Archive for the ‘Metabolomics’ Category

The Biologic Roles of Leptin in Metabolism, Leptin Physiology and Obesity: On the Mechanism of Action of the Hormone in Energy Balance

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


More than $140 billion is spent each year in the United States to treat obesity-related diseases, according to the CDC.

Worldwide obesity rates have doubled since 1980, and most people now live in countries where more deaths are caused by overweight and obesity than by malnourishment, according to the World Health Organization.

Treatment with leptin was approved in the United States in 2014 for use in congenital leptin deficiency as well as in an unusual syndrome of lipodystrophy, but the protein has not been readily available for clinical experiments.

These are the conclusions in a commentary published June 22 in Cell Metabolism by Harvard Medical School metabolism experts Jeffrey Flier and Eleftheria Maratos-Flier.

Flier, the HMS George Higginson Professor of Physiology and Medicine, and Maratos-Flier, HMS professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, have made significant contributions to the understanding of the metabolism of obesity and starvation in general, and of leptin in particular.

The role for leptin as a starvation signal is now well established. [T]he physiologic role of leptin in most individuals may be limited to signaling the response to hunger or starvation, and then reversing that signal as energy stores are restored


“We continue to believe that healthy and lean individuals exist who resist obesity at least in part through their leptin levels, and that some individuals develop obesity because they have insufficiently elevated leptin levels or cellular resistance to leptin,” Flier said.

“But in science, belief and knowledge are two different things, and as much as we may lean toward this belief, we ought to develop evidence for this hypothesis or abandon it in favor of new potential mechanisms for the regulation of body weight,” he said.


Leptin’s Physiologic Role: Does the Emperor of Energy Balance Have No Clothes?

Jeffrey S. Flier'Correspondence information about the author Jeffrey S. Flier


Eleftheria Maratos-Flier
Publication stage: In Press Corrected Proof

Seeking evidence for anti-obesity claim – Does the Emperor Have Clothes?

Importance of leptin signaling and signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 activation in mediating the cardiac hypertrophy associated with obesity

Maren Leifheit-Nestler12, Nana-Maria Wagner13, Rajinikanth Gogiraju1,Michael Didié14, Stavros Konstantinides15, Gerd Hasenfuss1and Katrin Schäfer1*

J Translational Medicine: Cardiovascular, Metabolic and Lipoprotein Translation. 2013; 11:170.


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


Leptin signaling in mediating the cardiac hypertrophy associated with obesity

Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Reviewer, and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


Leptin and Puberty

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


Pregnancy with a Leptin-Receptor Mutation

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


New Insights into mtDNA, mitochondrial proteins, aging, and metabolic control

Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

Adipocyte Derived Stroma Cells: Their Usage in Regenerative Medicine and Reprogramming into Pancreatic Beta-Like Cells

Curator: Evelina Cohn, PhD

Fat Cells Reprogrammed to Make Insulin

Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP


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Functional Analysis of the Microbiome for Development of Potential Therapeutic Approaches to Weight Regain

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


Transplanting fecal microbes to prevent recurring obesity

Finally, the researchers used these insights to develop new treatments for recurrent obesity. They implanted formerly obese mice with gut microbes from mice that had never been obese. This fecal microbiome transplantation erased the “memory” of obesity in these mice when they were re-exposed to a high-calorie diet, preventing excessive recurrent obesity.

Gut Microbes Contribute to Recurrent ‘Yo-Yo’ Obesity, Study Shows

By Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels December 18, 2016

Researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science have shown in mice that intestinal microbes – collectively termed the gut microbiome – play an unexpectedly important role in exacerbated post-dieting weight gain, and that this common phenomenon may in the future be prevented or treated by altering the composition or function of the microbiome.

“We’ve shown in obese mice that following successful dieting and weight loss, the microbiome retains a ‘memory’ of previous obesity,” Elinav said in a statement. “This persistent microbiome accelerated the regaining of weight when the mice were put back on a high-calorie diet or ate regular food in excessive amounts.”


Original Research

Persistent microbiome alterations modulate the rate of post-dieting weight regain

Nature (2016) doi:10.1038/nature20796

Corrected online

28 November 2016

Article tools


In tackling the obesity pandemic, significant efforts are devoted to the development of effective weight reduction strategies, yet many dieting individuals fail to maintain a long-term weight reduction, and instead undergo excessive weight regain cycles. The mechanisms driving recurrent post-dieting obesity remain largely elusive. Here, we identify an intestinal microbiome signature that persists after successful dieting of obese mice, which contributes to faster weight regain and metabolic aberrations upon re-exposure to obesity-promoting conditions and transmits the accelerated weight regain phenotype upon inter-animal transfer. We develop a machine-learning algorithm that enables personalized microbiome-based prediction of the extent of post-dieting weight regain. Additionally, we find that the microbiome contributes to diminished post-dieting flavonoid levels and reduced energy expenditure, and demonstrate that flavonoid-based ‘post-biotic’ intervention ameliorates excessive secondary weight gain. Together, our data highlight a possible microbiome contribution to accelerated post-dieting weight regain, and suggest that microbiome-targeting approaches may help to diagnose and treat this common disorder.

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Metabolic Genomics & Pharmaceutics



Author, Curator and Editor

Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

Chief Scientific Officer

Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence

Chapter 1: Metabolic Pathways

1.1            Carbohydrate Metabolism

1.2            Studies of Respiration Lead to Acetyl CoA

1.3            Pentose Shunt, Electron Transfer, Galactose, more Lipids in brief

1.4            The Multi-step Transfer of Phosphate Bond and Hydrogen Exchange Energy

1.5            Diabetes Mellitus

1.6            Glycosaminoglycans, Mucopolysaccharides, L-iduronidase, Enzyme Therapy

Chapter 2: Lipid Metabolism

2.1            Lipid Classification System

2.2            Essential Fatty Acids

2.3            Lipid Oxidation and Synthesis of Fatty Acids

2.4            Cholesterol and Regulation of Liver Synthetic Pathways

2.5            Sex hormones, Adrenal cortisol, Prostaglandins

2.6            Cytoskeleton and Cell Membrane Physiology

2.7            Pharmacological Action of Steroid hormone

Chapter 3: Cell Signaling

3.1            Signaling and Signaling Pathways

3.2            Signaling Transduction Tutorial

3.3            Selected References to Signaling and Metabolic Pathways in Leaders in Pharmaceutical Intelligence

3.4            Integrins, Cadherins, Signaling and the Cytoskeleton

3.5            Complex Models of Signaling: Therapeutic Implications

3.6            Functional Correlates of Signaling Pathways

Chapter 4: Protein Synthesis and Degradation

4.1            The Role and Importance of Transcription Factors

4.2            RNA and the Transcription of the Genetic Code

4.3            9:30 – 10:00, 6/13/2014, David Bartel “MicroRNAs, Poly(A) tails and Post-transcriptional Gene Regulation

4.4            Transcriptional Silencing and Longevity Protein Sir2

4.5            Ca2+ Signaling: Transcriptional Control

4.6            Long Noncoding RNA Network regulates PTEN Transcription

4.7            Zinc-Finger Nucleases (ZFNs) and Transcription Activator–Like Effector Nucleases (TALENs)

4.8            Cardiac Ca2+ Signaling: Transcriptional Control

4.9            Transcription Factor Lyl-1 Critical in Producing Early T-Cell Progenitors

4.10            Human Frontal Lobe Brain: Specific Transcriptional Networks

4.11            Somatic, Germ-cell, and Whole Sequence DNA in Cell Lineage and Disease

Chapter 5:  Sub-cellular Structure

5.1            Mitochondria: Origin from Oxygen free environment, Role in Aerobic Glycolysis and Metabolic Adaptation

5.2            Mitochondrial Metabolism and Cardiac Function

5.3            Mitochondria: More than just the “Powerhouse of the Cell”

5.4            Mitochondrial Fission and Fusion: Potential Therapeutic Targets?

5.5            Mitochondrial Mutation Analysis might be “1-step” Away

5.6            Autophagy-Modulating Proteins and Small Molecules Candidate Targets for Cancer Therapy: Commentary of Bioinformatics Approaches

5.7            Chromatophagy, A New Cancer Therapy: Starve The Diseased Cell Until It Eats Its Own DNA

5.8           A Curated Census of Autophagy-Modulating Proteins and Small Molecules Candidate Targets for Cancer Therapy

5.9           Role of Calcium, the Actin Skeleton, and Lipid Structures in Signaling and Cell Motility

Chapter 6: Proteomics

6.1            Proteomics, Metabolomics, Signaling Pathways, and Cell Regulation: a Compilation of Articles in the Journal

6.2            A Brief Curation of Proteomics, Metabolomics, and Metabolism

6.3            Using RNA-seq and Targeted Nucleases to Identify Mechanisms of Drug Resistance in Acute Myeloid Leukemia, SK Rathe in Nature, 2014

6.4            Proteomics – The Pathway to Understanding and Decision-making in Medicine

6.5            Advances in Separations Technology for the “OMICs” and Clarification of Therapeutic Targets

6.6           Expanding the Genetic Alphabet and Linking the Genome to the Metabolome

6.7            Genomics, Proteomics and Standards

6.8            Proteins and Cellular Adaptation to Stress

6.9            Genes, Proteomes, and their Interaction

6.10           Regulation of Somatic Stem Cell Function

6.11           Scientists discover that Pluripotency factor NANOG is also active in Adult Organism

Chapter 7: Metabolomics

7.1            Extracellular Evaluation of Intracellular Flux in Yeast Cells

7.2            Metabolomic Analysis of Two Leukemia Cell Lines Part I

7.3            Metabolomic Analysis of Two Leukemia Cell Lines Part II

7.4            Buffering of Genetic Modules involved in Tricarboxylic Acid Cycle Metabolism provides Homeomeostatic Regulation

7.5            Metabolomics, Metabonomics and Functional Nutrition: The Next Step in Nutritional Metabolism and Biotherapeutics

7.6            Isoenzymes in Cell Metabolic Pathways

7.7            A Brief Curation of Proteomics, Metabolomics, and Metabolism

7.8            Metabolomics is about Metabolic Systems Integration

7.9             Mechanisms of Drug Resistance

7.10           Development Of Super-Resolved Fluorescence Microscopy

7.11            Metabolic Reactions Need Just Enough

Chapter 8.  Impairments in Pathological States: Endocrine Disorders; Stress Hypermetabolism and CAncer

8.1           Omega3 Fatty Acids, Depleting the Source, and Protein Insufficiency in Renal Disease

8.2             Liver Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and Hepatosteatosis

8.3            How Methionine Imbalance with Sulfur Insufficiency Leads to Hyperhomocysteinemia

8.4            AMPK Is a Negative Regulator of the Warburg Effect and Suppresses Tumor Growth InVivo

8.5           A Second Look at the Transthyretin Nutrition Inflammatory Conundrum

8.6            Mitochondrial Damage and Repair under Oxidative Stress

8.7            Metformin, Thyroid Pituitary Axis, Diabetes Mellitus, and Metabolism

8.8            Is the Warburg Effect the Cause or the Effect of Cancer: A 21st Century View?

8.9            Social Behavior Traits Embedded in Gene Expression

8.10          A Future for Plasma Metabolomics in Cardiovascular Disease Assessment

Chapter 9: Genomic Expression in Health and Disease 

9.1            Genetics of Conduction Disease: Atrioventricular (AV) Conduction Disease (block): Gene Mutations – Transcription, Excitability, and Energy Homeostasis

9.2            BRCA1 a Tumour Suppressor in Breast and Ovarian Cancer – Functions in Transcription, Ubiquitination and DNA Repair

9.3            Metabolic Drivers in Aggressive Brain Tumors

9.4            Modified Yeast Produces a Range of Opiates for the First time

9.5            Parasitic Plant Strangleweed Injects Host With Over 9,000 RNA Transcripts

9.6            Plant-based Nutrition, Neutraceuticals and Alternative Medicine: Article Compilation the Journal

9.7            Reference Genes in the Human Gut Microbiome: The BGI Catalogue

9.8            Two Mutations, in the PCSK9 Gene: Eliminates a Protein involved in Controlling LDL Cholesterol

9.9            HDL-C: Target of Therapy – Steven E. Nissen, MD, MACC, Cleveland Clinic vs Peter Libby, MD, BWH



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7th International Conference and Exhibition on Metabolomics, November 14-16, 2016, Orlando, Florida

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN



Conference Series LLC welcomes you to attend the 7th International Conference and Exhibition on Metabolomics during November 14-16, 2016 ,Florida, USA.This is an excellent opportunity for the delegates from Universities and Institutes to interact with the world class Scientists. The main theme of the conference is “Ground Breaking Analytical Concepts and Computational Methods”.

Metabolomics 2016  Conference will be an exploration of New research Innovation of Metabolomics and cover the latest developments and trends in Metabolomics modeling, Proteomics, Systems Biology, Genomics, Precision Medicine, Lipidomics, LC-MS and GC-MS Techniques, Bioinformatics, Plant Metabolomics, Clinical metabolomics, cancer and metabolism, computational biology, metabolomics syndrome, Nutritional Metabolomics, Therapeutic Metabolomics and more. Metabolomics is of interest to physicians because it may lead to improvements in the diagnosis and treatments of human diseases.

Theme: Ground Breaking Analytical Concepts and Computational Methods

Track 1 : Cancer Therapeutic Approaches 

Cancer is devastating illness that changes the digestion system of a cell and therefore the encompassing environment. Metabolomics in pharmaceutical examination turning into associate degree inexorably thought instrument within the life sciences since it’s a typically fast and precise procedure that may be connected with either a particular center or in a very worldwide manner to uncover new learning regarding organic frameworks. NFCR has sent quite $330 million in subsidizing to growth analysis prompting numerous leaps forward, together with offsetting action methodologies, previous analytic systems, and new antineoplastic medications and coverings. The Division of Cancer Biology (DCB) bolsters and encourages basic examination in each facet of neoplasm science at scholarly establishments and exploration establishments over the US and abroad. As a significant facet of the National Cancer Institute, the Federal Government’s foremost workplace for growth analysis and making ready, DCB provides finance for the analytical research that examines the elemental science behind all events of Cancer. Current Metabolomic approaches is being used to search out symptomatic Cancer biomarkers within the clinic, to search out pathways enclosed in illness that might be used for brand spanking new targets and to screen metabolic biomarkers amid remedial mediation. Concentrating on growth through metabolomics, might uncover metabolite stage for hearty approval of biomarkers for Cancer that might be useful for its future forecast, conclusion and treatment. There are various novel ways to handle cancer medicine that have utilized a scope of assorted informative stages. At that point once Cancer digestion system meets frameworks science system models would possibly manual for growth treatment.

