by CD56+ NK cells, and each of these populations can be further investigated for viability using the eFluor 660® dye.

Analysis of NK cell subpopulations in whole blood

Analysis of NK cell subpopulations in whole blood

Analysis of NK cell subpopulations in whole blood


Proportion of K562 target cells bound to NK cells

Proportion of K562 target cells bound to NK cells

In a 5:1 effector cell:target cell population, 8% of the K562 cells were bound to NK cells (Figure 3B). 84% of the bound K562 cells were viable (Figure 3C) stained with fixable viability dye), while 96% of the unbound K562 cells were viable (Figure 3D). (B,C,D not shown)

Characterization of Natural Killer Cells Using Flow Cytometry.
EMD Millipore is a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

Red blood cell distribution width (RDW) is increased in liver disease. Its clinical significance, however, remains largely unknown. The aim of this study was to identify whether RDW was a prognostic index for liver disease. Retrospective: 33 patients with non-cirrhotic HBV chronic hepatitis, 125 patients with liver cirrhosis after HBV infection, 81 newly diagnosed primary epatocellular carcinoma (pHCC) patients, 17 alcoholic liver cirrhosis patients and 42 patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). Sixty-six healthy individuals represented the control cohort. The relationship between RDW on admission and clinical features: The association between RDW and hospitalization outcome was estimated by receiver operating curve (ROC) analysis and a multivariable logistic regression model. Increased RDW was observed in liver disease patients. RDW was positively correlated with serum bilirubin and creatinine levels, prothrombin time, and negatively correlated with platelet counts and serum albumin concentration. A subgroup analysis, considering the different etiologies, revealed similar findings. Among the patients with liver cirrhosis, RDW increased with worsening of Child-Pugh grade. In patients with PBC, RDW positively correlated with Mayo risk score. Increased RDW was associated with worse hospital outcome, as shown by the AUC [95% confidence interval (CI)] of 0.76 (0.67 – 0.84). RDW above 15.15% was independently associated with poor hospital outcome after adjustment for serum bilirubin, platelet count, prothrombin time, albumin and age, with the odds ratio (95% CI) of 13.29 (1.67 – 105.68). RDW is a potential prognostic index for liver disease.

Red blood cell distribution width is a potential prognostic index for liver disease
Z Hua , Y Suna , Q Wanga , Z Han , Y Huang , X Liu , C Ding, et al.
Clin Chem Lab Med 2013; 51(7):1403–1408.

Blood Plasma and Red Blood Cells

Whole blood consists of red and white blood cells, as well as platelets suspended in a liquid referred to as blood plasma. According to the American Red Cross, plasma is 92% water and makes up 55% of blood volume. The permeability of blood plasma is equal to 1.

Red blood cells make up slightly lower blood volume than blood plasma — about 45% of whole blood. As you probably already know, these types of blood cells contain hemoglobin, which in turn consists of iron that helps transport oxygen throughout the body. The permeability of red blood cells is slightly less than 1,
(1 – 3.9e-6). Or to put it in words, red blood cell particles are diamagnetic.

Due to their magnetic properties, red blood cells may be separated from the plasma via a magnetophoretic approach. If the blood were to be in a channel subject to a magnetophoretic force, we could control where the red blood cells and the plasma go within the channels. In other words, because the red blood cells have different permeability, they can be separated from the flow channel. However, such methodology is beyond the year 1980.

Timeline of Major Hematology Landmarks

1877 Paul Ehrlich develops techniques to stain blood cells to improve microscopic visualization.

1897 The Diseases of Infancy and Childhood contains a 20-page chapter on diseases of the blood and is the first American pediatric medical textbook to provide significant hematologic information.

1821–1902 Rudolph Virchow, during a long and illustrious career, demonstrates the importance of fibrin in the blood coagulation process, coins the terms embolism and thrombosis, identifies the disease leukemia, and theorizes that leukocytes are made in response to inflammation.

1901 Karl Landsteiner and colleagues identify blood groups of A, B, AB, and O.

1907 Ludvig Hektoen suggests that the safety of transfusion might be improved by crossmatching blood between donors and patients to exclude incompatible mixtures. Reuben Ottenberg performs the first blood transfusion using blood typing and crossmatching in New York. Ottenberg also observes the Mendelian inheritance of blood groups and recognizes the “universal” utility of group O donors.

1910 The first clinical description of sickle cell published in medical literature.

1914 Sodium citrate is found to prevent blood from clotting, allowing blood to be stored between collection and transfusion.

1924 Pediatrics is the first comprehensive American publication on pediatric hematology.

1925 Alfred P. Hart performs the first exchange transfusion.

1925 Thomas Cooley describes a Mediterranean hematologic syndrome of anemia, erythroblastosis, skeletal disorders, and splenomegaly that is later called Cooley’s anemia and now thalassemia.

1936 Chicago’s Cook County Hospital establishes the first true “blood bank” in the United States.

1938 Dr. Louis Diamond (known as the “father of American pediatric hematology”) along with Dr. Kenneth Blackfan describes the anemia still known as Diamond-Blackfan anemia.

1941 The Atlas of the Blood of Children is published by Blackfan, Diamond, and Leister.

1945 Coombs, Mourant, and Race describe the use of antihuman globulin (later known as the “Coombs Test”) to identify “incomplete” antibodies.

1954 The blood product cryoprecipitate is developed to treat bleeds in people with hemophilia.

1950s The “butterfly” needle and intercath are developed, making IV access easier and safer.

1961 The role of platelet concentrates in reducing mortality from hemorrhage in cancer patients is recognized.

1962 The first antihemophilic factor concentrate to treat coagulation disorders in hemophilia patients is developed through fractionation.

1969 S. Murphy and F. Gardner demonstrate the feasibility of storing platelets at room temperature, revolutionizing platelet transfusion therapy.

1971 Hepatitis B surface antigen testing of blood begins in the United States.

1972 Apheresis is used to extract one cellular component, returning the rest of the blood to the donor.

1974 Hematology of Infancy and Childhood is published by Nathan and Oski.

As I write today my hospital celebrates its 150th anniversary. Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital was founded on 14 February 1852 by the visionary Dr Charles West followed his belief that hospital care allied to research in children’s diseases would reduce child mortality from above 50% by the age of 15 years. It is foolish to believe that we can progress in medicine without a knowledge of the past and that much of life is based upon experience. When putting together a series of articles on the history of haematology, initially published in BJH, this was the main raison d’être, along with the belief that the practice of medicine has become increasingly serious but should also be fun and interesting and even occasionally uplifting to the spirit.

The central problem of any survey of the history of haematology is usually the question of balance. Achieving a degree of balance among themes and topics that will be satisfactory to practicing haematologists/physicians with an interest in blood diseases is essentially impossible. Our preference has been for themes of general interest rather than those of a purely scientific view into a field that has led the way in understanding the molecular basis of human disease.

  1. M. Hann, London, 2002; O. P. Smith, Dublin, 2002.

Origins of the Discipline `Neonatal Haematology’, 1925-75

In every modern neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), haematological problems are encountered daily. Many of these problems involve varieties of anaemia, neutropenia or thrombocytopenia that are unique to NICU patients. A characteristic aspect of these unique problems is that, if the neonate survives, the haematological problem will remit and will not recur later in life, nor will it evolve into a chronic illness (although the problem might occur in a future newborn sibling). This characteristic comes about because the common haematological problems of NICU patients are not genetic defects but are environmental stresses (such as infection, alloimmunization or a variety of maternal illnesses) that are imposed on a developmentally immature haematopoietic system.

In the USA, and in some parts of Europe, the unique haematological problems that occur among NICU patients are diagnosed and treated by neonatologists, not by paediatric haematologists. Although these haematological conditions were generally first described by haematologists, the conditions occur, obviously, in neonates. Thus, the neonatologist, who is familiar with intensive care management of neonates, has also become familiar with the diagnosis and management of the neonate’s common haematological disorders. A growing number of neonatologists have sought specific additional training in haematology, with the goals of discovering the mechanisms underlying the unique haematological problems of NICU patients and improving the management and outcome of the patients who have these conditions. These physicians have remained as neonatologists and they do not practice paediatric haematology, although their research contributions certainly come under the purview of haematology, or more precisely under the discipline of `neonatal haematology’. In many places in Europe, it is the haematologists rather than the neonatologists who have an academic and clinical interest in neonatal haematology.

The roots of the discipline of neonatal haematology can be traced to the early application of haematological methods to animal and human embryos and fetuses, such as found in the reports of Maximow (1924) and Wintrobe & Schumacker (1936). The clinical underpinnings of this discipline include reports of anaemia (Fikelstein, 1911) and jaundice (Blomfeld, 1901; YlppoÈ, 1913) among neonates.

Before the 1930s, very few studies and very few published clinical case reports originated from premature nurseries. Such nurseries had dubious beginnings, which were criticized by some physicians as more resembling circus exhibitions than medical care wards (Bonar, 1932). These units generally had mortality rates greatly exceeding 50% on the day of admission, with the majority of the first-day survivors having late deaths or serious long-term morbidity.

It was not until publication of the review of premature nursery care at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, in 1932, that it was clear that some units had instituted systematic attempts to monitor and improve outcomes. A special care nursery had been established at the Children’s Hospital in 1926 and, in 1932, Drs Marsh Poole and Thomas Cooley reported their experience in that unit (Poole & Cooley, 1932). The report included  incubator design with temperature and humidity control, growth curves of patients on various feeding practices, mortality statistics and attempts to determine causes of death.

At the time premature nursery care was beginning to merit academic credentials, reports were published of haematological problems that were unique to the neonate. These papers included the seminal publication on erythroblastosis fetalis by Drs Diamond (Fig 1), Blackfan and Baty (Diamond et al, 1932), and the report of sepsis neonatorum at the Yale New Haven Hospital by Ethyl C. Dunham (Fig 2) (Dunham,


The first major textbook devoted to clinical haematology, as well as the first textbook of neonatology, contained very little information about what are today’s common NICU haematological problems. For instance, in the first edition of Clinical Hematology by Dr Maxwell M. Wintrobe (Fig 3), of the Johns Hopkins University Hospital (Wintrobe, 1942), several topics related to paediatric haematology were reviewed, but discussions of the haematological problems of neonates were limited to three – erythroblastosis fetalis, haemorrhagic disease of the newborn and the `anaemia of prematurity’. Similarly, Premature Infants: A Manual for

Physicians, the original neonatology textbook, published in 1948 by Dr Ethyl C. Dunham (Fig 2; Dunham, 1948), had only a few pages devoted to haematological problems – the same three discussed by Dr Wintrobe. Also, the classic neonatology text book, `The Physiology of the Newborn Infant’, published in 1945 by Dr Clement A. Smith, contained almost no discussion of haematological problems (Smith, 1945). hrombocytopenia, which is now diagnosed among 25-30% of NICU patients, and neutropenia, now diagnosed in 8-10% of NICU patients, were not mentioned.

The first article published in Paediatrics (1948) dealing with a neonatal haematological problem was in volume two, in which Dr Diamond detailed his technique for performing a replacement transfusion (which later became known as an `exchange’ transfusion) as a treatment for erythroblastosis fetalis (Diamond, 1949). The second paper published by Paediatrics containing aspects of neonatal haematology was 1 year later, when Sliverman & Homan (1949) described leucopenia among neonates with sepsis. Most of the 25 infants they described, who were treated at Babies Hospital in New York over an 11-year period, had `late-onset’ sepsis, beginning after 3 days of life. They reported 14 neonates with Escherichia coli sepsis and four with streptococcal or staphylococcal sepsis, and observed that leucopenia occurred occasionally among these patients but was uncommon. (Indeed, today neutropenia remains uncommon in `late-onset’ sepsis, but common in congenital or `early onset’ sepsis.)

Louis K. Diamond, MD, at Children's Hospital, Boston,

Louis K. Diamond, MD, at Children’s Hospital, Boston,

Louis K. Diamond, MD, at Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA. , date unknown (obtained with the kind assistance of Charles F. Simmons, MD, Harvard University).

Diagnosing neutropenia, anaemia or thrombocytopenia in a neonate obviously requires knowledge of the expected normal range for neutrophil concentration, haematocrit and platelet concentration in the appropriate reference population. Early contributions to neonatal haematology included the publications of these reference ranges. The landmark studies included the range of blood leucocyte and neutrophil concentrations in neonates published in 1935 by Dr Katsuji Kato from the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Chicago (Kato, 1935). He tabulated the leucocyte concentrations and differential counts of 1081 children, ranging from birth to 15 years of age. A striking finding of his report (Fig 4) was the very high neutrophil counts during the first hours and days of life. Blood neutrophil concentrations among neonates with infections were published during the early and mid-1970s by Dr Marietta Xanthou (Fig 5) at the Hammersmith Hospital in London (Xanthou, 1970, 1972), and by Drs Barbara Manroe and Charles Rosenfeld (Fig 6) at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas (Manroe et al, 1977).

Normal values for haemoglobin, haematocrit, erythrocyte indices and leucocyte concentrations were refined by DeMarsh et al (1942, 1948), and in a series of publications in the early 1950s in Archives of Diseases of Children by Gairdner et al (1952a, b). These were followed by observations on human fetal haematopoiesis by Thomas and Yoffey in the British Journal of Haematology (Thomas & Yoffey, 1962, 1964), and by the work on blood volume during the 1960s (Usher et al, 1963, Usher & Lind, 1965; Yao et al, 1967, 1968). Normal ranges for blood platelet counts in ill and well preterm and term infants were published in the early 1970s (Sell et al, 1973; Corrigan, 1974).

The first publication addressing the problem of neutropenia accompanying fatal early onset bacterial sepsis was that of Tygstrup et al (1968). This was a report of a near-term male with congenital Listeria sepsis who lived for only 4 h. The platelet count was 80*109/l and the leucocyte count was 13´7*109/l, but no granulocytes were observed on the differential count, which consisted of 84% lymphocytes, 8% monocytes and 8% leucocyte precursors. A sternal marrow aspirate was taken of the infant shortly before death that revealed myeloblasts, promyelocytes and myelocytes, but no band or segmented neutrophils.

An important advance in understanding the blood neutrophil count during neonatal sepsis occurred with the back-to-back papers in Archives of Diseases of Childhood in 1972 by Dr Marietta Xanthou of Hammersmith Hospital, London (Xanthou, 1972), and Drs Gregory and Hey of Babies’ Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne (Gregory & Hey, 1972). Both papers reported that neonates who had life threatening (or indeed fatal) infections became neutropenic prior to death. Dr Xanthou reported 35 ill preterm and term babies within their first 28 d of life. Twenty-four were ill but not infected, and these had normal blood neutrophil concentrations and morphology. However, among the 11 who were ill with a bacterial infection, neutrophilia was observed in the survivors, but neutropenia, a `left shift’, and toxic granulation were observed in the non-survivors. Consistent with this observation, Gregory and Hey reported three neonates who died with overwhelming bacterial sepsis and noted that all had profound neutropenia. Neutrophilia was common among the survivors and neutropenia, a “left shift’, and specific neutrophil morphological changes were seen among those who subsequently died.

A pivotal publication that launched the search for mechanistic information and successful treatments was that of Dr Barbara Manroe, a fellow in Neonatal Medicine, and her mentor Dr Charles Rosenfeld (Fig 6) from the University of Texas, South-western, Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas (Manroe et al, 1977). They evaluated 45 neonates who had culture-proven group B streptococcal infection and found that 39 had abnormal leucocyte counts: 25 neutrophilia and 14 neutropenia, and that 41 had a `left shift’. This paper was the first to quantify the `left shift’ using a method that has since become popular in neonatology – the ratio of immature neutrophils to total neutrophils on the differential cell count.

From these beginning, hundreds of studies using experimental models and clinical observations and trials were published, detailing the kinetic and molecular mechanisms accounting for this common variety of neutropenia. Marked improvements in the survival of neonates with this condition have come about through combined efforts, including early maternal screening for GBS carriage, early anti-microbial administration to ill neonates, non-specific antibody administration and a variety of measures to improve supportive care of neonates with early onset sepsis.

In the early 1930s, Dr Helen Mackay worked as a paediatrician in Mother’s Hospital, a maternity hospital located in the north-east section of London. Acting on the observation of Lichtenstein (1921) that infants of subnormal birth weight regularly became anaemic in the first months of life, she measured and reported serial heel-stick haemoglobin levels on 150 infants during their first 6 months. Thirty-nine of these infants weighed under five pounds at birth (six were under four pounds), 52 weighed five to six pounds, and 59 weighed six pounds and upwards. She showed that babies of the lightest birth weights had the most rapid fall in haemoglobin and that these fell to lower levels than those of babies of heavier birth weight (MacKay et al, 1935). Figure 7 contrasts this fall in babies weighing `3-4 lbs odd at birth’ with those weighing `5 lbs odd at birth’.

Her attempts to prevent the anaemia of prematurity failed,  but her work constituted the first clear definition of the `anaemia of prematurity’ and showed that iron administration did not prevent this condition. In the early 1950s, Douglas Gairdner, John Marks and Janet D. Roscoe, of the Department of Pathology of Cambridge Maternity Hospital, published pioneering studies in blood formation in infancy (Gairdner et al, 1952a, b). Studying 105 blood samples and 102 bone marrow samples, they concluded that `erythropoiesis ceases when the oxygen saturation just after birth increases from about 65% in the umbilical vein to .95% just after birth’. Publications by Dr Irving Schulman, in the mid- to late 1950s, defined three phases of the anaemia of prematurity and provided a mechanistic explanation for the anaemia (Schulman & Smith, 1954; Schulman, 1959). His work illustrated that the early and intermediate phases of this anaemia occur in the face of relative iron excess and are unaffected by prophylactic iron administration.

Haemoglobin levels during the first 25 weeks of life among

Haemoglobin levels during the first 25 weeks of life among

Haemoglobin levels during the first 25 weeks of life among neonates in London [by permission; Archives Diseases of Children, (MacKay, 1935)].

In 1963, Dr Sverre Halvorsen of the Department of Paediatrics at Rikshospatalet in Oslo, Norway (Fig 9), provided an underlying explanation for the observations made by MacKay, Gairdner and Schulman (Halvorson, 1963). He observed that, compared with the blood of healthy adults, umbilical cord blood of healthy neonates had a high erythropoietin concentration, but the concentration was considerably higher in the plasma of severely erythroblastotic, anaemic infants. Among the healthy infants, erythropoietin levels fell to unmeasurably low concentrations after delivery, but levels remained elevated in hypoxic and cyanotic infants. Dr Per Haavardsholm Finne, also of the Children’s Department, Paediatric Research Institute and Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Rikshospitalet in Oslo, observed high oncentrations of erythropoietin in the amniotic fluid and the umbilical cord blood after fetal hypoxia (Finne, 1964, 1967).

In subsequent studies, Dr Halvorsen observed lower plasma erythropoietin concentrations in the cord blood of preterm infants at delivery than in term neonates at delivery (Halvorsen & Finne, 1968). These observations supported the concept of Gairdner et al (1952a, b) that the postnatal fall in erythropoiesis (the `physiologic anaemia’ of neonates) is as a result of an increase in oxygen delivery to tissues following birth and is mediated by a fall in circulating erythropoietin concentration. The observations gave rise to the postulate that the `anaemia of prematurity’ was an exaggeration of this physiological anaemia and involved a limitation of preterm infants to appropriately increase erythropoietin production.

Many landmark reports of haematological findings of neonates that were published between 1925 and 1975 were not detailed in this review because they were outside the restricted topics selected.

Robert D. Christensen, MD, Gainesville, FL
Brit J Haem 2001; 113: 853-860

Towards Molecular Medicine; Reminiscences of the Haemoglobin Field

When historians of medicine in the twentieth century start to piece together the complex web of events that led from a change of emphasis of medical research from studies of patients and their organs to disease at the levels of cells and molecules they will undoubtedly have their attention drawn to the haemoglobin field, particularly the years that followed Linus Pauling’s seminal paper in 1949 which described sickle-cell anaemia as a `molecular disease’. These are personal reminiscences of some of the highlights of those exciting times, and of those who made them happen.

One of my first patients serving the RAMC was a Nepalese Ghurka child who was kept alive from the first few months of life with regular blood transfusion without a diagnosis. Henry Kunkel published a paper which described how, using electrophoresis in slabs of starch, he had found a minor component of human haemoglobin (Hb), Hb A2, the proportion of which was elevated in some carriers of thalassaemia. After several weeks spent knee deep in potato starch, we found that the Ghurka child’s parents had increased Hb A2 levels and, hence, that she was likely to be homozygous for thalassaemia. I was hauled up before the Director General of Medical Services for the Far East Land Forces and told that I could be court marshalled for not getting permission from the War House (Office) to publish information about military personnel. `And, in any case’, he added, `it is bad form to tell the world that one of our pukka regiments has bad genes; don’t do it again’.