Relevant Conferences: Fifth World Congress on Cancer medical aid, September 28-30, 2015 Atlanta, USA; Cancer medicine Conference & Exhibition, June 13-15, 2016, Rome, Italy; International Conference on Cancer immunology and its therapy Conference July 28-30, 2016 Melbourne, Australia; Ninth  Indo Global Summit on Cancer Therapy, November 02-04, 2015, Hyderabad, India; Second International Conference on Breast Cancer , September 19-21, 2016 Phoenix, USA; Novel Cancer therapeutics Summit, November 16-17, 2016 San Francisco city, USA; European lung cancer Conference, April 13-16, 2016, Geneva, Switzerland; Cancer Vaccines: Targeting Cancer Genes for Immunotherapy, March 6–10, 2016, Whistler, Canada; IMPAKT Breast Cancer Conference, may 12 – 14, 2016, Brussels, Belgium.

Track 2 : Metabolomics Applications in Diseases

Metabolomics is connected to analyze a few human ill health issues, to boost their determination and aversion, and to stipulate higher essential systems. Metabolomic identification has been utilized to differentiate novel biomarkers and mechanisms of Cardiovascular Disease risk. Nourishment and Metabolism Center and Center for Human Genetics at Duke University where the examination goes ahead with National Institutes of Health awards. Metabolomics could offer constrained preferences in relevancy alternative “omics” advancements (genomics, proteomics, and Transcriptomics) in diabetes research. CEDAM (Center for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism) exploration is concentrated on a seat to-bedside approach, taking examination through from basic science speech act to clinical application. this is often inspired by ebb and flow MRC Experimental medication and Biomarker Grants and improved by the close neighborhood of research laboratory offices, Welcome Trust Clinical center and also the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust). Metabolomic approach offers novel experiences into the mechanistic studies of antitumor medications from an extent specific from Traditional Medicine drugs investigations. Totally different and new advancements have been made for technique improvement of metabolomics. Specialized advances have prodded the utilization of metabolomics in AN assortment of varied examination zones spreading over essential, biomedical, and clinical sciences.

Relevant Conferences : Sixth International Metabolomics Conference, being conducted from Nov 28-30, 2016 Chicago, USA; Fifth World Congress on Neurology and therapeutics, March 14-16, 2016, Rome, Italy; International Conference on Cardiovascular Nursing, May 5-7, 2016, Chicago, USA; 11th International Conference on Targeting diabetes and Novel therapeutics, October 17-19, 2016 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Epigenetic and Metabolic Regulation of Aging and Aging-Related Diseases, May 1-5, 2016, Santa Fe, USA; seventeenth International Meeting: Cell & Molecular biology Of genus Chlamydomonas, June 26 –July 1 2016, Kyoto, Japan; 18th International Conference on Genetic science and Molecular biology, October 10 -11 2016, Osaka, Japan; 13th International Congress of Human Genetic science,  April 3-7 2016, Kyoto, Japan.

Track 3 : Metabolomics in Precision Medicine

Metabolomics, the post-genomic investigation of the particles and procedures that conjure digestion system, shows up as a possible radical higher approach for observing science and ill health. Precision medication could be a path to agitate finding and making medications and antibodies that conveys unmatched results for patients, by incorporating clinical and sub-atomic information to understand the organic premise of infection. Pharmacometabolomics informs and compliments pharmacogenomics and along with, they offer building items to Quantitative and Systems pharmacological medicine. Preciseness offers next generation solutions to maximize your success in translational analysis. The arrival of huge parallel sequencing is accountable of a paradigm shift in biomarker discovery and clinical test style on the approach to what’s currently referred to as “biomarker-driven cancer medicine” or “precision medicine.”  Complementing hearty ventures to comprehensively bolster exploration, improvement, and advancement, the President’s 2016 Budget can provide a $215 million speculation to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), along with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and therefore the office of the National organizer for Health Information Technology (ONC) to backing this effort.

Relevant Conferences: International Conference on precision Medicine or  drugs, November 03-05, 2016, Baltimore, USA; Fifth International Conference on Translational Medicine, November 17-19 2016, San Francisco , USA; Fourth International Conference on prognostic, Preventive and Personalized Medicine & Molecular Diagnostics Sep 19-21 2016, Phoenix, USA; Second International Conference and Exhibition on Molecular Medicine or drugs and medical specialty, Sep 26-28, 2016 Miami, USA; International Conference on Medicinal Chemistry & Computer Aided Drug Designing December 01-03, 2016 Chicago, USA; International Conference on General Medicine & Dental Practice, November 7-9, 2016 Istanbul, Turkey; Precision Medicine, March 7–9 2016,San Francisco, CA; The Personalized Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2016, San Francisco city, USA; Eighteenth International Conference on Genetics science and Molecular biology science, October 10-11, 2016 Osaka, Japan; thirteenth International Congress of Human Genetic science, April 3-7 2016, Kyoto, Japan.

Track 4 : Frontiers of Metabolomics Research

Metabolomic studies will prompt improved comprehension of ill health instruments and to new diagnostic markers and in addition upgraded comprehension of drug for medication or xenobiotic impact and hyperbolic ability to predict individual variation in drug response phenotypes. Howard University Center for computational Biology and Bioinformatics (CCBB) is to energize and advance the use of computational approach that deals with the investigation of both medical, biological and infection forms. New software system and progressively refined NMR metabolite spectral databases are dynamical the fascinating capacities of NMR chemical analysis to acknowledge and measure very little particles in declare investigations of substance metabolite biomarkers and metabolic flux. NIH Awards $1.6M to Fund micro RNA Biomarker analysis in Cancer, Alzheimer’s disease. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation these days reported $7.7 million in subsidizing for ten new permits to tell apart biomarkers for diagnosing Tuberculosis (TB) in low-asset settings. NMR metabolomics to demonstrate that divergent environmental signals area unit transduced into common Metabolomic changes that are “sensed” by metabolite responsive regulators.

Relevant Conferences: Seventh International Conference on Biomarkers & Clinical Research analysis, November 28-30, 2016, Baltimore, USA; Sixth International Conference & Expo exhibition on proteomics March 29-30, 2016, Atlanta, USA; Fifth  International Conference on Medicinal Chemistry Computer aided  Drug Designing December 01-03, 2016 Chicago, USA; Second International Conference and Exhibition on Molecular Medicine  and Diagnostics Sept 26-28, 2016 Miami, USA; Precision Medicine, March 7 – 9 2016,San Francisco, CA; The personalized medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2016, San Francisco, USA; Seventeenth International Meeting: Cell & Molecular biology Of Chlamydomonas, June 26 – July 1 2016, Kyoto, Japan; 18th International Conference on Genetic science and Molecular biology, Oct 10 – 11 2016, Osaka, Japan; 13th International Congress of Human Genetic science, April 3-7 2016, Kyoto, Japan.

Track 5 : Therapeutic Metabolomics

Metabolomics is one amongst the relative newcomers of the omics methods and is probably be one of the most firmly known with real infection pathophysiology. The role of metabolism in immunity has been underexplored during this approach; on the other hand scientists have created crucial commitments in depicting relationship of unsusceptible procedures and metabolic pathways. Systems immunology aims to review the immunological system within a lot of integrated perspective on how entities and players participate at completely different system levels to the immune function. Computational immunology could be a field of science that encompasses high-throughput genomic and bioinformatics approaches to immunology. The combination of genomic information and reenactment of the motion of the resistant framework, in one single device, offers new points of study for a superior comprehension of the safe framework. The Honorable Michelle Rempel, pastor of state for western monetary enlargement, these days reported a venture of about $3 million toward leading edge metabolomics analysis gear for the U of A’s another Metabolomics Technology Demonstration Center, viz., set to open within the spring of 2015.

Relevant ConferencesInternational Conference on Clinical and Molecular Genetics, Nov 28-30, 2016, Chicago, USA; International Conference on Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Conference July 28-30, 2016 Melbourne, Australia; Fifth International Conference on Translational Medication, Nov 17-19 2016, San Francisco , USA; Second International Conference and Exhibition on Molecular Medicine and Diagnostics September 26-28, 2016 Miami, USA; Epigenetic and Metabolic Regulation of Aging and Aging-Related Diseases, May 1-5, 2016,Santa Fe, USA; Seventeenth International Meeting: Cell & Molecular Biology Of Chlamydomonas, June 26 – July 1 2016, Kyoto, Japan; 18th International Conference on Genetics and Molecular Biology, Oct 10 – 11 2016, Osaka, Japan; 13th International Congress of Human Genetics, April 3-7 2016, Kyoto, Japan.

Track 6 : Transcriptomics & Metabolic pathways

Transcriptomics is the study of the transcriptome, the entire set of RNA transcripts that are delivered by the genome, under explicit circumstances or in an exceedingly explicit cell utilizing high-throughput routines, example, and microarray analysis. The worldwide Transcriptomics business sector is relied upon to develop at a CAGR of 13.7% amid the figure time of 2014 to 2019 and is evaluated to be value $3,773.0 million by 2019. The Transcriptomics market has manifestly developed within the previous few years basically due to the expanding mechanical headways within the field of sequencing advances in Transcriptomics analysis. Recent advances in Metabolomic measurement technologies are dramatic, extracting biological insight from complicated metabolite profiles remains a challenge, an analytical strategy that uses information obtained from high resolution LC–mass spectrum analysis and a bioinformatics toolset for detecting actively dynamic  metabolic pathways upon external perturbation. RNA-Seq recently developed approach with transcriptome profiling that uses profound sequencing advancements. The National Human genome analysis Institute (NHGRI), that could be a piece of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has partaken in 2 ventures that created transcriptome assets for scientists round the globe the mammalian gene collection activity and the Mouse Transcriptome Project.

Relevant Conferences: 5th International Conference on Translational Medicine, November 17-19, 2016 San Francisco, USA; 2nd International Conference on Transcriptomics, August 18-20, 2016 Portland, Oregon USA; Fifth International Conference on Computational Systems Biology , August 22-23, 2016 Philadelphia USA ; International Conference on Clinical and , molecular genetics, November 28-30, 2016, Chicago, USA; 2nd International Conference and Exhibition on Molecular medicine and diagnostics, September 26-28, 2016 Miami, USA; The personalized medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2016, San Francisco, USA; Seventeenth International Meeting: Cell Molecular Biology  of genus Chlamydomonas, June 26 – July 1 2016, Kyoto, Japan; 18th International Conference on Genetics and molecular biology, October 10 – 11 2016, Osaka, Japan; 13th International Congress of Human genetics, April 3-7 2016, Kyoto, Japan.

Track 7 : Metabolic Modeling

Metabolism is a vital cell procedure, and its malfunction could be a significant donor to various human sicknesses. Metabolites can function as a metabolic infirmity biomarker. Recognition of such biomarkers assumes an enormous part within the investigation of biochemical response and flagging systems. Metabolic profiling, Metabolomic and metabonomic concentrates for the foremost part which includes the multicomponent investigation of natural liquids, tissue and cell removes utilizing NMR spectroscopy and/or mass spectroscopic analysis (MS). Metabolic identification (metabolomics / metabonomics) is that the estimation in organic frameworks of the supplement of low-sub-atomic weight metabolites and their intermediates that mirror the dynamic reaction to hereditary modification and physiological, pathophysiological, and/or formative boosts. These developments in metabolomics and metabolic identification technologies have paved to the invention of many new metabolic biomarkers. Through the NIH Common Fund’s Increasing Metabolomics research capability program External web site Policy, the NIH has given over $65 million to quicken the sector of metabolomics throughout the subsequent 5 years. The target of this finance system is to propel a few center ranges, together with far reaching metabolomics asset centers, metabolomics innovation improvement, metabolomics reference principles amalgamation, getting prepared and instructive exercises in metabolomics.

Relevant Conferences:7th International Conference on Biomarkers & Clinical Research, Nov 28-30, 2016, Baltimore, USA; Sixth International Conference & Expo on Proteomics March 29-30, 2016, Atlanta, USA; Fifth International Conference on Computational Systems Biology, August 22-23, 2016 Philadelphia, USA ; 2nd  International Conference on Current Trends in Mass spectrometry from May 09-11, 2016 Chicago, USA; Sixth International Conference on Genomics & Pharmacogenomics, September 22-24, 2016, Berlin, Germany; The personalized medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2016, San Francisco, USA; Seventeenth International Meeting: Cell Molecular biology Of Chlamydomonas, June 26 – July 1 2016, Kyoto, Japan; 18th International Conference on Genetics and molecular biology, October 10 – 11 2016, Osaka, Japan; 13th International Congress of Human Genetics, April 3-7 2016, Kyoto, Japan.

Track 8 : Clinical Metabolomics & Lipidomics

Metabolomics and lipidomics, intense apparatuses in frameworks science, expect to screen minor metabolites and its presence in organic examples. Contrasts within the species or measures of metabolites are utilized to portray phenotypes and natural reactions to annoyances (hereditary changes, ailments, or nutrient and pharmacological medications). The Thermo Scientific TSQ arrangement mass spectrometer instrument family, joined with high determination GC or UHPLC, offers unmatched versatility and affectability to chosen  particle response checking (SRM) tests for the measure of  endogenous metabolites and lipids utilizing Thermo Scientific Trace Finder and LC Quan programming. Translational Biomarker Discovery Core incorporate identifying, approving and creating the pre-clinical biomarkers for building up the locality of complaint, observant reduction stature, deciding the viability of specific remedial conventions, and regulating the selection of specific useful mediations. Connecting the implications of biomarker studies utilizing protein-protein association methodologies will facilitate with frameworks science approaches and will prompt theory era and recognizable proof of latest medication targets. Science Minister David Willetts has declared £48 million of latest speculation to store studies on ventures went for handling well-being problems.