Just before the end of my National Service I arranged to go to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to train in genetics and haematology. I was told that I was wasting my time working on haemoglobin because there was `nothing left to do’. `Start exploring red cell enzymes’, he suggested. On arriving in Baltimore in 1960 it turned out that human genetics, and the haemoglobin field in particular, were bubbling with excitement and potential. The only lessons for those contemplating careers in medical research from this chapter of academic and military gaffs are that, regardless of the working conditions, when there are sick people there are always interesting research questions to be asked.

The excitement of the haemoglobin field in 1960 reflected the chance amalgamation of several disciplines in the 1950s, particularly X-ray crystallography, protein chemistry, human genetics and haematology.

From the early 1930s the structure of proteins became one of the central problems of biochemistry. At that time, the only way of tackling this problem was by X-ray crystallography. In 1937 Felix Haurowitz suggested to Max Perutz (Fig 1) that an X-ray study of haemoglobin might be a good subject for his doctoral thesis. He was given some large crystals of horse methaemoglobin which gave excellent Xray diffraction patterns.

Max Perutz

Max Perutz

However, there was a major snag; an X-ray diffraction pattern provided only half the information required to solve the structure of a protein, that is the amplitudes of diffracted rays, while the other half, their phases, could not be determined. But in 1953, they discovered that it could be solved in two dimensions by comparison of the diffraction patterns of a crystal of native haemoglobin with that of haemoglobin reacted with mecuribenzoate, which combines with its two reactive sulphydryl groups. In short, to solve the structure in three dimensions required the comparison of the diffraction patterns of at least three crystals, one native and two with heavy atoms combined with different sites on the haemoglobin molecule. In 1959 this approach yielded the first three-dimensional model of haemoglobin, at 5´5 AÊ resolution.

Protein chemistry evolved side-by-side with X-ray crystallography during the 1950s. In 1951 Fred Sanger solved the structure of insulin, a remarkable tour de force which showed that proteins have unique chemical structures and amino acid sequences. Sanger had perfected methods for fractionation and characterization of small peptides by paper chromatography or electrophoresis. In 1956 Vernon Ingram (Fig 2), who, like Max Perutz, was a refugee from Germany, was set the task of studying the structure of haemoglobin from patients with sickle-cell anaemia. Ingram separated the peptides produced after globin had been hydrolysed with the enzyme trypsin, which cuts only at lysine and arginine residues. Although these amino acids accounted for 60 residues per mol of haemoglobin, only 30 tryptic peptides were obtained, indicating that haemoglobin consists of two identical half molecules. Re-examination of the amino-terminal sequences of haemoglobin by groups in the United States and Germany showed 2 mols of valine ± leucine and 2 mols of valine ± histidine ± leucine per mol of globin. These findings, which were in perfect agreement with the X-ray crystallographic results, suggested that haemoglobin is a tetramer composed of two pairs of unlike peptide chains, which were called α and β.

A seminal advance, and one which was to mark the beginning of molecular medicine, was the chance result of an overnight conversation on a train journey between Denver and Chicago. Linus Pauling, the protein chemist, and William Castle (Fig 3), one of the founding fathers of experimental haematology, were returning from a meeting in Denver and Castle mentioned to Pauling that he and his colleagues had noticed that when red cells from patients with sickle-cell anaemia are deoxygenated and sickle they show birefringence in polarized light.

Five generations of Boston haematology. Seated is William Castle. Standing (left to right) are Stuart Orkin, David Nathan and Alan Michelson. The picture on the left is of Dean David Edsall of Harvard Medical School who established the Thorndyke Laboratory at the Boston City Hospital. He was succeeded by Dean Peabody, who recruited both George Minot, who won the Nobel Prize for his work on pernicious anaemia, and William Castle, who should have also received it.

Pauling guessed that this might reflect a structural difference between normal and sickle-cell haemoglobin which could be detected by a change in charge. He gave this problem to one of his postdoctoral students, a young medical graduate called Harvey Itano. At that time they knew that a Swede, Arne Tiselius, had invented a machine for separating proteins according to their charge by electrophoresis. As there was no machine of this kind in Pauling’s laboratory, Itano and his colleagues set to and built one. Eventually they found that the haemoglobin of patients with sickle-cell anaemia behaves differently to that of normal people in an electric field, indicating that it must have a different amino acid composition. Even better, the haemoglobin of sickle-cell carriers was a mixture of both types of haemoglobin. This work was published in Science in 1949, under the title `Sickle-cell anaemia: a molecular disease’.

Perutz and Crick suggested to Ingram that he should apply Sanger’s techniques of peptide analysis to see if he could find any difference between normal and sickle cell haemoglobin. After digesting haemoglobin with trypsin, Ingram separated the peptides by electrophoresis and chromatography in two dimensions to produce what he later called `fingerprints’. He recalls that his first efforts looked like a watercolour that had been left out in the rain. But gradually things improved and he was able to show that the fingerprints of Hbs A and S were identical except for the position of one peptide. Using a method that had been developed a few years earlier by Pehr Edman, which allowed a peptide to be degraded one amino acid at a time in a stepwise fashion, Ingram found that this difference was due to the substitution of valine for glutamic acid at position 6 in the β chain of Hb S.

As well as demonstrating how a crippling disease can result from only a single amino acid difference in the haemoglobin molecule, this beautiful work had broader implications for molecular genetics. Although nothing was known about the nature of the genetic code at the time, the findings were compatible with the notion that the primary product of the β-globin gene is a peptide chain, a further development of the one-gene-one-enzyme concept, suggested earlier by Beadle and Tatum from their studies of Neurospora, and a prelude to the later studies of Yanofsky on Escherichia coli, which were to confirm this principle.

With the advent of simple filter paper electrophoresis, haemoglobin analysis became the province of clinical research laboratories during the 1950s and `new’ abnormal haemoglobins appeared almost by the week. Although many scientists were involved it was Hermann Lehmann (Fig 4) who became the father figure. Like Handel, Hermann was born in Halle and, also like the composer, made his home in Great Britain. He came to England as a refugee and at the beginning of the Second World War had a short period of internment as a `friendly alien’ at Huyton, close to Liverpool, an experience shared with many others, including Max Perutz. He travelled widely during his later war service in the RAMC and developed a wide international network which enabled him to discover 81 haemoglobin variants during his career.

Harvey Itano and Elizabeth Robinson showed that Hb Hopkins 2 is an a chain variant. Hence, it was now clear that there must be at least two unlinked loci involved in regulating haemoglobin production, a and b. The discovery of the λ and δ chains of Hbs F and A2, respectively, meant that there must be at least four loci involved. Subsequent family studies and analyses of unusual variants resulting from the production of δβ or λβ fusion chains led to the ordering of the non-α globin genes.

It had been known for some years that children with severe forms of thalassaemia might have persistent production of HbF and it was found later that some carriers might have elevated levels of Hb A2. The seminal observation in favour of this notion came from the study of patients who had inherited the sickle-cell gene from one parent and thalassaemia from the other. Sickle-cell thalassaemia was first described by Ezio Silvestroni and his wife Ida Bianco in 1946, although at the time they could not have known the full significance of their finding.  Phillip Sturgeon and his colleagues in the USA found that the pattern of haemoglobin production in patients with sickle-cell thalassaemia is quite different to that of heterozygotes for the sickle-cell gene; the effect of the thalassaemia gene is to reduce the amount of Hb A to below that of Hb S, i.e. exactly the  opposite to the ratio observed in sickle-cell carriers. As it was known that the sickle-cell mutation occurs in the β globin gene, it could be inferred that the action of the thalassaemia gene was to reduce the amount of β globin production from the normal allele. Indeed, from the few family studies available in 1960 there was a hint that this form of thalassaemia might be an allele of the β globin gene. Another major observation that was made in the mid-50 s was the association of unusual tetramer haemoglobins, β4 (Hb H) and λ4 (Hb Bart’s), with a thalassaemia phenotype. In 1959 Vernon Ingram and Tony Stretton proposed in a seminal article that there are two major classes, α and β, just as there are two major types of structural haemoglobin variants. They extended the ideas of Linus Pauling and Harvey Itano, who had suggested that defective globin synthesis in thalassaemia might be due to `silent’ mutations of the β globin genes, and postulated that the defects might lie outside the structural gene in the area of DNA in the connecting unit. work on the interactions of thalassaemia and haemoglobin variants in the late 1950s had moved the field to a considerably higher level of understanding than is apparent in the earlier papers of Pauling and Itano. In any case, in their paper Ingram and Stretton generously acknowledged the ideas of other workers, including Lehmann, Gerald, Neel and Ceppellini, that had allowed them to develop their conceptual framework of the general nature of thalassaemia. This interpretation of events, and the input of scientists from many different disciplines into these concepts, is supported by the published discussions of several conferences on haemoglobin held in the late 1950s.

Historical Review. Towards Molecular Medicine; Reminiscences of the Haemoglobin Field. D. J. Weatherall, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford. Brit J  Haem 115:729-738.

The Emerging Understanding of Sickle Cell Disease

The first indisputable case of sickle cell disease in the literature was described in a dental student studying in Chicago between 1904 and 1907 (Herrick, 1910). Coming from the north of the island of Grenada in the eastern Caribbean, he was first admitted to the Presbyterian Hospital, Chicago, in late December 1904 and a blood test showed the features characteristic of homozygous sickle cell (SS) disease. It was a happy coincidence that he was under the care of Dr James Herrick (Fig 1) and his intern Dr Ernest Irons because both had an interest in laboratory investigation and Herrick had previously presented a paper on the value of blood examination in reaching a diagnosis (Herrick, 1904-05). The resulting blood test report by Dr Irons described and contained drawings of the abnormal red cells (Fig 2) and the photomicrographs, showing irreversibly sickled cells.

People with positive sickle tests were divided into asymptomatic cases, `latent sicklers’, and those with features of the disease, `active sicklers’, and it was Dr Lemuel Diggs of Memphis who first clearly distinguished symptomatic cases called sickle cell anaemia from the latent asymptomatic cases which were termed the sickle cell trait (Diggs et al, 1933).

Prospective data collection in 29 cases of the disease showed sickling in all 42 parents tested (Neel, 1949), providing strong support for the theory of homozygous inheritance. A Colonial Medical Officer working in Northern Rhodesia (Beet, 1949) reached similar conclusions at the same time with a study of one large family (the Kapokoso-Chuni pedigree). The implication that sickle cell anaemia should occur in all communities in which the sickle cell trait was common and that its frequency would be determined by the prevalence of the trait did not appear to fit the observations from Africa. Despite a sickle cell trait prevalence of 27% in Angola, Texeira (1944) noted the active form of the disease to be `extremely rare’ and similar observations were made from East Africa. Lehmann and Raper (1949, 1956) found a positive sickling test in 45% of one community, from which homozygous inheritance would have predicted that nearly 10% of children had SS disease, yet not a single case was found. The discrepancy led to a hypothesis that some factor inherited from non-black ancestors in America might be necessary for expression of the disease (Raper, 1950).

The explanation for this apparent discrepancy gradually emerged. Working with the Jaluo tribe in Kenya, Foy et al (1951) found five cases of sickle cell anaemia among very young children and suggested that cases might be dying at an age before those sampled in surveys. A similar hypothesis was advanced by Jelliffe (1952) and was supported by data from the then Belgian Congo (Lambotte-Legrand Lambotte-Legrand, 1951, Lambotte-Legrand, 1952, Vandepitte, 1952). Although most cases were consistent with the concept of homozygous inheritance, exceptions continued to occur. Patients with a non-sickling parent of Mediterranean ancestry were later recognized to have sickle cell-β thalassaemia (Powell et al, 1950; Silvestroni & Bianco, 1952; Sturgeon et al, 1952; Neel et al, 1953a), a condition also widespread in African and Indian subjects that presents a variable syndrome depending on the molecular basis of the β thalassaemia mutation and the amount of HbA produced.

Phenotypically, there are two major groups in subjects of African origin, sickle cell-β+ thalassaemia manifesting 20-30% HbA and mutations at 229(A,G) or 288(C,T), and sickle cell-β0 thalassaemia with no HbA and mutations at IVS2-849(A,G) or IVS2-1(G,A). In Indian subjects, a more severe β thalassaemia mutation IVS1-5(G,C) results in a sickle cell-β+ thalassaemia condition with 3-5% HbA and a relatively severe clinical course.

Other double heterozygote conditions causing sickle cell disease include sickle cell-haemoglobin C (SC) disease, (Kaplan et al, 1951; Neel et al, 1953b), sickle cellhaemoglobin O Arab (Ramot et al, 1960), sickle cellhaemoglobin Lepore Boston (Stammatoyannopoulos & Fessas, 1963) and sickle cell-haemoglobin D Punjab (Cooke & Mack, 1934). The latter condition was first described in siblings in 1934, who were reinvestigated for confirmation of HbD (Itano, 1951), the clinical features reported (Sturgeon et al, 1955) and who were finally identified as HbD Punjab (Babin et al, 1964), representing a remarkable example of longitudinal observation and investigation in the same family over 30 years.

The maintenance of high frequencies of the sickle cell trait in the presence of almost obligatory losses of homozygotes in Equatorial Africa implied that there was either a very high frequency of HbS arizing by fresh mutations or that the sickle cell trait conveyed a survival advantage in the African environment. There followed a remarkable period in the 1950s when three prominent scientists were each addressing this problem in East Africa, Dr Alan Raper and Dr Hermann Lehmann in Uganda and Dr Anthony Allison in Kenya. It was quickly calculated that mutation rates were far too low to balance the loss of HbS genes from deaths of homozygotes (Allison, 1954a). An increased fertility of heterozygotes was proposed (Foy et al, 1954; Allison, 1956a) but never convincingly demonstrated. Raper (1949) was the first to suggest that the sickle cell trait might have a survival advantage against some adverse condition in the tropics and Mackey & Vivarelli (1952) suggested that this factor might be malaria. The close geographical association between the distribution of malaria and the sickle cell gene supported this concept (Allison, 1954b) and led to an exciting period in the history of research in sickle cell disease.

The first observations on malaria and the sickle cell trait were from Northern Rhodesia where Beet (1946, 1947) noted that malarial parasites were less frequent in blood films from subjects with the sickle cell trait. Allison (1954c) drew attention to this association, concluding that persons with the sickle cell trait developed malaria less frequently and less severely than those without the trait. This communication marked the beginning of a considerable controversy.Two studies failed to document differences in parasite densities between `sicklers’ and `non-sicklers’ (Moore et al, 1954; Archibald & Bruce-Chwatt, 1955) and Beutler et al (1955) were unable to reproduce the inoculation experiments of Allison (1954c). Raper (1955) speculated that some feature of Allison’s observations had accentuated a difference of lesser magnitude and postulated that the sickle cell trait might inhibit the establishment of malaria in non-immune subjects. The conflicting results in these and other studies appear to have occurred because the protective effect of the sickle cell trait was overshadowed by the role of acquired immunity. Examination of young children before the development of acquired immunity confirmed both lower parasite rates and densities in children with the sickle cell trait (Colbourne & Edington, 1956; Edington & Laing, 1957; Gilles et al, 1967) and it is now generally accepted that the sickle cell trait confers some protection against falciparum malaria during a critical period of early childhood between the loss of passively acquired immunity and the development of active immunity (Allison, 1957; Rucknagel & Neel, 1961; Motulsky, 1964). The mechanism of such an effect is still debated, although possible factors include selective sickling of parasitized red cells (Miller et al, 1956; Luzzatto et al, 1970) resulting in their more effective removal by the reticulo-endothelial system, inhibition of parasite growth by the greater potassium loss and low pH of sickled red cells (Friedman et al, 1979), and greater endothelial adherence of parasitized red cells (Kaul et al, 1994).

The occurrence of the sickle cell mutation and the survival advantage conferred by malaria together determine the primary distribution of the sickle cell gene. Equatorial Africa is highly malarial and the sickle cell mutation appears to have arisen independently on at least three and probably four separate occasions in the African continent, and the mutations were subsequently named after the areas where they were first described and designated the Senegal, Benin, Bantu and Cameroon haplotypes of the disease (Kulozik et al, 1986; Chebloune et al, 1988; Lapoumeroulie et al, 1992). The disease seen in North and South America, the Caribbean and the UK is predominantly of African origin and mostly of the Benin haplotype, although the Bantu is proportionately more frequent in Brazil (Zago et al, 1992). It is therefore easy to understand the common misconception held in these areas that the disease is of African origin.

However, the sickle cell gene is widespread around the Mediterranean, occurring in Sicily, southern Italy, northern Greece and the south coast of Turkey, although these are all of the Benin haplotype and so, ultimately, of African origin. In the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia and in central India, there is a separate independent occurrence of the HbS gene, the Asian haplotype. The Shiite population of the Eastern Province traditionally marry first cousins, tending to increase the prevalence of SS disease above that expected from the gene frequency (Al-Awamy et al, 1984). Furthermore, extensive surveys performed by the Anthropological Survey of India estimate an average sickle cell trait frequency of 15% across the states of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Masharastra which, with the estimated population of 300 million people, implies that there may be more cases of sickle cell disease born in India than in Africa. The Asian haplotype of sickle cell disease is generally associated with very high frequencies of alpha thalassaemia and high levels of fetal haemoglobin, both factors believed to ameliorate the severity of the disease.

The promotion of sickling by low oxygen tension and acid conditions was first recognized by Hahn & Gillespie (1927) and further investigated by others (Lange et al, 1951; Allison, 1956b; Harris et al, 1956). The morphological and some functional characteristics of irreversibly sickled cells were described (Diggs & Bibb, 1939; Shen et al, 1949), but the essential features of the polymerization of reduced HbS molecules had to await the developments of electron microscopy (Murayama, 1966; Dobler & Bertles, 1968; Bertles & Dobler, 1969; White & Heagan, 1970) and Xray diffraction (Perutz & Mitchison, 1950; Perutz et al, 1951). The early observations on the inducement of sickling by hypoxia led to the first diagnostic tests utilizing sealed chambers in which oxygen was removed by white cells (Emmel, 1917), reducing agents such as sodium metabisulphite (Daland & Castle, 1948) or bacteria such as Escherichia coli (Raper, 1969). These slide sickling tests are very reliable with careful sealing and the use of positive controls, but require a microscope and some expertise in its use. An alternative method of detecting HbS utilizes its relative insolubility in hypermolar phosphate buffers (Huntsman et al, 1970), known as the solubility test. Both the slide sickle test and the solubility test detect the presence of HbS, but fail to make the vital distinction between the sickle cell trait and forms of sickle cell disease. This requires the process of haemoglobin electrophoresis, which detects the abnormal mobility of HbS, HbC and many other abnormal haemoglobins within an electric field.

The contributions of several workers on the determinants of sickling (Daland & Castle, 1948), birefringence of deoxygenated sickled cells (Sherman, 1940) the lesser degree of sickling in very young children which implied that it was a feature of adult haemoglobin (Watson, 1948) led Pauling to perform Tiselius moving boundary electrophoresis on haemoglobin solutions from subjects with sickle cell anaemia and the sickle cell trait. The demonstration of electrophoretic and, hence, implied chemical differences between normal, sickle cell trait and sickle cell disease led to the proposal that it was a molecular disease (Pauling et al, 1949). The chance encounter between Castle and Pauling who shared a train compartment returning from a meeting in Denver in 1945, its background and implications, has passed into the folklore of medical research (Conley, 1980; Feldman & Tauber, 1997).

The nature of this difference was soon elucidated. The haem groups appeared identical, suggesting that the difference resided in the globin, but early chemical analyses revealed no distinctive differences (Schroeder et al, 1950; Huisman et al, 1955). Analyses of terminal amino acids also failed to reveal differences, although an excess of valine in HbS was noted but considered an experimental error (Havinga, 1953). The development of more sensitive methods of fingerprinting combining high voltage electrophoresis and chromatography allowed the identification of the essential difference between HbA and HbS. This method enabled the separation of constituent peptides and demonstrated that a peptide in HbS was more positively charged than in HbA (Ingram, 1956). This peptide was found to contain less glutamic acid and more valine, suggesting that valine had replaced glutamic acid (Ingram, 1957). The sequence of this peptide was shown to be Val-His-Leu-Thr-Pro-Val-Glu-Lys in HbS instead of the Val-His-Leu-Thr-Pro-Glu-Glu-Lys in HbA (Hunt & Ingram, 1958), a sequence which was subsequently identified as the amino-terminus of the b chain (Hunt & Ingram, 1959). This amino acid substitution was consistent with the genetic code and was subsequently found to be attributable to the nucleotide change from GAG to GTG (Marotta et al, 1977).