Relevant Conferences: Second International Conference on Current Trends in Mass spectrometry analysis May 09-11, 2016 Chicago, USA; Asia Pacific Mass spectrum analysis Congress October 13-15, 2016 Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur; Seventh International Conference on Biomarkers & Clinical Research analysis, Nov 28-30, 2016, Baltimore, USA; Seventh International Conference and Exhibition on Analytical & Bio analytical Techniques, Sept 29-Oct 01, 2016 , Miami, USA; Second International Conference on Genetic and Protein Engineering ,November 14-16, 2016 Atlanta, USA; LIPID MAPS Annual Meeting 2016: Lipidomics Impact on Metabolic, Cancer, cardiovascular and Inflammatory Diseases, may 17 – 18, 2016, La Jolla, USA; 64th ASMS Conference, 5–9 June 2016 San Antonio, TX; 21st International Mass spectrum analysis Conference (IMSC 2016),August 20-26, 2016,Toronto, Canada; 17th International Meeting: Cell & Molecular biology Of Chlamydomonas, June 26 – July 1 2016, Kyoto, Japan.

Track 9 : Plant & Environmental Metabolomics

Metabolomics is examination of endogenous and exogenous low mass metabolites within a cell, tissue, or bio fluid of an organic structure in presence of light of an outer aggravation. The sub-control of environmental metabolomics is utilization of metabolomic ways to analyze the connections of life forms with their surroundings. Drug metabolism system is procedure by which the body separates and changes over pharmaceutical into dynamic concoction substances. Toxicology is the branch of bio medical science that arrangements with the impacts of artificial compound used as a section of the conclusion, treatment, or antidotal action of complaint or alternative uncommon condition on the body. Plant Metabolomics is to consider the plant framework at the sub-atomic level giving non-one-sided characterization of the whole metabolite pool (metabolome) of plants beneath explicit conditions. Usage of the Metabolomics, is a very better understanding of the correlation between genes and therefore the biochemical composition of a tissue of the plant in response to its surroundings (phenotype) is obtained, and this info is further more accustomed to assess function of the gene operate (genotype). Four joint U.S. also, Japanese research analysis teams have recompensed subsidizing totaling approximately $12 million (about Yen 960 million) to grow new naturally well-disposed methods to expand the creation of renewable biofuel and reduce chemical use.

Relevant Conferences: 2nd International Conference on Current Trends in Mass spectroscopic analysis May 09-11, 2016 Chicago, USA; Asia Pacific Mass spectroscopy Congress October 13-15, 2016 Malaysian Capital, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; International Summit on Plant Science, October 31-November 02, 2016 Baltimore, USA San Antonio, USA; International Conference on Plant Physiology, June 09-11, 2016, Dallas, USA; International Conference on Clinical and Molecular Genetics, November 28-30, 2016, Chicago, USA; HPLC 2016, June 19-24, 2016, San Francisco, USA; 21st International Mass spectroscopic analysis Conference (IMSC 2016),August 20-26, 2016,Toronto, Canada; Plant Metabolic Engineering, July 19-24, 2016, Waterville valley, NH; 11th International Congress of  Plant Molecular Biology (IPMB), October 25-30, 2015 Foz do Iguazu, Brazil.

Track 10 : Food & Nutritional Metabolomics

Unlike the other ‘omics’ technologies (proteomics, genomics …etc.), metabolomics provides organic understanding that mirrors each individual’s one amongst a kind of hereditary distinctive mark, also as means of life, intake of routine food and surroundings. Utilizing metabolomics, scientists will quantitatively dissect non-hereditary variables that includes in post genomic and posttranscriptional modification. Nutritional metabolomics is fast developing to utilize very little atom substance identification to bolster incorporation of intake program and sustenance in complicated bio systems analysis. Nutrigenomics is the branch of nutritional genetic science and is the study of the resulted effects of food and food constituents on gene expression. Foodomics has been recently outlined as a brand new discipline that studies food and nutrition domains through the appliance of advanced omics technologies within which MS techniques are considered indispensable. Applications of Foodomics embodies the genomic, Transcriptomics, proteomic, and/or metabolomic study of foods for compound identification, credibility, and/or biomarker-detection associated with food quality or safety; the development of latest transgenic foods, food contaminants, and whole toxicity studies; new investigations on food bioactivity, food effects on human health. The University of Michigan Nutrition obesity research center (UM NORC) started in 2010, supported by the National Institute of diabetes and digestive and kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The UM NORC is one among of Twelve U.S. focuses supposed to maneuver and backing translational, multi-disciplinary exploration in ponderosity and sustenance, over the continuum of elementary science to applications in pupil (solution) and populations (public health).

Relevant Conferences: Fifth International Conference on Clinical Nutrition, San Antonio, November 28-30, 2016; USA; Sixth International Conference and Exhibition on Diet and Nutrition, August 18-20, 2016 London, UK; 2nd International Conference on lipid Science & Technology, Oct 06-08, 2016 Maimi, USA; International Conference on Environmental toxicology and Ecological Risk Assessment , August 25-26, 2016 Sao Paulo, Brazil; 2nd International Conference on livestock Nutrition, July 21-22, 2016 Brisbane, Australia; Tenth Congress of the International Society of Nutrigenetics & Nutrigenomics (ISNN), May 22-26, 2016, Tel Aviv, Israel; Max Rubner Conference 2016: Food Metabolomics, Oct 10-12,2016, Germany.

Track 11: Metabolomic devices

Metabolomics, alternately metabolomics, a rising field of biochemical exploration, could be a reciprocal procedure to the genomics, Transcriptomics, and proteomics. Direct quantitative estimations of metabolite expressions in pee, serum, plasma, and tissue are very crucial for the investigation of organic procedures in typical and malady states. Beyond the number of metabolites in a natural example is intensive partition science assumes an essential part in metabolomic analysis. Atomic attractive reverberation (NMR) spectrscopy is especially capable for centered investigation since its quantitative, reproducible, and appropriate for advanced examples, as an example, blood, pee, or tissue removes with much zero getting ready. Thermo Fisher, AB SCIEX, and Bruker likewise provide instruments for imaging MS, in addition known as MALDI imaging. To fulfill difficulties of search ability and knowledge reconciliation, the metabolomics cluster incorporates a few activities to make up info vaults. Cases are Metabolites within the UK, bolstered by the European COSMOS (Coordination of Standards in Metabolomics) association that’s making metabolomics info norms, and Metabolomics work bench, which suggests being the database for NIH-subsidized metabolomics ventures. Thermo Fisher groups up with Fiehn on, a free community database that features actual and virtual MS spectra with unknown compounds to be annotated as they’re known.

Relevant Conferences: 2nd International Conference on Current Trends in Mass spectroscopic analysis May 09-11, 2016 Chicago, USA; Asia Pacific Mass spectroscopic analysis Congress October 13-15, 2016 National capital, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Seventh International Conference on Biomarkers & Clinical Research analysis, November 28-30, 2016, Baltimore, USA; Seventh International Conference and Exhibition on Analytical & Bio analytical Techniques, Sept 29-Oct 01, 2016 , Miami, USA; 2nd International Conference on Genetic and Protein Engineering ,November 14-16, 2016 Atlanta, USA; Lipid MAPS Annual Meeting 2016: Lipidomics Impact on Metabolic, Cancer, cardiovascular and Inflammatory Diseases, May 17- 18, 2016, La Jolla, USA; Sixty fourth ASMS Conference, 5–9 June 2016 city, TX; twenty first International Mass spectroscopy analysis Conference (IMSC 2016),August 20-26, 2016,Toronto, Canada; Seventeenth International Meeting: Cell & Molecular biology Of Chlamydomonas, June 26 – July 1 2016, Kyoto, Japan.

Track 12 : Analytical Platforms in Metabolomics

In metabolomics, real endeavors are the resources into the advancement of appropriate scientific methodologies. Metabolomics, the foremost youngest field within the ‘omics family, is growing quickly. Developing directly behind genomics, Transcriptomics, and proteomics, metabolomics is the intensive examination of very little particle metabolites. In subsequent to most metabolites are made by enzymatic proteins that outcome from quality expression, and metabolites provide creatures their biochemical attributes, the metabolome links genotype with phenotypic constitution. Metabolomics is so far growing, however, as merchants regulate division and discovery instruments to fulfill its difficulties and also the examination cluster deciphers and incorporates the fascinating data they’re gaining. The late fast advancement of a scope of fact-finding stages, as well as GC, HPLC, UPLC, CE coupled to MS and NMR spectrum analysis, might empower partition, identification, portrayal and analysis of such metabolites and connected metabolic pathways. Proceeded with improvement of those diagnostic stages can quicken so much reaching use and coordination of metabolomics into frameworks science. NIH Awards $1.6M to Fund microRNA Biomarker analysis in Cancer, Alzheimer’s. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation these days declared $7.7 million in finance for ten new grants to spot biomarkers for the diagnosis of Tuberculosis (TB) in low-resource settings.

Relevant Conferences: 2nd International Conference on Current Trends in Mass spectrometry May 09-11, 2016 Chicago, USA; Asia Pacific Mass spectrometryCongress October 13-15, 2016 Malaysian Capital, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Seventh International Conference on Biomarkers &  Clinical analysis, Nov 28-30, 2016, Baltimore, USA; Seventh International Conference and Exhibition onAnalytical & Bio analytical Techniques, Sept 29-Oct 01, 2016 , Miami, USA; 2nd International Conference on Genetic and Protein Engineering ,November 14-16, 2016 Atlanta, USA; Lipid MAPS Annual Meeting 2016: Lipidomics Impact onMetabolic, Cancer, Cardiovascular and Inflammatory Diseases, May 17 – 18, 2016, La Jolla, USA; 64th ASMS Conference, 5–9 June 2016 San Antonio, TX; 21st International Mass spectrometry Conference (IMSC 2016),August 20-26, 2016,Toronto, Canada; 17th International Meeting: Cell & Molecular Biology of Chlamydomonas, June 26 – July 1 2016, Kyoto, Japan.

Track 13 : Data Analysis & Systems Biology

Systems biology is a field within biology aimed at understanding biological processes at Systems biology is field with in the biology aimed towards understanding biological processes at the systems level and rising from dynamic interactions of individual parts operational at multiple spatiotemporal scales. Systems biology considers organic Systems by with efficiency bothering them (organically, hereditarily, or artificially); observant the standard, protein, and academic pathway reactions; incorporating these information; eventually, coming up with numerical models that portray the structure of the framework and anticipate its reaction to individual irritations. Integrated “omics” approaches have created energizing open doors for Systems science and different organic examines. Decreases within the expense of manufacturing genomic info have created DNA sequencing, RNA-Seq, ad high-throughput screening an undeniably imperative piece of biomedical exploration. The National Institute of medicine Sciences (NIGMS), The organization of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) supporting basic analysis and research getting ready, declared shortly past that it’d build up 2 new divisions — together with one targeting biomedical innovation, bioinformatics, and computational biology  – – as a part of a reorganization that includes the dissolution of the NIH National Center for analysis Resources (NCRR) that has had a history of supporting scientific computing.

Relevant Conferences:7th International Conference on Biomarkers & Clinical analysis, Nov 28-30, 2016, Baltimore, USA; Sixth International Conference & expo on Proteomics March 29-30, 2016, Atlanta, USA; fifth International Conference on Computational Systems Biology , August 22-23, 2016 Philadelphia, USA ; second  International Conference on Current Trends in Mass spectrometry May 09-11, 2016 Chicago, USA; sixth International Conference on Genomics & Pharmacogenomics, Sep 22-24, 2016, Berlin, Germany; The personalized medication World Conference (PMWC) 2016, San Francisco, USA; seventeenth International Meeting: Cell molecular biology of Chlamydomonas, June 26 – July 1 2016, Kyoto, Japan; Eighteenth International Conference on Genetics and Molecular biology, October 10 – 11, 2016, Osaka, Japan; Thirteenth International Congress of Human Genetics science, April 3-7 2016, Kyoto, Japan.

Track 14 : Enhancing Analytical Approaches

The speedily growing space of “metabolomics,” during which an oversized range of metabolites from body fluids, cells or tissue area unit detected quantitatively, in a very single step, guarantees vast potential for huge count of disciplines as well as early illness diagnosing, therapy observance, systems biology, drug discovery and nutritional science. As a result of its ability to sight an oversized range of metabolites in intact biological samples reproducibly and quantitatively, nuclear resonance (NMR) spectrum analysis has emerged jointly of the foremost powerful analytical techniques in metabolomics. Metabolome, Agilent Technologies, Thermo Scientific, Chenomx and Human Metabolome Technologies, Bio crates Life Sciences, and Metanomics is the most leaders within the metabolomics area. They’re active in many aspects of this market: medically special diagnose development, identification services, tutorial collaborations, and even acquisitions. Through the NIH Common Fund’s Increasing Metabolomics analysis capability program External web site Policy, the NIH has committed over $65 million to accelerate the sector of metabolomics over following 5 years. The goal of this funding program is to advance many core areas, as well as comprehensive metabolomics resource cores, metabolomics technology development, metabolomics reference standards synthesis, and coaching and academic activities in metabolomics.

Relevant Conferences: Asia Pacific Mass spectrometry Congress Oct 13-15, 2016 Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia; Seventh International Conference on Biomarkers & Clinical analysis, November 28-30, 2016, Baltimore, USA; 2nd International Conference on Current Trends in Mass Spectrometry analysis May 09-11, 2016 Chicago, USA; Seventh International Conference and Exhibition on Analytical & Bio analytical Techniques, Sept 29-Oct 01, 2016 , Miami, USA; 2nd International Conference on Genetic and protein Engineering ,November 14-16, 2016 Atlanta, USA; Macromolecule MAPS Annual Meeting 2016: Lipidomics Impact on Metabolic, Cancer, Cardiovascular and Inflammatory Diseases, May 17 – 18, 2016, La Jolla, USA; Sixty fourth ASMS Conference, 5–9 June 2016 city, TX; Twenty first International Mass spectroscopic analysis Conference (IMSC 2016),August 20-26, 2016,Toronto, Canada; Seventeenth International Meeting: Cell & molecular biology Of Chlamydomonas, June 26 – July 1 2016, Kyoto, Japan.

Track 15 : Case Reports 

Case reports are a vital direct wellspring of confirmation in pharmaceutical and a device regularly utilized as a part of practice to trade data and create a more extended quest for proof. A decent case report will be clear about the significance of the perception being accounted for. A good case report will be clear about the importance of the observation being reported. In addition to the “evidence of what happened”, single or multiple cases are an important basis for further and more advanced research on diagnosis, treatment adequacy, reasons and results of ailment. Case reports might be first to give signs in distinguishing another ailment or unfriendly wellbeing impact from a presentation. Case reports must be authentic, understandable, educational and clinically interesting to an international audience of surgeons, trainees and researchers in all surgical subspecialties, as well as clinicians in related fields.

Relevant Conferences: International Conference on Case Reports, March 31-April 02, 2016 Valencia, Spain; 2nd  International Meeting on Clinical Case Reports , April 18-20, 2016 Dubai, UAE; 3rd Experts Meeting on Medical Case Reports , May 09-11, 2016 New Orleans, USA; 2nd International Conference and Exhibition on Molecular Medicine and Diagnostics, September 26-28, 2016 Miami, USA; 4th International Conference on Predictive, Preventive and Personalized Medicine & Molecular Diagnostics, September 19-21 2016, Phoenix, USA; Autumn Conference 2016 Case Report  discussion, October 15-16,2016, Birmingham, UK; 17th International Meeting: Cell & Molecular Biology Of Chlamydomonas, June 26-July 1 2016, Kyoto, Japan; 13th International Congress of Human Genetics, April 3-7 2016, Kyoto, Japan; IMPAKT  Breast Cancer Conference,  May 12-14 2016, Brussels, Belgium; International Conference on General Medicine & Dental Practise, Nov 7-9, 2016 Istanbul, Turkey; The Personalized Medicine World Conference (PMWC), May 11-13, 2016, San Francisco, USA;


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Targeting Cardio-Metabolic Diseases and Metabolomics in Drug Discovery – CHI’s 14th Annual Discovery On Target September 19-22, 2016 | Westin Boston Waterfront — Boston, MA

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


14th Annual Discovery On Target
September 19-22, 2016 | Westin Boston Waterfront — Boston, MA

2016 Prospectus Download | Current Sponsors | Current Exhibitors & Floorplan

Sponsorship Opportunities | 2015 Attendee List

Hello Aviva,

I wanted to inform you of the opportunity to meet with thought leaders at the 14th Annual Discovery On Target event, taking place September 19-22, 2016 in Boston attending the Targeting Cardio-Metabolic Diseases and Metabolomics in Drug Discovery conference programs. As a sponsor and/or exhibitor of this meeting, you have the opportunity to speak and network with 1,100+ attendees from 20+ countries composed of scientists, executives, directors, and managers from large biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

Delivering a sponsored presentation during the conference program is the most effective way to access even the hardest-to-reach decision makers from within your target market. This will increase your scientific presence and drive more qualified leads to your booth space, maximizing your ROI.

Please see the session topics, below:

This conference focuses on new cardiometabolic drug targets, mostly PCSK9 and the connections between cardiometabolic disease and liver metabolism, especially as manifested in a disease of the fatty liver, NASH (Non-Alcoholic SteatoHepatitis). 

Topics include:

  • New Cardiometabolic Drug Targets and PCSK9
  • NASH: Non-Alcohlic Steatohepatitis and Cardiometabolism

This conference will emphasize presentations that analyze metabolomics data in a larger context of cellular functioning or disease states. A few introductory type presentations will highlight the current state of the field and its major technologies.

Topics include:

  • Metabolomics Overview and Technologies
  • Disease-Focused Research Stemming from the Metabolomic Analysis
  • Cancer Metabolism

Opportunities are available for sponsored presentations during the conference agenda, One-on-One Meetings, and exhibit opportunities. Act now, as priority placement is given to companies who sign on early. We can customize a sponsorship package to meet your company’s needs and reach your target audience. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you!

Kind regards,

Jon Stroup

Senior Manager, Business Development
T: 781.972.5483
F: 781.972.5452

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2016 Prospectus Now Available!



From: Jon Stroup <>

Date: Monday, June 13, 2016 at 2:40 PM

To: Aviva Lev-Ari <>

Subject: Targeting Cardio-Metabolic Diseases & Metabolomics in Drug Discovery

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New Studies toward Understanding Alzheimer Disease

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


There is no unifying concept of Alzheimer Disease beyond the Tau and beta amyloid roles.  Recently, Ingenbleek and Bernstein (journal AD) made the connection between the age related decline of liver synthesis of plasma transthyretin and the more dramatic decline of transthyretin at the blood brain barrier, and the relationship to inability to transfer vitamin A via retinol binding protein to the brain.  Related metabolic events are reported by several groups.


What else is New?


Amyloid-β peptide protects against microbial infection in mouse and worm models of Alzheimer’s disease.

Kumar DK, Choi SH, Washicosky KJ, Eimer WA, Tucker S, Ghofrani J, Lefkowitz A, McColl G, Goldstein LE, Tanzi RE, Moir RD.

Sci Transl Med. 2016 May 25;8(340):340ra72.

They show that Aβ oligomerization, a behavior traditionally viewed as intrinsically pathological, may be necessary for the antimicrobial activities of the peptide. Collectively, our data are consistent with a model in which soluble Aβ oligomers first bind to microbial cell wall carbohydrates via a heparin-binding domain. Developing protofibrils inhibited pathogen adhesion to host cells. Propagating β-amyloid fibrils mediate agglutination and eventual entrapment of unatttached microbes….Salmonella Typhimurium bacterial infection of the brains of transgenic 5XFAD mice resulted in rapid seeding and accelerated β-amyloid deposition, which closely colocalized with the invading bacteria.

This is quite interesting in that infection drives the production of acute phase reactants resulting in decreased production of transthyretin.  Whether this also has ties to chronic disease in the elderly and risk of AD is not known.

Gain-of-function mutations in protein kinase Cα (PKCα) may promote synaptic defects in Alzheimer’s disease.

Alfonso SI, Callender JA, Hooli B, Antal CE, Mullin K, Sherman MA, Lesné SE, Leitges M, Newton AC, Tanzi RE, Malinow R.

Sci Signal. 2016 May 10;9(427):ra47.

Through whole-genome sequencing of 1345 individuals from 410 families with late-onset AD (LOAD), they identified three highly penetrant variants in PRKCA, the gene that encodes protein kinase Cα (PKCα), in five of the families. All three variants linked with LOAD displayed increased catalytic activity relative to wild-type PKCα as assessed in live-cell imaging experiments using a genetically encoded PKC activity reporter. Deleting PRKCA in mice or adding PKC antagonists to mouse hippocampal slices infected with a virus expressing the Aβ precursor CT100 revealed that PKCα was required for the reduced synaptic activity caused by Aβ. In PRKCA(-/-) neurons expressing CT100, introduction of PKCα, but not PKCα lacking a PDZ interaction moiety, rescued synaptic depression, suggesting that a scaffolding interaction bringing PKCα to the synapse is required for its mediation of the effects of Aβ. Thus, enhanced PKCα activity may contribute to AD, possibly by mediating the actions of Aβ on synapses.


Science Signaling Podcast for 10 May 2016: PKCα in Alzheimer’s disease.

Newton AC, Tanzi RE, VanHook AM.

Sci Signal. 2016 May 10;9(427):pc11. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.aaf9436.

Relevance of the COPI complex for Alzheimer’s disease progression in vivo.

Bettayeb K, Hooli BV, Parrado AR, Randolph L, Varotsis D, Aryal S, Gresack J,Tanzi RE, Greengard P, Flajolet M.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 May 10;113(19):5418-23.

Inhibition of death-associated protein kinase 1 attenuates the phosphorylation and amyloidogenic processing of amyloid precursor protein.

Kim BM, You MH, Chen CH, Suh J, Tanzi RE, Ho Lee T.

Hum Mol Genet. 2016 Apr 19. pii: ddw114.

Extracellular deposition of amyloid-beta (Aβ) peptide, a metabolite of sequential cleavage of amyloid precursor protein (APP), is a critical step in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). While death-associated protein kinase 1 (DAPK1) is highly expressed in AD brains and its genetic variants are linked to AD risk, little is known about the impact of DAPK1 on APP metabolism and Aβ generation. This study demonstrated a novel effect of DAPK1 in the regulation of APP processing using cell culture and mouse models. DAPK1, but not its kinase deficient mutant (K42A), significantly increased human Aβ secretion in neuronal cell culture models. Moreover, knockdown of DAPK1 expression or inhibition of DAPK1 catalytic activity significantly decreased Aβ secretion. Furthermore, DAPK1, but not K42A, triggered Thr668 phosphorylation of APP, which may initiate and facilitate amyloidogenic APP processing leading to the generation of Aβ. In Tg2576 APPswe-overexpressing mice, knockout of DAPK1 shifted APP processing toward non-amyloidogenic pathway and decreased Aβ generation. Finally, in AD brains, elevated DAPK1 levels showed co-relation with the increase of APP phosphorylation. Combined together, these results suggest that DAPK1 promotes the phosphorylation and amyloidogenic processing of APP, and that may serve a potential therapeutic target for AD.

Recapitulating amyloid β and tau pathology in human neural cell culture models: clinical implications.

Choi SH, Kim YH, D’Avanzo C, Aronson J, Tanzi RE, Kim DY.

US Neurol. 2015 Fall;11(2):102-105.    Free PMC Article

The “amyloid β hypothesis” of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has been the reigning hypothesis explaining pathogenic mechanisms of AD over the last two decades. However, this hypothesis has not been fully validated in animal models, and several major unresolved issues remain. Our 3D human neural cell culture model system provides a premise for a new generation of cellular AD models that can serve as a novel platform for studying pathogenic mechanisms and for high-throughput drug screening in a human brain-like environment.

The two key pathological hallmarks of AD are senile plaques (amyloid plaques) and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), which develop in brain regions responsible for memory and cognitive functions (i.e. cerebral cortex and limbic system) 3. Senile plaques are extracellular deposits of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides, while NFTs are intracellular, filamentous aggregates of hyperphosphorylated tau protein 4.

The identification of Aβ as the main component of senile plaques by Drs. Glenner and Wong in 1984 5 resulted in the original formation of the “amyloid hypothesis.” According to this hypothesis, which was later renamed the “amyloid-β cascade hypothesis” by Drs. Hardy and Higgins 6, the accumulation of Aβ is the initial pathological trigger in the disease, subsequently leading to hyperphosphorylation of tau, causing NFTs, and ultimately, neuronal death and dementia 4,710. Although the details have been modified to reflect new findings, the core elements of this hypothesis remain unchanged: excess accumulation of the pathogenic forms of Aβ, by altered Aβ production and/or clearance, triggers the vicious pathogenic cascades that eventually lead to NFTs and neuronal death.

Over the last two decades, the Aβ hypothesis of AD has reigned, providing the foundation for numerous basic studies and clinical trials 4,7,10,11. According to this hypothesis, the accumulation of Aβ, either by altered Aβ production and/or clearance, is the initial pathological trigger in the disease. The excess accumulation of Aβ then elicits a pathogenic cascade including synaptic deficits, altered neuronal activity, inflammation, oxidative stress, neuronal injury, hyperphosphorylation of tau causing NFTs and ultimately, neuronal death and dementia 4,710.

One of the major unresolved issues of the Aβ hypothesis is to show a direct causal link between Aβ and NFTs 1214. Studies have demonstrated that treatments with various forms of soluble Aβ oligomers induced synaptic deficits and neuronal injury, as well as hyperphosphorylation of tau proteins, in mouse and rat neurons, which could lead to NFTs and neurodegeneration in vivo 1821. However, transgenic AD mouse models carrying single or multiple human familial AD (FAD) mutations in amyloid precursor protein (APP) and/or presenilin 1 (PS1) do not develop NFTs or robust neurodegeneration as observed in human patients, despite robust Aβ deposition 13,22,23. Double and triple transgenic mouse models, harboring both FAD and tau mutations linked with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), are the only rodent models to date displaying both amyloid plaques and NFTs. However, the NFT pathology in these models stems mainly from the overexpression of human tau as a result of the FTD, rather than the FAD mutations24,25.

Human neurons carrying FAD mutations are an optimal model to test whether elevated levels of pathogenic Aβ trigger pathogenic cascades including NFTs, since those cells truly share the same genetic background that induces FAD in humans. Indeed, Israel et al., observed elevated tau phosphorylation in neurons with an APP duplication FAD mutation 33. Blocking Aβ generation by β-secretase inhibitors significantly decreased tau phosphorylation in the same model, but γ-secretase inhibitor, another Aβ blocker, did not affect tau phosphorylation 33. Neurons with the APP V717I FAD mutation also showed an increase in levels of phospho tau and total tau levels 28. More importantly, Muratore and colleagues showed that treatments with Aβ-neutralizing antibodies in those cells significantly reduced the elevated total and phospho tau levels at the early stages of differentiation, suggesting that blocking pathogenic Aβ can reverse the abnormal tau accumulation in APP V717I neurons 28.

Recently, Moore et al. also reported that neurons harboring the APP V717I or the APP duplication FAD mutation showed increases in both total and phospho tau levels 27. Interestingly, altered tau levels were not detected in human neurons carrying PS1 FAD mutations, which significantly increased pathogenic Aβ42 species in the same cells 27. These data suggest that elevated tau levels in these models were not due to extracellular Aβ accumulation but may possibly represent a very early stage of tauopathy. It may also be due to developmental alterations induced by the APP FAD mutations.