Haemolysis and anaemia. The presence of anaemia and jaundice in the first four cases suggested accelerated haemolysis, which was supported by elevated reticulocyte counts (Sydenstricker et al, 1923) and expansion of the bone marrow (Sydenstricker et al, 1923; Graham, 1924). The bone changes of medullary expansion and cortical thinning were noted in early radiological reports (Vogt & Diamond, 1930; LeWald, 1932; Grinnan, 1935). Drawing on a comparison of sickle cell disease and hereditary spherocytosis, Sydenstricker (1924) introduced the term `haemolytic crisis’ that has persisted in the literature to this day, despite the lack of evidence for such an entity in sickle cell disease. The increased requirements of folic acid and the consequence of a deficiency leading to megaloblastic change was not noted until much later (Zuelzer & Rutzky, 1953; Jonsson et al, 1959; MacIver & Went, 1960).

The haemoglobin level in SS disease of African origin is typically between 6 and 9 g/dl and is well tolerated, partly because of a marked shift in the oxygen dissociation curve (Scriver & Waugh, 1930; Seakins et al, 1973) so that HbS within the red cell behaves with a low oxygen affinity. This explains why patients at their steady state haemoglobin levels rarely show classic symptoms of anaemia and fail to benefit clinically from blood transfusions intended to improve oxygen delivery.

Graham R. Serjeant
Sickle Cell Trust, Kingston, Jamaica
Brit J Haem 2001; 112: 3-18

The Immune Haemolytic Anaemias

The growth in knowledge of the scientific basis of haemolytic anaemias, which have been a main interest of the author, has been remarkable, as have consequent advances in the practice of medicine since the mid-1930s. At that time, the cause and mechanism of important disorders such as the acquired antibody determined (immune) haemolytic anaemias, haemolytic disease of the newborn, hereditary spherocytosis and paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria were unknown or but partially understood.

According to Crosby (1952), William Hunter of London, in an article on pernicious anaemia published in 1888, was the first to use the term `haemolytic’ to denote an anaemia caused by excessive blood destruction. By the turn of the century, the term was being widely used in clinical literature. Peyton Rous, in his comprehensive review `Destruction of the red blood corpuscles in health and disease’ (Rous, 1923), concluded that the generally held view in the early 1930s was that about one-fifteenth of the erythrocyte mass was destroyed daily. Rous was aware of the pioneer work of Winifred Ashby (1919), who, by following the survival of serologically distinct but compatible transfused erythrocytes, had found that normal erythrocytes might live for up to 100 d in the recipients’ circulation. Subsequent work using radioactive chromium (51Cr) as an erythrocyte label, showed that Ashby’s data and conclusions were in fact correct, i.e. that normal erythrocytes in health circulate in the peripheral blood for approximately 110 d. Erythrocyte labelling with 51Cr also had a further advantage over the Ashby method in addition to enabling the life-span of the patients’ erythrocytes to be assessed in the circulation by surface counting, to detect and measure the accumulation of radioactivity in the spleen and liver, and thereby assess the organs’ role in haemolysis

In the first decade of the twentieth century Widal et al (1908a) and Le Gendre & Brulea (1909) reported that autohaemoagglutination was a striking finding in some cases of icteare heamolytique acquis, and also Chauffard & Trosier (1908) and Chauffard & Vincent (1909) had described the presence of haemolysins in the serum of patients suffering from intense haemolysis. The conclusion was that abnormal immune processes, i.e. the development of auto-antibodies damaging the patients’ own erythrocytes, might play a part in the genesis of some cases of acquired haemolytic anaemia. This was indeed antedated by the classic observations of Donath & Landsteiner (1904) and Eason (1906) on the mechanism of haemolysis in paroxysmal cold haemoglobinuria.

That blood might auto-agglutinate when chilled had been described by Landsteiner (1903) and that an unusual degree of the phenomenon might complicate some types of respiratory disease was reported by Clough & Richter (1918) and later by Wheeler et al (1939). A few years later Peterson et al (1943) and Horstmann & Tatlock (1943) reported that cold auto-agglutinins at high titres were frequently found in the serum of patients who had suffered from the then so called primary atypical pneumonia.

Stats & Wasserman’s (1943) review on cold haemagglutination was a valuable contribution to contemporary knowledge. They listed in a table as many as 94 references to papers published between 1890 and 1943 in which cold haemagglutination had been described. In 32 of the papers the patients referred to had suffered from increased haemolysis

Recognition that cold auto-antibodies played an important role in the pathogenesis of some cases of haemolytic anaemia led to the concept that auto-immune haemolytic anaemia (AIMA) might usefully be classified into warm antibody or cold-antibody types, according to whether the patient is forming (warm) antibodies which react (perhaps optimally) at body temperature or (cold) antibodies which react strongly at low temperatures (e.g. 48C) but progressively less well as the temperature is raised and are perhaps inactive at 37oC. The clinical syndrome suffered by the patient would depend not only on the amount of antibody produced but also on its temperature requirement. Another important advance in understanding has been the realization that both types of AIHA could develop in association with a wide range of underlying disorders (secondary AIHA) as well as `idiopathically’, i.e. for no obvious cause (primary AIHA). The author’s own experience was summarized in a review (Dacie & Worlledge, 1969): 99 out of 210 cases of warm AIHA were judged to be secondary as were 39 out of 85 cases of cold AIHA. Petz & Garratty (1980), summarized the data from six centres: 55% out of a total of 656 cases had been reported as secondary. They listed the disorders with which warm antibody AIHA had been associated as chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, thymomas, multiple myeloma, Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinaemia, systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, infectious disease/ childhood viral disorders, hypogammaglobulinaemia, dysglobulinaemias, other immune deficiency syndromes, and ulcerative colitis.

Conley (1981), in an interesting review of warm-antibody AIHA patients seen at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, emphasized how important it was to carry out a careful enquiry into the patient’s past history and also to undertake a prolonged follow-up. He stated that a retrospective review of 33 patients whose illnesses in the past have been designated `idiopathic” had revealed an associated immunologically related disorder in 19 of them. An additional three patients had developed a lymphoma 2±10 years after they had developed AIHA. As already referred to, warm-antibody AIHA is now known to complicate a wide range of underlying diseases, particularly malignant lymphoproliferative disorders, other auto-immune disorders and immune deficiency syndromes. What proportion of patients suffering from a lymphoproliferative disorder develop AIHA is an interesting question. Duehrsen et al (1987) stated that this had occurred in 12 out of 637 patients. Early data on the incidence of a positive DAT in SLE were provided by Harvey et al (1954) – in six out of 34 patients tested the DAT had been positive. Later, Mongan et al (1967), who had studied a large number of patients suffering from a variety of connective tissue disorders, reported that the DAT had been positive in 15 out of 23 patients with SLE, none of whom, however, had suffered from overt haemolytic anaemia. It has also been realized since the 1960s that warm-antibody AIHA may develop in patients suffering from a variety of immune deficiency syndromes, both congenital and acquired.

It was in the mid-1960s that it was realized that, in a significant proportion of patients thought to have `idiopathic’ warm-antibody AIHA, the development of the causal auto-antibodies had been triggered in some way by a drug the patient was taking. The first drug implicated was the antihypertensive drug a-methyldopa (Aldomet) (Carstairs et al, 1966a,b). Following the finding that treating hypertensive patients with a-methyldopa led to the formation of anti-erythrocyte auto-antibodies in a significant percentage of patients, renewed interest was taken in the possibility that other drugs might have the same effect. Two main hypotheses have been advanced in relation to how certain drugs in some patients appear to have caused the development of anti-erythrocyte auto-antibodies. One hypothesis was that the drug or its metabolites act on the immune system so as to impair immune tolerance; the other was that the drug affects antigens at the erythrocyte surface in such a way that a normally active immune system responds by developing anti-erythrocyte antibodies. Clearly, too, the patient’s individuality must be an important factor, for only a proportion of patients receiving the same dosage of the offending drug for the same period of time develop a positive DAT and only a small percentage develop overt AIHA.

An interesting development in the history of the immune haemolytic anaemias was the realization in the mid-1950s that, rather rarely, haemolysis was brought about by the patient developing antibodies that were directed against a drug the patient had been taking and that the erythrocytes were in some way secondarily involved. The first drug to be implicated was Fuadin (stibophen), which had been used to treat a patient with schistosomiasis (Harris, 1954, 1956). The patient’s serum contained an antibody that agglutinated his own or normal erythrocytes and/or sensitized them to agglutination by antiglobulin sera; however, this occurred only in the presence of the drug.

In the late 1940s, several accounts of patients with AIHA who had persistently low platelet counts were published, e.g. Fisher (1947) and Evans & Duane (1949); and it was suggested that the patients might have been forming autoantibodies directed against platelets. This concept was further developed by Evans et al (1951). Eight out of their 18 patients with AIHA were thrombocytopenic; four had clinically obvious purpura. Evans et al (1951) suggested that there exists `a spectrum-like relationship between acquired haemolytic anaemia and thrombocytopenic purpura’; also that `on the one hand, acquired haemolytic anaemia with sensitization of the red cells is often accompanied with thrombocytopenia, while, on the other hand, primary thrombocytopenic purpura is frequently accompanied with red cell sensitization with or without haemolytic anaemia’. Many further case reports of AIHA accompanied by severe thrombocytopenia have since been published

There are two features in the blood film of a patient with an acquired haemolytic anaemia which indicate that he or she is suffering from AIHA; one is auto-agglutination, the other is erythrophagocytosis. Spherocytosis, although often present to a marked degree, is of course found in other types of haemolytic anaemia.

The pioneer French observations on auto-agglutination already referred to were generally overlooked until the late 1930s, and serological studies seem seldom to have been undertaken until the publication of Dameshek & Schwartz’s (1938b) report in which they described the presence of `haemolysins’ in cases of acute apparently acquired haemolytic anaemia. Dameshek & Schwartz (1940) summarized contemporary knowledge in an extensive review. They concluded that it was not improbable that haemolysins of various types and `dosages’ were in fact responsible for many cases of human haemolytic anaemias, including congenital haemolytic anaemia, which they suggested might be caused by the `more or less continued action of an haemolysin’.

Six years were to pass before the concept that an abnormal immune mechanism played a decisive role in some cases of acquired haemolytic anaemia was clearly demonstrated by Boorman et al (1946), who reported that the erythrocytes of five patients with acquired acholuric jaundice had been agglutinated by an antiglobulin serum, i.e. that the newly described antiglobulin reaction or Coombs test (Coombs et al, 1945) was positive, while the test had been negative in 28 patients suffering from congenital acholuric jaundice. This work aroused great interest and was soon confirmed.

Until the 1950s, the auto-antibodies responsible for AIHA were generally concluded to be `non-specific’. According to Wiener et al (1953), `Red cell auto-antibodies react not only with the individual’s own red cells but also with the erythrocytes of all other human beings. The substances on the red blood cell envelope with which the auto-antibodies combine are agglutinogens like the ABO, MN and RhHr systems, except that, in the former case, the blood factors with which the auto-antibodies react are not type specific but are shared by all human beings.’ They suggested that the auto-antibodies might be directed to the `nucleus of the RhHr substance’. Earlier work had, however, indicated that the sensitivity of normal group-compatible erythrocytes to a patient’s auto-antibody might vary considerably (Denys & van den Broucke, 1947; Kuhns & Wagley, 1949). That auto-antibodies might have a clearly defined Rh specificity, e.g. anti-e, was described by Race & Sanger (1954) in the second edition of their book. Referring to Wiener et al (1953), they wrote: `This beautifully clear investigation made the present authors realize that a curious result obtained by one of them (Ruth Sanger) in 1953 in Australia had after all been true; the serum of a man who had died of a haemolytic anaemia 3000 miles away contained anti-e; his cells were clearly CDe-cde’. A similar finding, i.e. an auto-anti-e, was described by Weiner et al (1953).

A further development in the unravelling of a complicated story was the realization that some of the antibodies which appeared to be specific were reacting with more basic antigens, although showing a preference for specific antigens, i.e. some specific auto-antibodies appeared to be less specific than their allo-antibody counterparts. Moreover, some antibodies, reacting with specific antigens, have been shown to be partially or completely absorbable by antigen negative cells.

Many apparently `non-specific’ antidl antibodies have been shown to be not strictly `nonspecific’ but to react with antigens of very high frequency, e.g. to be anti-Wrb, anti-Ena, anti-LW or anti-U. Issitt et al (1980)) listed six additional very common antigens that had been identified as targets for anti-dl auto-antibodies, i.e. Hr, Hro, Rh34, Rh29, Kpb and K13.

In relation to human acquired haemolytic anaemia, the discovery in the late 1940s and 1950s that many cases were apparently brought about by the development of damaging anti-erythrocyte antibodies led to intense interest and speculation into the why and how of auto-antibody formation. Of seminal importance at the time were the experiments and theoretical arguments of Burnet (Burnet & Fenner, 1949; Burnet, 1957, 1959, 1972) and the studies on transplantation immunity of Medawar (Billingham et al, 1953; Medawar, 1961). Of particular interest, too, was the report by Bielschowsky et al (1959) of the occurrence of AIHA in an inbred strain of mice – the NZB/BL strain. Remarkably, by the time the mice were 9-months-old the DAT was positive in almost every mouse. Burnet (1963) referred to the gift of the mice to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne as `the finest gift the Institute has ever received’.

Exactly how is it that auto-antibodies reacting with an erythrocyte surface antigen result in the cell’s premature destruction? The possible role of auto-agglutination in bringing about haemolysis was emphasized by Castle and colleagues as the result of a series of studies carried out in the 1940s and 1950s. As summarized by Castle et al (1950), an antibody which appears to be incapable of causing `lysis in vitro might bring about the following sequence of events in vivo. (1) Red cell agglutination in the peripheral blood; (2) red cell sequestration and separation from plasma in tissue capillaries; (3) ischaemic injury of tissue cells with release of substances that increase the osmotic and mechanical fragilities of red cells locally; (4) local osmotic lysis of red cells or subsequent escape of mechanically fragile red cells into the blood stream where the traumatic motion of the circulation causes their destruction’.

We can expect, as the years pass, that more and more will be known as to the intricate mechanisms that bring about self-tolerance and the mechanisms underlying the occurrence of auto-immune disorders in general, including the role of infectious agents, drugs and genetic factors. Patients with immune haemolytic anaemias can be expected to benefit from the new knowledge; for in parallel with a better understanding as to how immune self-tolerance breaks down will hopefully be the development of more effective drugs and therapies aimed at controlling the breakdown.

The Immune Haemolytic Anaemias: A Century of Exciting Progress in Understanding.  Sir John Dacie, Emeritus Professor of Haematology.
Brit J Haem 2001; 114: 770-785.

A History of Pernicious Anaemia

This is a review of the ideas and observations that have led to our current understanding of pernicious anaemia (PA). PA is a megaloblastic anaemia (MA) due to atrophy of the mucosa of the body of the stomach which, in turn, is brought about by autoimmune factors.

A case report by Osler & Gardner (1877) in Montreal could be that of PA. This anaemic patient had numbness of the fingers, hands and forearms; the red blood cells were large; at autopsy the gastric mucosa appeared atrophic and the marrow had large numbers of erythroblasts with finely granular nuclei. The increased marrow cellularity had also been noted by Cohnheim (1876).

Ehrlich (1880) (Fig 1) distinguished between cells he termed megaloblasts present in the blood in PA from normoblasts present in anaemia as a result of blood loss. Not only were large red blood cells noted in PA, but irregular red cells, ? poikilocytes, were reported in wet blood preparations by Quincke (1877). Megaloblasts in the marrow during life were first noted by Zadek (1921). Hypersegmented neutrophils in peripheral blood in PA were described by Naegeli (1923) and came to be widely recognized after Cooke’s study (Cooke, 1927). The giant metamyelocytes in the marrow were described by Tempka & Braun (1932).

Paul Ehrlich

Paul Ehrlich

Fig 1. Paul Ehrlich (Wellcome Institute Library, London).

The association between PA and spinal cord lesions was described by Lichtheim (1887) and a full account was published by Russell et al (1900), who coined the term `subacute combined degeneration of the spinal cord’ (SCDC) although they were not convinced of its relation to PA. Arthur Hurst at Guy’s Hospital, London, confirmed the association of the neuropathy with PA and added, too, the association of loss of hydrochloric acid in the gastric juice (Hurst & Bell, 1922). Cabot (1908) found that numbness and tingling of the extremities were present in almost all of his 1200 patients and 10% had ataxia. William Hunter (1901) noted the prevalence of a sore tongue in PA, which was present in 40% of Cabot’s series.

In 1934, the Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology was awarded to Whipple, Minot and Murphy. Was there ever an award more deserved? They saved the lives of their patients and pointed the way forward for further research. What was there in liver that was lacking in patients with PA? The effect of liver in restoring the anaemia in Whipple’s iron-deficient dogs was by supplying iron which is  abundant in liver.

Liver given by mouth also provides Cbl and folic acid. But patients with PA cannot absorb Cbl, although some 1% of an oral dose can cross the intestinal mucosa by passive diffusion; this, presumably, is what happened when large amounts of liver were eaten. Beef liver contains about 110 mg of Cbl per 100 g and about 140 mg of folate per 100 g. Cbl is stable and generally resistant to heat; folate is labile unless preserved with reducing agents. The daily requirement of Cbl by man is l-2 mg. The liver diet, if consumed, had enough of these haematinics to provide a response in most MAs.

George Richard Minot

George Richard Minot

George Richard Minot (Wellcome Institute Library, London).

The availability of liver extracts brought about interest in the nature of the haematological response. An optimal response required a peak rise of reticulocytes 5±7 d after the injection of liver extract and the height of the peak was greatest in those with severe anaemia; the flood of reticulocytes was as a result of a synchronous maturation of a vast number of megaloblasts into red cells. There is a steady rise in the red cell count to reach 3 x 1012/l in the 3rd week (Minot & Castle, 1935). Many liver extracts did not have enough antianaemic factor to achieve this and some assayed by the author had only 1-2 mg of Cbl.  It took another 22 years for a pure antianaemic factor to be isolated, although, admittedly, the Second World War intervened; in 1948, an American group led by Karl Folkers and an English group led by E. Lester-Smith published, within weeks of each other, the isolation of a red crystalline substance termed vitamin B12 and subsequently renamed cobalamin.

The structure of this red crystalline compound was studied by the nature of its degradation products and by X-ray crystallography. It soon became apparent that there was a cobalt atom at the heart of the structure and this heavy atom was of great aid to the crystallographers, so much so that, with additional information from the chemists, they were the first to come up with the complete structure. To quote Dorothy Hodgkin: `To be able to write down a chemical structure very largely from purely crystallographic evidence on the arrangement of atoms in space – and the chemical structure of a quite formidably large molecule at that – is for any crystallographer, something of a dream-like situation’. As Lester-Smith (1965) pointed out, it also required some 10 million calculations. In 1964, Dorothy Hodgkin was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry.

Barker et al (1958) published an account of the metabolism of glutamate by a Clostridium. The glutamate underwent an isomerization and an orange-coloured co-enzyme was involved that turned out to be Cbl with a deoxyadenosyl group attached to the cobalt.

This Cbl co-enzyme, deoxyadenosylCbl, is the major form of Cbl in tissues; it is also extremely sensitive to light, being changed rapidly to hydroxoCbl. DeoxyadenosylCbl is concerned with the metabolism of methylmalonic acid in man (Flavin & Ochoa, 1957). The other functional form of Cbl is methylCbl involved in conversion of homocysteine to methionine (Sakami & Welch, 1950). Both these pathways are impaired in PA in relapse.

Cbl consists of a ring of four pyrrole units very similar to that present in haem. These, however, have the cobalt atom in the centre instead of iron and the ring is called the corrin nucleus. The cobalamins have a further structure, a base, termed benzimidazole, set at right angles to the corrin nucleus and this may have a link to the cobalt atom (base on position).