As summarized, most human FAD neurons showed significant increases in pathogenic Aβ species, while only APP FAD neurons showed altered tau metabolism that may represent very early stages of tauopathy. However, all of these human FAD neurons failed to recapitulate robust extracellular amyloid plaques, NFTs, or any signs of neuronal death, as predicted in the amyloid hypothesis.

In our recent study, we moved one step closer to proving the amyloid hypothesis. By generating human neural stem cell lines carrying multiple mutations in APP together with PS1, we achieved high levels of pathogenic Aβ42 comparable to those in brains of AD patients 4446.

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Platform for AD drug screening in human neural progenitor cells with FAD mutations in a 3D culture system, which successfully reproduce human AD pathogenesis (amyloid plaques-driven tauopathy).

In addition to the impact on toxic Aβ species, our 3D culture model can test if these antibodies can block tau pathologies in 3D human neural cell culture systems 4446. Human cellular AD models can also be used to determine optimal doses of candidate AD drugs to block Aβ and/or tau pathology without affecting neuronal survival (Fig. 1).

While much progress has been made, many challenges still lie on the path to creating human neural cell culture models that comprehensively recapitulate pathogenic cascades of AD. A major difficulty lies in reconstituting the brain regions most affected in AD: the hippocampus and specific cortical layers. Recent progress in 3D culture technology, such as “cerebral organoids,” may also be helpful in rebuilding the brain structures that are affected by AD in a dish 52,53. These “cerebral organoids” were able to model various discrete brain regions including human cortical areas 52, which enabled them to reproduce microcephaly, a brain developmental disorder. Similarly, pathogenic cascades of AD may be recapitulated in cortex-like structures using this model. Adding neuroinflammatory components, such as microglial cells, which are critical in AD pathogenesis, will illuminate the validity of the amyloid β hypothesis. Reconstitution of robust neuronal death stemming from Aβ and tau pathologies will be the next major step in comprehensively recapitulating AD in a cellular model.


Family-based association analyses of imputed genotypes reveal genome-wide significant association of Alzheimer’s disease with OSBPL6, PTPRG, and PDCL3.

Herold C, Hooli BV, Mullin K, Liu T, Roehr JT, Mattheisen M, Parrado AR, Bertram L, Lange C, Tanzi RE.

Mol Psychiatry. 2016 Feb 2.

Relationship between ubiquilin-1 and BACE1 in human Alzheimer’s disease and APdE9 transgenic mouse brain and cell-based models.

Natunen T, Takalo M, Kemppainen S, Leskelä S, Marttinen M, Kurkinen KM, Pursiheimo JP, Sarajärvi T, Viswanathan J, Gabbouj S, Solje E, Tahvanainen E, Pirttimäki T, Kurki M, Paananen J, Rauramaa T, Miettinen P, Mäkinen P, Leinonen V, Soininen H, Airenne K, Tanzi RE, Tanila H, Haapasalo A, Hiltunen M.

Neurobiol Dis. 2016 Jan;85:187-205.

Accumulation of β-amyloid (Aβ) and phosphorylated tau in the brain are central events underlying Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathogenesis. Aβ is generated from amyloid precursor protein (APP) by β-site APP-cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1) and γ-secretase-mediated cleavages. Ubiquilin-1, a ubiquitin-like protein, genetically associates with AD and affects APP trafficking, processing and degradation. Here, we have investigated ubiquilin-1 expression in human brain in relation to AD-related neurofibrillary pathology and the effects of ubiquilin-1 overexpression on BACE1, tau, neuroinflammation, and neuronal viability in vitro in co-cultures of mouse embryonic primary cortical neurons and microglial cells under acute neuroinflammation as well as neuronal cell lines, and in vivo in the brain of APdE9 transgenic mice at the early phase of the development of Aβ pathology. Ubiquilin-1 expression was decreased in human temporal cortex in relation to the early stages of AD-related neurofibrillary pathology (Braak stages 0-II vs. III-IV). There was a trend towards a positive correlation between ubiquilin-1 and BACE1 protein levels. Consistent with this, ubiquilin-1 overexpression in the neuron-microglia co-cultures with or without the induction of neuroinflammation resulted in a significant increase in endogenously expressed BACE1 levels. Sustained ubiquilin-1 overexpression in the brain of APdE9 mice resulted in a moderate, but insignificant increase in endogenous BACE1 levels and activity, coinciding with increased levels of soluble Aβ40 and Aβ42. BACE1 levels were also significantly increased in neuronal cells co-overexpressing ubiquilin-1 and BACE1. Ubiquilin-1 overexpression led to the stabilization of BACE1 protein levels, potentially through a mechanism involving decreased degradation in the lysosomal compartment. Ubiquilin-1 overexpression did not significantly affect the neuroinflammation response, but decreased neuronal viability in the neuron-microglia co-cultures under neuroinflammation. Taken together, these results suggest that ubiquilin-1 may mechanistically participate in AD molecular pathogenesis by affecting BACE1 and thereby APP processing and Aβ accumulation.

Correction to Cathepsin L Mediates the Degradation of Novel APP C-Terminal Fragments.

Wang H, Sang N, Zhang C, Raghupathi R, Tanzi RE, Saunders A.

Biochemistry. 2015 Sep 22;54(37):5781. Epub 2015 Sep 8. No abstract available.

Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center: progress and challenges.

Hyman BT, Growdon JH, Albers MW, Buckner RL, Chhatwal J, Gomez-Isla MT, Haass C, Hudry E, Jack CR Jr, Johnson KA, Khachaturian ZS, Kim DY, Martin JB, Nitsch RM, Rosen BR, Selkoe DJ, Sperling RA, St George-Hyslop P, Tanzi RE, Yap L, Young AB, Phelps CH, McCaffrey PG.

Alzheimers Dement. 2015 Oct;11(10):1241-5. Epub 2015 Aug 19. No abstract available.

Alzheimer’s in 3D culture: challenges and perspectives.

D’Avanzo C, Aronson J, Kim YH, Choi SH, Tanzi RE, Kim DY.

Bioessays. 2015 Oct;37(10):1139-48. doi: 10.1002/bies.201500063. Epub 2015 Aug 7. Review.

Synaptotagmins interact with APP and promote Aβ generation.

Gautam V, D’Avanzo C, Berezovska O, Tanzi RE, Kovacs DM.

Mol Neurodegener. 2015 Jul 23;10:31. doi: 10.1186/s13024-015-0028-5.

Near-infrared fluorescence molecular imaging of amyloid beta species and monitoring therapy in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease.

Zhang X, Tian Y, Zhang C, Tian X, Ross AW, Moir RD, Sun H, Tanzi RE, Moore A, Ran C.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Aug 4;112(31):9734-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1505420112. Epub 2015 Jul 21.

A 3D human neural cell culture system for modeling Alzheimer’s disease.

Kim YH, Choi SH, D’Avanzo C, Hebisch M, Sliwinski C, Bylykbashi E, Washicosky KJ, Klee JB, Brüstle O, Tanzi RE, Kim DY.

Nat Protoc. 2015 Jul;10(7):985-1006. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2015.065. Epub 2015 Jun 11.

Cathepsin L Mediates the Degradation of Novel APP C-Terminal Fragments.

Wang H, Sang N, Zhang C, Raghupathi R, Tanzi RE, Saunders A.

Biochemistry. 2015 May 12;54(18):2806-16. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.5b00329. Epub 2015 Apr 28. Erratum in: Biochemistry. 2015 Sep 22;54(37):5781.

γ-Secretase modulators reduce endogenous amyloid β42 levels in human neural progenitor cells without altering neuronal differentiation.

D’Avanzo C, Sliwinski C, Wagner SL, Tanzi RE, Kim DY, Kovacs DM.

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PLD3 gene variants and Alzheimer’s disease.

Hooli BV, Lill CM, Mullin K, Qiao D, Lange C, Bertram L, Tanzi RE.

Nature. 2015 Apr 2;520(7545):E7-8. doi: 10.1038/nature14040. No abstract available.

Read Full Post »

Insights into the Metabolome

Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP



Updated 6/3/2016


Tapping the Metabolome

Genes, Transcripts, Proteins—All Have Come into Their “-Ome”     GEN May 15, 2016 (Vol. 36, No. 10)



The retina is responsible for capturing images from the visual field. Retinitis pigmentosa, which refers to a group of inherited diseases that cause retinal degeneration, causes a gradual decline in vision because retinal photoreceptor cells (rods and cones) die. Images on the left are courtesy of the National Eye Institute, NIH; image on the right is courtesy of Robert Fariss, Ph.D., and Ann Milam, Ph.D., National Eye Institute, NIH.

Metabolomics, the comprehensive evaluation of the products of cellular processes, can provide new findings and insight in a vast array of diseases and dysfunctions. Though promising, metabolomics lacks the standing of genomics or proteomics. It is, in a manner of speaking, the new kid on the “omics” block.

Even though metabolomics is still an emerging discipline, at least some quarters are giving it a warm welcome. For example, metabolomics is being advanced by the Common Fund, an initiate of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Common Fund has established six national metabolomics cores. In addition, individual agencies within NIH, such as the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), are releasing solicitations focused on growing more detailed metabolomics programs.

Whether metabolomic studies are undertaken with or without public support, they share certain characteristics and challenges. Untargeted or broad-spectrum studies are used for hypotheses generation, whereas targeted studies probe specific compounds or pathways. Reproducibility is a major challenge in the field; many studies cannot be reproduced in larger cohorts. Carefully defined guidance and standard operating procedures for sample collection and processing are needed.

While these challenges are being addressed, researchers are patiently amassing metabolomic insights in several areas, such as retinal diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and autoimmune diseases. In addition, metabolomic sleuths are availing themselves of a growing selection of investigative tools.

A Metabolomic Eye on Retinal Degeneration

The retina has one of the highest metabolic activities of any tissue in the body and is composed of multiple cell types. This fact suggests that metabolomics might be helpful in understanding retinal degeneration. At least, that’s what occurred to Ellen Weiss, Ph.D., a professor of cell biology and physiology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill. To explore this possibility, Dr. Weiss began collaborating with Susan Sumner, Ph.D., director of systems and translational sciences at RTI International.

Retinal degeneration is often studied through the use of genetic-mouse models that mimic the disease in humans. In the model used by Dr. Weiss, cells with a disease-causing mutation are the major light-sensing cells that degenerate during the disease. Individuals with the same or a similar genetic mutation will initially lose dim-light vision then, ultimately, bright-light vision and color vision.

Wild-type and mutant phenotypes, as well as dark- and light-raised animals, were compared, since retinal degeneration is exacerbated by light in this genetic model. Retinas were collected as early as day 18, prior to symptomatic disease, and analyzed. Although data analysis is ongoing, distinct differences have emerged between the phenotypes as well as between dark- and light-raised animals.

“There is a clear increase in oxidative stress in both light-raised groups but to a larger extent in the mutant phenotype,” reports Dr. Weiss. “There are global changes in metabolites that suggest mitochondrial dysfunction, and dramatic changes in lipid profiles. Now we need to understand how these metabolites are involved in this eye disease and the relevance of these perturbations.”

For example, the glial cells in the retina that upregulate a number of proteins in response to stress to attempt to save the retina are as likely as the light-receptive neurons to undergo metabolic changes.

“One of the challenges in metabolomics studies is assigning the signals that represent the metabolites or compounds in the samples,” notes Dr. Sumner. “Signals may be ‘unknown unknowns,’ compounds that have never been identified before, or ‘known unknowns,’ compounds that are known but that have not yet been assigned in the biological matrix.”

Internal and external libraries, such as the Human Metabolome Dictionary, are used to match signals. Whether or not a match exists, fragmentation patterns are used to characterize the metabolite, and when possible a standard is obtained to confirm identity. To assist with this process, the NIH Common Fund supports Metabolite Standard Synthesis Cores (MSSCs). RTI International holds an MSSC contract in addition to being a NIH-designated metabolomics core.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Alzheimer’s Disease     

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is difficult to diagnose early due to its asymptomatic phase; accurate diagnosis occurs only in postmortem brain tissue. To evaluate familial AD, a rare inherited form of the disease, the laboratory of Eugenia Trushina, Ph.D., associate professor of neurology and associate professor of pharmacology at the Mayo Clinic, uses mouse models to study the disease’s early molecular mechanisms.

Synaptic loss underlies cognitive dysfunction. The length of neurons dictates that mitochondria move within the cell to provide energy at the site of the synapses. An initial finding was that very early on mitochondrial trafficking was affected reducing energy supply to synapses and distant parts of the cell.

During energy production, the major mitochondrial metabolite is ATP, but the organelle also produces many other metabolites, molecules that are implicated in many pathways. One can assume that changes in energy utilization, production, and delivery are associated with some disturbance.

“Our goal,” explains Dr. Trushina, “was to get a proof of concept that we could detect in the blood of AD patients early changes of mitochondria dysfunction or other changes that could be informative of the disease over time.”

A Mayo Clinic aging study involves a cohort of patients, from healthy to those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) through AD. Patients undergo an annual battery of tests including cognitive function along with blood and cerebrospinal fluid sampling. Metabolic signatures in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid of normal versus various disease stages were compared, and affected mitochondrial and lipid pathways identified in MCI patients that progressed to AD.

“Last year we published on a new compound that goes through the blood/brain barrier, gets into mitochondria, and very specifically, partially inhibits mitochondrial complex I activity, making the cell resistant to oxidative damage,” details Dr. Trushina. “The compound was able to either prevent or slow the disease in the animal familial models.

“Treatment not only reduced levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau, it also restored mitochondrial transport in neurons. Now we have additional compounds undergoing investigation for safety in humans, and target selectivity and engagement.”

“Mitochondria play a huge role in every aspect of our lives,” Dr. Trushina continues. “The discovery seems counterintuitive, but if mitochondria function is at the heart of AD, it may provide insight into the major sporadic form of the disease.”