By the time Cbl had been isolated from liver it was already known that it was also present in fermentation flasks growing bacteria such as streptomyces species. Other organisms gave higher yields so that kilogram quantities of pure Cbl were obtained; these sources have replaced liver in the production of Cbl. By adding radioactive form of cobalt to the fermentation flasks instead of ordinary cobalt, labelled Cbl became available (Chaiet et al, 1950). The importance of labelled Cbl is that it made it possible to carry out Cbl absorption tests in patients, to design isotope dilution assays for serum Cbl, to design ways of assaying intrinsic factor (IF), to detect antibodies to IF and even to measure glomerular filtratration rate, as free Cbl is excreted by the glomerulus without any reabsorption by the renal tubules.

William Castle at the Thorndike Memorial Laboratory, Boston City Hospital, devised experiments to explore the relationship between gastric juice, the anti-anaemic factor that Castle assumed, correctly, was also present in beef, and the response in PA. The question Castle asked was `Was it possible that the stomach of the normal person could derive something from ordinary food that for him was equivalent to eating liver?’.

The experiment in untreated patients with PA consisted of two consecutive periods of 10 d or more during which daily reticulocyte counts were made. During the first period of 10 d, the PA patient received 200 g of lean beef muscle (steak) each day. There was no reticulocyte response. During the second period, the contents of the stomach of a healthy man were recovered 1 h after the ingestion of 300 g of steak; about 100 g could not be recovered. The gastric contents were incubated for a few hours until liquefied and then given to the PA patient through a tube. This was done daily. On day 6 there was a rise in reticulocytes reaching a peak on day 10, followed by a rise in the red cell count. The response was similar to that obtained with large amounts of oral liver.

Thus, Castle concluded that a reaction was taking place between an unknown intrinsic factor (IF) in the gastric juice and an unknown extrinsic factor in beef muscle. Whereas Minot & Murphy (1926) found that 200-300 g of liver daily was needed to get a response in PA, 10 g liver was adequate when incubated with 10-20 ml normal gastric juice (Reiman & Fritsch, 1934). Castle’s extrinsic factor is the same as the anti-anaemic factor that is Cbl, and IF is needed for its absorption. Presumably the gastric juice in PA lacks IF.

The elegant studies of Hoedemaeker et al (1964) in Holland using autoradiography of frozen sections of human stomach incubated with [57Co]-Cbl showed that IF was produced in the gastric parietal cell. The binding of Cbl to

the parietal cell was abolished by first incubating the section with a serum containing antibodies to IF. The parietal cell in man is thus the source of both hydrochloric acid and IF. The parietal cell is the only source of IF in man as a total gastrectomy is invariably followed by a MA due to Cbl deficiency. IF is a glycoprotein with a molecular weight of 45 000.

Assay of protein fractions of serum after electrophoresis showed that endogenous Cbl is in the position of α-1 globulin. Chromatography of serum after addition of [57Co]-Cbl on Sephadex G-200 showed that Cbl was attached to two proteins, one eluting before the albumin termed transcobalamin I (TCI) and the other after the albumin termed transcobalamin II (TCII). Charles Hall showed that, when labelled Cbl given by mouth is absorbed, it first appears in the position of TCII and later in the position of TCI as well (Hall and Finkler, l965). They concluded that TCII is the prime Cbl transport protein carrying Cbl from the gut into the blood and then to the liver from where it is redistributed by both new TCII as well as TCI. Congenital absence of a functional TCII causes a severe MA in the first few months of life owing to an inability to transport Cbl. Most of the Cbl in serum is on TCI because it has a relatively long half-life of 9±10 d, whereas the half-life of TCII is about 1.5 h. Thus, in assaying the serum Cbl level, it is mainly TCI-Cbl that is being assayed.

With the availability of labelled Cbl, Cbl absorption tests began to be widely used in the 1950s. The commonest method was the urinary excretion test described by Schilling (1953). Here, an oral dose of radioactive Cbl is followed by an injection of 1000 mg of cyano-Cbl. The free cyano-Cbl is largely excreted into the urine over the next 24 h and carries with it about one third of the absorbed labelled Cbl.

Parietal cell antibodies (Taylor et al, 1962) are present in serum in 76-93% of different series of PAs and in the serum of 36% of the relatives of PA patients. The antibody is present in sera from 32% of patients with myxoedema, 28% of patients with Graves’ disease, 20% of relatives of thyroid patients and 23% of patients with Addison’s disease. Parietal cell antibodies are found in between 2-16% of controls, the high 16% figure being in elderly women. There is a higher frequency of PA in women, the female to male ratio being 1.7 to 1.0. The parietal cell antibody is probably important in the production of gastric atrophy. Thyroid antibodies are present in sera from 55% of PAs, in sera from 50% of PA relatives, in 87% of sera from myxoedema patients, in 53% of sera in Graves’ disease and in 46% of relatives of patients with thyroid disease.

There is a high frequency of PA among those disorders that have antibodies against the target organ. Thus, among 286 patients with myxoedema, 9.0% also had PA (Chanarin, 1979), as compared with a frequency of PA of about 1 per 1000 (0.01%) in the general population. Of 102 consecutive patients with vitiligo,
eight also had PA.

Patients with acquired hypogammaglobulinaemia are unable to make humoral antibodies; nevertheless, one third have PA as well. This cannot be as a result of action of IF antibodies and must be because of specific cell-mediated immunity. Tai & McGuigan (1969) demonstrated lymphocyte transformation in the presence of IF in six out of 16 PA patients and Chanarin & James (1974) found 10 out of 51 tests were positive.

Twenty-five patients with PA were tested for the presence of humoral IF antibody in serum and gastric juice and for cell-mediated immunity against IF. All but one gave positive results in one or more tests. It was concluded that these findings establish the autoimmune nature of PA and that the immunity is not merely an interesting byproduct.

Patients with PA treated with steroids show a reversal of the abnormal findings characterizing the disease. If they are still megaloblastic, the anaemia will respond in the first instance (Doig et al, 1957), but in the longer term Cbl neuropathy may be precipitated. The absorption of Cbl improves and may become `normal’ (Frost & Goldwein, 1958). There is a return of IF in the gastric juice (Kristensen and Friis, 1960) and a decline in the amount of IF antibody in serum (Taylor, 1959). In some patients there is return of acid in the gastric juice. Gastric biopsy shows a return of parietal and chief cells (Ardeman & Chanarin, 1965b; Jeffries, 1965). All this is as a result of suppression of cell-mediated immunity against the parietal cell and against IF. Withdrawal of steroids leads to a slow return to the status quo.

The author has dipped freely into the two volumes by the late M. M. Wintrobe. These are: Wintrobe, M.M. (1985) Hematology, the Blossoming of a Science. Lea & Febinge

A History of Pernicious Anaemia
I. Chanarin, Richmond, Surrey
Brit J Haem 111: 407-415
History of Folic Acid

1928 Lucy Wills studied macrocytic anaemia in pregnancy in Bombay, India

1932 Janet Vaughn studied macrocytic anemia associated with coeliac disease and idiopathic steatorrhea (1932) showed a response to marmite

1941 Folic acid extracted from spinach and is a growth factor for S. Faecalis

1941 pteroylglutamic acid synthesized at Amer Cyanamide – Pteridine ring, paraminobenzoic acid, glutamine –  PGA differed from natural compound in some respects

1945 PGA resolved the macrocytic anemia, but not the neuropathy

1979 Stokstad and associates at Berkeley obtained the first purified mammalian enzymes involved in synthesis

Folate antagonists inhibit tumor growth (Hitchings and Elion)(Nobel)

  • Misincorporation of uracil instead of thymine into DNA

Sidney Farber introduced Aminopterine and also Methotrexate for treatment of childhood lymphoblastic leukemia

  • MTX inhibits DHFR enzyme (dihydrofolate reductase) necessary for THF

Wellcome introduces trimethoprim (antibacterial), and also pyramethoprime (antimalarial)

Homocysteine isolated by Du Vineaud, but it was not noticed

Finkelstein and Mudd demonstrated the importance of remethylation for tHy and worked out the transsulfuration pathway

  1. Function of methyl THF is remethylation of homocysteine
  2. Synthesized by MTHFR
Metabolism of folate

Metabolism of folate

Metabolism of folate

Allosterically regulated by S-adenosyl methionine (Stokstad)

MTHF also inhibits glycine methyl transferase controlling excess SAM – transmethylation

JD Finkelstein

JD Finkelstein

James D Finkelstein

  • Homocysteinuria – mental retardation, skeletal malformation, thromboembolic disease; deficiency of cystathionine synthase (controls trans-sulfuration)
  • NTDs – pregnancy
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia and VD

AD Hoffbrand and DG Weir
Brit J Haem 2001; 113: 579-589

The History of Haemophilia in the Royal Families of Europe Queen Victoria.

On 17 July 1998 a historic ceremony of mourning and commemoration took place in the ancestral church of the Peter and Paul Fortress in St Petersburg. President Boris Yeltsin, in a dramatic eleventh-hour change of heart, decided to represent his country when the bones of the last emperor, Tsar Nicholas II, and his family were laid to rest 80 years to the day after their assassination in Yekaterinberg (Binyon, 1998). He described it as ‘ironic that the Orthodox Church, for so long the bedrock of the people’s faith, should find it difficult to give this blessing the country had expected’. ‘I have studied the results of DNA testing carried out in England and abroad and am convinced that the remains are those of the Tsar and his family’ (The Times, 1998a). Unfortunately, politicians and the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church had argued about what to do with the bones previously stored in plastic bags in a provincial city mortuary. Politics, ecclesiastical intrigue, secular ambition, and emotions had fuelled the debate. Yeltsin and the Church wanted to honour a man many consider to be a saint, but many of the older generation are opposed to the rehabilitation of a family which symbolizes the old autocracy.

Our story starts, almost inevitably, with Queen Victoria of England who had nine children by Albert, Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Victoria was certainly an obligate carrier for haemophilia as over 20 individuals subsequently inherited the condition (Figs 1 and 2). Princess Alice (1843–78) was Victoria’s third child and second daughter. Having married the Duke of Hesse at an early age, Alice went on to have seven children, one of whom, Frederick (‘Frittie’) was a haemophiliac who died at the age of 3 following a fall from a window.

Prince Leopold with Sir William Jenner at Balmoral in 1877

Prince Leopold with Sir William Jenner at Balmoral in 1877

Prince Leopold with Sir William Jenner at Balmoral in 1877. (Hulton Deutsch Collection Ltd.)

Alexandra was the sixth child and was only 6 years old when her mother and youngest sister died. ‘Sunny’, as she became known, was a favourite of Queen Victoria, who as far as possible directed her upbringing from across the channel: Alexandra (Alix) was forced to eat her baked apples and rice pudding with the same regularity as her English cousins. Alix visited her older sister Elizabeth (Ella) on her marriage to Grand Duke Serge and met Tsarevich Nicholas for the first time: she was 12 and not impressed. Five years later they met again and Alix fell in love, but by now she had been confirmed in the Lutheran Church and religion became the solemn core of her life.

Victoria had other aspirations for Alix. She hoped that she would marry her grandson Albert Victor (The Duke of Clarence) and the eldest son of the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII). The Duke was an unimpressive young man who was somewhat deaf and had limited intellectual abilities. If this arrangement had proceeded then Alix’s haemophilia carrier status would have been introduced into the British Royal Family and the possibility of a British monarch with haemophilia might have become a reality; however, the Duke died in 1892.

Nicholas and Alexandra. Alix and Nicholas were married in 1894 one week after the death of Nicholas’s father (Alexander III). In the same way that Victoria, with her personal aspirations of a marriage between Alix and the Duke of Clarence, had not considered the possibility of haemophilia, neither did the St Petersburg hierarchy consider a marriage to Nicholas undesirable. Haemophilia was already well recognized in Victoria’s descendants. Her youngest son, Leopold, had already died, as had Frittie her grandson. The inheritance of haemophilia had been known for some time since its description by John Conrad Otto (Otto, 1803). However, it was as late as 1913 before the first royal marriage was declined because of the risk of haemophilia, when the Queen of Rumania decided against an association between her son, Crown Prince Ferdinand, and Olga, the eldest daughter of Nicholas and Alexandra. The Queen of Rumania was herself a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and therefore a potential haemophilia carrier!

Alix was received into the Russian Orthodox Church, taking the name of Alexandra Fedorova. The first duty of a Tsarina was to maintain the dynasty and produce a male heir, but between 1895 and 1901 Alix produced four princesses, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia. Failure to produce a son made Alix increasingly neurotic and she had at least one false pregnancy. However, in early 1904 she was definitely pregnant.

For a month or so all seemed well with little Alexis, but it was then noticed that the Tsarevitch was bleeding excessively from the umbilicus (a relatively uncommon feature of haemophilia). At first the diagnosis was not admitted by the parents, but eventually the truth had to be faced although even then only by the doctors and immediate family. Alix was grief stricken: ‘she hardly knew a day’s happiness after she realized her boy’s fate’. As a newly diagnosed haemophilia carrier she dwelt morbidly on the fact that she had transmitted the disease. These feelings are well known to some haemophiliac mothers but the situation was different in Russia in the early twentieth century. The people regarded any defect as divine intervention. The Tsar, as head of the Church and leader of the people, must be free of any physical defect, so the Tsarevich’s haemophilia was concealed. The family retreated into greater isolation and were increasingly dominated by the young heir’s affliction (Fig 3).

Up to a third of haemophiliac males do not have a family history of the condition. This is usually thought to be the result of a relatively high mutation rate occurring in either affected males or female carriers. None of Queen Victoria’s ancestors, for many generations, showed any evidence of haemophilia. Victoria was therefore either a victim of a mutation, or the Duke of Kent was not her father.The mutation is unlikely to have been in her mother, Victoire, who had a son and daughter by her first marriage, and there is no sign of haemophilia in their numerous descendants.

Victoire was under considerable pressure to produce an heir. The year before Victoria was born, Princess Charlotte, the only close heir to the throne, had died and the Duke of Kent had somewhat reluctantly agreed to marry Victoire with the aim of producing an heir. The postulate that the Queen’s gardener had a limp has not been substantiated!

The Duke of Kent had no evidence of haemophilia (he was 51 when Victoria was born) but did inherit another condition from his father (George III): porphyria. While a young man in Gibralter he suffered bilious attacks which were recognized as being similar to his father’s complaint.

Had Queen Victoria carried the gene for porphyria we might expect that she would have at least as many descendants with this condition as had haemophilia. Until recently only two possible cases of porphyria have been suggested amongst Victoria’s descendants: Kaiser Wilhelm’s sister and niece (MacAlpine & Hunter, 1969), but they could have inherited it from their Hohenzollern ancestor, Frederick the Great. A recent television programme (Secret History, 1998) claims to have identified two more cases in Victoria’s descendants, Princess Victoria, the Queen’s eldest daughter, and Prince William of Gloucester, nephew of George V. If these two cases are correct then they would tend to confirm that Victoria was indeed the daughter of the Duke of Kent, but the apparent lack of more cases in Victoria’s extended family is difficult to understand. The gene for acute intermittent porphyria has been isolated on chromosome 11. There is still plenty of scope for further genetic analysis on the European Royal Families!

We can only speculate as to the impact on European events over the last 150 years if the marriages within the Royal houses had been different. What is evident is the dramatic effect of haemophilia on the Royal Princes and their families.

Empress Alexandra at the Tsarevich’s bedside during a haemophiliac crisis

Empress Alexandra at the Tsarevich’s bedside during a haemophiliac crisis

Empress Alexandra at the Tsarevich’s bedside during a haemophiliac crisis in 1912. (Radio Times Hulton Picture Library.)

Richard F. Stevens
Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital
Brit J Haem 1999, 105, 25–32

`The longer you can look back ± the further you can look forward’: Winston Churchill in an address to The Royal College of Physicians, London 1944. At the time that Churchill was speaking in 1944, leukaemia was a fatal disease that had been identified 100 years before. The disease was described as the dreaded leukaemias, sinister and poorly understood.

Thomas Hodgkin chose a career in medicine and enrolled as a pupil at Guy’s Hospital in London. Being a Quaker, however, he could not enter the English universities of Oxford and Cambridge and decided to follow the medical courses at Edinburgh. At that times, Aristotelian and Hippocratic medicine were greatly influencing British physicians. Hodgkin, still a medical student, wrote a paper `On the Uses of the Spleen’ where he reported his beliefs on the purposes of the spleen: to regulate fluid volume, clean impurities from the body, supply expandability to the portal system. The subject was a presage of the disease that bears his name.

Hodgkin interrupted his studies at Edinburgh to spend a year in Paris where he met many people who had a great influence in his life and future activities. Among them, were Laennec (Hodgkin played an important role in bringing the stethoscope to Great Britain); Baron von Humboldt who introduced Hodgkin to the field of anthropology; Baron Cuvier, a distinguished anatomist and palaeontologist; and Thomas A. Bowditch, whose expeditions to Africa had a great impact on Hodgkin’s future activities.

In 1825, Thomas Hodgkin returned to London to join the staff at Guy’s Hospital, and in 1826 he was made `Inspector of the Dead’ and `Curator of the Museum of Morbid Anatomy’. In developing the museum he had accumulated, by 1829, over 1600 specimens demonstrating the effects of disease. The correlation of clinical disease to pathological material was quite new: from analyses of pathological specimens Hodgkin was able to describe appendicitis with perforation and peritonitis, the local spread of cancer to draining lymph nodes, noting that the tumour had similar characteristics at both sides, and features of other diseases.

In his historic paper `On Some Morbid Appearances of the Absorbent Glands and Spleen’ (Hodgkin, 1832), he briefly described the clinical histories and gross postmortem findings on six patients from the experience at Guy’s Hospital and included another case sent to him in a detailed drawing by his friend Carswell (Fig 2). In the very first paragraph he wrote: `The morbid alterations of structure which I am about to describe are probably familiar to many practical morbid anatomists, since they can scarcely have failed to have fallen under their observation in the course of cadaveric inspection’. Hodgkin’s studies had convinced him that he was dealing with a primary disease of the absorbent (lymphatic) glands. `This enlargement of the glands appeared to be a primitive affection of those bodies, rather than the result of an irritation propagated to them from some ulcerated surface or other inflamed texture – Unless the word inflammation be allowed to have a more indefinite and loose eaning, this affection – can hardly be attributed to that cause’ was stated on pages 85 and 86 of his 1832 paper. Hodgkin also mentioned that the first reference that he could find to this or similar disease was in fact by Malpighi in 1666.

Wilks (1865) described the disease in detail and, made aware by Bright that the first observations were done by Hodgkin, linked his name permanently to this new entity in a paper entitled `Cases of Enlargement of the Lymphatic Glands and Spleen (or Hodgkin’s Disease) with Remarks’ (Fig 3).

In 1837 Thomas Hodgkin was the outstanding candidate for the position of Assistant Physician at Guy’s Hospital in succession to Thomas Addison who had been promoted to Physician. After 10 years spent as Inspector of the Dead, he had published a great deal, including a two-volume work entitled The Morbid Anatomy of Serous and Mucous Membrane.

Hodgkin, acting in his other capacity, had sent Benjamin Harrison a report on the terrible consequences to native Indians of monopoly trading and on the inhuman treatment they received from officials of the Hudson Bay Company, of which Harrison was the financier. when the opportunity to appoint an Assistant Physician occurred, Harrison exercised an autocratic rule over the hospital and presided at the appointment made by the General Court. Thomas Hodgkin did not get the job and the next day he resigned all his appointments at Guy’s Hospital. Social medicine, medical problems associated with poverty, antislavery, concern for underpriviledged groups such as American Indians and Africans, as well as a strong sense of responsibility defined his life after this separation.

Sternberg (1898) and Reed (1902) are generally credited with the first definitive and thorough descriptions of the histopathology of Hodgkin’s disease. Based on the findings observed in her case series, Dorothy Reed concluded `We believe then, from the descriptions in the literature and the findings in 8 cases examined, that Hodgkin’s disease has a peculiar and typical histological picture and could thus rightly be considered a histopathological disease entity’.

During the successive decades, pathologists began to describe a broader spectrum of histological features. However, it was Jackson and Parker who, in scientific papers and in their well-known book Hodgkin’s Disease and Allied Disorders (Jackson & Parker, 1947), presented the first serious effort at a histopathological classification. They assigned the name `Hodgkin’s granuloma’ to the main body of typical cases. A much more malignant variant, usually characterized by a great abundance of pleomorphic and anaplastic Reed-Sternberg cells and seen in a relativelysmall number of cases was named `Hodgkin’s sarcoma’. A third, similarly infrequent, variant characterized by an extremely slow clinical evolution, a relative paucity of Reed-Sternberg cells and a great abundance of lymphocytes was termed `Hodgkin’s paragranuloma’. It was only approximately 20 years later that Lukes & Butler (1966) reported a characteristic subtype of the heterogeneous `granuloma’ category, to which they assigned the name `nodular sclerosis’. They also proposed a new histopathological classification, still in use to date, with an appreciably greater prognostic relevance and usefulness than the

previous Jackson-Parker classification.

The first human bone marrow transfusion was given to a patient with aplastic anemia in 1939.9 This patient received daily blood transfusions, and an attempt to raise her leukocyte and platelet counts was made using intravenous injection of bone marrow. After World War II and the use of the atomic bomb, researchers tried to find ways to restore the bone marrow function in aplasia caused by radiation exposure. In the 1950s, it was proven in a mouse model that marrow aplasia secondary to radiation can be overcome by syngeneic marrow graft.10 In 1956, Barnes and colleagues published their experiment on two groups of mice with acute leukemia: both groups were irradiated as anti-leukemic therapy and both were salvaged from marrow aplasia by bone marrow transplantation.

The topics of leukemias and lymphomas will not be discussed further in  this discussion.

The related references are:

Leukaemia – A Brief Historical Review from Ancient Times to 1950
British Journal of Haematology, 2001, 112, 282-292

The Story of Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia
British Journal of Haematology, 2000, 110, 2-11

Historical Review of Lymphomas
British Journal of Haematology 2000, 109, 466-476

Historical Review of Hodgkin’s Disease
British Journal of Haematology, 2000, 110, 504-511

Multiple Myeloma: an Odyssey of Discovery
British Journal of Haematology, 2000, 111, 1035-1044

The History of Blood Transfusion
British Journal of Haematology, 2000, 110, 758-767

Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation—50 Years of Evolution and Future Perspectives. Henig I, Zuckerman T.
Rambam Maimonides Med J 2014;5 (4):e0028.

Landmarks in the history of blood transfusion.

1666 Richard Lower (Oxford) conducts experiments involving transfusion of blood from one animal to another

1667 Jean Denis (Paris) transfuses blood from animals to humans

1818 James Blundell (London) is credited with being the first person to transfuse blood from one human to another

1901 Karl Landsteiner (Vienna) discovers ABO blood groups. Awarded Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1930

1908 Alexis Carrel (New York) develops a surgical technique for transfusion, involving anastomosis of vein in the recipient with artery in the donor. Awarded Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1912

1915 Richard Lewinsohn (New York) develops 0.2% sodium citrate as anticoagulant

1921 The first blood donor service in the world was established in London by Percy Oliver

1937 Blood bank established in a Chicago hospital by Bernard Fantus

1940 Landsteiner and Wiener (New York) identify Rhesus antigens in man

1940 Edwin Cohn (Boston) develops a method for fractionation of plasma proteins. The following year, albumin produced by this method was used for the first time to treat victims of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour

1945 Antiglobulin test devised by Coombs (Cambridge), which also facilitated identification of several other antigenic systems such as Kell (Coombs et al, 1946), Duffy (Cutbush et al, 1950) and Kidd (Cutbush et al, 1950)

1948 National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) established in the UK

1951 Edwin Cohn (Boston) and colleagues develop the first blood cell separator

1964 Judith Pool (Palo Alto, California) develops cryoprecipitate for the treatment of haemophilia

1966 Cyril Clarke (Liverpool) reports the use of anti-Rh antibody to prevent haemolytic disease of the newborn

Read Full Post »

Mapping the Universe of Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence: The Model developed by LPBI and the Model of Best Practices LLC

Mapping the Universe of Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence: The Model developed by LPBI and the Model of Best Practices LLC


Author and Curator of Model A: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Reporter on Model B: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


This article provides the e-Reader with a MAP for navigation through two different Business Models that Co-exist in the EcoSystem of an industry called Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence.

Model A: is represented by Six Ventures of Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence (LPBI), based in Boston, Philadelphia, CT, CA and Israel

Model B: is represented by Best Practices, LLC, headquartered in Chapel Hill, NC, with Offices in NYC and in Mumbai, India.


We concluded that the two models are viable, represent fast growth, the models and non-competing and are in full complementarity, thus, expanding the domain and the practice of the industrial sector, aka, Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence.



Model A:

Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence (LPBI),

Boston, Philadelphia, CT, CA and Israel 

Team members


Our Growth Needs: Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence


 Our Business Portfolio


e-Publishing: Medicine, HealthCare, Life Sciences, BioMed, Pharmaceutical

  • Open Access Online Scientific Journal

http://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com Site statistics https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.wordpress.com/wp-admin/index.php?page=stats

  • Scoop.it!.com

  1. http://www.scoop.it/t/cardiotoxicity
  2. http://www.scoop.it/t/cardiovascular-and-vascular-imaging
  3. http://www.scoop.it/t/cardiovascular-disease-pharmaco-therapy


1. BioMedical e-Books e-Series: Cardiovascular, Genomics, Cancer, BioMed, Patient Centered Medicine


2. on Amazon’s Kindle e-Books List since 6/2013

3. Plans for Volume 1,2,3 – Hardcover


International Scientific Delegations


  • Shanghai, May 2015
  • Barcelona, Spain, November 2015
  • Amsterdam, May 2016
  • Geneva, November 2016



Funding, Deals & Partnerships




IP Invented HERE!

1.  Development of a NEW Nitric Oxide monitor to Alpha Szenszor Inc. sensor portfolio. A concept for a low cost POC e-nose, capable of real time ppb detection of Cancer The Cancer Team at Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence under the leadership of Dr. Williams

2.  Development of a NEW Nitric Oxide monitor to Alpha Szenszor Inc. sensor portfolio. A concept for Inhaled Nitric Oxide for the Adult HomeCare Market – IP by Dr. Pearlman and Dr. A. Lev-Ari

a.  iknow iNO is i-kNOw – Inhaled Nitric Oxide for the HomeCare Markethttps://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/10/16/iknow-ino-is-i-know-inhaled-nitric-oxide-for-the-homecare-market/

b. electronic Book on Nitric Oxide by Nitric Oxide Team @ Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence (LPBI)

Perspectives on Nitric Oxide in Disease Mechanisms


c. The rationale and use of inhaled NO in Pulmonary Artery Hypertension and Right Sided Heart Failure Larry H. Bernstein 8/20/2012

d. Inhaled Nitric Oxide in Adults: Clinical Trials and Meta Analysis Studies – Recent Findings

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN, 6/2/2013

e. Clinical Indications for Use of Inhaled Nitric Oxide (iNO) in the Adult Patient Market: Clinical Outcomes after Use, Therapy Demand and Cost of Care

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN, 6/3/2013

3.  Cancer Genomics for NEW product development in diagnosis and treatment of Cancer Patients using sensory technology with applications for Radiation Therapy –The Cancer Team at Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence under leadership of TBA

4.  Developing Mitral Valve Disease: MRI Methods and Devices for Percutaneous Mitral Valve Replacement and Mitral Valve Repair Augmentation of Patented Technology using RF – Dr. Pearlman’s IP Non-Hardware Mitral Annuloplasty – Dr. Justin D. Pearlman


5.  Novel Technology using MRI for Vascular Lesions, Tumors, Hyperactive Glands and non-Surgical Cosmetic Reconstruction – Dr. Pearlman’s IP




PRESS Coverage of Conferences


Model B:

Best Practices, LLC, Chapel Hill, NC, Mumbai, India, Branch in New York


Best Practices, LLC
6350 Quadrangle Drive, Suite 200,
Chapel HillNC 27517

+1 919-403-0251




Read Full Post »

Imaging-guided cancer treatment

Imaging-guided cancer treatment

Writer & reporter: Dror Nir, PhD

It is estimated that the medical imaging market will exceed $30 billion in 2014 (FierceMedicalImaging). To put this amount in perspective; the global pharmaceutical market size for the same year is expected to be ~$1 trillion (IMS) while the global health care spending as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will average 10.5% globally in 2014 (Deloitte); it will reach ~$3 trillion in the USA.

Recent technology-advances, mainly miniaturization and improvement in electronic-processing components is driving increased introduction of innovative medical-imaging devices into critical nodes of major-diseases’ management pathways. Consequently, in contrast to it’s very small contribution to global health costs, medical imaging bears outstanding potential to reduce the future growth in spending on major segments in this market mainly: Drugs development and regulation (e.g. companion diagnostics and imaging surrogate markers); Disease management (e.g. non-invasive diagnosis, guided treatment and non-invasive follow-ups); and Monitoring aging-population (e.g. Imaging-based domestic sensors).

In; The Role of Medical Imaging in Personalized Medicine I discussed in length the role medical imaging assumes in drugs development.  Integrating imaging into drug development processes, specifically at the early stages of drug discovery, as well as for monitoring drug delivery and the response of targeted processes to the therapy is a growing trend. A nice (and short) review highlighting the processes, opportunities, and challenges of medical imaging in new drug development is: Medical imaging in new drug clinical development.

The following is dedicated to the role of imaging in guiding treatment.

Precise treatment is a major pillar of modern medicine. An important aspect to enable accurate administration of treatment is complementing the accurate identification of the organ location that needs to be treated with a system and methods that ensure application of treatment only, or mainly to, that location. Imaging is off-course, a major component in such composite systems. Amongst the available solution, functional-imaging modalities are gaining traction. Specifically, molecular imaging (e.g. PET, MRS) allows the visual representation, characterization, and quantification of biological processes at the cellular and subcellular levels within intact living organisms. In oncology, it can be used to depict the abnormal molecules as well as the aberrant interactions of altered molecules on which cancers depend. Being able to detect such fundamental finger-prints of cancer is key to improved matching between drugs-based treatment and disease. Moreover, imaging-based quantified monitoring of changes in tumor metabolism and its microenvironment could provide real-time non-invasive tool to predict the evolution and progression of primary tumors, as well as the development of tumor metastases.

A recent review-paper: Image-guided interventional therapy for cancer with radiotherapeutic nanoparticles nicely illustrates the role of imaging in treatment guidance through a comprehensive discussion of; Image-guided radiotherapeutic using intravenous nanoparticles for the delivery of localized radiation to solid cancer tumors.

 Graphical abstract


One of the major limitations of current cancer therapy is the inability to deliver tumoricidal agents throughout the entire tumor mass using traditional intravenous administration. Nanoparticles carrying beta-emitting therapeutic radionuclides [DN: radioactive isotops that emits electrons as part of the decay process a list of β-emitting radionuclides used in radiotherapeutic nanoparticle preparation is given in table1 of this paper.) that are delivered using advanced image-guidance have significant potential to improve solid tumor therapy. The use of image-guidance in combination with nanoparticle carriers can improve the delivery of localized radiation to tumors. Nanoparticles labeled with certain beta-emitting radionuclides are intrinsically theranostic agents that can provide information regarding distribution and regional dosimetry within the tumor and the body. Image-guided thermal therapy results in increased uptake of intravenous nanoparticles within tumors, improving therapy. In addition, nanoparticles are ideal carriers for direct intratumoral infusion of beta-emitting radionuclides by convection enhanced delivery, permitting the delivery of localized therapeutic radiation without the requirement of the radionuclide exiting from the nanoparticle. With this approach, very high doses of radiation can be delivered to solid tumors while sparing normal organs. Recent technological developments in image-guidance, convection enhanced delivery and newly developed nanoparticles carrying beta-emitting radionuclides will be reviewed. Examples will be shown describing how this new approach has promise for the treatment of brain, head and neck, and other types of solid tumors.

The challenges this review discusses

  • intravenously administered drugs are inhibited in their intratumoral penetration by high interstitial pressures which prevent diffusion of drugs from the blood circulation into the tumor tissue [1–5].
  • relatively rapid clearance of intravenously administered drugs from the blood circulation by kidneys and liver.
  • drugs that do reach the solid tumor by diffusion are inhomogeneously distributed at the micro-scale – This cannot be overcome by simply administering larger systemic doses as toxicity to normal organs is generally the dose limiting factor.
  • even nanoparticulate drugs have poor penetration from the vascular compartment into the tumor and the nanoparticles that do penetrate are most often heterogeneously distributed

How imaging could mitigate the above mentioned challenges

  • The inclusion of an imaging probe during drug development can aid in determining the clearance kinetics and tissue distribution of the drug non-invasively. Such probe can also be used to determine the likelihood of the drug reaching the tumor and to what extent.

Note: Drugs that have increased accumulation within the targeted site are likely to be more effective as compared with others. In that respect, Nanoparticle-based drugs have an additional advantage over free drugs with their potential to be multifunctional carriers capable of carrying both therapeutic and diagnostic imaging probes (theranostic) in the same nanocarrier. These multifunctional nanoparticles can serve as theranostic agents and facilitate personalized treatment planning.

  • Imaging can also be used for localization of the tumor to improve the placement of a catheter or external device within tumors to cause cell death through thermal ablation or oxidative stress secondary to reactive oxygen species.

See the example of Vintfolide in The Role of Medical Imaging in Personalized Medicine


Note: Image guided thermal ablation methods include radiofrequency (RF) ablation, microwave ablation or high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU). Photodynamic therapy methods using external light devices to activate photosensitizing agents can also be used to treat superficial tumors or deeper tumors when used with endoscopic catheters.

  • Quality control during and post treatment

For example: The use of high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) combined with nanoparticle therapeutics: HIFU is applied to improve drug delivery and to trigger drug release from nanoparticles. Gas-bubbles are playing the role of the drug’s nano-carrier. These are used both to increase the drug transport into the cell and as ultrasound-imaging contrast material. The ultrasound is also used for processes of drug-release and ablation.


Additional example; Multifunctional nanoparticles for tracking CED (convection enhanced delivery)  distribution within tumors: Nanoparticle that could serve as a carrier not only for the therapeutic radionuclides but simultaneously also for a therapeutic drug and 4 different types of imaging contrast agents including an MRI contrast agent, PET and SPECT nuclear diagnostic imaging agents and optical contrast agents as shown below. The ability to perform multiple types of imaging on the same nanoparticles will allow studies investigating the distribution and retention of nanoparticles initially in vivo using non-invasive imaging and later at the histological level using optical imaging.



Image-guided radiotherapeutic nanoparticles have significant potential for solid tumor cancer therapy. The current success of this therapy in animals is most likely due to the improved accumulation, retention and dispersion of nanoparticles within solid tumor following image-guided therapies as well as the micro-field of the β-particle which reduces the requirement of perfectly homogeneous tumor coverage. It is also possible that the intratumoral distribution of nanoparticles may benefit from their uptake by intratumoral macrophages although more research is required to determine the importance of this aspect of intratumoral radionuclide nanoparticle therapy. This new approach to cancer therapy is a fertile ground for many new technological developments as well as for new understandings in the basic biology of cancer therapy. The clinical success of this approach will depend on progress in many areas of interdisciplinary research including imaging technology, nanoparticle technology, computer and robot assisted image-guided application of therapies, radiation physics and oncology. Close collaboration of a wide variety of scientists and physicians including chemists, nanotechnologists, drug delivery experts, radiation physicists, robotics and software experts, toxicologists, surgeons, imaging physicians, and oncologists will best facilitate the implementation of this novel approach to the treatment of cancer in the clinical environment. Image-guided nanoparticle therapies including those with β-emission radionuclide nanoparticles have excellent promise to significantly impact clinical cancer therapy and advance the field of drug delivery.

Read Full Post »

A Future for Plasma Metabolomics in Cardiovascular Disease Assessment

Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP



Plasma metabolomics reveals a potential panel of biomarkers for early diagnosis
in acute coronary syndrome  

CM. Laborde, L Mourino-Alvarez, M Posada-Ayala,
G Alvarez-Llamas, MG Serranillos-Reus, et al.
Metabolomics – manuscript draft

In this study, analyses of peripheral plasma from Non-ST Segment Elevation
Acute Coronary Syndrome patients and healthy controls by gas chromatography-
mass spectrometry permitted the identification of 15 metabolites with statistical
differences (p<0.05) between experimental groups.
In our study, 6 amino acids were found decreased in NSTEACS patients when
compared with healthy control group suggesting either a decrease in anabolic
activity of these metabolites or an increase in the catabolic pathways. Of both
possibilities, the increased catabolism of the amino acids can be explained
considering simultaneously the capacity of glycogenic and ketogenic amino
acids along with the gradual hypoxic condition to which cardiac muscle cells
have been exposed.

Additionally, validation by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and liquid
chromatography-mass spectrometry permitted us to identify a potential panel
of biomarkers formed by 5-OH tryptophan, 2-OH-butyric acid and 3-OH-butyric
acid. Oxidative stress conditions dramatically increase the rate of hepatic
synthesis of glutathione. It is synthesized from the amino acids cysteine, glutamic
acid and glycine. Under these conditions of metabolic stress, the supply of cysteine
for glutathione synthesis become limiting and homocysteine is used to form
cystathionine, which is cleaved to cysteine and 2-OH-butyric acid. Thus elevated
plasma levels of 2-OH-butyric acid can be a good biomarker of cellular oxidative
stress for the early diagnosis of ACS.  Another altered metabolite of similar
structure was 3-OH-butyric acid, a ketone body together with the acetoacetate,
and acetone. Elevated levels of ketone bodies in blood and urine mainly occur
in diabetic ketoacidosis. Type 1 diabetes mellitus (DMI) patients have decreased
levels of insulin in the blood that prevent glucose enter cells so these cells use
the catabolism of fats as energy source that produce ketones as final products.
This panel of biomarkers reflects the oxidative stress and the hypoxic state that
disrupts the myocardial cells and consequently constitutes a metabolomic
signature that could be used for early diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome.
We hypothesize that the hypoxia situation comes to “mimic” the physiological
situation that occurs in DMI. In this case, the low energy yield of glucose
metabolism “forces” these cells to use fat as energy source (through catabolism
independent of aerobic/anaerobic conditions) occurring ketones as final
products. In our experiment, the 3-OH-butyric acid was strongly elevated in
NSTEACS patients.


Current Methods Used in the Protein Carbonyl Assay
Nicoleta Carmen Purdel, Denisa Margina and Mihaela Ilie.
Ann Res & Rev in Biol 2014; 4(12): 2015-2026.

The attack of reactive oxygen species on proteins and theformation of
protein carbonyls were investigated only in the recent years. Taking into
account that protein carbonyls may play an important role in the early
diagnosis of pathologies associated with reactive oxygen species
overproduction, a robust and reliable method to quantify the protein
carbonyls in complex biological samples is also required. Oxidative
stress represents the aggression produced at the molecular level by
the imbalance between pro-oxidant and antioxidant agents, in favor of
pro-oxidants, with severe functional consequences in all organs and
tissues. An overproduction of ROS results in oxidative damages
especially to proteins (the main target of ROS), as well as in lipids,or
DNA. Glycation and oxidative stress are closely linked, and both
phenomena are referred to as ‘‘glycoxidation’’. All steps of glycoxidation
generate oxygen-free radical production, some of them being common
with lipidic peroxidation pathways.
The initial glycation reaction is followed by a cascade of chemical
reactions resulting in the formation of intermediate products (Schiff base,
Amadori and Maillard products) and finally to a variety of derivatives
named advanced glycation end products (AGEs). In hyperglycemic
environments and in natural aging, AGEs are generated in increased
concentrations; their levels can be evaluated in plasma due to the fact
that they are fluorescent compounds. Specific biomarkers of oxidative
stress are currently investigated in order to evaluate the oxidative status
of a biological system and/or its regenerative power. Generaly, malondi-
aldehyde, 4-hydroxy-nonenal (known together as thiobarbituric acid
reactive substances – TBARS), 2-propenal and F2-isoprostanes are
investigated as markers of lipid peroxidation, while the measurement
of protein thiols, as well as S-glutathionylated protein are assessed
as markers of oxidative damage of proteins. In most cases, the
oxidative damage of the DNA has 8-hydroxy-2l-deoxyguanosine
(8-OHdG) as a marker.  The oxidative degradation of proteins plays an
important role in the early diagnosis of pathologies associated with
ROS overproduction. Oxidative modification of the protein structure
may take a variety of forms, including the nitration of tyrosine residues,
carbonylation, oxidation of methionine, or thiol groups, etc.