Distinguishing Types of Asthma

In children, asthma generally manifests as allergy-induced asthma, or allergic asthma. And allergic asthma has commonalities with allergic dermatitis/eczema, food allergies, and allergic rhinitis. In adults, asthma is more heterogeneous, and distinct and varied subpopulations emerge. Some have nonallergic asthma; some have adult-onset asthma; and some have obesity-, occupational-, or exercise-induced asthma.

Adult asthmatics may have markers of TH2 high verus TH2 low asthma (T helper 2 cell cytokines) and they may respond to various triggers—environmental antigens, occupational antigens, irritants such as perfumes and chlorine, and seasonal allergens. Exercise, too, can trigger asthma.

One measure that can phenotype asthmatics is nitric oxide, an exhaled breath biomarker. Nitric oxide is a smooth muscle relaxant, vasodilator, and bronchodilator that can have anti-inflammatory properties. There is a wide range of values in asthmatics, and a number of values are needed to understand the trend in a particular patient. L-arginine is the amino acid that produces nitric oxide when converted to L-citrulline, a nonessential amino acid.

According to Nicholas Kenyon, M.D., a pulmonary and critical care specialist who is co-director of the University of California, Davis Asthma Network (UCAN), some metabolomic studies suggest that there is a state of L-arginine depletion during asthma attacks or in severe asthma suggesting a lack of substrate to produce nitric oxide. Dr. Kenyon is conducting clinical work on L-arginine supplementation in a double-blind cross-over  intervention trial of L-arginine versus placebo. The 50-subject study in severe asthmatics should be concluded in early 2017.

Many new biologic therapies are coming to market to treat asthma; it will be challenging to determine which advanced therapy to provide to which patient. Therapeutics mostly target severe asthma populations and are for patients with evidence of higher numbers of eosinophils in the blood and lung, which include anti-IL-5 and (soon) anti-IL-13, among others.

Tools Development 

Waters is developing metabolomics applications that use multivariate statistical methods to highlight compounds of interest. Typically these applications combine separation procedures, accomplished by means of liquid chromatography or gas chromatography (LC or GC), with detection methods that rely on mass spectrometry (MS). To support the identification, quantification, and analysis of LC-MS data, the company provides bioinformatics software. For example, Progenesis QI software can interrogate publicly available databases and process information about isotopic patterns, retention times, and collision cross-sections.

Mass spectrometry (MS) is the gold standard in metabolomics and lipidomics. But there is a limit to what accurate mass and resolution can achieve. For example, neither isobaric nor isomeric species are resolvable solely by MS. New orthogonal analytical tools will allow more confident identifications.

To improve metabolomics separations before MS detection, a post-ionization separation tool, like ion mobility, which is currently used to support traditional UPLC-MS and MS imaging metabolomics protocols, becomes useful. The collision-cross section (CCS), which measures the shape of molecules, can be derived, and it can be used as an additional identification coordinate.

Other new chromatographic tools are under development, such as microflow devices and UltraPerformance Convergence Chromatography (UPC2), which uses liquid CO2 as its mobile phase, to enable new ways of separating chiral metabolites. Both UPC2 and microflow technologies have decreased solvent consumption and waste disposal while maintaining UPLC-quality performance in terms of chromatographic resolution, robustness, and reproducibility.

Informatics tools are also improving. In the latest versions of Waters’ Progenesis software, typical metabolomics identification problems are resolved by allowing interrogation of publicly available databases and scoring according to accurate mass, isotopic pattern, retention time, CCS, and either theoretical or experimental fragments.

MS imaging techniques, such as MALDI and DESI, provide spatial information about the metabolite composition in tissues. These approaches can be used to support and confirm traditional analyses without sample extraction, and they allow image generation without the use of antibodies, similar to immunohistochemistry.

“Ion-mobility tools will soon be implemented for routine use, and the use of extended CCS databases will help with metabolite identification,” comments Giuseppe Astarita Ph.D., principal scientist, Waters. “More applications of ambient ionization MS will emerge, and they will allow direct-sampling analyses at atmospheric pressure with little or no sample preparation, generating real-time molecular fingerprints that can be used to discriminate among phenotypes.”

Microflow Technology   

Microflow technology offers sensitivity and robustness. For example, at the Proteomics and Metabolomics Facility, Colorado State University, peptide analysis was typically performed using nanoflow chromatography; however, nanoflow chromatography is slow and technically challenging. Moving to microflow offered significant improvements in robustness and ease-of-use and resulted in improved chromatography without sacrificing sensitivity.

Conversely, small molecule applications were typically performed with analytical-scale chromatography. While this flow regime is extremely robust and fast, it can sometimes be limited in sensitivity. Moving to microflow offered significant improvements in sensitivity, 5- to 10-fold depending on the compound, without sacrificing robustness.

But broad-scale microflow adoption is hampered by a lack of available column chemistries and legacy HPLC or UPLC infrastructure that is not conducive to low-flow operation.

“We utilize microflow technology on all of our tandem quadrupole instruments for targeted quantitative assays,” says Jessica Prenni, Ph.D., director, Proteomics and Metabolomics Facility, Colorado State University. “All of our peptide quantitation is exclusively performed with microflow technology, and many of our small molecule assays. Application examples include endocannabinoids, bile acids and plant phytohormone panels.”

Compound annotation and comparability and transparency in data processing and reporting is a challenge in metabolomics research. Multiple groups are actively working on developing new tools and strategies; common best practices need to be adopted.

The continued growth of open-source spectral databases and new tools for spectral prediction from compound databases will dramatically impact the ability for metabolomics to result in novel discoveries. The move to a systems-level understanding through the combination of various omics data also will have a huge influence and be enabled by the continued development of open-source and user-friendly pathway-analysis tools.

 Where Trackless Terrain Once Challenged Biomarker Development, Clearer Paths Are Emerging

Fusion detection can be carried out with traditional opposing primer-based library preparation methods, which require target- and fusion-specific primers that define the region to be sequenced. With these methods, primers are needed that flank the target region and the fusion partner, so only known fusions can be detected. An alternative method, ArcherDX’ Anchored Multiplex PCR (AMP), can be used to detect the target of interest, plus any known and unknown fusion partners. This is because AMP uses target-specific unidirectional primers, along with reverse primers, that hybridize to the sequencing adapter that is ligated to each fragment prior to amplification.

In time, the narrow, tortuous paths followed by pioneers become wider and straighter, whether the pioneers are looking to settle new land or bring new biomarkers to the clinic.

In the case of biomarkers, we’re still at the stage where pioneers need to consult guides and outfitters or, in modern parlance, consultants and technology providers. These hardy souls tend to congregate at events like the Biomarker Conference, which was held recently in San Diego.

At this event, biomarker experts discussed ways to avoid unfortunate detours on the trail from discovery and development to clinical application and regulatory approval. Of particular interest were topics such as the identification of accurate biomarkers, the explication of disease mechanisms, the stratification of patient groups, and the development of standard protocols and assay platforms. In each of these areas, presenters reported progress.

Another crucial subject is the integration of techniques such as next-generation sequencing (NGS). This particular technique has been instrumental in advancing clinical cancer genomics and continues to be the most feasible way of simultaneously interrogating multiple genes for driver mutations.

Enriching nucleic acid libraries for target genes of interest prior to NGS greatly enhances the sensitivity of detecting mutations, as the enriched regions are sequenced multiple times. This is particularly useful when analyzing clinical samples, which generate low amounts of poor-quality nucleic acids.

Most target-enrichment strategies require prior knowledge of both ends of the target region to be sequenced. Therefore, only gene fusions with known partners can be amplified for downstream NGS assays.

Archer’s Anchored Multiplex PCR (AMP™) technology overcomes this limitation, as it can enrich for novel fusions, while only requiring knowledge of one end of the fusion pair. At the heart of the AMP chemistry are unique Molecular Barcode (MBC) adapters, ligated to the 5′ ends of DNA fragments prior to amplification. The MBCs contain universal primer binding sites for PCR and a molecular barcode for identifying unique molecules. When combined with 3′ gene-specific primers, MBCs enable amplification of target regions with unknown 5′ ends.

“Tagging each molecule of input nucleic acid with a unique molecular barcode allows for de-duplication, error correction, and quantitative analysis, resulting in high sequencing consensus. With its low error rate and low limits of detection, AMP is revolutionizing the field of cancer genomics.”

In a proof-of-concept study, a single-tube 23-plex panel was designed to amplify the kinase domains of ALK, RET, ROS1, and MUSK genes by AMP. This enrichment strategy enabled identification of gene fusions with multiple partners and alternative splicing events in lung cancer, thyroid cancer, and glioblastoma specimens by NGS.

Over the last decade, the Biomarker/Translational Research Laboratory has focused on developing clinical genotyping and fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) assays for rapid personalized genomic testing.

“Initially, we analyzed the most prevalent hotspot mutations, about 160 in 25 cancer genes,” continued Dr. Borger. “However, this approach revealed mutations in only half of our patients. With the advent of NGS, we are able to sequence 190 exons in 39 cancer genes and obtain significantly richer genetic fingerprints, finding genetic aberrations in 92% of our cancer patients.”

Using multiplexed approaches, Dr. Borger’s team within the larger Center for Integrated Diagnostics (CID) program at MGH has established high-throughput genotyping service as an important component of routine care. While only a few susceptible molecular alterations may currently have a corresponding drug, the NGS-driven analysis may supply new information for inclusion of patients into ongoing clinical trials, or bank the result for future research and development.

“A significant impediment to discovery of clinically relevant genomic signatures is our current inability to interconnect the data,” explained Dr. Borger. “On the local level, we are striving to compile the data from clinical observations, including responses to therapy and genotyping. Globally, it is imperative that comprehensive public databases become available to the research community.”

This image, from the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, shows multicolor fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis of cells from a patient with esophagogastric cancer. Remarkably, the FISH analysis revealed that co-amplification of the MET gene (red signal) and the EGFR gene (green signal) existed simultaneously in the same tumor cells. A chromosome 7 control probe is shown in blue.

Tumor profiling at MGH have already yielded significant discoveries. Dr. Borger’s lab, in collaboration with oncologists at the MGH Cancer Center, found significant correlations between mutations in the genes encoding the metabolic enzymes isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH1 and IDH2) and certain types of cancers, such as cholangiocarcinoma and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).

Historically, cancer signatures largely focus on signaling proteins. Discovery of a correlative metabolic enzyme offered a promise of diagnostics based on metabolic byproducts that may be easily identified in blood. Indeed, the metabolite 2-hydroxyglutarate accumulates to high levels in the tissues of patients carrying IDH1 and IDH2 mutations. They have reported that circulating 2-hydroxyglutarate as measured in the blood correlates with tumor burden, and could serve as an important surrogate marker of treatment response.  …..


Researchers Uncover How ‘Silent’ Genetic Changes Drive Cancer

Fri, 06/03/2016 – 8:41amby Rockeller University

“Traditionally, it has been hard to use standard methods to quantify the amount of tRNA in the cell,” says Tavazoie. The lead authors of the article, Hani Goodarzi, formerly a postdoc in the lab and now a new assistant professor at UCSF, and research assistant Hoang Nguyen, devised and applied a new method that utilizes state-of-the-art genomic sequencing technology to measure the amount of tRNAs in different cell types.

The team chose to compare breast tissue from healthy individuals with tumor samples taken from breast cancer patients–including both primary tumors that had not spread from the breast to other body sites, and highly aggressive, metastatic tumors.

They found that the levels of two specific tRNAs were significantly higher in metastatic cells and metastatic tumors than in primary tumors that did not metastasize or healthy samples. “There are four different ways to encode for the protein building block arginine,” explains Tavazoie. “Yet only one of those–the tRNA that recognizes the codon CGG–was associated with increased metastasis.”

The tRNA that recognizes the codon GAA and encodes for a building block known as glutamic acid was also elevated in metastatic samples.

The team hypothesized that the elevated levels of these tRNAs may in fact drive metastasis. Working in mouse models of primary, non-metastatic tumors, the researchers increased the production of the tRNAs, and found that these cells became much more invasive and metastatic.

They also did the inverse experiment, with the anticipated results: reducing the levels of these tRNAs in metastatic cells decreased the incidence of metastases in the animals.

How do two tRNAs drive metastasis? The researchers teamed up with members of the Rockefeller University proteomics facility to see how protein expression changes in cells with elevated levels of these two tRNAs.

“We found global increases in many dozens of genes,” says Tavazoie, “so we analyzed their sequences and found that the majority of them had significantly increased numbers of these two specific codons.”

According to the researchers, two genes stood out among the list. Known as EXOSC2 and GRIPAP1, these genes were strongly and directly induced by elevated levels of the specific glutamic acid tRNA.

“When we mutated the GAA codons to GAG– a “silent” mutation because they both spell out the protein building block glutamic acid–we found that increasing the amount of tRNA no longer increased protein levels,” explains Tavazoie. These proteins were found to drive breast cancer metastasis.

The work challenges previous assumptions about how tRNAs function and suggests that tRNAs can modulate gene expression, according to the researchers. Tavazoie points out that “it is remarkable that within a single cell type, synonymous changes in genetic sequence can dramatically affect the levels of specific proteins, their transcripts, and the way a cell behaves.”


Testing Blood Metabolites Could Help Tailor Cancer Treatment

6/03/2016 1 Comment by Institute of Cancer Research

Scientists have found that measuring how cancer treatment affects the levels of metabolites – the building blocks of fats and proteins – can be used to assess whether the drug is hitting its intended target.

This new way of monitoring cancer therapy could speed up the development of new targeted drugs – which exploit specific genetic weaknesses in cancer cells – and help in tailoring treatment for patients.

Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, measured the levels of 180 blood markers in 41 patients with advanced cancers in a phase I clinical trial conducted with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

They found that investigating the mix of metabolic markers could accurately assess how cancers were responding to the targeted drug pictilisib.

Their study was funded by the Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK and the pharmaceutical company Roche, and is published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

Pictilisib is designed to specifically target a molecular pathway in cancer cells, called PI3 kinase, which has key a role in cell metabolism and is defective in a range of cancer types.

As cancers with PI3K defects grow, they can cause a decrease in the levels of metabolites in the bloodstream.