The carbonylation of protein represents the introduction of carbonyl
groups (aldehyde or ketone) in the protein structure, through several
mechanisms: by direct oxidation of the residues of lysine, arginine,
proline and threonine residues from the protein chain, by interaction
with lipid peroxidation products with aldehyde groups (such as 4-
hydroxy-2-nonenal, malondialdehyde, 2-propenal), or by the
interaction with the compounds with the carbonyl groups resulting
from the degradation of the lipid or glycoxidation. All of these
molecular changes occur under oxidative stress conditions.
There is a pattern of carbonylation, meaning that only certain
proteins can undergo this process and protein structure determines
the preferential sites of carbonylation. The most investigated
carbonyl derivates are represented by gamma-glutamic
semialdehyde (GGS) generated from the degradation of arginine
residue and α-aminoadipic semialdehyde (AAS) derived from lysine.

A number of studies have shown that the generation of protein
carbonyl groups is associated with normal cellular phenomena like
apoptosis, and cell differentiation and is dependent on age, species
and habits (eg. smoking) or severe conditions’ exposure (as
starvation or stress). The formation and accumulation of protein
carbonyls is increased in various human diseases, including –
diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Recently, Nystrom [7] suggested that the carbonylation process
is associated with the physiological and not to the chronological
age of the organism and the carbonylation may be one of the causes
of aging and cell senescence; therefore it can be used as the marker
of these processes. Jha and Rizvi, [15] proposed the quantification of
protein carbonyls in the erythrocyte membrane as a biomarker of aging

PanelomiX: A threshold-based algorithm to create panels of

X Robin, N Turck, A Hainard, N Tiberti, F Lisacek. 
T r a n s l a t i o n a l  P r o t e o m i c s   2 0 1 3; 1: 57–64.

The computational toolbox we present here – PanelomiX – uses
the iterative combination of biomarkers and thresholds (ICBT) method.
This method combines biomarkers andclinical scores by selecting
thresholds that provide optimal classification performance. Tospeed
up the calculation for a large number of biomarkers, PanelomiX selects
a subset ofthresholds and parameters based on the random forest method.
The panels’ robustness and performance are analysed by cross-validation
(CV) and receiver operating characteristic(ROC) analysis.

Using 8 biomarkers, we compared this method against classic
combination procedures inthe determination of outcome for 113 patients
with an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. The panel classified the
patients better than the best single biomarker (< 0.005) and compared
favourably with other off-the-shelf classification methods.

In conclusion, the PanelomiX toolbox combines biomarkers and evaluates
the performance of panels to classify patients better than single markers
or other classifiers. The ICBT algorithm proved to be an efficient classifier,
the results of which can easily be interpreted. 

Multiparametric diagnostics of cardiomyopathies by microRNA
CS. Siegismund, M Rohde, U Kühl,  D  Lassner.
Microchim Acta 2014 Mar.

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) represent a new group of stable biomarkers
that are detectable both in tissue and body fluids. Such miRNAs
may serve as cardiological biomarkers to characterize inflammatory
processes and to differentiate various forms of infection. The predictive
power of single miRNAs for diagnosis of complex diseases may be further
increased if several distinctly deregulated candidates are combined to
form a specific miRNA signature. Diagnostic systems that generate
disease related miRNA profiles are based on microarrays, bead-based
oligo sorbent assays, or on assays based on real-time polymerase
chain reactions and placed on microfluidic cards or nanowell plates.
Multiparametric diagnostic systems that can measure differentially
expressed miRNAs may become the diagnostic tool of the future due
to their predictive value with respect to clinical course, therapeutic
decisions, and therapy monitoring.

Nutritional lipidomics: Molecular metabolism, analytics, and
JT. Smilowitz, AM. Zivkovic, Yu-Jui Y Wan, SM. Watkins, et al.
Mol. Nutr. Food Res2013, 00, 1–17.

The term lipidomics is quite new, first appearing in 2001. Its definition
is still being debated, from “the comprehensive analysis of all lipid
components in a biological sample” to “the full characterization of
lipid molecular species and their biological roles with respect to the
genes that encode proteins that regulate lipid metabolism”. In principle,
lipidomics is a field taking advantage of the innovations in the separation
sciences and MS together with bioinformatics to characterize the lipid
compositions of biological samples (biofluids, cells, tissues, organisms)
compositionally and quantitatively.

Biochemical pathways of lipid metabolism remain incomplete and the
tools to map lipid compositional data to pathways are still being assembled.
Biology itself is dauntingly complex and simply separating biological
structures remains a key challenge to lipidomics. Nonetheless, the
strategy of combining tandem analytical methods to perform the sensitive,
high-throughput, quantitative, and comprehensive analysis of lipid
metabolites of very large numbers of molecules is poised to drive
the field forward rapidly. Among the next steps for nutrition to understand
the changes in structures, compositions, and function of lipid biomolecules
in response to diet is to describe their distribution within discrete functional
compartments lipoproteins. Additionally, lipidomics must tackle the task
of assigning the functions of lipids as signaling molecules, nutrient sensors,
and intermediates of metabolic pathways.

Read Full Post »

Genomics, Proteomics and standards

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator

http://pharmaceuticalintelligence/7/6/2014/Genomics, Proteomics and standards

This article is a look at where the biomedical research sciences are in developing standards for development in the near term.


Let’s Not Wait for the FDA: Raising the Standards of Biomarker Development – A New Series

published by Theral Timpson on Tue, 07/01/2014 – 15:03

We talk a lot on this show about the potential of personalized medicine. Never before have we learned at such breakneck speed just how our bodies function. The pace of biological research staggers the mind and hints at a time when we will “crack the code” of the system that is homo sapiens, going from picking the low hanging fruit to a more rational approach. The high tech world has put at the fingertips of biologists just the tools to do it. There is plenty of compute, plenty of storage available to untangle, or decipher the human body. Yet still, we talk of potential.

Chat with anyone heavily involved in the life science industry–be it diagnostics or pharma– and you’ll quickly hear that we must have better biomarkers.

Next week we launch a series, Let’s Not Wait for the FDA: Raising the Standards of Biomarker Development, where we will pursue the “hotspots” that are haunting those in the field.

The National Biomarker Development Alliance (NBDA) is a non profit organization based at Arizona State University and led by the formidable Anna Barker, former deputy director of the NCI. The aim of the NBDA is to identify problem areas in biomarker development–from the biospecimen and sampling issues to experiment design to bioinformatics challenges–and raise the standards in each area. This series of interviews is based on their approach. We will purse each of these topics with a special guest.

The place to start is with samples. The majority of researchers who are working on biomarker assays don’t give much thought to the “story” of their samples. Yet the quality of their research will never exceed the quality of the samples with which they start–a very scary thought according toCarolyn Compton, a former pathologist, now professor of pathology at ASU and Johns Hopkins. Carolyn worked originally as a clinical pathologist and knows first hand the the issues around sample degradation. She left the clinic when she was recruited to the NCI with the mission of bringing more awareness to the issue of bio specimens. She joins us as our first guest in the series.

That Carolyn has straddled the world of the clinic and the world of research is key to her message. And it’s key to this series. As we see an increased push to “translate” research into clinical applications, we find that these two worlds do not work enough together.

Researchers spend a lot of time analyzing data and developing causal relationships from certain biological molecules to a disease. But how often do these researchers consider how the history of a sample might be altering their data?

“Garbage in, garbage out,” says Carolyn, who links low quality samples with the abysmal non-reproducable rate of most published research.

Two of our guests in the series have worked on the adaptive iSpy breast cancer trials. These are innovative clinical trials that have been designed to “adapt” to the specific biology of those in the trial. Using the latest advances in genetics, the iSPY trials aim to match experimental drugs with the molecular makeup of tumors most likely to respond to them. And the trials are testing multiple drugs at once.

Don Berry is known for bringing statistics to clinical trials. He designed the iSpy trials and joins us to explain how these new trials work and of the promise of the adaptive design.

Laura Esserman is the director of the breast cancer center at UCSC and has been heavily involved in the implementation of the iSpy trials. Esserman is concerned that “if we keep doing conventional clinical trials, people are going to give up on doing them.” An MBA as well as an MD, Esserman brings what she learned about innovation in the high-tech industry to treatment for breast cancer.

From there we turn to the topic of “systems biology” where we will chat with George Poste, a tour de force when it comes to considering all of the various aspects of biology. Anyone who has ever been present for one of George’s presentations has no doubt come away scratching your head wondering if we’ll ever really glimpse the whole system that is a human being. If there is one brain that has seen all the rooms and hallways of our complex system, it’s George Poste.

We’ll finish the series by interviewing David Haussler from UCSC of Genome Browser fame. Recently Haussler has worked extensively on an NCI project, The Cancer Genome Atlas, to bring together data sets and connect cancer researchers around the world. What is the promise and pitfalls David sees with the latest bioinformatics tools?

George Poste says that in the literature we have identified 150,000 biomarkers that have causal linkage to disease. Yet only 100 of these have been commercialized and are used in the clinic. Why is the number so low? We hope to come up with some answers in this series.



Why Hasn’t Clinical Genetics Taken Off? (part 2)

published by Sultan Meghji on Fri, 06/20/2014 – 14:49


In my previous post, I made the broad comment that education of the patient and front line doctors was the single largest barrier to entry for clinical genetics. Here I look at the steps in the scientific process and where the biggest opportunities lie:

The Sequencing (still)

PCR is a perfectly reasonable technology for sequencing in the research lab today, but the current configuration of technologies need to change. We need to move away from an expert level skill set and a complicated chemistry process in the lab to a disposable, consumer friendly set of technologies. I’m not convinced PCR is the right technology for that and would love to see nanopore be a serious contender, but lack of funding for a broad spectrum of both physics-only as well as physical-electrical startups have slowed the progress of these technologies. And waiting in the wings, other technologies are spinning up in research labs around the world. Price is no longer a serious problem in the space – reliable, repeatable, easy to use sequencing technologies are. The complexity of the current technology (both in terms of sample preparation and machine operation) is a big hurdle.

The Analysis (compute)

Over the last few years, quite a bit of commentary and effort has been put into making the case that the compute is a significant challenge (including more than a few comments by yours truly in that vein!). Today, it can be said with total confidence that compute is NOT a problem. Compute has been commoditized. Through excellent new software to advanced platforms and new hardware, it is a trivial exercise to do the analysis and costs tiny amounts of money ($<25 per sample on a cloud provider appears to be the going rate for a clinical exome in terms of platform & infrastructure cost). Integration with the sequencer and downstream medical middleware is the biggest opportunity.

The Analysis (value)

The bigger challenge on the analysis is the specific things being analyzed as mapped to the needs of the patient. We are still in a world where the vast majority of the sequencing work is being done in support of a specific patient with a specific disease. There isn’t even broad consensus yet in the scientific community about the basics of the pipeline (see my blog posthere for an attempt at capturing what I’m seeing in the market). A movement away from the recent trend in studying specific indications (esp. cancer) is called for. Broadening the sample population will allow us to pick simpler, clearer and easier pipelines which will then make them more adoptable. It would be a massive benefit to the world if the scientific, medical and regulatory communities would get together and start creating, in a crowdsourced manner, a small number of databases that are specifically useful to healthy people. Targeting things like nutrition, athletics, metabolism, and other normal aspects of daily life. A dataset that could, when any one person’s DNA is references, would find something useful. Including the regulators is key so that we can begin to move away from the old fashioned model of clearances that still permeate the industry.

The Regulators

Beyond the broader issues around education I referenced in my previous post, there is a massive upgrade in the regulation infrastructure that is needed. We still live in a world of fax machines, overnight shipping of paper documents and personal relationships all being more important than the quality of the science you as an innovator are bringing to bear.

Consider the recent massive growth in wearables, fitness trackers and other instrumentation local to the human body. Why must we treat clinical genetics simply as a diagnostic and not, as it should be, as a fundamental set of quantitative data about your body that you can leverage in a myriad of ways. Direct to consumer (DTC) genetics companies, most notably 23andme, have approached this problem poorly – instead of making it valuable to the average consumer, what they’ve done is attempted to straddle the line between medical and not. The Fitbit model has shown very clearly that lifestyle activities can be directly harnessed to build commercial value in scaling health related activities without becoming a regulatory issue. It’s time for genetics to do the same thing.



Development and Role of the Human Reference Sequence in Personal Genomics

Posted by @finchtalk on July 3, 2014

discovery in a digital world




A few weeks back, we published a review about the development and role of the human reference genome. A key point of the reference genome is that it is not a single sequence. Instead it is an assembly of consensus sequences that are designed to deal with variation in the human population and uncertainty in the data. The reference is a map and like a geographical maps evolves though increased understanding over time.

From the Wiley On Line site:


Genome maps, like geographical maps, need to be interpreted carefully. Although maps are essential to exploration and navigation they cannot be completely accurate. Humans have been mapping the world for several millennia, but genomes have been mapped and explored for just a single century with the greatest advancements in making a sequence reference map of the human genome possible in the past 30 years. After the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequence of the human genome was completed in 2003, the reference sequence underwent several improvements and today provides the underlying comparative resource for a multitude genetic assays and biochemical measurements. However, the ability to simplify genetic analysis through a single comprehensive map remains an elusive goal.

Key Concepts:

  • Maps are incomplete and contain errors.
  • DNA sequence data are interpreted through biochemical experiments or comparisons to other DNA sequences.
  • A reference genome sequence is a map that provides the essential coordinate system for annotating the functional regions of the genome and comparing differences between individuals’ genomes.
  • The reference genome sequence is always product of understanding at a set point in time and continues to evolve.
  • DNA sequences evolve through duplication and mutation and, as a result, contain many repeated sequences of different sizes, which complicates data analysis.
  • DNA sequence variation happens on large and small scales with respect to the lengths of the DNA differences to include single base changes, insertions, deletions, duplications and rearrangements.
  • DNA sequences within the human population undergo continual change and vary highly between individuals.
  • The current reference genome sequence is a collection of sequences, an assembly, that include sequences assembled into chromosomes, sequences that are part of structurally complex regions that cannot be assembled, patches (fixes) that cannot be included in the primary sequence, and high variability sequences that are organised into alternate loci.
  • Genetic analysis is error prone and the data require validation because the methods for collecting DNA sequences create artifacts and the reference sequence used for comparative analyses is incomplete.

Keywords:DNA sequencing


Read Full Post »


Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


View VIDEO for this Symposium, link provided following the Symposium Agenda

Mind and Memory: Biological and Digital

with the 2014 Dan David Prize Laureates in the Present and Future Time Dimensions


Prof. John A. Hardy, Prof. Peter St. George-Hyslop,

Prof. Brenda Milner and

Prof. Marvin Minsky

The symposium will take place on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 8:30 a.m.

The Miriam and Adolfo Smolarz Auditorium, Tel Aviv University



Prof. Uri Ashery

Sagol School of Neuroscience

Tel Aviv University

Prof. Nachum Dershowitz

The Blavatnik School of Computer Science

Tel Aviv University

8:30 Gathering

9:00 Greetings

Prof. Yoav Henis

Vice President, Research and Development

Tel Aviv University

HE Mr. Matthew Gould

The British Ambassador to Israel

9:15 Prof. John A. Hardy

University College London, UK

“Whole Genome Analysis and the Pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease”

9:55 Prof. Peter St. George-Hyslop

University of Toronto, Canada

University of Cambridge, UK

“Biochemical Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease”

10:35 Prof. Danny Michaelson

Sagol School of Neuroscience

and Department of Neurobiology

Tel Aviv University

“Translational Alzheimer’s Disease Research at Tel Aviv University”

10:50 Coffee Break

11:30 Prof. Brenda Milner

McGill University, Canada

“Temporal Lobes and Memory: Looking Back and Looking Forward”

12:10 Dr. Segev Barak

The School of Psychological Sciences

and Sagol School of Neuroscience

Tel Aviv University

“Preventing Relapse in Alcoholism by Memory Erasure:

Neurobiological Mechanisms of Memory Plasticity”

12:25 Lunch Break and Poster Viewing

14:15 Prof. Yael Hanein

School of Electrical Engineering

and Sagol School of Neuroscience

Tel Aviv University

“How Many Neurons Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?”

14:30 Prof. Lior Wolf

The Blavatnik School of Computer Science

Tel Aviv University

“DeepFace: Closing the Gap to Human-Level Performance in Face Verification”

14:45 Prof. Nathan Intrator

The Blavatnik School of Computer Science

and Sagol School of Neuroscience

Tel Aviv University

“Brain Inspired Computation in the 21st Century”

15:00 Prof. Marvin Minsky

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

“Future Theories of Mind”

15:40 Concluding Remarks




Read Full Post »

Immunity and Host Defense – A Bibliography of Research @Technion

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN




Antigen-Dependent Integration of Opposing Proximal TCR-Signaling Cascades Determines the Functional Fate of T Lymphocytes


Shai Shen-Orr, PhD
Authors : Wolchinsky R, Hod-Marco M, Oved K, Shen-Orr SS, Bendall SC, Nolan GP, Reiter Y.
J Immunol. 2014 Mar 1;192(5):2109-19.
Identification of functionally important conserved trans-membrane residues of bacterial P(IB) -type ATPases


Oded Lewinson, PhD
Authors : Zhitnitsky D, Lewinson O.
Mol Microbiol. 2013 Dec 19. doi: 10.1111/mmi.12495. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 24350798.
Variability in the immune system: of vaccine responses and immune states


Shai Shen-Orr, PhD
Authors : Shen-Orr SS, Furman D.
Curr Opin Immunol. 2013 Aug;25(4):542-7.
Computational deconvolution: extracting cell type-specific information from heterogeneous samples.


Shai Shen-Orr, PhD
Authors : Shen-Orr SS, Gaujoux R.
Curr Opin Immunol. 2013 Oct 19. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 24148234.
Challenges and promise for the development of human immune monitoring.


Shai Shen-Orr, PhD
Authors : Shen-Orr S.
Rambam Maimonides Med J. 2012 Oct 31;3(4):e0023.
Homeostatic regulation of aging and rejuvenation in the B lineage cells


Doron Melamed, PhD
Authors : Melamed D.
Crit Rev Immunol. 2013;33(1):41-56.
Variability in the immune system: of vaccine responses and immune states


Shai Shen-Orr, PhD
Authors : Shen-Orr S, Furman D.
Curr Opin Immunol. 2013 Aug 13. doi:pii: S0952-7915(13)00113-1.
A single intact ATPase site of the ABC transporter BtuCD drives 5% transport activity yet supports full in-vivo vitamin B12 utilization.


Oded Lewinson, PhD
Authors : Tal N, Ovcharenko E, Lewinson O.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. (March 19 Epub ahead of print)
Apoptosis and other immune biomarkers predict influenza vaccine responsiveness.


Shai Shen-Orr, PhD
Authors : Furman D, Jojic V, Kidd B, Shen-Orr S, Price J, Jarrell J, Tse T, Huang H, Lund P, Maecker HT, Utz PJ, Dekker CL, Koller D, Davis MM.
Molecular Systems Biology. 9, 659
The dual roles of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in the regulation of autoimmune diseases and their clinical implications.


Nathan Karin, PhD
Authors : Shachar, I., and N. Karin.
J Leukoc Biol 93:51-61.
Two molybdate/tungstate ABC transporters that interact very differently with their substrate binding proteins.


Oded Lewinson, PhD
Authors : Vigonsky, Ovcharenko E, Lewinson O.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. (March 19 Epub ahead of print)
Dissecting the Autocrine and Paracrine Roles of the CCR2-CCL2 Axis in Tumor Survival and Angiogenesis.


Nathan Karin, PhD
Authors : Izhak, L., G. Wildbaum, S. Jung, A. Stein, Y. Shaked, and N. Karin.
PloS one 7:e28305
Dose-related effects of hyperoxia on the lung inflammatory response in septic rats


Nitza Lahat, PhD
Authors : Waisman D, Brod V, Rahat MA, Amit-Cohen BC, Lahat N, Rimar D, Menn-Josephy H, David M, Lavon O, Cavari Y, Bitterman H.
Shock. 2012 Jan;37(1):95-102.
Robust and sensitive analysis of xMap bead arrays using SAxCyB.


Shai Shen-Orr, PhD
Authors : Won JH, Goldberger O, Shen-Orr SS, David MM, Olshen RA.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 109, 2848-53.
The Entamoeba histolytica methylated LINE-binding protein EhMLBP provides protection against heat shock


Serge Ankri, PhD
Authors : Katz S, Kushnir O, Tovy A, Siman Tov R, Ankri S.
Cell Microbiol. 2012 Jan;14(1):58-70
Hypoxia increases membranal and secreted HLA-DR in endothelial cells, rendering them T-cell activators.