The new study is the first to show that blood metabolites are testable indicators of whether or not a new cancer treatment is hitting the correct target, both in preclinical mouse models and also in a trial of patients.

Using a sensitive technique called mass spectrometry, scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) initially analysed the metabolite levels in the blood of mice with cancers that had defects in the PI3K pathway.

They found that the blood levels of 26 different metabolites, which were low prior to therapy, had risen considerably following treatment with pictilisib. Their findings indicated that the drug was hitting its target, and reversing the effects of the cancer on mouse metabolites.

Similarly, in humans the ICR researchers found that almost all of the metabolites – 22 out of the initial 26 – once again rose in response to pictilisib treatment, as seen in the mice.

Blood levels of the metabolites began to increase after a single dose of pictilisib, and were seen to drop again when treatment was stopped, suggesting that the effect was directly related to the drug treatment.

Metabolites vary naturally depending on the time of day or how much food a patient has eaten. But the researchers were able to provide the first strong evidence that despite this variation metabolites can be used to test if a drug is working, and could help guide decisions about treatment.


New Metabolic Pathway Reveals Aspirin-Like Compound’s Anti-Cancer Properties

Researchers at the Gladstone Institutes say they have found a new pathway by which salicylic acid, a key compound in the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs aspirin and diflunisal, stops inflammation and cancer.

In a study (“Salicylate, Diflunisal and Their Metabolites Inhibit CBP/p300 and Exhibit Anticancer Activity”) published in eLife, the investigators discovered that both salicylic acid and diflunisal suppress two key proteins that help control gene expression throughout the body. These sister proteins, p300 and CREB-binding protein (CBP), are epigenetic regulators that control the levels of proteins that cause inflammation or are involved in cell growth.

By inhibiting p300 and CBP, salicylic acid and diflunisal block the activation of these proteins and prevent cellular damage caused by inflammation. This study provides the first concrete demonstration that both p300 and CBP can be targeted by drugs and may have important clinical implications, according to Eric Verdin, M.D., associate director of the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology .

“Salicylic acid is one of the oldest drugs on the planet, dating back to the Egyptians and the Greeks, but we’re still discovering new things about it,” he said. “Uncovering this pathway of inflammation that salicylic acid acts upon opens up a host of new clinical possibilities for these drugs.”

Earlier research conducted in the laboratory of co-author Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., director of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and a collaborator of Verdin’s, established a link between p300 and the leukemia-promoting protein AML1-ETO. In the current study, scientists at Gladstone and Sylvester worked together to test whether suppressing p300 with diflunisal would suppress leukemia growth in mice. As predicted, diflunisal stopped cancer progression and shrunk the tumors in the mouse model of leukemia. ……


Novel Protein Agent Targets Cancer and Host of Other Diseases

Researchers at Georgia State University have designed a new protein compound that can effectively target the cell surface receptor integrin v3, mutations in which have been linked to a number of diseases. Initial results using this new molecule show its potential as a therapeutic treatment for an array of illnesses, including cancer.

The novel protein molecule targets integrin v3 at a novel site that has not been targeted by other scientists. The researchers found that the molecule induces apoptosis, or programmed cell death, of cells that express integrin v3. This integrin has been a focus for drug development because abnormal expression of v3 is linked to the development and progression of various diseases.

“This integrin pair, v3, is not expressed in high levels in normal tissue,” explained senior study author Zhi-Ren Liu, Ph.D., professor in the department of biology at Georgia State. “In most cases, it’s associated with a number of different pathological conditions. Therefore, it constitutes a very good target for multiple disease treatment.”

“Here we use a rational design approach to develop a therapeutic protein, which we call ProAgio, which binds to integrin αvβ3 outside the classical ligand-binding site,” the authors wrote. “We show ProAgio induces apoptosis of integrin αvβ3-expressing cells by recruiting and activating caspase 8 to the cytoplasmic domain of integrin αvβ3.”

The findings from this study were published recently in Nature Communications in an article entitled “Rational Design of a Protein That Binds Integrin αvβ3 Outside the Ligand Binding Site.”   …..

“We took a unique angle,” Dr. Lui noted. “We designed a protein that binds to a different site. Once the protein binds to the site, it directly triggers cell death. When we’re able to kill pathological cells, then we’re able to kill the disease.”

The investigators performed extensive cell and molecular testing that confirmed ProAgio interacts and binds well with integrin v3. Interestingly, they found that ProAgio induces apoptosis by recruiting caspase 8—an enzyme that plays an essential role in programmed cell death—to the cytoplasmic area of integrin v3. ProAgio was much more effective in inducing cell death than other agents tested.


Noncoding RNAs Not So Noncoding

Bits of the transcriptome once believed to function as RNA molecules are in fact translated into small proteins.

By Ruth Williams | June 1, 2016

In 2002, a group of plant researchers studying legumes at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, Germany, discovered that a 679-nucleotide RNA believed to function in a noncoding capacity was in fact a protein-coding messenger RNA (mRNA).1 It had been classified as a long (or large) noncoding RNA (lncRNA) by virtue of being more than 200 nucleotides in length. The RNA, transcribed from a gene called early nodulin 40 (ENOD40), contained short open reading frames (ORFs)—putative protein-coding sequences bookended by start and stop codons—but the ORFs were so short that they had previously been overlooked. When the Cologne collaborators examined the RNA more closely, however, they found that two of the ORFs did indeed encode tiny peptides: one of 12 and one of 24 amino acids. Sampling the legumes confirmed that these micropeptides were made in the plant, where they interacted with a sucrose-synthesizing enzyme.

Five years later, another ORF-containing mRNA that had been posing as a lncRNA was discovered inDrosophila.2,3 After performing a screen of fly embryos to find lncRNAs, Yuji Kageyama, then of the National Institute for Basic Biology in Okazaki, Japan, suppressed each transcript’s expression. “Only one showed a clear phenotype,” says Kageyama, now at Kobe University. Because embryos missing this particular RNA lacked certain cuticle features, giving them the appearance of smooth rice grains, the researchers named the RNA “polished rice” (pri).

Turning his attention to how the RNA functioned, Kageyama thought he should first rule out the possibility that it encoded proteins. But he couldn’t. “We actually found it was a protein-coding gene,” he says. “It was an accident—we are RNA people!” The pri gene turned out to encode four tiny peptides—three of 11 amino acids and one of 32—that Kageyama and colleagues showed are important for activating a key developmental transcription factor.4

Since then, a handful of other lncRNAs have switched to the mRNA ranks after being found to harbor micropeptide-encoding short ORFs (sORFs)—those less than 300 nucleotides in length. And given the vast number of documented lncRNAs—most of which have no known function—the chance of finding others that contain micropeptide codes seems high.

Overlooked ORFs

From the late 1990s into the 21st century, as species after species had their genomes sequenced and deposited in databases, the search for novel genes and their associated mRNAs duly followed. With millions or even billions of nucleotides to sift through, researchers devised computational shortcuts to hunt for canonical gene and mRNA features, such as promoter regions, exon/intron splice sites, and, of course, ORFs.

ORFs can exist in practically any stretch of RNA sequence by chance, but many do not encode actual proteins. Because the chance that an ORF encodes a protein increases with its length, most ORF-finding algorithms had a size cut-off of 300 nucleotides—translating to 100 amino acids. This allowed researchers to “filter out garbage—that is, meaningless ORFs that exist randomly in RNAs,” says Eric Olsonof the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Of course, by excluding all ORFs less than 300 nucleotides in length, such algorithms inevitably missed those encoding genuine small peptides. “I’m sure that the people who came up with [the cut-off] understood that this rule would have to miss anything that was shorter than 100 amino acids,” saysNicholas Ingolia of the University of California, Berkeley. “As people applied this rule more and more, they sort of lost track of that caveat.” Essentially, sORFs were thrown out with the computational trash and forgotten.

Aside from statistical practicality and human oversight, there were also technical reasons that contributed to sORFs and their encoded micropeptides being missed. Because of their small size, sORFs in model organisms such as mice, flies, and fish are less likely to be hit in random mutagenesis screens than larger ORFs, meaning their functions are less likely to be revealed. Also, many important proteins are identified based on their conservation across species, says Andrea Pauli of the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna, but “the shorter [the ORF], the harder it gets to find and align this region to other genomes and to know that this is actually conserved.”

As for the proteins themselves, the standard practice of using electrophoresis to separate peptides by size often meant micropeptides would be lost, notes Doug Anderson, a postdoc in Olson’s lab. “A lot of times we run the smaller things off the bottom of our gels,” he says. Standard protein mass spectrometry was also problematic for identifying small peptides, says Gerben Menschaert of Ghent University in Belgium, because “there is a washout step in the protocol so that only larger proteins are retained.”

But as researchers take a deeper dive into the function of the thousands of lncRNAs believed to exist in genomes, they continue to uncover surprise micropeptides. In February 2014, for example, Pauli, then a postdoc in Alex Schier’s lab at Harvard University, discovered a hidden code in a zebrafish lncRNA. She had been hunting for lncRNAs involved in zebrafish development because “we hadn’t really anticipated that there would be any coding regions out there that had not been discovered—at least not something that is essential,” she says. But one lncRNA she identified actually encoded a 58-amino-acid micropeptide, which she called Toddler, that functioned as a signaling protein necessary for cell movements that shape the early embryo.5

Then, last year, Anderson and his colleagues reported another. Since joining Olson’s lab in 2010, Anderson had been searching for lncRNAs expressed in the heart and skeletal muscles of mouse embryos. He discovered a number of candidates, but one stood out for its high level of sequence conservation—suggesting to Anderson that it might have an important function. He was right, the RNA was important, but for a reason that neither Anderson nor Olson had considered: it was in fact an mRNA encoding a 46-amino-acid-long micropeptide.6

“When we zeroed in on the conserved region [of the gene], Doug found that it began with an ATG [start] codon and it terminated with a stop codon,” Olson says. “That’s when he looked at whether it might encode a peptide and found that indeed it did.” The researchers dubbed the peptide myoregulin, and found that it functioned as a critical calcium pump regulator for muscle relaxation.

With more and more overlooked peptides now being revealed, the big question is how many are left to be discovered. “Were there going to be dozens of [micropeptides]? Were there going to be hundreds, like there are hundreds of microRNAs?” says Ingolia. “We just didn’t know.”

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Research at Micro- and Nanoscales

From whole cells to genes, closer examination continues to surprise.

By Mary Beth Aberlin | June 1, 2016–and-Nanoscales

Little things mean a lot. To any biologist, this time-worn maxim is old news. But it’s worth revisiting. As several articles in this issue of The Scientist illustrate, how researchers define and examine the “little things” does mean a lot.

Consider this month’s cover story, “Noncoding RNAs Not So Noncoding,” by TS correspondent Ruth Williams. Combing the human genome for open reading frames (ORFs), sequences bracketed by start and stop codons, yielded a protein-coding count somewhere in the neighborhood of 24,000. That left a lot of the genome relegated to the category of junk—or, later, to the tens of thousands of mostly mysterious long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). But because they had only been looking for ORFs that were 300 nucleotides or longer (i.e., coding for proteins at least 100 amino acids long), genome probers missed so-called short ORFs (sORFs), which encode small peptides. “Their diminutive size may have caused these peptides to be overlooked, their sORFs to be buried in statistical noise, and their RNAs to be miscategorized, but it does not prevent them from serving important, often essential functions, as the micropeptides characterized to date demonstrate,” writes Williams.

How little things work definitely informs another field of life science research: synthetic biology. As the functions of genes and gene networks are sussed out, bioengineers are using the information to design small, synthetic gene circuits that enable them to better understand natural networks. In “Synthetic Biology Comes into Its Own,” Richard Muscat summarizes the strides made by synthetic biologists over the last 15 years and offers an optimistic view of how such networks may be put to use in the future. And to prove him right, just as we go to press, a collaborative group led by one of syn bio’s founding fathers, MIT’s James Collins, has devised a paper-based test for Zika virus exposure that relies on a freeze-dried synthetic gene circuit that changes color upon detection of RNAs in the viral genome. The results are ready in a matter of hours, not the days or weeks current testing takes, and the test can distinguish Zika from dengue virus. “What’s really exciting here is you can leverage all this expertise that synthetic biologists are gaining in constructing genetic networks and use it in a real-world application that is important and can potentially transform how we do diagnostics,” commented one researcher about the test.

Moving around little things is the name of the game when it comes to delivering a package of drugs to a specific target or to operating on minuscule individual cells. Mini-scale delivery of biocompatible drug payloads often needs some kind of boost to overcome fluid forces or size restrictions that interfere with fine-scale manipulation. To that end, ingenious solutions that motorize delivery by harnessing osmotic changes, magnets, ultrasound, and even bacterial flagella are reviewed in “Making Micromotors Biocompatible.”


Cilengitide: The First Anti-Angiogenic Small Molecule Drug Candidate. Design, Synthesis and Clinical Evaluation

Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2010 Dec; 10(10): 753–768.
doi:  10.2174/187152010794728639

Cilengitide, a cyclic RGD pentapeptide, is currently in clinical phase III for treatment of glioblastomas and in phase II for several other tumors. This drug is the first anti-angiogenic small molecule targeting the integrins αvβ3, αvβ5 and α5β1. It was developed by us in the early 90s by a novel procedure, the spatial screening. This strategy resulted in c(RGDfV), the first superactive αvβ3 inhibitor (100 to 1000 times increased activity over the linear reference peptides), which in addition exhibited high selectivity against the platelet receptor αIIbβ3. This cyclic peptide was later modified by N-methylation of one peptide bond to yield an even greater antagonistic activity in c(RGDf(NMe)V). This peptide was then dubbed Cilengitide and is currently developed as drug by the company Merck-Serono (Germany).

This article describes the chemical development of Cilengitide, the biochemical background of its activity and a short review about the present clinical trials. The positive anti-angiogenic effects in cancer treatment can be further increased by combination with “classical” anti-cancer therapies. Several clinical trials in this direction are under investigation.