Nitza Lahat, PhD
Authors : Lahat N, Bitterman H, Weiss-Cerem L, Rahat MA.
Transpl Int. 2011 Oct;24(10):1018-26.
The Entamoeba histolytica methylated LINE-binding protein EhMLBP provides protection against heat shock.


Serge Ankri, PhD
Authors : Katz S, Kushnir O, Tovy A, Siman Tov R, Ankri S.
Cell Microbiol. 2011 Sep 8. [Epub ahead of print]
Dose-Related Effects of Hyperoxia on the Lung Inflammatory Response in Septic Rats. Shoc


Nitza Lahat, PhD
Authors : Waisman D, Brod V, Rahat MA, Amit-Cohen BC, Lahat N, Rimar D, Menn-Josephy H, David M, Lavon O, Cavari Y, Bitterman H.
2011 Sep 3. [Epub ahead of print]
Glucose starvation boosts Entamoeba histolytica virulence.


Serge Ankri, PhD
Authors : Tovy A, Hertz R, Siman-Tov R, Syan S, Faust D, Guillen N, Ankri S.
PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2011 Aug;5(8):e1247.
The binding activity of Mel-18 at the Il17a promoter is regulated by the integrated signals of the TCR and polarizing cytokines.


Eur J Immunol. 2011 Aug;41(8):2424-35.
phosphorylation of SLP-76 at tyrosine 173 is required for activation of T and mast cells.


Deborah Yablonski, PhD
Authors : Sela M, Bogin Y, Beach D, Oellerich T, Lehne J, Smith-Garvin JE, Okumura M, Starosvetsky E, Kosoff R, Libman E, Koretzky G, Kambayashi T, Urlaub H, Wienands J, Chernoff J, Yablonski D. Sequential
EMBO J. 2011 Jul 1;30(15):3160-72.
The binding activity of Mel-18 at the Il17a promoter is regulated by the integrated signals of the TCR and polarizing cytokines.


Orly Avni, PhD
Authors : Hod-Dvorai R, Jacob E, Boyko Y, Avni O.
Eur J Immunol. 2011 Jun 15. [Epub ahead of print]
MMP expression in leaking filtering blebs and tears after glaucoma filtering surgery.


Nitza Lahat, PhD
Authors : Mathalone N, Marmor S, Rahat MA, Lahat N, Oron Y, Geyer O.
Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2011 Mar 31. [Epub ahead of print]
B cell depletion reactivates B lymphopoiesis in the BM and rejuvenates the B lineage in aging.


Doron Melamed, PhD
Authors : Keren Z, Naor S, Nussbaum S Golan K, Itkin T, Sasaki Y, Schmidt-Supprian M, Lapidot T, Melamed D.
Blood 117, 3104 – 3112.
Chronic B cell deficiency from birth prevents age-related alterations in the B lineage J.


Doron Melamed, PhD
Authors : Keren Z, Averbuch D, Shahaf G, Zisman-Rozen S, Golan K, Itkin T, Lapidot T, Mehr R, Melamed D.
Immunol 187, 2140 – 2147.
Epigenetics in the unicellular parasite Entamoeba histolytica.


Serge Ankri, PhD
Authors : Tovy A, Ankri S.
Future Microbiol. 2010 Dec;5:1875-84.
The MAPK/ERK and PI3K pathways additively coordinate the transcription of recombination-activating genes in B lineage cells


Orly Avni, PhD
Authors : Novak R, Jacob E, Haimovich J, Avni O, Melamed D.
J Immunol. 2010 Sep 15;185(6):3239-47
A fusion protein encoding the second extracellular domain of CCR5 arrests chemokine-induced cosignaling and effectively suppresses ongoing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis


Nathan Karin, PhD
Authors : Sapir Y, Vitenshtein A, Barsheshet Y, Zohar Y, Wildbaum G, Karin N.
J Immunol. 2010 Aug 15;185(4):2589-99.
Antigen-specific CD25- Foxp3- IFN-gamma(high) CD4+ T cells restrain the development of experimental allergic encephalomyelitis by suppressing Th17


Nathan Karin, PhD
Authors : Wildbaum G, Zohar Y, Karin N.
Am J Pathol. 2010 Jun; 176(6):2764-75.
Circulating interleukin-10: association with higher mortality in systolic heart failure patients with elevated tumor necrosis factor-alpha


Nitza Lahat, PhD
Authors : Amir O, Rogowski O, David M, Lahat N, Wolff R, Lewis BS.
Isr Med Assoc J. 2010 Mar;12(3):158-62.
In vitro tRNA Methylation Assay with the Entamoeba histolytica DNA and tRNA Methyltransferase Dnmt2 (Ehmeth) Enzyme


Serge Ankri, PhD
Authors : Tovy A, Hofmann B, Helm M, Ankri S.
J Vis Exp. 2010 Oct 19;(44). pii: 2390. doi: 10.3791/2390.
Circulating interleukin-10: association with higher mortality in systolic heart failure patients with elevated tumor necrosis factor-alpha


Nitza Lahat, PhD
Authors : Amir O, Rogowski O, David M, Lahat N, Wolff R, Lewis BS
Isr Med Assoc J. 2010 Mar;12(3):158-62
A distinct mechanism for the ABC transporter BtuCD-BtuF revealed by the dynamics of complex formation.


Oded Lewinson, PhD
Authors : Lewinson O, Lee AT, Locher KP, Rees DC.
Nat Struct Mol Biol. 17, 332-8.
Extracting Cell-Type-Specific Gene Expression Differences from Complex Tissues.


Shai Shen-Orr, PhD
Authors : Shen-Orr SS*, Tibshirani R*, Khatri P, Bodian DL, Staedtler F, Perry NM, Hastie T, Sarwal MM, Davis MM*, Butte AJ*.
Nature Methods 7, 287-9.
The MAPK/ERK and PI(3)K Pathways Additively Coordinate the Transcription of Recombination-Activating Genes in B Lineage Cells.


Doron Melamed, PhD
Authors : Novak R, Jacob E, Haimovich J, Avni O, Melamed D.
Immunol 185, 3239 – 3247.
Protein denitrosylation: enzymatic mechanisms and cellular functions


Moran Benhar, PhD
Authors : Benhar, M., Forrester, M.T., Stamler, J.S.
Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol. 10:721-32.
Psoriasis patients generate increased serum levels of autoantibodies to tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interferon-alpha


Nathan Karin, PhD
Authors : Bergman R, Ramon M, Wildbaum G, Avitan-Hersh E, Mayer E, Shemer A, Karin N.
J Dermatol Sci. 2009 Oct 1. Epub
The role of macrophage-derived IL-1 in induction and maintenance of angiogenesis


Nitza Lahat, PhD
Authors : Carmi Y, Voronov E, Dotan S, Lahat N, Rahat MA, Fogel M, Huszar M, White MR, Dinarello CA, Apte RN.
J Immunol. 2009 Oct 1;183(7):4705-14.
Insights into the mechanism of DNA recognition by the methylated LINE binding protein EhMLBP of Entamoeba histolytica


Serge Ankri, PhD
Authors : Lavi T, Siman-Tov R, Ankri S.
Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2009 Aug;166(2):117-25. Epub 2009 Mar 20.
A novel recombinant fusion protein encoding a 20-amino acid residue of the third extracellular (E3) domain of CCR2 neutralizes the biological activity of CCL2


Nathan Karin, PhD
Authors : Izhak L, Wildbaum G, Zohar Y, Anunu R, Klapper L, Elkeles A, Seagal J, Yefenof E, Ayalon-Soffer M, Karin N
J Immunol. 2009 Jul 1;183(1):732-9
Selective autoantibody production against CCL3‭ ‬is associated with human type 1‭ ‬diabetes mellitus and serves as a novel biomarker for its diagnosis


Nathan Karin, PhD
Authors : Shehadeh N‭, ‬Pollack S‭, ‬Wildbaum G‭, ‬Zohar Y‭, ‬Shafat I‭, ‬Makhoul R‭, ‬Daod E‭,‬
J Immunol‭. ‬2009‭ ‬Jun 15‭;‬182‭(‬12‭):‬8104-9
The effect of 100% oxygen on intestinal preservation and recovery following ischemia-reperfusion injury in rats


Nitza Lahat, PhD
Authors : Sukhotnik I, Brod V, Lurie M, Rahat MA, Shnizer S, Lahat N, Mogilner JG, Bitterman H.
Crit Care Med. 2009 Mar;37(3):1054-61.
Transcriptional regulation of GATA3 in T helper cells by the integrated activities of transcription factors downstream of the interleukin-4 receptor and T cell receptor


Orly Avni, PhD
Authors : Scheinman EJ, Avni O.
J Biol Chem. 2009 30;284(5):3037-48.
TOLL-like receptor ligands stimulate aberrant class switch recombination in early B cell precursors


Doron Melamed, PhD
Authors : Edry E, Azulay-Debby H, Melamed D.
Int Immunol. 2008 Dec;20(12):1575-85. Epub 2008 Oct 29.
EhMLBP is an essential constituent of the Entamoeba histolytica epigenetic machinery and a potential drug target


Serge Ankri, PhD
Authors : Lavi T, Siman-Tov R, Ankri S.
Mol Microbiol. 2008 Jul;69(1):55-66. Epub 2008 May 12
Hypoxia enhances lysosomal TNF-α degradation in mouse peritoneal macrophages


Nitza Lahat, PhD
Authors : Lahat, N., Rahat, M. A., Kinarty, A., Weiss-Cerem, L., Pinchevski, S., Bitterman, H.
Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 295, C2-12.
What do unicellular organisms teach us about DNA methylation?


Serge Ankri, PhD
Authors : Harony H
Trends Parasitol. 2008 May;24(5):205-9. Epub 2008 Apr 9. PMID: 18403268 [PubMed – in process]
Regulated protein denitrosylation by cytosolic and mitochondrial thioredoxins


Moran Benhar, PhD
Authors : Benhar, M., Forrester, M.T., Hess, D.T., Stamler, J.S.
Science 320:1050-4
Trichostatin A regulates peroxiredoxin expression and virulence of the parasite Entamoeba histolytica.


Serge Ankri, PhD
Authors : Isakov E, Siman-Tov R, Weber C, Guillen N
Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2008 Mar;158(1):82-94.
Progress and prospects of gene inactivation in Entamoeba histolytica.


Serge Ankri, PhD
Authors : Abed M
Exp Parasitol. 2008 Feb;118(2):151-5
Class switch recombination: a friend and a foe.


Doron Melamed, PhD
Authors : Edry E.
Clin Immunol. 2007 Jun;123(3):244-51.
Native and fragmented fibronectin oppositely modulate monocyte secretion of MMP-9


Nitza Lahat, PhD
Authors : Marom, B., Rahat, M. A., Lahat, N., Weiss-Cerem, L., Kinarty, A., Bitterman, H.
J Leukoc Biol 81, 1466-1476.
SLP-76 mediates and maintains activation of the Tec family kinase ITK via the T cell antigen receptor-induced association between SLP-76 and ITK.


Deborah Yablonski, PhD
Authors : Bogin Y, Ainey C, Beach D
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Apr 17;104(16):6638-43.
Dual role of SLP-76 in mediating T cell receptor-induced activation of phospholipase C-gamma1.


Deborah Yablonski, PhD
Authors : Beach D, Gonen R, Bogin Y, Reischl IG
J Biol Chem. 2007 Feb 2;282(5):2937-46. Epub 2006 Dec 4.
B cell receptor editing in tolerance and autoimmunity.


Doron Melamed, PhD
Authors : Azulay-Debby H.
Front Biosci. 2007 Jan 1;12:2136-47.
Genome-wide analysis of mRNA polysomal profiles with spotted DNA microarrays.


Doron Melamed, PhD
Authors : Arava Y.
Methods Enzymol. 2007;431:177-201
Coadministration of plasmid DNA constructs encoding an encephalitogenic determinant and IL-10 elicits regulatory T cell-mediated protective immunity in the central nervous system.


Nathan Karin, PhD
Authors : Schif-Zuck S, Wildbaum G, Karin N.
J Immunol. 2006 Dec 1;177(11):8241-7.
Sensing DNA methylation in the protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica.


Serge Ankri, PhD
Authors : Lavi T, Isakov E, Harony H, Fisher O, Siman-Tov R.
Mol Microbiol. 2006 Dec;62(5):1373-86.
Modulation of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) secretion in B lymphopoiesis.


Doron Melamed, PhD
Authors : Melamed D, Messika O, Glass-Marmor L, Miller A.
Int Immunol. 2006 Sep;18(9):1355-62.
A Pak- and Pix-dependent branch of the SDF-1alpha signalling pathway mediates T cell chemotaxis across restrictive barriers.


Deborah Yablonski, PhD
Authors : Volinsky N, Gantman A, Yablonski D.
Biochem J. 2006 Jul 1;397(1):213-22. PMID: 16515536 [PubMed – in process]
DNA methylation and targeting of LINE retrotransposons in Entamoeba histolytica and Entamoeba invadens.


Serge Ankri, PhD
Authors : Harony H, Bernes S, Siman-Tov R, Ankri S.
Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2006 May;147(1):55-63. Epub 2006 Feb 23. PMID: 16530279 [PubMed � in process]
Pleiotropic phenotype in Entamoeba histolytica overexpressing DNA methyltransferase (Ehmeth).


Serge Ankri, PhD
Authors : Fisher O, Siman-Tov R, Ankri S.
Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2006 May;147(1):48-54. Epub 2006 Feb 9. PMID: 16497397 [PubMed � in process]
Hypoxia reduces the output of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) in monocytes by inhibiting its secretion and elevating membranal association


Nitza Lahat, PhD
Authors : Rahat, M. A., Marom, B., Bitterman, H., Weiss-Cerem, L., Kinarty, A., Lahat, N.
J Leukoc Biol 79, 706-718.
Antisense inhibition of Entamoeba histolytica cysteine proteases inhibits colonic mucus degradation


Serge Ankri, PhD
Authors : Moncada D, Keller K, Ankri S, Mirelman D, Chadee K.
Gastroenterology. 2006 Mar;130(3):721-30. PMID: 16530514 [PubMed � indexed for MEDLINE]
Beneficial autoimmunity participates in the regulation of rheumatoid arthritis.


Nathan Karin, PhD
Authors : Zohar Y, Wildbaum G, Karin N.
Front Biosci. 2006 Jan 1;11:368-79. Review. PMID: 16146738 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
The RNA polymerase II subunit Rpb4p mediates decay of a specific class of mRNAs.


Doron Melamed, PhD
Authors : Lotan R, Bar-On VG, Harel-Sharvit L, Duek L, Melamed D, Choder M.
Genes Dev. 2005 Dec 15;19(24):3004-16. PMID: 16357218 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Single point mutations in the zinc finger motifs of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 nucleocapsid alter RNA binding specificities of the gag protein and enhance packaging and infectivity.


Doron Melamed, PhD
Authors : Mark-Danieli M, Laham N, Kenan-Eichler M, Castiel A, Melamed D, Landau M, Bouvier NM, Evans MJ, Bacharach E.
J Virol. 2005 Jun;79(12):7756-67. PMID: 15919928 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Molecular characterization of Entamoeba histolytica Rnase III and AGO2, two RNA interference hallmark proteins.


Serge Ankri, PhD
Authors : Abed M, Ankri S.
Exp Parasitol. 2005 Jul;110(3):265-9. Epub 2005 Apr 7. PMID: 15955322 [PubMed � indexed for MEDLINE]
Targeted overexpression of IL-18 binding protein at the central nervous system overrides flexibility in functional polarization of antigen-specific Th2 cells.


Nathan Karin, PhD
Authors : Schif-Zuck S, Westermann J, Netzer N, Zohar Y, Meiron M, Wildbaum G, Karin N.
Immunol. 2005 Apr 1;174(7):4307-15. PMID: 15778395 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
T cell receptor-induced activation of phospholipase C-gamma1 depends on a sequence-independent function of the P-I region of SLP-76.


Deborah Yablonski, PhD
Authors : Gonen R, Beach D, Ainey C, Yablonski D.
J Biol Chem. 2005 Mar 4;280(9):8364-70. Epub 2004 Dec 28. PMID: 15623534 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Naive, effector, and memory T lymphocytes efficiently scan dendritic cells in vivo: contact frequency in T cell zones of secondary lymphoid organs does not depend on LFA-1 expression and facilitates


Nathan Karin, PhD
Authors : Westermann J, Bode U, Sahle A, Speck U, Karin N, Bell EB, Kalies K, Gebert A.
J Immunol. 2005 Mar 1;174(5):2517-24. PMID: 15728457 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Antigen receptor signaling competence and the determination of B cell fate in B-lymphopoiesis.


Doron Melamed, PhD
Authors : Keren Z, Melamed D.
Histol Histopathol. 2005 Jan;20(1):187-96. Review. PMID: 15578437 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
CD19 regulates positive selection and maturation in B lymphopoiesis: lack of CD19 imposes developmental arrest of immature B cells and consequential stimulation of receptor editing.


Doron Melamed, PhD
Authors : Diamant E, Keren Z, Melamed D.
Blood ;105:3247-3254.
Entamoeba histolytica DNA methyltransferase (Ehmeth) is a nuclear matrix protein that binds EhMRS2, a DNA that includes a scaffold/matrix attachment region (S/MAR).


Serge Ankri, PhD
Authors : Banerjee S, Fisher O, Lohia A, Ankri S.
Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2005 Jan;139(1):91-7. PMID: 15610823 [PubMed � indexed for MEDLINE]
Epigenetic and classical activation of Entamoeba histolytica heat shock protein 100 (EHsp100) expression.


Serge Ankri, PhD
Authors : Bernes S, Siman-Tov R, Ankri S.
FEBS Lett;579:6395-6402.
T cell receptor-induced activation of phospholipase C-γ1 depends on a sequence-independent function of the P-I region of SLP-76.


Deborah Yablonski, PhD
Authors : Gonen R, Beach D, Ainey C, Yablonski D.
J Biol Chem ;280:8364-8370.
Characterization of cytosine methylated regions and 5-cytosine DNA methyltransferase (Ehmeth) in the protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica.


Serge Ankri, PhD
Authors : Fisher O, Siman-Tov R, Ankri S.
Nucleic Acids Res ;1:287-297.
Modification of ligandindependent B cell receptor tonic signals activates receptor editing in immature B lymphocytes.


Doron Melamed, PhD
Authors : Keren Z, Diamant E, Ostrovsky O, Bengal E, Melamed D.
J Biol Chem ;279:13418-13424.
A failsafe mechanism for negative selection of isotype-switched B cell precursors is regulated by the Fas/FasL pathway


Doron Melamed, PhD
Authors : Seagal J, Edry E, Keren Z, Leider N, Benny O, Machluf M, Melamed D.
J Exp Med ;198:1609-1619.
Beneficial autoimmunity to proinflammatory mediators restrains the consequences of self-destructive immunity.


Nathan Karin, PhD
Authors : Wildbaum G, Nahir MA, Karin N.
T(H) cell differentiation is accompanied by dynamic changes in histone acetylation of cytokine genes.


Orly Avni, PhD
Authors : Avni O, Lee D, Macian F, Szabo SJ, Glimcher LH, Rao A.
Nat Immunol ;3:643-651.
Tr1 cell-dependent active tolerance blunts the pathogenic effects of determinant spreading.


Nathan Karin, PhD
Authors : Wildbaum G, Netzer N, Karin N.
J Clin Invest ;110:701-710.
A PAK1-PIX-PKL complex is activated by the T-cell receptor independent of Nck, Slp-76 and LAT.


Deborah Yablonski, PhD
Authors : Ku GM, Yablonski D, Manser E, Lim L, Weiss A.
EMBO Journal ;20:457-465.
Identification of a phospholipase C-γ1 (PLC- γ1) SH3 domain-binding site in SLP-76 required for T-cell receptor-mediated activation of PLC-γ1 and NFAT


Deborah Yablonski, PhD
Authors : Yablonski D, Kadlecek T, Weiss A.
Mol Cell Biol ;21:4208-4218.
C-C chemokineencoding DNA vaccines enhance breakdown of tolerance to their gene products and treat ongoing adjuvant arthritis.


Nathan Karin, PhD
Authors : Youssef S, Maor G, Wildbaum G, Grabie N, Gour-Lavie A, Karin N.
J Clin Invest ;106:361-371.
Cell-type-restricted binding of the transcription factor NFAT to a distal IL-4 enhancer in vivo.