Integrins are heterodimeric receptors that are important for cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions and are composed of one α and one β-subunit [1, 2]. These cell adhesion molecules act as transmembrane linkers between their extracellular ligands and the cytoskeleton, and modulate various signaling pathways essential in the biological functions of most cells. Integrins play a crucial role in processes such as cell migration, differentiation, and survival during embryogenesis, angiogenesis, wound healing, immune and non-immune defense mechanisms, hemostasis and oncogenic transformation [1]. The fact that many integrins are also linked with pathological conditions has converted them into very promising therapeutic targets [3]. In particular, integrins αvβ3, αvβ5 and α5β1 are involved in angiogenesis and metastasis of solid tumors, being excellent candidates for cancer therapy [47].

There are a number of different integrin subtypes which recognize and bind to the tripeptide sequence RGD (arginine, glycine, aspartic acid), which represents the most prominent recognition motif involved in cell adhesion. For example, the pro-angiogenic αvβ3 integrin binds various RGD-containing proteins, including fibronectin (Fn), fibrinogen (Fg), vitronectin (Vn) and osteopontin [8]. It is therefore not surprising that this integrin has been targeted for cancer therapy and that RGD-containing peptides and peptidomimetics have been designed and synthesized aiming to selectively inhibit this receptor [9, 10].

One classical strategy used in drug design is based on the knowledge about the structure of the receptor-binding pocket, preferably in complex with the natural ligand. However, this strategy, the so-called “rational structure-based design”, could not be applied in the field of integrin ligands since the first structures of integrin’s extracellular head groups were not described until 2001 for αvβ3 [11] (one year later, in 2002 the structure of this integrin in complex with Cilengitide was also reported [12]) and 2004 for αIIbβ3 [13]. Therefore, initial efforts in this field focused on a “ligand-oriented design”, which concentrated on optimizing RGD peptides by means of different chemical approaches in order to establish structure-activity relationships and identify suitable ligands.

We focused our interest in finding ligands for αvβ3 and based our approach on three chemical strategies pioneered in our group: 1) Reduction of the conformational space by cyclization; 2) Spatial screening of cyclic peptides; and 3)N-Methyl scan.

The combination of these strategies lead to the discovery of the cyclic peptidec(RGDf(NMe)V) in 1995. This peptide showed subnanomolar antagonistic activity for the αvβ3 receptor, nanomolar affinities for the closely related integrins αvβ5 and α5β1, and high selectivity towards the platelet receptor αIIbβ3. The peptide was patented together with Merck in 1997 (patent application submitted in 15.9.1995, opened in 20.3.1997) [14] and first presented with Merck’s agreement at the European Peptide Symposium in Edinburgh (September 1996) [15]. The synthesis and activity of this molecule was finally published in 1999 [16]. This peptide is now developed by Merck-Serono, (Darmstadt, Germany) under the name “Cilengitide” and has recently entered Phase III clinical trials for treating glioblastoma [17].  …..

The discovery 30 years ago of the RGD motif in Fn was a major breakthrough in science. This tripeptide sequence was also identified in other ECM proteins and was soon described as the most prominent recognition motif involved in cell adhesion. Extensive research in this direction allowed the description of a number of bidirectional proteins, the integrins, which were able to recognize and bind to the RGD sequence. Integrins are key players in the biological function of most cells and therefore the inhibition of RGD-mediated integrin-ECM interactions became an attractive target for the scientific community.

However, the lack of selectivity of linear RGD peptides represented a major pitfall which precluded any clinical application of RGD-based inhibitors. The control of the molecule’s conformation by cyclization and further spatial screening overcame these limitations, showing that it is possible to obtain privileged bioactive structures, which enhance the biological activity of linear peptides and significantly improve their receptor selectivity. Steric control imposed in RGD peptides together with their biological evaluation and extensive structural studies yielded the cyclic peptide c(RGDfV), the first small selective anti-angiogenic molecule described. N-Methylation of this cyclic peptide yielded the much potentc(RGDf(NMe)V), nowadays known as Cilengitide.

The fact that brain tumors, which are highly angiogenic, are more susceptible to the treatment with integrin antagonists, and the positive synergy observed for Cilengitide in combination with radio-chemotherapy in preclinical studies, encouraged subsequent clinical trials. Cilengitide is currently in phase III for GBM patients and in phase II for other types of cancers, with to date a promising therapeutic outcome. In addition, the absence of significant toxicity and excellent tolerance of this drug allows its combination with classical therapies such as RT or cytotoxic agents. The controlled phase III study CENTRIC was launched in 2008, with primary outcome measures due on September 2012. The results of this and other clinical studies are expected with great hope and interest.

Integrin Targeted Therapeutics

Integrins are heterodimeric, transmembrane receptors that function as mechanosensors, adhesion molecules and signal transduction platforms in a multitude of biological processes. As such, integrins are central to the etiology and pathology of many disease states. Therefore, pharmacological inhibition of integrins is of great interest for the treatment and prevention of disease. In the last two decades several integrin-targeted drugs have made their way into clinical use, many others are in clinical trials and still more are showing promise as they advance through preclinical development. Herein, this review examines and evaluates the various drugs and compounds targeting integrins and the disease states in which they are implicated.
Integrins are heterodimeric cell surface receptors found in nearly all metazoan cell types, composed of non-covalently linked α and β subunits. In mammals, eighteen α-subunits and eight β-subunits have been identified to date 1. From this pool, 24 distinct heterodimer combinations have been observed in vivo that confer cell-to-cell and cell-to-ligand specificity relevant to the host cell and the environment in which it functions 2. Integrin-mediated interactions with the extracellular matrix (ECM) are required for the attachment, cytoskeletal organization, mechanosensing, migration, proliferation, differentiation and survival of cells in the context of a multitude of biological processes including fertilization, implantation and embryonic development, immune response, bone resorption and platelet aggregation. Integrins also function in pathological processes such as inflammation, wound healing, angiogenesis, and tumor metastasis. In addition, integrin binding has been identified as a means of viral entry into cells 3. ….

Combination of cilengitide and radiation therapy and temozolomide. The addition of cilengitide to radiotherapy and temozolomide based treatment regimens has shown promising preliminary results in ongoing Phase II trials in both newly diagnosed and progressive glioblastoma multiforme 139140. In addition to the Phase II objectives sought, these trials are significant in that they represent progress that has made in determining tumor drug uptake and in identifying a subset of patients that may benefit from treatment. In a Phase II trial enrolling 52 patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme receiving 500 mg cilengitide twice weekly during radiotherapy and in combination with temozolomide for 6 monthly cycles following radiotherapy, 69% achieved 6 months progression free survival compared to 54 % of patients receiving radiotherapy followed by temozolomide alone. The one-year overall survival was 67 and 62 % of patients for the cilengitide combination group and the radiotherapy and temozolomide group, respectively. Non-hematological grade 3-4 toxcities were limited, and included symptoms of fatigue, asthenia, anorexia, elevated liver function tests, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in across a total of 5.7% of the patients. Grade 3-4 hematological malignancies were more common and included lymphopenia (53.8%), thrombocytopenia (13.4%) and neutropenia (9.6%). This trial is significant in the fact that is has provided the first evidence correlating a molecular biomarker with response to treatment. Decreased methylguanine methyltransferase (MGMT) expression was associated with favorable outcome. Patients harboring increased MGMT promoter methylation appeared to benefit more from combined treatment with cilengitide than did patients lacking promoter methylation. The significance of the MGMT promoter methylation in predicting response is likely due to inclusion of temozolomide in the treatment combination.

A similar Phase II study evaluating safety and differences in overall survival among newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme patients receiving radiation therapy combined with temozolomide and varying doses of cilengitide is nearing completion. Preliminary reports specify that initial safety run-in studies in 18 patients receiving doses 500, 1000 and 2000 mg cilengitide found no dose limiting toxicities. Subsequently 94 patients were randomized to receive standard therapy plus 500 or 2000 mg cilengitide. Median survival time in both cohorts was 18.9 months. At 12 months the overall survival was 79.5 % (89/112 patients).

In the last two decades great progress has been made in the discovery and development of integrin targeted therapeutics. Years of intense research into integrin function has provided an understanding of the potential applications for the treatment of disease. Advances in structural characterization of integrin-ligand interactions has proved beneficial in the design and development of potent, selective inhibitors for a number of integrins involved in platelet aggregation, inflammatory responses, angiongenesis, neovascularization and tumor growth.

The αIIbβ3 integrin antagonists were the first inhibitors to make their way into clinical use and have proven to be effective and safe drugs, contributing to the reduction of mortality and morbidity associated with acute coronary syndromes. Interestingly, the prolonged administration of small molecules targeting this integrin for long-term prevention of thrombosis related complications have not been successful, for reasons that are not yet fully understood. This suggests that modulating the intensity, duration and temporal aspects of integrin function may be more effective than simply shutting off integrin signaling in some instances. Further research into the dynamics of platelet activation and thrombosis formation may elucidate the mechanisms by which integrin activation is modulated.

The introduction of α4 targeted therapies held great promise for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. The development of Natalizumab greatly improved the quality of life for multiple sclerosis patients and those suffering with Crohn’s Disease compared to previous treatments, but the role in asthma related inflammation could not be validated. Unfortunately for MS and Crohn’s patients, immune surveillance in the central nervous system was also compromised as a direct effect α4β7 antagonism, with potentially lethal effects. Thus Natalizumab and related α4β7 targeting drugs are now limited to patients refractory to standard therapies. The design and development of α4β1 antagonists for the treatment of Crohn’s Disease may offer benefit with decreased risks. The involvement of these integrins in fetal development also raises concerns for widespread clinical use.

Integrin antagonists that target angiogenesis are progressing through clinical trials. Cilengitide has shown promising results for the treatment of glioblastomas and recurrent gliomas, cancers with notoriously low survival and cure rates. The greatest challenge facing the development of anti-angiogenic integrin targeted therapies is the overall lack of biomarkers by which to measure treatment efficacy.


Mapping the ligand-binding pocket of integrin α5β1 using a gain-of-function approach

Biochem J. 2009 Nov 11; 424(2): 179–189. doi:  10.1042/BJ20090992
Integrin α5β1 is a key receptor for the extracellular matrix protein fibronectin. Antagonists of human α5β1 have therapeutic potential as anti-angiogenic agents in cancer and diseases of the eye. However, the structure of the integrin is unsolved and the atomic basis of fibronectin and antagonist binding by α5β1 is poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that zebrafish α5β1 integrins do not interact with human fibronectin or the human α5β1 antagonists JSM6427 and cyclic peptide CRRETAWAC. Zebrafish α5β1 integrins do bind zebrafish fibronectin-1, and mutagenesis of residues on the upper surface and side of the zebrafish α5 subunit β-propeller domain shows that these residues are important for the recognition of RGD and synergy sites in fibronectin. Using a gain-of-function analysis involving swapping regions of the zebrafish α5 subunit with the corresponding regions of human α5 we show that blades 1-4 of the β-propeller are required for human fibronectin recognition, suggesting that fibronectin binding involves a broad interface on the side and upper face of the β-propeller domain. We find that the loop connecting blades 2 and 3 of the β-propeller (D3-A3 loop) contains residues critical for antagonist recognition, with a minor role played by residues in neighbouring loops. A new homology model of human α5β1 supports an important function for D3-A3 loop residues Trp-157 and Ala-158 in the binding of antagonists. These results will aid the development of reagents that block α5β1 functions in vivo.
Structural Basis of Integrin Regulation and Signaling
Integrins are cell adhesion molecules that mediate cell-cell, cell-extracellular matrix, and cellpathogen interactions. They play critical roles for the immune system in leukocyte trafficking and migration, immunological synapse formation, costimulation, and phagocytosis. Integrin adhesiveness can be dynamically regulated through a process termed inside-out signaling. In addition, ligand binding transduces signals from the extracellular domain to the cytoplasm in the classical outside-in direction. Recent structural, biochemical, and biophysical studies have greatly advanced our understanding of the mechanisms of integrin bidirectional signaling across the plasma membrane. Large-scale reorientations of the ectodomain of up to 200 Å couple to conformational change in ligand-binding sites and are linked to changes in α and β subunit transmembrane domain association. In this review, we focus on integrin structure as it relates to affinity modulation, ligand binding, outside-in signaling, and cell surface distribution dynamics.
The immune system relies heavily on integrins for (a) adhesion during leukocyte trafficking from the bloodstream, migration within tissues, immune synapse formation, and phagocytosis; and (b) signaling during costimulation and cell polarization. Integrins are so named because they integrate the extracellular and intracellular environments by binding to ligands outside the cell and cytoskeletal components and signaling molecules inside the cell. Integrins are noncovalently associated heterodimeric cell surface adhesion molecules. In vertebrates, 18 α subunits and 8 β subunits form 24 known αβ pairs (Figure 1). This diversity in subunit composition contributes to diversity in ligand recognition, binding to cytoskeletal components and coupling to downstream signaling pathways. Immune cells express at least 10 members of the integrin family belonging to the β2, β7, and β1 subfamilies (Table 1). The β2 and β7 integrins are exclusively expressed on leukocytes, whereas the β1 integrins are expressed on a wide variety of cells throughout the body. Distribution and ligand-binding properties of the integrins on leukocytes are summarized in Table 1. For reviews, see References 1 and 2. Mutations that block expression of the β2 integrin subfamily lead to leukocyte adhesion deficiency, a disease associated with severe immunodeficiency (3).
As adhesion molecules, integrins are unique in that their adhesiveness can be dynamically regulated through a process termed inside-out signaling or priming. Thus, stimuli received by cell surface receptors for chemokines, cytokines, and foreign antigens initiate intracellular signals that impinge on integrin cytoplasmic domains and alter adhesiveness for extracellular ligands. In addition, ligand binding transduces signals from the extracellular domain to the cytoplasm in the classical outside-in direction (outside-in signaling). These dynamic properties of integrins are central to their proper function in the immune system. Indeed, mutations or small molecules that stabilize either the inactive state or the active adhesive state—and thereby block the adhesive dynamics of leukocyte integrins—inhibit leukocyte migration and normal immune responses.

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