Orly Avni, PhD
Authors : Agarwal S, Avni O, Rao A.
Immunity ;12:643-652.
T cell differentiation: a mechanistic view.


Orly Avni, PhD
Authors : Avni O, Rao A.
Curr Opin Immunol; 12:654-659.
A systemic cytokine response defect stratifies older adults into distinct immune profiles.


Shai Shen-Orr, PhD
Authors : Shen-Orr SS*, Furman D*, Kidd BA, Morgan A, Lovelace P, Rosenberg-Hasson Y, Maecker H, Mackey S, Dekker C, Butte AJ, Davis MM.


Read Full Post »

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

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

Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP


We have covered a large amount of material that involves

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

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

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

Stent Design and Thrombosis: Bifurcation Intervention, Drug Eluting Stents (DES) and Biodegrable Stents
Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

On Devices and On Algorithms: Prediction of Arrhythmia after Cardiac Surgery and ECG Prediction of an Onset of Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation
Author, and Content Consultant to e-SERIES A: Cardiovascular Diseases: Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC

Mitral Valve Repair: Who is a Patient Candidate for a Non-Ablative Fully Non-Invasive Procedure?
Author, and Content Consultant to e-SERIES A: Cardiovascular Diseases: Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC and Article Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Cardiovascular Complications: Death from Reoperative Sternotomy after prior CABG, MVR, AVR, or Radiation; Complications of PCI; Sepsis from Cardiovascular Interventions
Author, Introduction and Summary: Justin D Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC and Article Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Survivals Comparison of Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) and Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) /Coronary Angioplasty
Larry H. Bernstein, MD, Writer And Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN, Curator

Revascularization: PCI, Prior History of PCI vs CABG
Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Outcomes in High Cardiovascular Risk Patients: Prasugrel (Effient) vs. Clopidogrel (Plavix); Aliskiren (Tekturna) added to ACE or added to ARB
Reporter and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Endovascular Lower-extremity Revascularization Effectiveness: Vascular Surgeons (VSs), Interventional Cardiologists (ICs) and Interventional Radiologists (IRs)
Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

and more

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

Cardiovascular Complications: Death from Reoperative Sternotomy after prior CABG, MVR, AVR, or Radiation; Complications of PCI; Sepsis from Cardiovascular Interventions Author, Introduction and Summary: Justin D Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC and Article Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Anticoagulation genotype guided dosing
Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Author and Curator

Stent Design and Thrombosis: Bifurcation Intervention, Drug Eluting Stents (DES) and Biodegrable Stents
Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

The Effects of Aprotinin on Endothelial Cell Coagulant Biology
Co-Author (Kamran Baig, MBBS, James Jaggers, MD, Jeffrey H. Lawson, MD, PhD) and Curator

Outcomes in High Cardiovascular Risk Patients: Prasugrel (Effient) vs. Clopidogrel (Plavix); Aliskiren (Tekturna) added to ACE or added to ARB
Reporter and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Pharmacogenomics – A New Method for Druggability  Author and Curator: Demet Sag, PhD

Advanced Topics in Sepsis and the Cardiovascular System at its End Stage    Author: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

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

Stent Design and Thrombosis: Bifurcation Intervention, Drug Eluting Stents (DES) and Biodegrable Stents
Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Biomaterials Technology: Models of Tissue Engineering for Reperfusion and Implantable Devices for Revascularization
Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FACP and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Vascular Repair: Stents and Biologically Active Implants
Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FACP and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, RN, PhD

Drug Eluting Stents: On MIT’s Edelman Lab’s Contributions to Vascular Biology and its Pioneering Research on DES
Author: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FACP and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

MedTech & Medical Devices for Cardiovascular Repair – Curations by Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

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

Treatment Options for Left Ventricular Failure – Temporary Circulatory Support: Intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) – Impella Recover LD/LP 5.0 and 2.5, Pump Catheters (Non-surgical) vs Bridge Therapy: Percutaneous Left Ventricular Assist Devices (pLVADs) and LVADs (Surgical)
Author: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP And Curator: Justin D Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC

Coronary Reperfusion Therapies: CABG vs PCI – Mayo Clinic preprocedure Risk Score (MCRS) for Prediction of in-Hospital Mortality after CABG or PCI
Writer and Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

ACC/AHA Guidelines for Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Mitral Valve Repair: Who is a Patient Candidate for a Non-Ablative Fully Non-Invasive Procedure?
Author, and Content Consultant to e-SERIES A: Cardiovascular Diseases: Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC and Article Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

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

What is the key method to harness Inflammation to close the doors for many complex diseases?
Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

CVD Prevention and Evaluation of Cardiovascular Imaging Modalities: Coronary Calcium Score by CT Scan Screening to justify or not the Use of Statin
Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Richard Lifton, MD, PhD of Yale University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute: Recipient of 2014 Breakthrough Prizes Awarded in Life Sciences for the Discovery of Genes and Biochemical Mechanisms that cause Hypertension
Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Pathophysiological Effects of Diabetes on Ischemic-Cardiovascular Disease and on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Curator:  Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

Atherosclerosis Independence: Genetic Polymorphisms of Ion Channels Role in the Pathogenesis of Coronary Microvascular Dysfunction and Myocardial Ischemia (Coronary Artery Disease (CAD))
Reviewer and Co-Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, CAP and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Notable Contributions to Regenerative Cardiology  Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Article Commissioner: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RD

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



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

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

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

1. Mechanisms of disease

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

Science 11 April 2014:
Vol. 344 no. 6180 pp. 208-211

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


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

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

Key Heart Failure Culprit Discovered

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

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

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

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

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


“Junk” DNA Tied to Heart Failure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Junk’ Genome Regions Linked to Heart Failure

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

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

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

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

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


Decoding the noncoding transcripts in human heart failure

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: PubMed

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

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

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

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


2. Diagnostic Biomarker Status

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

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

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

Source: PubMed

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


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

Moritz BienerMatthias MuellerMehrshad VafaieAllan S JaffeHugo A Katus,Evangelos Giannitsis

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

Source: PubMed

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


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

Arie Eisenman

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

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


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

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

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

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


3. Biomedical Engineerin3g

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

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

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

 Acellular Biomaterials: An Evolving Alternative to Cell-Based Therapies

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

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

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

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

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

Manufacturing Challenges in Regenerative Medicine

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

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




Read Full Post »

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

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

Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP


Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


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

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

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


Summary Table for TM - Part 1

Summary Table for TM – Part 1




There are some developments that deserve additional development:

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

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


Electron Transport and Bioenergetics

Deferred for metabolomics topic

Synthetic Biology

Introduction to Synthetic Biology and Metabolic Engineering

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

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

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









II. Regulatory Effects of Mammalian microRNAs

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

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

Schematic representation of Calcium Cycling in Contractile and Proliferating VSMCs


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

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


Time for New DNA Synthesis and Sequencing Cost Curves

By Rob Carlson

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

28 Nov 2013 | PR Web

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

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


Life at the Speed of Light


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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




Where Will the Century of Biology Lead Us?

By Randall Mayes

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

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

Biology + Engineering = Synthetic Biology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Synthesizing Synthetic Biology: PLOS Collections


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


Silencing Cancers with Synthetic siRNAs


Genomics Now—and Beyond the Bubble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Stepping into DIYbio and Synthetic Biology at ScienceHack

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

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

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

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

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

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



Read Full Post »

Pharmacogenomics – A New Method for Druggability


Author and Curator: Demet Sag, PhD


Living organisms have three main needs transfer of information, food and adopt to survive.  As a result translational medicine utilizes the “genetic information”, to correct health problems that are acquired or earned at birth.

Translational Pharmacogenomics relates to durable genome against diseases, complex, congenital, orphan- uncommon and infectious diseases.  Yet, there are caveats that need to be completed.

Hence, in this series I like to discuss clinical genomics, metabolomics and regulation of drugs by FDA to adopt what we need to what we can make.   This is the new terminology trio of life replacing genetics, food and adoption to survive.  Thus, genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, clinical research, clinical genomics and drugs make up part of the translational medicine in short this field classified under pharmacogenomics.

In 2003 there were two reviews on pharmacogenomics but there is a great jump in this area.

There are differences and similarities in genomics.  When drug-ability is combined we can have a “pharmacogenetics” that directly uses genetics information to diagnose or fix the disease. Thus, “intellectual” screening may involves sequencing the whole genome or using a sensor to detect the specific piece of genome.  This brings out the personalized medicine since each one of us has a unique genetic make- up.

Inconsistencies are part of the connection details where curation is the key to identify the real targets and eliminate the false targets for development of targets. There are inconsistencies that need to be identified.  This can be observed in detail at Haibe-Kains et al, Nature reported “Inconsistency in large pharmacogenomic studies (PMID 24284626) or recent

Anticoagulant therapy is a game of tight balancing for the sake of patient as there are not many drugs to control blood coagulation mechanism properly during the course of drug treatment. As a result, anticoagulant therapy is a plausible area to discover new drug by pharmacokinetics to replace well known warfarin.

Coumarins have a wide range of use in clinics with  a narrow therapeutic index drug with frequent hemorrhagic complications regardless of its dose adjustment because there are many clinical variables including age, gender, weight, nutritional factors, dietary vitamin K intake and interactive medications.

The ratio between cost and health outcomes is very important since the cost of warfarin adverse drug reactions is high and is estimated to exceed $180 billion dollars annually.

On the other hand, in average about 18-22 million dollar warfarin prescribed per year, in 2003 23 million, in 2006 19 million dollars etc.  However, coagulation, and consequently, warfarin dose, is influenced by many other factors both physiological and genetic.

There has been a clinical trial on warfarin treatment based on genotype guided  dosing but this study fail to present any improvement on anticoagulation control at the first 4 weeks of therapy,  NCT00839657. However, neither patients nor doctors knew about the warfarin doses in the study that included 1015 patients to receive doses of warfarin during the first 5 days of therapy or 28 days. The doses determined by reported clinical outcomes and genotypes.

On the other hand, a total of 455 patients were recruited, with 227 randomly assigned to the genotype-guided group and 228 assigned to the control group. The mean percentage of time in the therapeutic range was 67.4% in the genotype-guided group as compared with 60.3% in the control group (adjusted difference, 7.0 percentage points; 95% confidence interval, 3.3 to 10.6; P<0.001). There were significantly fewer incidences of excessive anticoagulation (INR ≥4.0) in the genotype-guided group. The median time to reach a therapeutic INR was 21 days in the genotype-guided group as compared with 29 days in the control group (P<0.001).

Higashi et al also reported that the CYP2C9*2 and CYP2C9*3 polymorphisms may increase over anticoagulation and of bleeding thus it is plausible to suggest that screening for CYP2C9 polymorphisms may help clinicians in two ways.  First improve dosing protocols.  Second, prevent the risk of adverse drug reactions in patients receiving warfarin.

On the other hand, vitamin K epoxide reductase complex 1 (VKORC1) at transcriptional gene regulation level may gauge warfarin doses. They suggest that if one has certain variants the warfarin dose changes low, medium and high based on transcriptional level VKORC1 gene expression.

Thus, Tuan study showed that VKORC1 promoter mutation to identify if this results in any changes for warfarin dosing among population. . They found that Chinese population requires smaller dose than the Caucasians because patients with the −1639 promoter polymorphism AA genotype had lower dose requirements, whereas the AG/GG genotypes had higher dose requirements.

Yet, another study tried to relate warfarin dosing based on genetic mutations,  CYP2C9 and  VKORC1.  However, the missing link of this study is excluding the SNPs and variations in other genes in the coagulation cascade that is affected by VKORC1 specially since VKORC1 play a role in vitamin K recycling and posttranslation that insures proper attachment of coagulation factors prothrombin, HFVII, HFIX and HFX.

Demographic variables N = 495
  1. SD, standard deviation; VKORC1, vitamin K epoxide reductase complex 1; CYP, cytochrome P 450. The VKORC1 A haplotype can be detected by −1639 G > A.
Age, mean (SD), years 55 (13)
 Female, n (%) 234 (47%)
 Male, n (%) 261 (53%)
 Caucasian, n (%) 434 (88%)
 African-American, n (%) 47 (9%)
 Other, n (%) 14 (3%)
Hispanic ethnicity, n (%) 6 (1%)
Genetic variables
 VKORC1 A haplotype frequency 37.5%
 CYP2C9*2 allele frequency 12.2%
 CYP2C9*3 allele frequency 6.4%
Clinical variables
 Geometric mean warfarin dose, mg per day, (SD) 4.4 (1.5)
 Body surface area, in m2 mean (SD) 2.05 (0.27)
 Smoker, n (%) 57 (12%)
 Takes statin, n (%) 53 (11%)
 Takes amiodarone, n (%) 0 (0%)
 Takes aspirin, n (%) 97 (20%)
Table 1.   Demographic, genetic and clinical characteristics of participants


Figure 1.  Percentage of dose variation explained at weekly time points.

  Day 0 (%) Day 7 (%) Day 14 (%) Day 21 (%)
Genetic 42.8 12.1 3.9 1.4
Clinical 10.8 6.4 2.2 1.9
INR 0 31.7 19.1 5.1
Prior dose 0 18.0 50.3 68.6
TOTAL 53.6 68.1 75.4 77.0
Table 2.   Percentage of dose variation explained (partial R2) at weekly time points


In summary,

we found that SNPs causing slower warfarin metabolism and increased warfarin sensitivity account for significant variability of therapeutic warfarin dose. These SNPs

are associated with increased risk of supratherapeutic INRs up to 28 days after initiation. However, the importance of genotype wanes over the initial weeks of therapy. Our findings

should prompt future studies to develop and assess the clinical utility of a day 7 pharmacogenetic dosing algorithm.

There are controversial studies or conflicting reports that needs to be elucidated with good bioinformatics tools as well as well done curation of available data.  After all the work CYP2C9 and VKORC1 genotypes defined as  key factors and about 30 to 40% of the total variation in the final warfarin dose.  Patients for variations in CYP2C9 and VKORC1 provide information to enhance clinical algorithms currently.

Clinicians should apply genomics tools for maintain anticoagulant therapy for their patients.



pharmacogenetic versus a clinical algorithm for warfarin dosing.

Kimmel SE, French B, Kasner SE, Johnson JA, Anderson JL, Gage BF, Rosenberg YD, Eby CS, Madigan RA, McBane RB, Abdel-Rahman SZ, Stevens SM, Yale S, Mohler ER 3rd, Fang MC, Shah V, Horenstein RB, Limdi NA, Muldowney JA 3rd, Gujral J, Delafontaine P, Desnick RJ, Ortel TL, Billett HH, Pendleton RC, Geller NL, Halperin JL, Goldhaber SZ, Caldwell MD, Califf RM, Ellenberg JH; COAG Investigators.

N Engl J Med. 2013 Dec 12;369(24):2283-93. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1310669. Epub 2013 Nov 19. PMID:24251361


A randomized trial of genotype-guided dosing of warfarin

Pirmohamed M1Burnside GEriksson NJorgensen ALToh CHNicholson TKesteven PChristersson CWahlström BStafberg CZhang JELeathart JB,Kohnke HMaitland-van der Zee AHWilliamson PRDaly AKAvery PKamali FWadelius MEU-PACT Group.

N Engl J Med. 2013 Dec 12;369(24):2294-303. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1311386. Epub 2013 Nov 19.

A novel functional VKORC1 promoter polymorphism is associated with inter-individual and inter-ethnic differences in warfarin sensitivity.

Yuan HY, Chen JJ, Lee MT, Wung JC, Chen YF, Charng MJ, Lu MJ, Hung CR, Wei CY, Chen CH, Wu JY, Chen YTHum Mol Genet 2005; 14: 1745–51.

Genotypes of the cytochrome p450 isoform, CYP2C9, and the vitamin K epoxide reductase complex subunit 1 conjointly determine stable warfarin dose: a prospective study.

Carlquist JF, Horne BD, Muhlestein JB, Lappe DL, Whiting BM, Kolek MJ, Clarke JL, James BC, Anderson JL.  J Thromb Thrombolysis 2006; 22: 191–7.

Further reading :

Abouzaid, S., Couto, J. E., & Royo, M. B. (2009). 58th annual meeting american society of human genetics, 2008. P T, 34(2), 92-94.

Bernhardt, B. A., Zayac, C., Gordon, E. S., Wawak, L., Pyeritz, R. E., & Gollust, S. E. (2012). Incorporating direct-to-consumer genomic information into patient care: attitudes and experiences of primary care physicians. Per Med, 9(7), 683-692. doi: 10.2217/pme.12.80

Chouchane, L., Mamtani, R., Dallol, A., & Sheikh, J. I. (2011). Personalized medicine: a patient-centered paradigm. J Transl Med, 9, 206. doi: 10.1186/1479-5876-9-206

Cooper, G. M., Johnson, J. A., Langaee, T. Y., Feng, H., Stanaway, I. B., Schwarz, U. I., . . . Rieder, M. J. (2008). A genome-wide scan for common genetic variants with a large influence on warfarin maintenance dose. Blood, 112(4), 1022-1027. doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-01-134247

Ensor, C. R., Cahoon, W. D., Crouch, M. A., Katlaps, G. J., Hess, M. L., Cooke, R. H., . . . Kasirajan, V. (2010). Antithrombotic therapy for the CardioWest temporary total artificial heart. Tex Heart Inst J, 37(2), 149-158.

LaSala, A., Bower, B., Windemuth, A., White, C. M., Kocherla, M., Seip, R., . . . Ruano, G. (2008). Integrating genomic based information into clinical warfarin (Coumadin) management: an illustrative case report. Conn Med, 72(7), 399-403.

Lewis, D. A., Stashenko, G. J., Akay, O. M., Price, L. I., Owzar, K., Ginsburg, G. S., . . . Ortel, T. L. (2011). Whole blood gene expression analyses in patients with single versus recurrent venous thromboembolism. Thromb Res, 128(6), 536-540. doi: 10.1016/j.thromres.2011.06.003

Ozdemir, V., Suarez-Kurtz, G., Stenne, R., Somogyi, A. A., Someya, T., Kayaalp, S. O., & Kolker, E. (2009). Risk assessment and communication tools for genotype associations with multifactorial phenotypes: the concept of “edge effect” and cultivating an ethical bridge between omics innovations and society. OMICS, 13(1), 43-61. doi: 10.1089/omi.2009.0011

Roth, J. A., Garrison, L. P., Jr., Burke, W., Ramsey, S. D., Carlson, R., & Veenstra, D. L. (2011). Stakeholder perspectives on a risk-benefit framework for genetic testing. Public Health Genomics, 14(2), 59-67. doi: 10.1159/000290452

Veenstra, D. L., Roth, J. A., Garrison, L. P., Jr., Ramsey, S. D., & Burke, W. (2010). A formal risk-benefit framework for genomic tests: facilitating the appropriate translation of genomics into clinical practice. Genet Med, 12(11), 686-693. doi: 10.1097/GIM.0b013e3181eff533

Wang, L., McLeod, H. L., & Weinshilboum, R. M. (2011). Genomics and drug response. N Engl J Med, 364(12), 1144-1153. doi: 10.1056/NEJMra1010600

Woo, K. T., Lau, Y. K., Yap, H. K., Lee, G. S., Choong, H. L., Vathsala, A., . . . Lim, C. H. (2006). 3rd College of Physicians’ lecture–translational research: From bench to bedside and from bedside to bench; incorporating a clinical research journey in IgA nephritis (1976 to 2006). Ann Acad Med Singapore, 35(10), 735-741.


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

Pharmacogenomics for Cardiovascular Diseases

Blood Pressure Response to Antihypertensives: Hypertension Susceptibility Loci Study

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


Statin-Induced Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Reduction: Genetic Determinants in the Response to Rosuvastatin

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


SNPs in apoE are found to influence statin response significantly. Less frequent variants in PCSK9 and smaller effect sizes in SNPs in HMGCR

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


Voltage-Gated Calcium Channel and Pharmacogenetic Association with Adverse Cardiovascular Outcomes: Hypertension Treatment with Verapamil SR (CCB) vs Atenolol (BB) or Trandolapril (ACE)

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


Response to Rosuvastatin in Patients With Acute Myocardial Infarction: Hepatic Metabolism and Transporter Gene Variants Effect

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


Helping Physicians identify Gene-Drug Interactions for Treatment Decisions: New ‘CLIPMERGE’ program – Personalized Medicine @ The Mount Sinai Medical Center

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


Leveraging Mathematical Models to Understand Population Variability in Response to Cardiac Drugs: Eric Sobie, PhD

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN




Is Pharmacogenetic-based Dosing of Warfarin Superior for Anticoagulation Control?

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN







Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »