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

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

About the World Medical Innovation Forum

Mass General Brigham is pleased to present the World Medical Innovation Forum (WMIF) virtual event Wednesday, May 19 – Friday, May 21. This interactive web event features expert discussions of gene and cell therapy (GCT) and its potential to change the future of medicine through its disease-treating and potentially curative properties. The agenda features 150+ executive speakers from the healthcare industry, venture, startups, life sciences manufacturing, consumer health and the front lines of care, including many Harvard Medical School-affiliated researchers and clinicians. The annual in-person Forum will resume live in Boston in 2022. The World Medical Innovation Forum is presented by Mass General Brigham Innovation, the global business development unit supporting the research requirements of 7,200 Harvard Medical School faculty and research hospitals including Massachusetts General, Brigham and Women’s, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Spaulding Rehab and McLean Hospital. Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/@MGBInnovation

Accelerating the Future of Medicine with Gene and Cell Therapy What Comes Next

https://worldmedicalinnovation.org/agenda/

Virtual | May 19–21, 2021

#WMIF2021

@MGBInnovation

Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence (LPBI) Group

will cover the event in Real Time

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Founder LPBI 1.0 & LPBI 2.0

member_60221522 copy

will be in virtual attendance producing the e-Proceedings

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

@pharma_BI

@AVIVA1950

LPBI’s Eighteen Books in Medicine

https://lnkd.in/ekWGNqA

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

Topics for May 19 – 21 include:

Impact on Patient Care – Therapeutic and Potentially Curative GCT Developments

GCT Delivery, Manufacturing – What’s Next

GCT Platform Development

Oncolytic Viruses – Cancer applications, start-ups

Regenerative Medicine/Stem Cells

Future of CAR-T

M&A Shaping GCT’s Future

Market Priorities

Venture Investing in GCT

China’s GCT Juggernaut

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

Click here for the current WMIF agenda  

Plus:

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

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

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

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

AGENDA

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

8:00 AM – 8:10 AM

Opening Remarks

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

  • Co-President, Thomas H. Lee Partners
  • Chairman of the Board of Directors, PHS

Presenter: Anne Klibanski, MD

  • CEO, Mass General Brigham

3,000 people joined 5/19 morning

30 sessions: Lab to Clinic,  academia, industry, investment community

May 22,23,24, 2022 – in Boston, in-person 2022 WMIF on CGT 8:10 AM – 8:30 AM

The Grand Challenge of Widespread GCT Patient Benefits

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

  • President Emerita and Professor of Neuroscience, MIT

GCT – poised to deliver therapies

Inflection point as Panel will present

Doctors and Patients – Promise for some patients 

Barriers for Cell & Gene

Access for patients to therapies like CGT Speakers: Nino Chiocca, MD, PhD

  • Neurosurgeon-in-Chief and Chairman, Neurosurgery, BWH
  • Harvey W. Cushing Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS

Oncolytic virus triple threat: Toxic, immunological, combine with anti cancer therapies

Polygenic therapy – multiple genes involved, plug-play, Susan Slaugenhaupt, PhD

  • Scientific Director and Elizabeth G. Riley and Daniel E. Smith Jr., Endowed Chair, Mass General Research Institute
  • Professor, Neurology, HMS

Ravi Thadhani, MD

  • CAO, Mass General Brigham
  • Professor, Medicine and Faculty Dean, HMS

Role of academia special to spear head the Polygenic therapy – multiple genes involved, plug-play, 

Access critical, relations with IndustryLuk Vandenberghe, PhD

  • Grousbeck Family Chair, Gene Therapy, MEE
  • Associate Professor, Ophthalmology, HMS

Pharmacology Gene-Drug, Interface academic centers and industry

many CGT drugs emerged in Academic center 8:35 AM – 8:50 AM FIRESIDE

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

Dave Lennon, PhD

  • President, Novartis Gene Therapies

Hope that CGT emerging, how the therapies work, neuro, muscular, ocular, genetic diseases of liver and of heart revolution for the industry 900 IND application 25 approvals Economic driver Skilled works, VC disease. Modality one time intervention, long duration of impart, reimbursement, ecosystem to be built around CGT

FDA works by indications and risks involved, Standards and expectations for streamlining manufacturing, understanding of process and products 

payments over time payers and Innovators relations Moderator: Julian Harris, MD

  • Partner, Deerfield

Promise of CGT realized, what part?

FDA role and interaction in CGT

Manufacturing aspects which is critical Speaker: Dave Lennon, PhD

  • President, Novartis Gene Therapies

Hope that CGT emerging, how the therapies work, neuro, muscular, ocular, genetic diseases of liver and of heart revolution for the industry 900 IND application 25 approvals Economic driver Skilled works, VC disease. Modality one time intervention, long duration of impart, reimbursement, ecosystem to be built around CGT

FDA works by indications and risks involved, Standards and expectations for streamlining manufacturing, understanding of process and products 

payments over time payers and Innovators relations

  • Q&A 8:55 AM – 9:10 AM  

8:55 AM – 9:20 AM

The Patient and GCT

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

  • Co-Director Pediatric Stroke and Cerebrovascular Program, MGH
  • Assistant Professor of Neurology, HMS

What is the Power of One – the impact that a patient can have on their own destiny by participating in Clinical Trials Contacting other participants in same trial can be beneficial Speakers: Jack Hogan

  • Patient, MEE

Jeanette Hogan

  • Parent of Patient, MEE

Jim Holland

  • CEO, Backcountry.com

Parkinson patient Constraints by regulatory on participation in clinical trial advance stage is approved participation Patients to determine the level of risk they wish to take Information dissemination is critical Barbara Lavery

  • Chief Program Officer, ACGT Foundation

Advocacy agency beginning of work Global Genes educational content and out reach to access the information 

Patient has the knowledge of the symptoms and recording all input needed for diagnosis by multiple clinicians Early application for CGTDan Tesler

  • Clinical Trial Patient, BWH/DFCC

Experimental Drug clinical trial patient participation in clinical trial is very important to advance the state of scienceSarah Beth Thomas, RN

  • Professional Development Manager, BWH

Outcome is unknown, hope for good, support with resources all advocacy groups, 

  • Q&A 9:25 AM – 9:40 AM  

9:25 AM – 9:45 AM FIRESIDE

GCT Regulatory Framework | Why Different?

  Moderator: Vicki Sato, PhD

  • Chairman of the Board, Vir Biotechnology

Diversity of approaches

Process at FDA generalize from 1st entry to rules more generalizable  Speaker: Peter Marks, MD, PhD

  • Director, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, FDA

Last Spring it became clear that something will work a vaccine by June 2020 belief that enough candidates the challenge manufacture enough and scaling up FDA did not predicted the efficacy of mRNA vaccine vs other approaches expected to work

Recover Work load for the pandemic will wean & clear, Gene Therapies IND application remained flat in the face of the pandemic Rare diseases urgency remains Consensus with industry advisory to get input gene therapy Guidance  T-Cell therapy vs Regulation best thinking CGT evolve speedily flexible gained by Guidance

Immune modulators, Immunotherapy Genome editing can make use of viral vectors future technologies nanoparticles and liposome encapsulation 

  • Q&A 9:50 AM – 10:05 AM  

9:50 AM – 10:15 AM

Building a GCT Platform for Mainstream Success

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

  • How are GCT approaches set around defining and building a platform?
  • Is AAV the leading modality and what are the remaining challenges?
  • What are the alternatives?
  • Is it just a matter of matching modalities to the right indications?

Moderator: Jean-François Formela, MD

  • Partner, Atlas Venture

Established core components of the Platform Speakers: Katherine High, MD

  • President, Therapeutics, AskBio

Three drugs approved in Europe in the Gene therapy space

Regulatory Infrastructure exists for CGT drug approval – as new class of therapeutics

Participants investigators, regulators, patients i. e., MDM 

Hemophilia in male most challenging

Human are natural hosts for AV safety signals Dave Lennon, PhD

  • President, Novartis Gene Therapies

big pharma has portfolios of therapeutics not one drug across Tx areas: cell, gene iodine therapy 

collective learning infrastructure features manufacturing at scale early in development Acquisitions strategy for growth # applications for scaling Rick Modi

  • CEO, Affinia Therapeutics

Copy, paste EDIT from product A to B novel vectors leverage knowledge varient of vector, coder optimization choice of indication is critical exploration on larger populations Speed to R&D and Speed to better gene construct get to clinic with better design vs ASAP 

Data sharing clinical experience with vectors strategies patients selection, vector selection, mitigation, patient type specific Louise Rodino-Klapac, PhD

  • EVP, Chief Scientific Officer, Sarepta Therapeutics

AAV based platform 15 years in development same disease indication vs more than one indication stereotype, analytics as hurdle 1st was 10 years 2nd was 3 years

Safety to clinic vs speed to clinic, difference of vectors to trust

  • Q&A 10:20 AM – 10:35 AM  

10:20 AM – 10:45 AM

AAV Success Studies | Retinal Dystrophy | Spinal Muscular Atrophy

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

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

  • Is AAV gene therapy restricted to genetically defined disorders, or will it be able to address common diseases in the near term?
  • Lessons learned from these first-in-class approvals.
  • Challenges to broaden this modality to similar indications.
  • Reflections on safety signals in the clinical studies?

Moderator: Joan Miller, MD

  • Chief, Ophthalmology, MEE
  • Cogan Professor & Chair of Ophthalmology, HMS

Retina specialist, Luxturna success FMA condition cell therapy as solution

Lessons learned

Safety Speakers: Ken Mills

  • CEO, RegenXBio

Tissue types additional administrations, tech and science, address additional diseases, more science for photoreceptors a different tissue type underlying pathology novelties in last 10 years 

Cell therapy vs transplant therapy no immunosuppressionEric Pierce, MD, PhD

  • Director, Ocular Genomics Institute, MEE
  • Professor of Ophthalmology, HMS

Laxterna success to be replicated platform, paradigms measurement visual improved

More science is needed to continue develop vectors reduce toxicity,

AAV can deliver different cargos reduce adverse events improve vectorsRon Philip

  • Chief Operating Officer, Spark Therapeutics

The first retinal gene therapy, voretigene neparvovec-rzyl (Luxturna, Spark Therapeutics), was approved by the FDA in 2017.Meredith Schultz, MD

  • Executive Medical Director, Lead TME, Novartis Gene Therapies

Impact of cell therapy beyond muscular dystrophy, translational medicine, each indication, each disease, each group of patients build platform unlock the promise

Monitoring for Safety signals real world evidence remote markers, home visits, clinical trial made safer, better communication of information

  • Q&A 10:50 AM – 11:05 AM  

10:45 AM – 10:55 AM

Break

  10:55 AM – 11:05 AM FIRST LOOK

Control of AAV pharmacology by Rational Capsid Design

Luk Vandenberghe, PhD

  • Grousbeck Family Chair, Gene Therapy, MEE
  • Associate Professor, Ophthalmology, HMS

AAV a complex driver in Pharmacology durable, vector of choice, administer in vitro, gene editing tissue specificity, pharmacokinetics side effects and adverse events manufacturability site variation diversify portfolios,

Pathway for rational AAV rational design, curated smart variant libraries, AAV  sequence screen multiparametric , data enable liver (de-) targeting unlock therapeutics areas: cochlea 

  • Q&A 11:05 AM – 11:25 AM  

11:05 AM – 11:15 AM FIRST LOOK

Enhanced gene delivery and immunoevasion of AAV vectors without capsid modification

Casey Maguire, PhD

  • Associate Professor of Neurology, MGH & HMS

Virus Biology: Enveloped (e) or not 

enveloped for gene therapy eAAV platform technology: tissue targets and Indications commercialization of eAAV 

  • Q&A 11:15 AM – 11:35 AM  

11:20 AM – 11:45 AM HOT TOPICS

AAV Delivery

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

  • Geneticist, MGH, MGH
  • Professor, Neurology, HMS

Florian Eichler, MD

  • Director, Center for Rare Neurological Diseases, MGH
  • Associate Professor, Neurology, HMS

Speakers: Jennifer Farmer

  • CEO, Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance

Ataxia requires therapy targeting multiple organ with one therapy, brain, spinal cord, heart several IND, clinical trials in 2022Mathew Pletcher, PhD

  • SVP, Head of Gene Therapy Research and Technical Operations, Astellas

Work with diseases poorly understood, collaborations needs example of existing: DMD is a great example explain dystrophin share placedo data 

Continue to explore large animal guinea pig not the mice, not primates (ethical issues) for understanding immunogenicity and immune response Manny Simons, PhD

  • CEO, Akouos

AAV Therapy for the fluid of the inner ear, CGT for the ear vector accessible to surgeons translational work on the inner ear for gene therapy right animal model 

Biology across species nerve ending in the cochlea

engineer out of the caspid, lowest dose possible, get desired effect by vector use, 2022 new milestones

  • Q&A 11:50 AM – 12:05 PM  

11:50 AM – 12:15 PM

M&A | Shaping GCT Innovation

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

  • Managing Director, Bain Capital Life Sciences

What acquirers are looking for??

What is the next generation vs what is real where is the industry going? Speakers:

Debby Baron,

  • Worldwide Business Development, Pfizer 

CGT is an important area Pfizer is active looking for innovators, advancing forward programs of innovation with the experience Pfizer has internally 

Scalability and manufacturing  regulatory conversations, clinical programs safety in parallel to planning getting drug to patients

Kenneth Custer, PhD

  • Vice President, Business Development and Lilly New Ventures, Eli Lilly and Company

Marianne De Backer, PhD

Head of Strategy, Business Development & Licensing, and Member of the Executive Committee, Bayer

Absolute Leadership in Gene editing, gene therapy, via acquisition and strategic alliance 

Operating model of the acquired company discussed , company continue independence

Sean Nolan

  • Board Chairman, Encoded Therapeutics & Affinia

Executive Chairman, Jaguar Gene Therapy & Istari Oncology

As acquiree multiple M&A: How the acquirer looks at integration and cultures of the two companies 

Traditional integration vs jump start by external acquisition 

AAV – epilepsy, next generation of vectors 

  • Q&A 12:20 PM – 12:35 PM  

12:15 PM – 12:25 PM FIRST LOOK

Gene Therapies for Neurological Disorders: Insights from Motor Neuron Disorders

Merit Cudkowicz, MD

  • Chief of Neurology, MGH

ALS – Man 1in 300, Women 1 in 400, next decade increase 7% 

10% ALS is heredity 160 pharma in ALS space, diagnosis is late 1/3 of people are not diagnosed, active community for clinical trials Challenges: disease heterogeneity cases of 10 years late in diagnosis. Clinical Trials for ALS in Gene Therapy targeting ASO1 protein therapies FUS gene struck youngsters 

Q&A

  • 12:25 PM – 12:45 PM  

12:25 PM – 12:35 PM FIRST LOOK

Gene Therapy for Neurologic Diseases

Patricia Musolino, MD, PhD

  • Co-Director Pediatric Stroke and Cerebrovascular Program, MGH
  • Assistant Professor of Neurology, HMS

Cerebral Vascular disease – ACTA2 179H gene smooth muscle cell proliferation disorder

no surgery or drug exist –

Cell therapy for ACTA2 Vasculopathy  in the brain and control the BP and stroke – smooth muscle intima proliferation. Viral vector deliver aiming to change platform to non-viral delivery rare disease , gene editing, other mutations of ACTA2 gene target other pathway for atherosclerosis 

  • Q&A 12:35 PM – 12:55 PM  

12:35 PM – 1:15 PM

Lunch

  1:15 PM – 1:40 PM

Oncolytic Viruses in Cancer | Curing Melanoma and Beyond

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

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

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

  • Neurosurgeon-in-Chief and Chairman, Neurosurgery, BWH
  • Harvey W. Cushing Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS

Challenges of manufacturing at Amgen what are they? Speakers: Robert Coffin, PhD

  • Chief Research & Development Officer, Replimune

2002 in UK promise in oncolytic therapy GNCSF

Phase III melanoma 2015 M&A with Amgen

oncolytic therapy remains non effecting on immune response 

data is key for commercialization 

do not belief in systemic therapy achieve maximum immune response possible from a tumor by localized injection Roger Perlmutter, MD, PhD

  • Chairman, Merck & Co.

response rates systemic therapy like PD1, Keytruda, OPTIVA well tolerated combination of Oncolytic with systemic 

GMP critical for manufacturing David Reese, MD

  • Executive Vice President, Research and Development, Amgen

Inter lesion injection of agent vs systemic therapeutics 

cold tumors immune resistant render them immune susceptible 

Oncolytic virus is a Mono therapy

addressing the unknown Ann Silk, MD

  • Physician, Dana Farber-Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center
  • Assistant Professor of Medicine, HMS

Which person gets oncolytics virus if patient has immune suppression due to other indications

Safety of oncolytic virus greater than Systemic treatment

series biopsies for injected and non injected tissue and compare Suspect of hot tumor and cold tumors likely to have sme response to agent unknown all potential 

  • Q&A 1:45 PM – 2:00 PM  

1:45 PM – 2:10 PM

Market Interest in Oncolytic Viruses | Calibrating

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

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

  • Will these need to be combined with other agents to realize their full efficacy and how will that impact the market?
  • Why are these companies pursuing OVs while several others are taking a pass?

Moderators: Martine Lamfers, PhD

  • Visiting Scientist, BWH

Challenged in development of strategies 

Demonstrate efficacyRobert Martuza, MD

  • Consultant in Neurosurgery, MGH
  • William and Elizabeth Sweet Distinguished Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS

Modulation mechanism Speakers: Anlong Li, MD, PhD

  • Clinical Director, Oncology Clinical Development, Merck Research Laboratories

IV delivery preferred – delivery alternative are less aggereable Jeffrey Infante, MD

  • Early development Oncolytic viruses, Oncology, Janssen Research & Development

oncologic virus if it will generate systemic effects the adoption will accelerate

What areas are the best efficacious 

Direct effect with intra-tumor single injection with right payload 

Platform approach  Prime with 1 and Boost with 2 – not yet experimented with 

Do not have the data at trial design for stratification of patients 

Turn off strategy not existing yetLoic Vincent, PhD

  • Head of Oncology Drug Discovery Unit, Takeda

R&D in collaboration with Academic

Vaccine platform to explore different payload

IV administration may not bring sufficient concentration to the tumor is administer  in the blood stream

Classification of Patients by prospective response type id UNKNOWN yet, population of patients require stratification

  • Q&A 2:15 PM – 2:30 PM  

2:10 PM – 2:20 PM FIRST LOOK

Oncolytic viruses: turning pathogens into anticancer agents

Nino Chiocca, MD, PhD

  • Neurosurgeon-in-Chief and Chairman, Neurosurgery, BWH
  • Harvey W. Cushing Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS

Oncolytic therapy DID NOT WORK Pancreatic Cancer and Glioblastoma 

Intra- tumoral heterogeniety hinders success 

Solution: Oncolytic VIRUSES – Immunological “coldness”

GADD-34 20,000 GBM 40,000 pancreatic cancer

  • Q&A 2:25 PM – 2:40 PM  

2:20 PM – 2:45 PM

Entrepreneurial Growth | Oncolytic Virus

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

  •  How are small companies equipped to address the challenges of developing OV therapies better than large pharma or biotech?
  • Will the success of COVID vaccines based on Adenovirus help the regulatory environment for small companies developing OV products in Europe and the USA?
  • Is there a place for non-viral delivery and other immunotherapy companies to engage in the OV space?  Would they bring any real advantages?

Moderator: Reid Huber, PhD

  • Partner, Third Rock Ventures

Critical milestones to observe Speakers: Caroline Breitbach, PhD

  • VP, R&D Programs and Strategy, Turnstone Biologics

Trying Intra-tumor delivery and IV infusion delivery oncolytic vaccine pushing dose 

translation biomarkers program 

transformation tumor microenvironment Brett Ewald, PhD

  • SVP, Development & Corporate Strategy, DNAtrix

Studies gets larger, kicking off Phase III multiple tumors Paul Hallenbeck, PhD

  • President and Chief Scientific Officer, Seneca Therapeutics

Translation: Stephen Russell, MD, PhD

  • CEO, Vyriad

Systemic delivery Oncolytic Virus IV delivery woman in remission

Collaboration with Regeneron

Data collection: Imageable reporter secretable reporter, gene expression

Field is intense systemic oncolytic delivery is exciting in mice and in human, response rates are encouraging combination immune stimulant, check inhibitors 

  • Q&A 2:50 PM – 3:05 PM  

2:45 PM – 3:00 PM

Break

  3:00 PM – 3:25 PM

CAR-T | Lessons Learned | What’s Next

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

  • Is CAR-T still an industry priority – i.e. are new investments being made by large companies? Are new companies being financed? What are the trends?
  • What have we learned from first-generation products, what can we expect from CAR-T going forward in novel targets, combinations, armored CAR’s and allogeneic treatment adoption?
  • Early trials showed remarkable overall survival and progression-free survival. What has been observed regarding how enduring these responses are?
  • Most of the approvals to date have targeted CD19, and most recently BCMA. What are the most common forms of relapses that have been observed?
  • Is there a consensus about what comes after these CD19 and BCMA trials as to additional targets in liquid tumors? How have dual-targeted approaches fared?
  • Moderator:
  • Marcela Maus, MD, PhD
    • Director, Cellular Immunotherapy Program, Cancer Center, MGH
    • Associate Professor, Medicine, HMSIs CAR-T Industry priority
  • Speakers:
  • Head of R&D, Atara BioTherapeutics
  • Phyno-type of the cells for hematologic cancers 
  • solid tumor 
  • inventory of Therapeutics for treating patients in the future 
  • Progressive MS program
  • EBBT platform B-Cells and T-Cells
    • Stefan Hendriks
      • Gobal Head, Cell & Gene, Novartis
      • yes, CGT is a strategy in the present and future
      • Journey started years ago 
      • Confirmation the effectiveness of CAR-T therapies, 1 year response prolonged to 5 years 26 months
      • Patient not responding – a lot to learn
      • Patient after 8 months of chemo can be helped by CAR-T
    • Christi Shaw
      • CEO, Kite
      • CAR-T is priority 120 companies in the space
      • Manufacturing consistency 
      • Patients respond with better quality of life
      • Blood cancer – more work to be done

Q&A

  • 3:30 PM – 3:45 PM  

3:30 PM – 3:55 PM HOT TOPICS

CAR-T | Solid Tumors Success | When?

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

  •  How would industry and investor strategy for CAR-T and solid tumors be characterized? Has it changed in the last couple of years?
  •  Does the lack of tumor antigen specificity in solid tumors mean that lessons from liquid tumor CAR-T constructs will not translate well and we have to start over?
  •  Whether due to antigen heterogeneity, a hostile tumor micro-environment, or other factors are some specific solid tumors more attractive opportunities than others for CAR-T therapy development?
  •  Given the many challenges that CAR-T faces in solid tumors, does the use of combination therapies from the start, for example, to mitigate TME effects, offer a more compelling opportunity.

Moderator: Oladapo Yeku, MD, PhD

  • Clinical Assistant in Medicine, MGH

window of opportunities studies  Speakers: Jennifer Brogdon

  • Executive Director, Head of Cell Therapy Research, Exploratory Immuno-Oncology, NIBR

2017 CAR-T first approval

M&A and research collaborations

TCR tumor specific antigens avoid tissue toxicity Knut Niss, PhD

  • CTO, Mustang Bio

tumor hot start in 12 month clinical trial solid tumors , theraties not ready yet. Combination therapy will be an experimental treatment long journey checkpoint inhibitors to be used in combination maintenance Lipid tumor Barbra Sasu, PhD

  • CSO, Allogene

T cell response at prostate cancer 

tumor specific 

cytokine tumor specific signals move from solid to metastatic cell type for easier infiltration

Where we might go: safety autologous and allogeneic Jay Short, PhD

  • Chairman, CEO, Cofounder, BioAlta, Inc.

Tumor type is not enough for development of therapeutics other organs are involved in the periphery

difficult to penetrate solid tumors biologics activated in the tumor only, positive changes surrounding all charges, water molecules inside the tissue acidic environment target the cells inside the tumor and not outside 

Combination staggered key is try combination

  • Q&A 4:00 PM – 4:15 PM  

4:00 PM – 4:25 PM

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

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

  • Help us all understand the different manufacturing challenges for cell therapies. What are the trade-offs among storage cost, batch size, line changes in terms of production cost and what is the current state of scaling naïve and stem cell therapy treatment vs engineered cell therapies?
  • For cell and gene therapy what is the cost of Quality Assurance/Quality Control vs. production and how do you think this will trend over time based on your perspective on learning curves today?
  • Will point of care production become a reality? How will that change product development strategy for pharma and venture investors? What would be the regulatory implications for such products?
  • How close are allogeneic CAR-T cell therapies? If successful what are the market implications of allogenic CAR-T? What are the cost implications and rewards for developing allogeneic cell therapy treatments?

Moderator: Michael Paglia

  • VP, ElevateBio

Speakers:

  • Dannielle Appelhans
    • SVP TechOps and Chief Technical Officer, Novartis Gene Therapies
  • Thomas Page, PhD
    • VP, Engineering and Asset Development, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies
  • Rahul Singhvi, ScD
    • CEO and Co-Founder, National Resilience, Inc.
  • Thomas VanCott, PhD
    • Global Head of Product Development, Gene & Cell Therapy, Catalent
    • 2/3 autologous 1/3 allogeneic  CAR-T high doses and high populations scale up is not done today quality maintain required the timing logistics issues centralized vs decentralized  allogeneic are health donors innovations in cell types in use improvements in manufacturing

Ropa Pike, Director,  Enterprise Science & Partnerships, Thermo Fisher Scientific 

Centralized biopharma industry is moving  to decentralized models site specific license 

  • Q&A 4:30 PM – 4:45 PM  

4:30 PM – 4:40 PM FIRST LOOK

CAR-T

Marcela Maus, MD, PhD

  • Director, Cellular Immunotherapy Program, Cancer Center, MGH
  • Assistant Professor, Medicine, HMS 

Fit-to-purpose CAR-T cells: 3 lead programs

Tr-fill 

CAR-T induce response myeloma and multiple myeloma GBM

27 patents on CAR-T

+400 patients treaded 40 Clinical Trials 

  • Q&A 4:40 PM – 5:00 PM  

4:40 PM – 4:50 PM FIRST LOOK

Repurposed Tumor Cells as Killers and Immunomodulators for Cancer Therapy

Khalid Shah, PhD

  • Vice Chair, Neurosurgery Research, BWH
  • Director, Center for Stem Cell Therapeutics and Imaging, HMS

Solid tumors are the hardest to treat because: immunosuppressive, hypoxic, Acidic Use of autologous tumor cells self homing ThTC self targeting therapeutic cells Therapeutic tumor cells efficacy pre-clinical models GBM 95% metastesis ThTC translation to patient settings

  • Q&A 4:50 PM – 5:10 PM  

4:50 PM – 5:00 PM FIRST LOOK

Other Cell Therapies for Cancer

David Scadden, MD

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

T-cell are made in bone marrow create cryogel  can be an off-the-shelf product repertoire on T Receptor CCL19+ mesenchymal cells mimic Tymus cells –

inter-tymic injection. Non human primate validation

Q&A

 

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

Fireside with Mikael Dolsten, MD, PhD

  Introducer: Jonathan Kraft Moderator: Daniel Haber, MD, PhD

  • Chair, Cancer Center, MGH
  • Isselbacher Professor of Oncology, HMS

Vaccine Status Mikael Dolsten, MD, PhD

  • Chief Scientific Officer and President, Worldwide Research, Development and Medical, Pfizer

Deliver vaccine around the Globe, Israel, US, Europe.

3BIL vaccine in 2022 for all Global vaccination 

Bio Ntech in Germany

Experience with Biologics immuneoncology & allogeneic antibody cells – new field for drug discovery 

mRNA curative effort and cancer vaccine 

Access to drugs developed by Pfizer to underdeveloped countries 

  • Q&A 5:25 PM – 5:40 AM  

5:20 PM – 5:30 PM

Closing Remarks

Thursday, May 20, 2021

8:00 AM – 8:25 AM

GCT | The China Juggernaut

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

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

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

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

  • Managing Director, Fosun Health Fund

What are the area of CGT in China, regulatory similar to the US Speakers: Alvin Luk, PhD

  • CEO, Neuropath Therapeutics

Monogenic rare disease with clear genomic target

Increase of 30% in patient enrollment 

Regulatory reform approval is 60 days no delayPin Wang, PhD

  • CSO, Jiangsu Simcere Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

Similar starting point in CGT as the rest of the World unlike a later starting point in other biologicalRichard Wang, PhD

  • CEO, Fosun Kite Biotechnology Co., Ltd

Possibilities to be creative and capitalize the new technologies for innovating drug

Support of the ecosystem by funding new companie allowing the industry to be developed in China

Autologous in patients differences cost challengeTian Xu, PhD

  • Vice President, Westlake University

ICH committee and Chinese FDA -r regulation similar to the US

Difference is the population recruitment, in China patients are active participants in skin disease 

Active in development of transposome 

Development of non-viral methods, CRISPR still in D and transposome

In China price of drugs regulatory are sensitive Shunfei Yan, PhD

  • Investment Manager, InnoStar Capital

Indication driven: Hymophilia, 

Allogogenic efficiency therapies

Licensing opportunities 

  • Q&A 8:30 AM – 8:45 AM  

8:30 AM – 8:55 AM

Impact of mRNA Vaccines | Global Success Lessons

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

  • How will the COVID success impact the rest of the industry both in therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines and broader mRNA lessons?
  • How will the COVID success impact the rest of the industry both on therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines and broader mRNA lessons?
  • Beyond from speed of development, what aspects make mRNA so well suited as a vaccine platform?
  • Will cost-of-goods be reduced as the industry matures?
  • How does mRNA technology seek to compete with AAV and other gene therapy approaches?

Moderator: Lindsey Baden, MD

  • Director, Clinical Research, Division of Infectious Diseases, BWH
  • Associate Professor, HMS

In vivo delivery process regulatory cooperation new opportunities for same platform for new indication Speakers:

Many years of mRNA pivoting for new diseases, DARPA, nucleic Acids global deployment of a manufacturing unit on site where the need arise Elan Musk funds new directions at Moderna

How many mRNA can be put in one vaccine: Dose and tolerance to achieve efficacy 

45 days for Personalized cancer vaccine one per patient

1.6 Billion doses produced rare disease monogenic correct mRNA like CF multiple mutation infection disease and oncology applications

Platform allowing to swap cargo reusing same nanoparticles address disease beyond Big Pharma options for biotech

WHat strain of Flu vaccine will come back in the future when people do not use masks 

  • Kate Bingham, UK Vaccine Taskforce

July 2020, AAV vs mRNA delivery across UK local centers administered both types supply and delivery uplift 

  • Q&A 9:00 AM – 9:15 AM  

9:00 AM – 9:25 AM HOT TOPICS

Benign Blood Disorders

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

  • Chief, Division of Hematology, BWH
  • H. Franklin Bunn Professor of Medicine, HMS

Speakers: Theresa Heggie

  • CEO, Freeline Therapeutics

Safety concerns, high burden of treatment CGT has record of safety and risk/benefit adoption of Tx functional cure CGT is potent Tx relative small quantity of protein needs be delivered 

Potency and quality less quantity drug and greater potency

risk of delivery unwanted DNA, capsules are critical 

analytics is critical regulator involvement in potency definition

Close of collaboration is excitingGallia Levy, MD, PhD

  • Chief Medical Officer, Spark Therapeutics

Hemophilia CGT is the highest potential for Global access logistics in underdeveloped countries working with NGOs practicality of the Tx

Roche reached 120 Counties great to be part of the Roche GroupAmir Nashat, PhD

  • Managing Partner, Polaris Ventures

Suneet Varma

  • Global President of Rare Disease, Pfizer

Gene therapy at Pfizer small molecule, large molecule and CGT – spectrum of choice allowing Hemophilia patients to marry 

1/3 internal 1/3 partnership 1/3 acquisitions 

Learning from COVID-19 is applied for other vaccine development

review of protocols and CGT for Hemophelia

You can’t buy Time

With MIT Pfizer is developing a model for Hemopilia CGT treatment

  • Q&A 9:30 AM – 9:45 AM  

9:25 AM – 9:35 AM FIRST LOOK

Treating Rett Syndrome through X-reactivation

Jeannie Lee, MD, PhD

  • Molecular Biologist, MGH
  • Professor of Genetics, HMS

200 disease X chromosome unlock for neurological genetic diseases: Rett Syndromeand other autism spectrum disorders female model vs male mice model

deliver protein to the brain 

restore own missing or dysfunctional protein

Epigenetic not CGT – no exogent intervention Xist ASO drug

Female model

  • Q&A 9:35 AM – 9:55 AM  

9:35 AM – 9:45 AM FIRST LOOK

Rare but mighty: scaling up success in single gene disorders

Florian Eichler, MD

  • Director, Center for Rare Neurological Diseases, MGH
  • Associate Professor, Neurology, HMS

Single gene disorder NGS enable diagnosis, DIagnosis to Treatment How to know whar cell to target, make it available and scale up Address gap: missing components Biomarkers to cell types lipid chemistry cell animal biology 

crosswalk from bone marrow matter 

New gene discovered that causes neurodevelopment of stagnant genes Examining new Biology cell type specific biomarkers 

  • Q&A 9:45 AM – 10:05 AM  

9:50 AM – 10:15 AM HOT TOPICS

Diabetes | Grand Challenge

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

  •  Islet transplantation for type 1 diabetes has been attempted for decades. Problems like loss of transplanted islet cells due to autoimmunity and graft site factors have been difficult to address. Is there anything different on the horizon for gene and cell therapies to help this be successful?
  • How is the durability of response for gene or cell therapies for diabetes being addressed? For example, what would the profile of an acceptable (vs. optimal) cell therapy look like?

Moderator: Marie McDonnell, MD

  • Chief, Diabetes Section and Director, Diabetes Program, BWH
  • Lecturer on Medicine, HMS

Type 1 Diabetes cost of insulin for continuous delivery of drug

alternative treatments: 

The Future: neuropotent stem cells 

What keeps you up at night  Speakers: Tom Bollenbach, PhD

  • Chief Technology Officer, Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute

Data managment sterility sensors, cell survival after implantation, stem cells manufacturing, process development in manufacturing of complex cells

Data and instrumentation the Process is the Product

Manufacturing tight schedules Manasi Jaiman, MD

  • Vice President, Clinical Development, ViaCyte
  • Pediatric Endocrinologist

continous glucose monitoring Bastiano Sanna, PhD

  • EVP, Chief of Cell & Gene Therapies and VCGT Site Head, Vertex Pharmaceuticals

100 years from discovering Insulin, Insulin is not a cure in 2021 – asking patients to partner more 

Produce large quantities of the Islet cells encapsulation technology been developed 

Scaling up is a challengeRogerio Vivaldi, MD

  • CEO, Sigilon Therapeutics

Advanced made, Patient of Type 1 Outer and Inner compartments of spheres (not capsule) no immune suppression continuous secretion of enzyme Insulin independence without immune suppression 

Volume to have of-the-shelf inventory oxegenation in location lymphatic and vascularization conrol the whole process modular platform learning from others

  • Q&A 10:20 AM – 10:35 AM  

10:20 AM – 10:40 AM FIRESIDE

Building A Unified GCT Strategy

  Introducer: John Fish

  • CEO, Suffolk
  • Chairman of Board Trustees, Brigham Health

Moderator: Meg Tirrell

  • Senior Health and Science Reporter, CNBC

Last year, what was it at Novartis Speaker: Jay Bradner, MD

  • President, NIBR

Keep eyes open, waiting the Pandemic to end and enable working back on all the indications 

Portfolio of MET, Mimi Emerging Therapies 

Learning from the Pandemic – operationalize the practice science, R&D leaders, new collaboratives at NIH, FDA, Novartis

Pursue programs that will yield growth, tropic diseases with Gates Foundation, Rising Tide pods for access CGT within Novartis Partnership with UPenn in Cell Therapy 

Cost to access to IP from Academia to a Biotech CRISPR accessing few translations to Clinic

Protein degradation organization constraint valuation by parties in a partnership 

Novartis: nuclear protein lipid nuclear particles, tamplate for Biotech to collaborate

Game changing: 10% of the Portfolio, New frontiers human genetics in Ophthalmology, CAR-T, CRISPR, Gene Therapy Neurological and payloads of different matter

  • Q&A 10:45 AM – 11:00 AM  

10:40 AM – 10:50 AM

Break

  10:50 AM – 11:00 AM FIRST LOOK

Getting to the Heart of the Matter: Curing Genetic Cardiomyopathy

Christine Seidman, MD

  • Director, Cardiovascular Genetics Center, BWH
  • Smith Professor of Medicine & Genetics, HMS

The Voice of Dr. Seidman – Her abstract is cited below

The ultimate opportunity presented by discovering the genetic basis of human disease is accurate prediction and disease prevention. To enable this achievement, genetic insights must enable the identification of at-risk

individuals prior to end-stage disease manifestations and strategies that delay or prevent clinical expression. Genetic cardiomyopathies provide a paradigm for fulfilling these opportunities. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is characterized by left ventricular hypertrophy, diastolic dysfunction with normal or enhanced systolic performance and a unique histopathology: myocyte hypertrophy, disarray and fibrosis. Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) exhibits enlarged ventricular volumes with depressed systolic performance and nonspecific histopathology. Both HCM and DCM are prevalent clinical conditions that increase risk for arrhythmias, sudden death, and heart failure. Today treatments for HCM and DCM focus on symptoms, but none prevent disease progression. Human molecular genetic studies demonstrated that these pathologies often result from dominant mutations in genes that encode protein components of the sarcomere, the contractile unit in striated muscles. These data combined with the emergence of molecular strategies to specifically modulate gene expression provide unparalleled opportunities to silence or correct mutant genes and to boost healthy gene expression in patients with genetic HCM and DCM. Many challenges remain, but the active and vital efforts of physicians, researchers, and patients are poised to ensure success.

Hypertrophic and Dilated Cardiomyopaies ‘

10% receive heart transplant 12 years survival 

Mutation puterb function

TTN: contribute 20% of dilated cardiomyopaty

Silence gene 

pleuripotential cells deliver therapies 

  • Q&A 11:00 AM – 11:20 AM  

11:00 AM – 11:10 AM FIRST LOOK

Unlocking the secret lives of proteins in health and disease

Anna Greka, MD, PhD

  • Medicine, BWH
  • Associate Professor, Medicine, HMS

Cyprus Island, kidney disease by mutation causing MUC1 accumulation and death BRD4780 molecule that will clear the misfolding proteins from the kidney organoids: pleuripotent stem cells small molecule developed for applications in the other cell types in brain, eye, gene mutation build mechnism for therapy clinical models transition from Academia to biotech 

Q&A

  • 11:10 AM – 11:30 AM  

11:10 AM – 11:35 AM

Rare and Ultra Rare Diseases | GCT Breaks Through

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

  • What is driving the interest in rare diseases?
  • What are the biggest barriers to making breakthroughs ‘routine and affordable?’
  • What is the role of retrospective and prospective natural history studies in rare disease?  When does the expected value of retrospective disease history studies justify the cost?
  • Related to the first question, what is the FDA expecting as far as controls in clinical trials for rare diseases?  How does this impact the collection of natural history data?

Moderator: Susan Slaugenhaupt, PhD

  • Scientific Director and Elizabeth G. Riley and Daniel E. Smith Jr., Endowed Chair, Mass General Research Institute
  • Professor, Neurology, HMS

Speakers: Leah Bloom, PhD

  • SVP, External Innovation and Strategic Alliances, Novartis Gene Therapies

Ultra rare (less than 100) vs rare difficulty to recruit patients and to follow up after treatment Bobby Gaspar, MD, PhD

  • CEO, Orchard Therapeutics

Study of rare condition have transfer to other larger diseases – delivery of therapeutics genes, like immune disorders 

Patient testimonials just to hear what a treatment can make Emil Kakkis, MD, PhD

  • CEO, Ultragenyx

Do 100 patient study then have information on natural history to develop a clinical trial Stuart Peltz, PhD

  • CEO, PTC Therapeutics

Rare disease, challenge for FDA approval and after market commercialization follow ups

Justification of cost for Rare disease – demonstration of Change is IP in value patients advocacy is helpful

  • Q&A 11:40 AM – 11:55 AM  

11:40 AM – 12:00 PM FIRESIDE

Partnering Across the GCT Spectrum

  Moderator: Erin Harris

  • Chief Editor, Cell & Gene

Perspective & professional tenure

Partnership in manufacturing what are the recommendations?

Hospital systems: Partnership Challenges  Speaker: Marc Casper

  • CEO, ThermoFisher

25 years in Diagnostics last 20 years at ThermoFisher 

products used in the Lab for CAR-T research and manufacture 

CGT Innovations: FDA will have a high level of approval each year

How move from research to clinical trials to manufacturing Quicker process

Best practices in Partnerships: the root cause if acceleration to market service providers to deliver highest standards

Building capacity by acquisition to avoid the waiting time

Accelerate new products been manufactured 

Collaborations with Academic Medical center i.e., UCSF in CGT joint funding to accelerate CGT to clinics’

Customers are extremely knowledgable, scale the capital investment made investment

150MIL a year to improve the Workflow 

  • Q&A 12:05 PM – 12:20 PM  

12:05 PM – 12:30 PM

  • 12:05 PM – 12:20 PM  

12:05 PM – 12:30 PM

CEO Panel | Anticipating Disruption | Planning for Widespread GCT

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

  • Senior Health and Science Reporter, CNBC

CGT becoming staple therapy what are the disruptors emerging Speakers: Lisa Dechamps

  • SVP & Chief Business Officer, Novartis Gene Therapies

Reimagine medicine with collaboration at MGH, MDM condition in children 

The Science is there, sustainable processes and systems impact is transformational

Value based pricing, risk sharing Payers and Pharma for one time therapy with life span effect

Collaboration with FDAKieran Murphy

  • CEO, GE Healthcare

Diagnosis of disease to be used in CGT

2021 investment in CAR-T platform 

Investment in several CGT frontier

Investment in AI, ML in system design new technologies 

GE: Scale and Global distributions, sponsor companies in software 

Waste in Industry – Healthcare % of GDP, work with MGH to smooth the workflow faster entry into hospital and out of Hospital

Telemedicine during is Pandemic: Radiologist needs to read remotely 

Supply chain disruptions slow down all ecosystem 

Production of ventilators by collaboration with GM – ingenuity 

Scan patients outside of hospital a scanner in a Box Christian Rommel, PhD

  • Head, Pharmaceuticals Research & Development, Bayer AG

CGT – 2016 and in 2020 new leadership and capability 

Disease Biology and therapeutics

Regenerative Medicine: CGT vs repair building pipeline in ophthalmology and cardiovascular 

During Pandemic: Deliver Medicines like Moderna, Pfizer – collaborations between competitors with Government Bayer entered into Vaccines in 5 days, all processes had to change access innovations developed over decades for medical solutions 

  • Q&A 12:35 PM – 12:50 PM  

12:35 PM – 12:55 PM FIRESIDE

Building a GCT Portfolio

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

Shinichiro Fuse, PhD

  • Managing Partner, MPM Capital

Speaker: Wolfram Carius, PhD

  • EVP, Pharmaceuticals, Head of Cell & Gene Therapy, Bayer AG

CGT will bring treatment to cure, delivery of therapies 

Be a Leader repair, regenerate, cure

Technology and Science for CGT – building a portfolio vs single asset decision criteria development of IP market access patients access acceleration of new products

Bayer strategy: build platform for use by four domains  

Gener augmentation

Autologeneic therapy, analytics

Gene editing

Oncology Cell therapy tumor treatment: What kind of cells – the jury is out

Of 23 product launch at Bayer no prediction is possible some high some lows 

  • Q&A 1:00 PM – 1:15 PM  

12:55 PM – 1:35 PM

Lunch

  1:40 PM – 2:05 PM

GCT Delivery | Perfecting the Technology

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

  • Assistant Professor, BWH

Speakers: Geoff McDonough, MD

  • CEO, Generation Bio

Sonya Montgomery

  • CMO, Evox Therapeutics

Laura Sepp-Lorenzino, PhD

  • Chief Scientific Officer, Executive Vice President, Intellia Therapeutics

Doug Williams, PhD

  • CEO, Codiak BioSciences
  • Q&A 2:10 PM – 2:25 PM  

2:05 PM – 2:10 PM

Invention Discovery Grant Announcement

  2:10 PM – 2:20 PM FIRST LOOK

Enhancing vesicles for therapeutic delivery of bioproducts

Xandra Breakefield, PhD

  • Geneticist, MGH, MGH
  • Professor, Neurology, HMS
  • Q&A 2:20 PM – 2:35 PM  

2:20 PM – 2:30 PM FIRST LOOK

Versatile polymer-based nanocarriers for targeted therapy and immunomodulation

Natalie Artzi, PhD

  • Assistant Professor, BWH
  • Q&A 2:30 PM – 2:45 PM  

2:55 PM – 3:20 PM HOT TOPICS

Gene Editing | Achieving Therapeutic Mainstream

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

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

  • Successes in gene editing – lessons learned from late-stage assets (sickle cell, ophthalmology)
  • When to use what editing tool – pros and cons of traditional gene-editing v. base editing.  Is prime editing the future? Specific use cases for epigenetic editing.
  • When we reach widespread clinical use – role of off-target editing – is the risk real?  How will we mitigate? How practical is patient-specific off-target evaluation?

Moderator: J. Keith Joung, MD, PhD

  • Robert B. Colvin, M.D. Endowed Chair in Pathology & Pathologist, MGH
  • Professor of Pathology, HMS

Speakers: John Evans

  • CEO, Beam Therapeutics

Lisa Michaels

  • EVP & CMO, Editas Medicine
  • Q&A 3:25 PM – 3:50 PM  

3:25 PM – 3:50 PM HOT TOPICS

Common Blood Disorders | Gene Therapy

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

  • What are the pros and cons of various strategies for treatment? There are AAV-based editing, non-viral delivery even oligonucleotide recruitment of endogenous editing/repair mechanisms. Which approaches are most appropriate for which disease?
  • How can companies increase the speed of recruitment for clinical trials when other treatments are available? What is the best approach to educate patients on a novel therapeutic?
  • How do we best address ethnic and socio-economic diversity to be more representative of the target patient population?
  • How long do we have to follow up with the patients from the scientific, patient’s community, and payer points of view? What are the current FDA and EMA guidelines for long-term follow-up?
  • Where are we with regards to surrogate endpoints and their application to clinically meaningful endpoints?
  • What are the emerging ethical dilemmas in pediatric gene therapy research? Are there challenges with informed consent and pediatric assent for trial participation?
  • Are there differences in reimbursement policies for these different blood disorders? Clearly durability of response is a big factor. Are there other considerations?

Moderator: David Scadden, MD

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

Speakers: Samarth Kukarni, PhDNick Leschly

  • Chief Bluebird, Bluebird Bio

Mike McCune, MD, PhD

  • Head, HIV Frontiers, Global Health Innovative Technology Solutions, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Q&A 3:55 PM – 4:15 PM  

3:50 PM – 4:00 PM FIRST LOOK

Gene Editing

J. Keith Joung, MD, PhD

  • Robert B. Colvin, M.D. Endowed Chair in Pathology & Pathologist, MGH
  • Professor of Pathology, HMS
  • Q&A 4:00 PM – 4:20 PM  

4:20 PM – 4:45 PM HOT TOPICS

Gene Expression | Modulating with Oligonucleotide-Based Therapies

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

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

  • Will oligonucleotides improve as a class that will make them even more effective?   Are further advancements in backbone chemistry anticipated, for example.
  • Will oligonucleotide based therapies blaze trails for follow-on gene therapy products?
  • Are small molecules a threat to oligonucleotide-based therapies?
  • Beyond exon skipping and knock-down mechanisms, what other roles will oligonucleotide-based therapies take mechanistically — can genes be activating oligonucleotides?  Is there a place for multiple mechanism oligonucleotide medicines?
  • Are there any advantages of RNAi-based oligonucleotides over ASOs, and if so for what use?

Moderator: Jeannie Lee, MD, PhD

  • Molecular Biologist, MGH
  • Professor of Genetics, HMS

Speakers: Bob Brown, PhD

  • CSO, EVP of R&D, Dicerna

Brett Monia, PhD

  • CEO, Ionis

Alfred Sandrock, MD, PhD

  • EVP, R&D and CMO, Biogen
  • Q&A 4:50 PM – 5:05 PM  

4:45 PM – 4:55 PM FIRST LOOK

RNA therapy for brain cancer

Pierpaolo Peruzzi, MD, PhD

  • Nuerosurgery, BWH
  • Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS
  • Q&A 4:55 PM – 5:15 PM  

Friday, May 21, 2021

8:30 AM – 8:55 AM

Venture Investing | Shaping GCT Translation

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

  • Partner, Mass General Brigham Innovation Fund

Speakers: David Berry, MD, PhD

  • CEO, Valo Health
  • General Partner, Flagship Pioneering

Robert Nelsen

  • Managing Director, Co-founder, ARCH Venture Partners

Kush Parmar, MD, PhD

  • Managing Partner, 5AM Ventures
  • Q&A 9:00 AM – 9:15 AM  

9:00 AM – 9:25 AM

Regenerative Medicine | Stem Cells

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

  • Stem cell sourcing
  • Therapeutic indication growth
  • Genetic and other modification in cell production
  • Cell production to final product optimization and challenges
  • How to optimize the final product

Moderator: Ole Isacson, MD, PhD

  • Director, Neuroregeneration Research Institute, McLean
  • Professor, Neurology and Neuroscience, HMS

Speakers: Kapil Bharti, PhD

  • Senior Investigator, Ocular and Stem Cell Translational Research Section, NIH

Joe Burns, PhD

  • VP, Head of Biology, Decibel Therapeutics

Erin Kimbrel, PhD

  • Executive Director, Regenerative Medicine, Astellas

Nabiha Saklayen, PhD

  • CEO and Co-Founder, Cellino
  • Q&A 9:30 AM – 9:45 AM  

9:25 AM – 9:35 AM FIRST LOOK

Stem Cells

Bob Carter, MD, PhD

  • Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery, MGH
  • William and Elizabeth Sweet, Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS
  • Q&A 9:35 AM – 9:55 AM  

9:35 AM – 10:00 AM

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

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

  • VP, Venture, Mass General Brigham

Speakers: Ellen Hukkelhoven, PhD

  • Managing Director, Perceptive Advisors

Peter Kolchinsky, PhD

  • Founder and Managing Partner, RA Capital Management

Deep Nishar

  • Senior Managing Partner, SoftBank Investment Advisors

Oleg Nodelman

  • Founder & Managing Partner, EcoR1 Capital
  • Q&A 10:05 AM – 10:20 AM  

10:00 AM – 10:10 AM FIRST LOOK

New scientific and clinical developments for autologous stem cell therapy for Parkinson’s disease patients

Penelope Hallett, PhD

  • NRL, McLean
  • Assistant Professor Psychiatry, HMS
  • Q&A 10:10 AM – 10:30 AM  

10:10 AM – 10:35 AM HOT TOPICS

Neurodegenerative Clinical Outcomes | Achieving GCT Success

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

  •  What are the commonalities driving GCT success in neurodegenerative disease and non-neurologic disease, what are the key differences?
  • Overcoming treatment administration challenges
  • GCT impact on degenerative stage of disease
  • How difficult will it be to titrate the size of the cell therapy effect in different neurological disorders and for different patients?
  • Demonstrating clinical value to patients and payers
  • Revised clinical trial models to address issues and concerns specific to GCT

Moderator: Bob Carter, MD, PhD

  • Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery, MGH
  • William and Elizabeth Sweet, Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS

Speakers: Erwan Bezard, PhD

  • INSERM Research Director, Institute of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Nikola Kojic, PhD

  • CEO and Co-Founder, Oryon Cell Therapies

Geoff MacKay

  • President & CEO, AVROBIO

Viviane Tabar, MD

  • Founding Investigator, BlueRock Therapeutics
  • Chair of Neurosurgery, Memorial Sloan Kettering
  • Q&A 10:40 AM – 10:55 AM  

10:35 AM – 11:35 AM

Disruptive Dozen: 12 Technologies that Will Reinvent GCT

Nearly one hundred senior Mass General Brigham Harvard faculty contributed to the creation of this group of twelve GCT technologies that they believe will breakthrough in the next two years. The Disruptive Dozen identifies and ranks the GCT technologies that will be available on at least an experimental basis to have the chance of significantly improving health care. 11:35 AM – 11:45 AM

Concluding Remarks

Friday, May 21, 2021

Computer connection to the iCloud of WordPress.com FROZE completely at 10:30AM EST and no file update was possible. COVERAGE OF MAY 21, 2021 IS RECORDED BELOW FOLLOWING THE AGENDA BY COPY AN DPASTE OF ALL THE TWEETS I PRODUCED ON MAY 21, 2021 8:30 AM – 8:55 AM

Venture Investing | Shaping GCT Translation

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

  • Partner, Mass General Brigham Innovation Fund

Speakers: David Berry, MD, PhD

  • CEO, Valo Health
  • General Partner, Flagship Pioneering

Robert Nelsen

  • Managing Director, Co-founder, ARCH Venture Partners

Kush Parmar, MD, PhD

  • Managing Partner, 5AM Ventures
  • Q&A 9:00 AM – 9:15 AM  

9:00 AM – 9:25 AM

Regenerative Medicine | Stem Cells

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

  • Stem cell sourcing
  • Therapeutic indication growth
  • Genetic and other modification in cell production
  • Cell production to final product optimization and challenges
  • How to optimize the final product

Moderator: Ole Isacson, MD, PhD

  • Director, Neuroregeneration Research Institute, McLean
  • Professor, Neurology and Neuroscience, HMS

Speakers: Kapil Bharti, PhD

  • Senior Investigator, Ocular and Stem Cell Translational Research Section, NIH

Joe Burns, PhD

  • VP, Head of Biology, Decibel Therapeutics

Erin Kimbrel, PhD

  • Executive Director, Regenerative Medicine, Astellas

Nabiha Saklayen, PhD

  • CEO and Co-Founder, Cellino
  • Q&A 9:30 AM – 9:45 AM  

9:25 AM – 9:35 AM FIRST LOOK

Stem Cells

Bob Carter, MD, PhD

  • Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery, MGH
  • William and Elizabeth Sweet, Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS
  • Q&A 9:35 AM – 9:55 AM  

9:35 AM – 10:00 AM

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

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

  • VP, Venture, Mass General Brigham

Speakers: Ellen Hukkelhoven, PhD

  • Managing Director, Perceptive Advisors

Peter Kolchinsky, PhD

  • Founder and Managing Partner, RA Capital Management

Deep Nishar

  • Senior Managing Partner, SoftBank Investment Advisors

Oleg Nodelman

  • Founder & Managing Partner, EcoR1 Capital
  • Q&A 10:05 AM – 10:20 AM  

10:00 AM – 10:10 AM FIRST LOOK

New scientific and clinical developments for autologous stem cell therapy for Parkinson’s disease patients

Penelope Hallett, PhD

  • NRL, McLean
  • Assistant Professor Psychiatry, HMS
  • Q&A 10:10 AM – 10:30 AM  

10:10 AM – 10:35 AM HOT TOPICS

Neurodegenerative Clinical Outcomes | Achieving GCT Success

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

  •  What are the commonalities driving GCT success in neurodegenerative disease and non-neurologic disease, what are the key differences?
  • Overcoming treatment administration challenges
  • GCT impact on degenerative stage of disease
  • How difficult will it be to titrate the size of the cell therapy effect in different neurological disorders and for different patients?
  • Demonstrating clinical value to patients and payers
  • Revised clinical trial models to address issues and concerns specific to GCT

Moderator: Bob Carter, MD, PhD

  • Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery, MGH
  • William and Elizabeth Sweet, Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS

Speakers: Erwan Bezard, PhD

  • INSERM Research Director, Institute of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Nikola Kojic, PhD

  • CEO and Co-Founder, Oryon Cell Therapies

Geoff MacKay

  • President & CEO, AVROBIO

Viviane Tabar, MD

  • Founding Investigator, BlueRock Therapeutics
  • Chair of Neurosurgery, Memorial Sloan Kettering
  • Q&A 10:40 AM – 10:55 AM  

10:35 AM – 11:35 AM

Disruptive Dozen: 12 Technologies that Will Reinvent GCT

Nearly one hundred senior Mass General Brigham Harvard faculty contributed to the creation of this group of twelve GCT technologies that they believe will breakthrough in the next two years. The Disruptive Dozen identifies and ranks the GCT technologies that will be available on at least an experimental basis to have the chance of significantly improving health care. 11:35 AM – 11:45 AM

Concluding Remarks

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

 

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

Hypertrophic and Dilated Cardiomyopaies ‘

10% receive heart transplant 12 years survival 

Mutation puterb function

TTN: contribute 20% of dilated cardiomyopaty

Silence gene 

pleuripotential cells deliver therapies 

  • Q&A 11:00 AM – 11:20 AM  

11:00 AM – 11:10 AM FIRST LOOK

Unlocking the secret lives of proteins in health and disease

Anna Greka, MD, PhD

  • Medicine, BWH
  • Associate Professor, Medicine, HMS

Cyprus Island, kidney disease by mutation causing MUC1 accumulation and death BRD4780 molecule that will clear the misfolding proteins from the kidney organoids: pleuripotent stem cells small molecule developed for applications in the other cell types in brain, eye, gene mutation build mechnism for therapy clinical models transition from Academia to biotech 

Q&A

  • 11:10 AM – 11:30 AM  

11:10 AM – 11:35 AM

Rare and Ultra Rare Diseases | GCT Breaks Through

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

  • What is driving the interest in rare diseases?
  • What are the biggest barriers to making breakthroughs ‘routine and affordable?’
  • What is the role of retrospective and prospective natural history studies in rare disease?  When does the expected value of retrospective disease history studies justify the cost?
  • Related to the first question, what is the FDA expecting as far as controls in clinical trials for rare diseases?  How does this impact the collection of natural history data?

Moderator: Susan Slaugenhaupt, PhD

  • Scientific Director and Elizabeth G. Riley and Daniel E. Smith Jr., Endowed Chair, Mass General Research Institute
  • Professor, Neurology, HMS

Speakers: Leah Bloom, PhD

  • SVP, External Innovation and Strategic Alliances, Novartis Gene Therapies

Ultra rare (less than 100) vs rare difficulty to recruit patients and to follow up after treatment Bobby Gaspar, MD, PhD

  • CEO, Orchard Therapeutics

Study of rare condition have transfer to other larger diseases – delivery of therapeutics genes, like immune disorders 

Patient testimonials just to hear what a treatment can make Emil Kakkis, MD, PhD

  • CEO, Ultragenyx

Do 100 patient study then have information on natural history to develop a clinical trial Stuart Peltz, PhD

  • CEO, PTC Therapeutics

Rare disease, challenge for FDA approval and after market commercialization follow ups

Justification of cost for Rare disease – demonstration of Change is IP in value patients advocacy is helpful

  • Q&A 11:40 AM – 11:55 AM  

11:40 AM – 12:00 PM FIRESIDE

Partnering Across the GCT Spectrum

  Moderator: Erin Harris

  • Chief Editor, Cell & Gene

Perspective & professional tenure

Partnership in manufacturing what are the recommendations?

Hospital systems: Partnership Challenges  Speaker: Marc Casper

  • CEO, ThermoFisher

25 years in Diagnostics last 20 years at ThermoFisher 

products used in the Lab for CAR-T research and manufacture 

CGT Innovations: FDA will have a high level of approval each year

How move from research to clinical trials to manufacturing Quicker process

Best practices in Partnerships: the root cause if acceleration to market service providers to deliver highest standards

Building capacity by acquisition to avoid the waiting time

Accelerate new products been manufactured 

Collaborations with Academic Medical center i.e., UCSF in CGT joint funding to accelerate CGT to clinics’

Customers are extremely knowledgable, scale the capital investment made investment

150MIL a year to improve the Workflow 

  • Q&A 12:05 PM – 12:20 PM  

12:05 PM – 12:30 PM

CEO Panel | Anticipating Disruption | Planning for Widespread GCT

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

  • Senior Health and Science Reporter, CNBC

CGT becoming staple therapy what are the disruptors emerging Speakers: Lisa Dechamps

  • SVP & Chief Business Officer, Novartis Gene Therapies

Reimagine medicine with collaboration at MGH, MDM condition in children 

The Science is there, sustainable processes and systems impact is transformational

Value based pricing, risk sharing Payers and Pharma for one time therapy with life span effect

Collaboration with FDAKieran Murphy

  • CEO, GE Healthcare

Diagnosis of disease to be used in CGT

2021 investment in CAR-T platform 

Investment in several CGT frontier

Investment in AI, ML in system design new technologies 

GE: Scale and Global distributions, sponsor companies in software 

Waste in Industry – Healthcare % of GDP, work with MGH to smooth the workflow faster entry into hospital and out of Hospital

Telemedicine during is Pandemic: Radiologist needs to read remotely 

Supply chain disruptions slow down all ecosystem 

Production of ventilators by collaboration with GM – ingenuity 

Scan patients outside of hospital a scanner in a Box Christian Rommel, PhD

  • Head, Pharmaceuticals Research & Development, Bayer AG

CGT – 2016 and in 2020 new leadership and capability 

Disease Biology and therapeutics

Regenerative Medicine: CGT vs repair building pipeline in ophthalmology and cardiovascular 

During Pandemic: Deliver Medicines like Moderna, Pfizer – collaborations between competitors with Government Bayer entered into Vaccines in 5 days, all processes had to change access innovations developed over decades for medical solutions 

  • Q&A 12:35 PM – 12:50 PM  

12:35 PM – 12:55 PM FIRESIDE

Building a GCT Portfolio

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

Shinichiro Fuse, PhD

  • Managing Partner, MPM Capital

Speaker: Wolfram Carius, PhD

  • EVP, Pharmaceuticals, Head of Cell & Gene Therapy, Bayer AG

CGT will bring treatment to cure, delivery of therapies 

Be a Leader repair, regenerate, cure

Technology and Science for CGT – building a portfolio vs single asset decision criteria development of IP market access patients access acceleration of new products

Bayer strategy: build platform for use by four domains  

Gener augmentation

Autologeneic therapy, analytics

Gene editing

Oncology Cell therapy tumor treatment: What kind of cells – the jury is out

Of 23 product launch at Bayer no prediction is possible some high some lows 

  • Q&A 1:00 PM – 1:15 PM  

12:55 PM – 1:35 PM

Lunch

  1:40 PM – 2:05 PM

GCT Delivery | Perfecting the Technology

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

  • Assistant Professor, BWH

Speakers: Geoff McDonough, MD

  • CEO, Generation Bio

Sonya Montgomery

  • CMO, Evox Therapeutics

Laura Sepp-Lorenzino, PhD

  • Chief Scientific Officer, Executive Vice President, Intellia Therapeutics

Doug Williams, PhD

  • CEO, Codiak BioSciences
  • Q&A 2:10 PM – 2:25 PM  

2:05 PM – 2:10 PM

Invention Discovery Grant Announcement

  2:10 PM – 2:20 PM FIRST LOOK

Enhancing vesicles for therapeutic delivery of bioproducts

Xandra Breakefield, PhD

  • Geneticist, MGH, MGH
  • Professor, Neurology, HMS
  • Q&A 2:20 PM – 2:35 PM  

2:20 PM – 2:30 PM FIRST LOOK

Versatile polymer-based nanocarriers for targeted therapy and immunomodulation

Natalie Artzi, PhD

  • Assistant Professor, BWH
  • Q&A 2:30 PM – 2:45 PM  

2:55 PM – 3:20 PM HOT TOPICS

Gene Editing | Achieving Therapeutic Mainstream

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

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

  • Successes in gene editing – lessons learned from late-stage assets (sickle cell, ophthalmology)
  • When to use what editing tool – pros and cons of traditional gene-editing v. base editing.  Is prime editing the future? Specific use cases for epigenetic editing.
  • When we reach widespread clinical use – role of off-target editing – is the risk real?  How will we mitigate? How practical is patient-specific off-target evaluation?

Moderator: J. Keith Joung, MD, PhD

  • Robert B. Colvin, M.D. Endowed Chair in Pathology & Pathologist, MGH
  • Professor of Pathology, HMS

Speakers: John Evans

  • CEO, Beam Therapeutics

Lisa Michaels

  • EVP & CMO, Editas Medicine
  • Q&A 3:25 PM – 3:50 PM  

3:25 PM – 3:50 PM HOT TOPICS

Common Blood Disorders | Gene Therapy

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

  • What are the pros and cons of various strategies for treatment? There are AAV-based editing, non-viral delivery even oligonucleotide recruitment of endogenous editing/repair mechanisms. Which approaches are most appropriate for which disease?
  • How can companies increase the speed of recruitment for clinical trials when other treatments are available? What is the best approach to educate patients on a novel therapeutic?
  • How do we best address ethnic and socio-economic diversity to be more representative of the target patient population?
  • How long do we have to follow up with the patients from the scientific, patient’s community, and payer points of view? What are the current FDA and EMA guidelines for long-term follow-up?
  • Where are we with regards to surrogate endpoints and their application to clinically meaningful endpoints?
  • What are the emerging ethical dilemmas in pediatric gene therapy research? Are there challenges with informed consent and pediatric assent for trial participation?
  • Are there differences in reimbursement policies for these different blood disorders? Clearly durability of response is a big factor. Are there other considerations?

Moderator: David Scadden, MD

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

Speakers: Samarth Kukarni, PhDNick Leschly

  • Chief Bluebird, Bluebird Bio

Mike McCune, MD, PhD

  • Head, HIV Frontiers, Global Health Innovative Technology Solutions, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Q&A 3:55 PM – 4:15 PM  

3:50 PM – 4:00 PM FIRST LOOK

Gene Editing

J. Keith Joung, MD, PhD

  • Robert B. Colvin, M.D. Endowed Chair in Pathology & Pathologist, MGH
  • Professor of Pathology, HMS
  • Q&A 4:00 PM – 4:20 PM  

4:20 PM – 4:45 PM HOT TOPICS

Gene Expression | Modulating with Oligonucleotide-Based Therapies

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

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

  • Will oligonucleotides improve as a class that will make them even more effective?   Are further advancements in backbone chemistry anticipated, for example.
  • Will oligonucleotide based therapies blaze trails for follow-on gene therapy products?
  • Are small molecules a threat to oligonucleotide-based therapies?
  • Beyond exon skipping and knock-down mechanisms, what other roles will oligonucleotide-based therapies take mechanistically — can genes be activating oligonucleotides?  Is there a place for multiple mechanism oligonucleotide medicines?
  • Are there any advantages of RNAi-based oligonucleotides over ASOs, and if so for what use?

Moderator: Jeannie Lee, MD, PhD

  • Molecular Biologist, MGH
  • Professor of Genetics, HMS

Speakers: Bob Brown, PhD

  • CSO, EVP of R&D, Dicerna

Brett Monia, PhD

  • CEO, Ionis

Alfred Sandrock, MD, PhD

  • EVP, R&D and CMO, Biogen
  • Q&A 4:50 PM – 5:05 PM  

4:45 PM – 4:55 PM FIRST LOOK

RNA therapy for brain cancer

Pierpaolo Peruzzi, MD, PhD

  • Nuerosurgery, BWH
  • Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS
  • Q&A 4:55 PM – 5:15 PM  

Friday, May 21, 2021

Computer connection to the iCloud of WordPress.com FROZE completely at 10:30AM EST and no file update was possible. COVERAGE OF MAY 21, 2021 IS RECORDED BELOW FOLLOWING THE AGENDA BY COPY AN DPASTE OF ALL THE TWEETS I PRODUCED ON MAY 21, 2021

8:30 AM – 8:55 AM

Venture Investing | Shaping GCT Translation

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

  • Partner, Mass General Brigham Innovation Fund

Strategies, success what changes are needed in the drug discovery process   Speakers:  

Bring disruptive frontier as a platform with reliable delivery CGT double knock out disease cure all change efficiency and scope human centric vs mice centered right scale of data converted into therapeutics acceleratetion 

Innovation in drugs 60% fails in trial because of Toxicology system of the future deal with big diseases

Moderna is an example in unlocking what is inside us Microbiome and beyond discover new drugs epigenetics  

  • Robert Nelsen
    • Managing Director, Co-founder, ARCH Venture Partners

Manufacturing change is not a new clinical trial FDA need to be presented with new rethinking for big innovations Drug pricing cheaper requires systematization How to systematically scaling up systematize the discovery and the production regulatory innovations

Responsibility mismatch should be and what is “are”

Long term diseases Stack holders and modalities risk benefir for populations 

  • Q&A 9:00 AM – 9:15 AM  

9:00 AM – 9:25 AM

Regenerative Medicine | Stem Cells

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

  • Stem cell sourcing
  • Therapeutic indication growth
  • Genetic and other modification in cell production
  • Cell production to final product optimization and challenges
  • How to optimize the final product
  • Moderator:
    • Ole Isacson, MD, PhD
      • Director, Neuroregeneration Research Institute, McLean
      • Professor, Neurology and Neuroscience, MGH, HMS

Opportunities in the next generation of the tactical level Welcome the oprimism and energy level of all Translational medicine funding stem cells enormous opportunities 

  • Speakers:
  • Kapil Bharti, PhD
    • Senior Investigator, Ocular and Stem Cell Translational Research Section, NIH
    • first drug required to establish the process for that innovations design of animal studies not done before
    • Off-th-shelf one time treatment becoming cure 
    •  Intact tissue in a dish is fragile to maintain metabolism
    Joe Burns, PhD
    • VP, Head of Biology, Decibel Therapeutics
    • Ear inside the scall compartments and receptors responsible for hearing highly differentiated tall ask to identify cell for anticipated differentiation
    • multiple cell types and tissue to follow
    Erin Kimbrel, PhD
    • Executive Director, Regenerative Medicine, Astellas
    • In the ocular space immunogenecity
    • regulatory communication
    • use gene editing for immunogenecity Cas1 and Cas2 autologous cells
    • gene editing and programming big opportunities 
    Nabiha Saklayen, PhD
    • CEO and Co-Founder, Cellino
    • scale production of autologous cells foundry using semiconductor process in building cassettes
    • solution for autologous cells
  • Q&A 9:30 AM – 9:45 AM  

9:25 AM – 9:35 AM FIRST LOOK

Stem Cells

Bob Carter, MD, PhD

  • Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery, MGH
  • William and Elizabeth Sweet, Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS
  • Cell therapy for Parkinson to replace dopamine producing cells lost ability to produce dopamin
  • skin cell to become autologous cells reprograms to become cells producing dopamine
  • transplantation fibroblast cells metabolic driven process lower mutation burden 
  • Quercetin inhibition elimination undifferentiated cells graft survival oxygenation increased 
  • Q&A 9:35 AM – 9:55 AM  

9:35 AM – 10:00 AM

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

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

  • VP, Venture, Mass General Brigham
  • Saturation reached or more investment is coming in CGT 

Speakers: Ellen Hukkelhoven, PhD

  • Managing Director, Perceptive Advisors
  • Cardiac area transduct cells
  • matching tools
  • 10% success of phase 1 in drug development next phase matters more 

Peter Kolchinsky, PhD

  • Founder and Managing Partner, RA Capital Management
  • Future proof for new comers disruptors 
  • Ex Vivo gene therapy to improve funding products what tool kit belongs to 
  • company insulation from next instability vs comapny stabilizing themselves along few years
  • Company interested in SPAC 
  • cross over investment vs SPAC
  • Multi Omics in cancer early screening metastatic diseas will be wiped out 

Deep Nishar

  • Senior Managing Partner, SoftBank Investment Advisors
  • Young field vs CGT started in the 80s 
  • high payloads is a challenge
  • cost effective fast delivery to large populations
  • Mission oriented by the team and management  
  • Multi Omics disease modality 

Oleg Nodelman

  • Founder & Managing Partner, EcoR1 Capital
  • Invest in company next round of investment will be IPO
  • Help company raise money cross over investment vs SPAC
  • Innovating ideas from academia in need for funding 
  • Q&A 10:05 AM – 10:20 AM  

10:00 AM – 10:10 AM FIRST LOOK

New scientific and clinical developments for autologous stem cell therapy for Parkinson’s disease patients

Penelope Hallett, PhD

  • NRL, McLean
  • Assistant Professor Psychiatry, HMS
  • Pharmacologic agent in existing cause another disorders locomo-movement related 
  • efficacy Autologous cell therapy transplantation approach program T cells into dopamine generating neurons greater than Allogeneic cell transplantation 
  • Q&A 10:10 AM – 10:30 AM  

10:10 AM – 10:35 AM HOT TOPICS

Neurodegenerative Clinical Outcomes | Achieving GCT Success

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

  •  What are the commonalities driving GCT success in neurodegenerative disease and non-neurologic disease, what are the key differences?
  • Overcoming treatment administration challenges
  • GCT impact on degenerative stage of disease
  • How difficult will it be to titrate the size of the cell therapy effect in different neurological disorders and for different patients?
  • Demonstrating clinical value to patients and payers
  • Revised clinical trial models to address issues and concerns specific to GCT

Moderator: Bob Carter, MD, PhD

  • Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery, MGH
  • William and Elizabeth Sweet, Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS
  • Neurogeneration REVERSAL or slowing down 

Speakers: Erwan Bezard, PhD

  • INSERM Research Director, Institute of Neurodegenerative Diseases
  • Cautious on reversal 
  • Early intervantion versus late

Nikola Kojic, PhD

  • CEO and Co-Founder, Oryon Cell Therapies
  • Autologus cell therapy placed focal replacing missing synapses reestablishment of neural circuitary

Geoff MacKay

  • President & CEO, AVROBIO
  • Prevent condition to be manifested in the first place 
  • clinical effect durable single infusion preventions of symptoms to manifest 
  • Cerebral edema – stabilization
  • Gene therapy know which is the abnormal gene grafting the corrected one 
  • More than biomarker as end point functional benefit not yet established  

Viviane Tabar, MD

  • Founding Investigator, BlueRock Therapeutics
  • Chair of Neurosurgery, Memorial Sloan Kettering
  • Current market does not have delivery mechanism that a drug-delivery is the solution Trials would fail on DELIVERY
  • Immune suppressed patients during one year to avoid graft rejection Autologous approach of Parkinson patient genetically mutated reprogramed as dopamine generating neuron – unknowns are present
  • Circuitry restoration
  • Microenvironment disease ameliorate symptoms – education of patients on the treatment 
  • Q&A 10:40 AM – 10:55 AM  

10:35 AM – 11:35 AM

Disruptive Dozen: 12 Technologies that Will Reinvent GCT

Nearly one hundred senior Mass General Brigham Harvard faculty contributed to the creation of this group of twelve GCT technologies that they believe will breakthrough in the next two years. The Disruptive Dozen identifies and ranks the GCT technologies that will be available on at least an experimental basis to have the chance of significantly improving health care. 11:35 AM – 11:45 AM

Concluding Remarks

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

ALL THE TWEETS PRODUCED ON MAY 21, 2021 INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:

Aviva Lev-Ari

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Bob Carter, MD, PhD MGH, HMS cells producing dopamine transplantation fibroblast cells metabolic driven process lower mutation burden  Quercetin inhibition elimination undifferentiated cells graft survival oxygenation increased 

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Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery, MGH, Professor of Neurosurgery, HMS Cell therapy for Parkinson to replace dopamine producing cells lost ability to produce dopamine skin cell to become autologous cells reprogramed  

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Kapil Bharti, PhD Senior Investigator, Ocular and Stem Cell Translational Research Section, NIH Off-th-shelf one time treatment becoming cure  Intact tissue in a dish is fragile to maintain metabolism to become like semiconductors

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Ole Isacson, MD, PhD Director, Neuroregeneration Research Institute, McLean Professor, Neurology and Neuroscience, MGH, HMS Opportunities in the next generation of the tactical level Welcome the oprimism and energy level of all

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Erin Kimbrel, PhD Executive Director, Regenerative Medicine, Astellas In the ocular space immunogenecity regulatory communication use gene editing for immunogenecity Cas1 and Cas2 autologous cells

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Kapil Bharti, PhD Senior Investigator, Ocular and Stem Cell Translational Research Section, NIH first drug required to establish the process for that innovations design of animal studies not done before 

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Meredith Fisher, PhD Partner, Mass General Brigham Innovation Fund Strategies, success what changes are needed in the drug discovery process@pharma_BI

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Live Notes, Real Time Conference Coverage AACR 2020: Tuesday June 23, 2020 Noon-2:45 Educational Sessions

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

Follow Live in Real Time using

#AACR20

@pharma_BI

@AACR

Register for FREE at https://www.aacr.org/

 

Presidential Address

Elaine R Mardis, William N Hait

DETAILS

Welcome and introduction

William N Hait

 

Improving diagnostic yield in pediatric cancer precision medicine

Elaine R Mardis
  • Advent of genomics have revolutionized how we diagnose and treat lung cancer
  • We are currently needing to understand the driver mutations and variants where we can personalize therapy
  • PD-L1 and other checkpoint therapy have not really been used in pediatric cancers even though CAR-T have been successful
  • The incidence rates and mortality rates of pediatric cancers are rising
  • Large scale study of over 700 pediatric cancers show cancers driven by epigenetic drivers or fusion proteins. Need for transcriptomics.  Also study demonstrated that we have underestimated germ line mutations and hereditary factors.
  • They put together a database to nominate patients on their IGM Cancer protocol. Involves genetic counseling and obtaining germ line samples to determine hereditary factors.  RNA and protein are evaluated as well as exome sequencing. RNASeq and Archer Dx test to identify driver fusions
  • PECAN curated database from St. Jude used to determine driver mutations. They use multiple databases and overlap within these databases and knowledge base to determine or weed out false positives
  • They have used these studies to understand the immune infiltrate into recurrent cancers (CytoCure)
  • They found 40 germline cancer predisposition genes, 47 driver somatic fusion proteins, 81 potential actionable targets, 106 CNV, 196 meaningful somatic driver mutations

 

 

Tuesday, June 23

12:00 PM – 12:30 PM EDT

Awards and Lectures

NCI Director’s Address

Norman E Sharpless, Elaine R Mardis

DETAILS

Introduction: Elaine Mardis

 

NCI Director Address: Norman E Sharpless
  • They are functioning well at NCI with respect to grant reviews, research, and general functions in spite of the COVID pandemic and the massive demonstrations on also focusing on the disparities which occur in cancer research field and cancer care
  • There are ongoing efforts at NCI to make a positive difference in racial injustice, diversity in the cancer workforce, and for patients as well
  • Need a diverse workforce across the cancer research and care spectrum
  • Data show that areas where the clinicians are successful in putting African Americans on clinical trials are areas (geographic and site specific) where health disparities are narrowing
  • Grants through NCI new SeroNet for COVID-19 serologic testing funded by two RFAs through NIAD (RFA-CA-30-038 and RFA-CA-20-039) and will close on July 22, 2020

 

Tuesday, June 23

12:45 PM – 1:46 PM EDT

Virtual Educational Session

Immunology, Tumor Biology, Experimental and Molecular Therapeutics, Molecular and Cellular Biology/Genetics

Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy for Nonimmunologists: Innovation and Discovery in Immune-Oncology

This educational session will update cancer researchers and clinicians about the latest developments in the detailed understanding of the types and roles of immune cells in tumors. It will summarize current knowledge about the types of T cells, natural killer cells, B cells, and myeloid cells in tumors and discuss current knowledge about the roles these cells play in the antitumor immune response. The session will feature some of the most promising up-and-coming cancer immunologists who will inform about their latest strategies to harness the immune system to promote more effective therapies.

Judith A Varner, Yuliya Pylayeva-Gupta

 

Introduction

Judith A Varner
New techniques reveal critical roles of myeloid cells in tumor development and progression
  • Different type of cells are becoming targets for immune checkpoint like myeloid cells
  • In T cell excluded or desert tumors T cells are held at periphery so myeloid cells can infiltrate though so macrophages might be effective in these immune t cell naïve tumors, macrophages are most abundant types of immune cells in tumors
  • CXCLs are potential targets
  • PI3K delta inhibitors,
  • Reduce the infiltrate of myeloid tumor suppressor cells like macrophages
  • When should we give myeloid or T cell therapy is the issue
Judith A Varner
Novel strategies to harness T-cell biology for cancer therapy
Positive and negative roles of B cells in cancer
Yuliya Pylayeva-Gupta
New approaches in cancer immunotherapy: Programming bacteria to induce systemic antitumor immunity

 

 

Tuesday, June 23

12:45 PM – 1:46 PM EDT

Virtual Educational Session

Cancer Chemistry

Chemistry to the Clinic: Part 2: Irreversible Inhibitors as Potential Anticancer Agents

There are numerous examples of highly successful covalent drugs such as aspirin and penicillin that have been in use for a long period of time. Despite historical success, there was a period of reluctance among many to purse covalent drugs based on concerns about toxicity. With advances in understanding features of a well-designed covalent drug, new techniques to discover and characterize covalent inhibitors, and clinical success of new covalent cancer drugs in recent years, there is renewed interest in covalent compounds. This session will provide a broad look at covalent probe compounds and drug development, including a historical perspective, examination of warheads and electrophilic amino acids, the role of chemoproteomics, and case studies.

Benjamin F Cravatt, Richard A. Ward, Sara J Buhrlage

 

Discovering and optimizing covalent small-molecule ligands by chemical proteomics

Benjamin F Cravatt
  • Multiple approaches are being investigated to find new covalent inhibitors such as: 1) cysteine reactivity mapping, 2) mapping cysteine ligandability, 3) and functional screening in phenotypic assays for electrophilic compounds
  • Using fluorescent activity probes in proteomic screens; have broad useability in the proteome but can be specific
  • They screened quiescent versus stimulated T cells to determine reactive cysteines in a phenotypic screen and analyzed by MS proteomics (cysteine reactivity profiling); can quantitate 15000 to 20,000 reactive cysteines
  • Isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 and adapter protein LCP-1 are two examples of changes in reactive cysteines they have seen using this method
  • They use scout molecules to target ligands or proteins with reactive cysteines
  • For phenotypic screens they first use a cytotoxic assay to screen out toxic compounds which just kill cells without causing T cell activation (like IL10 secretion)
  • INTERESTINGLY coupling these MS reactive cysteine screens with phenotypic screens you can find NONCANONICAL mechanisms of many of these target proteins (many of the compounds found targets which were not predicted or known)

Electrophilic warheads and nucleophilic amino acids: A chemical and computational perspective on covalent modifier

The covalent targeting of cysteine residues in drug discovery and its application to the discovery of Osimertinib

Richard A. Ward
  • Cysteine activation: thiolate form of cysteine is a strong nucleophile
  • Thiolate form preferred in polar environment
  • Activation can be assisted by neighboring residues; pKA will have an effect on deprotonation
  • pKas of cysteine vary in EGFR
  • cysteine that are too reactive give toxicity while not reactive enough are ineffective

 

Accelerating drug discovery with lysine-targeted covalent probes

 

Tuesday, June 23

12:45 PM – 2:15 PM EDT

Virtual Educational Session

Molecular and Cellular Biology/Genetics

Virtual Educational Session

Tumor Biology, Immunology

Metabolism and Tumor Microenvironment

This Educational Session aims to guide discussion on the heterogeneous cells and metabolism in the tumor microenvironment. It is now clear that the diversity of cells in tumors each require distinct metabolic programs to survive and proliferate. Tumors, however, are genetically programmed for high rates of metabolism and can present a metabolically hostile environment in which nutrient competition and hypoxia can limit antitumor immunity.

Jeffrey C Rathmell, Lydia Lynch, Mara H Sherman, Greg M Delgoffe

 

T-cell metabolism and metabolic reprogramming antitumor immunity

Jeffrey C Rathmell

Introduction

Jeffrey C Rathmell

Metabolic functions of cancer-associated fibroblasts

Mara H Sherman

Tumor microenvironment metabolism and its effects on antitumor immunity and immunotherapeutic response

Greg M Delgoffe
  • Multiple metabolites, reactive oxygen species within the tumor microenvironment; is there heterogeneity within the TME metabolome which can predict their ability to be immunosensitive
  • Took melanoma cells and looked at metabolism using Seahorse (glycolysis): and there was vast heterogeneity in melanoma tumor cells; some just do oxphos and no glycolytic metabolism (inverse Warburg)
  • As they profiled whole tumors they could separate out the metabolism of each cell type within the tumor and could look at T cells versus stromal CAFs or tumor cells and characterized cells as indolent or metabolic
  • T cells from hyerglycolytic tumors were fine but from high glycolysis the T cells were more indolent
  • When knock down glucose transporter the cells become more glycolytic
  • If patient had high oxidative metabolism had low PDL1 sensitivity
  • Showed this result in head and neck cancer as well
  • Metformin a complex 1 inhibitor which is not as toxic as most mito oxphos inhibitors the T cells have less hypoxia and can remodel the TME and stimulate the immune response
  • Metformin now in clinical trials
  • T cells though seem metabolically restricted; T cells that infiltrate tumors are low mitochondrial phosph cells
  • T cells from tumors have defective mitochondria or little respiratory capacity
  • They have some preliminary findings that metabolic inhibitors may help with CAR-T therapy

Obesity, lipids and suppression of anti-tumor immunity

Lydia Lynch
  • Hypothesis: obesity causes issues with anti tumor immunity
  • Less NK cells in obese people; also produce less IFN gamma
  • RNASeq on NOD mice; granzymes and perforins at top of list of obese downregulated
  • Upregulated genes that were upregulated involved in lipid metabolism
  • All were PPAR target genes
  • NK cells from obese patients takes up palmitate and this reduces their glycolysis but OXPHOS also reduced; they think increased FFA basically overloads mitochondria
  • PPAR alpha gamma activation mimics obesity

 

 

Tuesday, June 23

12:45 PM – 2:45 PM EDT

Virtual Educational Session

Clinical Research Excluding Trials

The Evolving Role of the Pathologist in Cancer Research

Long recognized for their role in cancer diagnosis and prognostication, pathologists are beginning to leverage a variety of digital imaging technologies and computational tools to improve both clinical practice and cancer research. Remarkably, the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms for analyzing pathology specimens is poised to not only augment the resolution and accuracy of clinical diagnosis, but also fundamentally transform the role of the pathologist in cancer science and precision oncology. This session will discuss what pathologists are currently able to achieve with these new technologies, present their challenges and barriers, and overview their future possibilities in cancer diagnosis and research. The session will also include discussions of what is practical and doable in the clinic for diagnostic and clinical oncology in comparison to technologies and approaches primarily utilized to accelerate cancer research.

 

Jorge S Reis-Filho, Thomas J Fuchs, David L Rimm, Jayanta Debnath

DETAILS

Tuesday, June 23

12:45 PM – 2:45 PM EDT

 

High-dimensional imaging technologies in cancer research

David L Rimm

  • Using old methods and new methods; so cell counting you use to find the cells then phenotype; with quantification like with Aqua use densitometry of positive signal to determine a threshold to determine presence of a cell for counting
  • Hiplex versus multiplex imaging where you have ten channels to measure by cycling of flour on antibody (can get up to 20plex)
  • Hiplex can be coupled with Mass spectrometry (Imaging Mass spectrometry, based on heavy metal tags on mAbs)
  • However it will still take a trained pathologist to define regions of interest or field of desired view

 

Introduction

Jayanta Debnath

Challenges and barriers of implementing AI tools for cancer diagnostics

Jorge S Reis-Filho

Implementing robust digital pathology workflows into clinical practice and cancer research

Jayanta Debnath

Invited Speaker

Thomas J Fuchs
  • Founder of spinout of Memorial Sloan Kettering
  • Separates AI from computational algothimic
  • Dealing with not just machines but integrating human intelligence
  • Making decision for the patients must involve human decision making as well
  • How do we get experts to do these decisions faster
  • AI in pathology: what is difficult? =è sandbox scenarios where machines are great,; curated datasets; human decision support systems or maps; or try to predict nature
  • 1) learn rules made by humans; human to human scenario 2)constrained nature 3)unconstrained nature like images and or behavior 4) predict nature response to nature response to itself
  • In sandbox scenario the rules are set in stone and machines are great like chess playing
  • In second scenario can train computer to predict what a human would predict
  • So third scenario is like driving cars
  • System on constrained nature or constrained dataset will take a long time for commuter to get to decision
  • Fourth category is long term data collection project
  • He is finding it is still finding it is still is difficult to predict nature so going from clinical finding to prognosis still does not have good predictability with AI alone; need for human involvement
  • End to end partnering (EPL) is a new way where humans can get more involved with the algorithm and assist with the problem of constrained data
  • An example of a workflow for pathology would be as follows from Campanella et al 2019 Nature Medicine: obtain digital images (they digitized a million slides), train a massive data set with highthroughput computing (needed a lot of time and big software developing effort), and then train it using input be the best expert pathologists (nature to human and unconstrained because no data curation done)
  • Led to first clinically grade machine learning system (Camelyon16 was the challenge for detecting metastatic cells in lymph tissue; tested on 12,000 patients from 45 countries)
  • The first big hurdle was moving from manually annotated slides (which was a big bottleneck) to automatically extracted data from path reports).
  • Now problem is in prediction: How can we bridge the gap from predicting humans to predicting nature?
  • With an AI system pathologist drastically improved the ability to detect very small lesions

 

Virtual Educational Session

Epidemiology

Cancer Increases in Younger Populations: Where Are They Coming from?

Incidence rates of several cancers (e.g., colorectal, pancreatic, and breast cancers) are rising in younger populations, which contrasts with either declining or more slowly rising incidence in older populations. Early-onset cancers are also more aggressive and have different tumor characteristics than those in older populations. Evidence on risk factors and contributors to early-onset cancers is emerging. In this Educational Session, the trends and burden, potential causes, risk factors, and tumor characteristics of early-onset cancers will be covered. Presenters will focus on colorectal and breast cancer, which are among the most common causes of cancer deaths in younger people. Potential mechanisms of early-onset cancers and racial/ethnic differences will also be discussed.

Stacey A. Fedewa, Xavier Llor, Pepper Jo Schedin, Yin Cao

Cancers that are and are not increasing in younger populations

Stacey A. Fedewa

 

  • Early onset cancers, pediatric cancers and colon cancers are increasing in younger adults
  • Younger people are more likely to be uninsured and these are there most productive years so it is a horrible life event for a young adult to be diagnosed with cancer. They will have more financial hardship and most (70%) of the young adults with cancer have had financial difficulties.  It is very hard for women as they are on their childbearing years so additional stress
  • Types of early onset cancer varies by age as well as geographic locations. For example in 20s thyroid cancer is more common but in 30s it is breast cancer.  Colorectal and testicular most common in US.
  • SCC is decreasing by adenocarcinoma of the cervix is increasing in women’s 40s, potentially due to changing sexual behaviors
  • Breast cancer is increasing in younger women: maybe etiologic distinct like triple negative and larger racial disparities in younger African American women
  • Increased obesity among younger people is becoming a factor in this increasing incidence of early onset cancers

 

 

Other Articles on this Open Access  Online Journal on Cancer Conferences and Conference Coverage in Real Time Include

Press Coverage

Live Notes, Real Time Conference Coverage 2020 AACR Virtual Meeting April 28, 2020 Symposium: New Drugs on the Horizon Part 3 12:30-1:25 PM

Live Notes, Real Time Conference Coverage 2020 AACR Virtual Meeting April 28, 2020 Session on NCI Activities: COVID-19 and Cancer Research 5:20 PM

Live Notes, Real Time Conference Coverage 2020 AACR Virtual Meeting April 28, 2020 Session on Evaluating Cancer Genomics from Normal Tissues Through Metastatic Disease 3:50 PM

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

 

Read Full Post »

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

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, PhD.

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

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

Session Type

Virtual Minisymposium

Track(s)

Molecular and Cellular Biology/Genetics

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

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

11:45 AM – 1:30 PM
– Chairperson

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

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

11:45 AM – 11:55 AM
– Introduction

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

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

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

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

@DukeU

@DukeMedSchool

@MDAndersonNews

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

 

12:05 PM – 12:10 PM
– Discussion

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

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

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

 

12:20 PM – 12:25 PM
– Discussion

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

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

12:35 PM – 12:40 PM
– Discussion

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

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

12:50 PM – 12:55 PM
– Discussion

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

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

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

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

1:05 PM – 1:10 PM
– Discussion

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

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

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

@Boehringer

1:20 PM – 1:25 PM
– Discussion

1:25 PM – 1:30 PM
– Closing Remarks

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

Follow on Twitter at:

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@AACR

@GenomeInstitute

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Lesson 9 Cell Signaling:  Curations and Articles of reference as supplemental information for lecture section on WNTs: #TUBiol3373

Stephen J. Wiilliams, Ph.D: Curator

UPDATED 4/23/2019

This has an updated lesson on WNT signaling.  Please click on the following and look at the slides labeled under lesson 10

cell motility 9b lesson_2018_sjw

Remember our lessons on the importance of signal termination.  The CANONICAL WNT signaling (that is the β-catenin dependent signaling)

is terminated by the APC-driven degradation complex.  This leads to the signal messenger  β-catenin being degraded by the proteosome.  Other examples of growth factor signaling that is terminated by a proteosome-directed include the Hedgehog signaling system, which is involved in growth and differentiation as well as WNTs and is implicated in various cancers.

A good article on the Hedgehog signaling pathway is found here:

The Voice of a Pathologist, Cancer Expert: Scientific Interpretation of Images: Cancer Signaling Pathways and Tumor Progression

All images in use for this article are under copyrights with Shutterstock.com

Cancer is expressed through a series of transformations equally involving metabolic enzymes and glucose, fat, and protein metabolism, and gene transcription, as a result of altered gene regulatory and transcription pathways, and also as a result of changes in cell-cell interactions.  These are embodied in the following series of graphics.

Figure 1: Sonic_hedgehog_pathwaySonic_hedgehog_pathway

The Voice of Dr. Larry

The figure shows a modification of nuclear translocation by Sonic hedgehog pathway. The hedgehog proteins have since been implicated in the development of internal organs, midline neurological structures, and the hematopoietic system in humans. The Hh signaling pathway consists of three main components: the receptor patched 1 (PTCH1), the seven transmembrane G-protein coupled receptor smoothened (SMO), and the intracellular glioma-associated oncogene homolog (GLI) family of transcription factors.5The GLI family is composed of three members, including GLI1 (gene activating), GLI2 (gene activating and repressive), and GLI3 (gene repressive).6 In the absence of an activating signal from either Shh, Ihh or Dhh, PTCH1 exerts an inhibitory effect on the signal transducer SMO, preventing any downstream signaling from occurring.7 When Hh ligands bind and activate PTCH1, the inhibition on SMO is released, allowing the translocation of SMO into the cytoplasm and its subsequent activation of the GLI family of transcription factors.

 

And from the review of  Elaine Y. C. HsiaYirui Gui, and Xiaoyan Zheng   Regulation of Hedgehog Signaling by Ubiquitination  Front Biol (Beijing). 2015 Jun; 10(3): 203–220.

the authors state:

Finally, termination of Hh signaling is also important for controlling the duration of pathway activity. Hh induced ubiquitination and degradation of Ci/Gli is the most well-established mechanism for limiting signal duration, and inhibiting this process can lead to cell patterning disruption and excessive cell proliferation (). In addition to Ci/Gli, a growing body of evidence suggests that ubiquitination also plays critical roles in regulating other Hh signaling components including Ptc, Smo, and Sufu. Thus, ubiquitination serves as a general mechanism in the dynamic regulation of the Hh pathway.

Overview of Hedgehog signaling showing the signal termination by ubiquitnation and subsequent degradation of the Gli transcriptional factors. obtained from Oncotarget 5(10):2881-911 · May 2014. GSK-3B as a Therapeutic Intervention in Cancer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note that in absence of Hedgehog ligands Ptch inhibits Smo accumulation and activation but upon binding of Hedgehog ligands (by an autocrine or paracrine fashion) Ptch is now unable to inhibit Smo (evidence exists that Ptch is now targeted for degradation) and Smo can now inhibit Sufu-dependent and GSK-3B dependent induced degradation of Gli factors Gli1 and Gli2.  Also note the Gli1 and Gli2 are transcriptional activators while Gli3 is a transcriptional repressor.

UPDATED 4/16/2019

Please click on the following links for the Powerpoint presentation for lesson 9.  In addition click on the mp4 links to download the movies so you can view them in Powerpoint slide 22:

cell motility 9 lesson_SJW 2019

movie file 1:

Tumorigenic but noninvasive MCF-7 cells motility on an extracellular matrix derived from normal (3DCntrol) or tumor associated (TA) fibroblasts.  Note that TA ECM is “soft” and not organized and tumor cells appear to move randomly if  much at all.

Movie 2:

 

Note that these tumorigenic and invasive MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells move in organized patterns on organized ECM derived from Tumor Associated (TA) fibroblasts than from the ‘soft’ or unorganized ECM derived from normal  (3DCntrl) fibroblasts

 

The following contain curations of scientific articles from the site https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com  intended as additional reference material  to supplement material presented in the lecture.

Wnts are a family of lipid-modified secreted glycoproteins which are involved in:

Normal physiological processes including

A. Development:

– Osteogenesis and adipogenesis (Loss of wnt/β‐catenin signaling causes cell fate shift of preosteoblasts from osteoblasts to adipocytes)

  – embryogenesis including body axis patterning, cell fate specification, cell proliferation and cell migration

B. tissue regeneration in adult tissue

read: Wnt signaling in the intestinal epithelium: from endoderm to cancer

And in pathologic processes such as oncogenesis (refer to Wnt/β-catenin Signaling [7.10]) and to your Powerpoint presentation

 

The curation Wnt/β-catenin Signaling is a comprehensive review of canonical and noncanonical Wnt signaling pathways

 

To review:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Activating the canonical Wnt pathway frees B-catenin from the degradation complex, resulting in B-catenin translocating to the nucleus and resultant transcription of B-catenin/TCF/LEF target genes.

Fig. 1 Canonical Wnt/FZD signaling pathway. (A) In the absence of Wnt signaling, soluble β-catenin is phosphorylated by a degradation complex consisting of the kinases GSK3β and CK1α and the scaffolding proteins APC and Axin1. Phosphorylated β-catenin is targeted for proteasomal degradation after ubiquitination by the SCF protein complex. In the nucleus and in the absence of β-catenin, TCF/LEF transcription factor activity is repressed by TLE-1; (B) activation of the canonical Wnt/FZD signaling leads to phosphorylation of Dvl/Dsh, which in turn recruits Axin1 and GSK3β adjacent to the plasma membrane, thus preventing the formation of the degradation complex. As a result, β-catenin accumulates in the cytoplasm and translocates into the nucleus, where it promotes the expression of target genes via interaction with TCF/LEF transcription factors and other proteins such as CBP, Bcl9, and Pygo.

NOTE: In the canonical signaling, the Wnt signal is transmitted via the Frizzled/LRP5/6 activated receptor to INACTIVATE the degradation complex thus allowing free B-catenin to act as the ultimate transducer of the signal.

Remember, as we discussed, the most frequent cancer-related mutations of WNT pathway constituents is in APC.

This shows how important the degradation complex is in controlling canonical WNT signaling.

Other cell signaling systems are controlled by protein degradation:

A.  The Forkhead family of transcription factors

Read: Regulation of FoxO protein stability via ubiquitination and proteasome degradation

B. Tumor necrosis factor α/NF κB signaling

Read: NF-κB, the first quarter-century: remarkable progress and outstanding questions

1.            Question: In cell involving G-proteins, the signal can be terminated by desensitization mechanisms.  How is both the canonical and noncanonical Wnt signal eventually terminated/desensitized?

We also discussed the noncanonical Wnt signaling pathway (independent of B-catenin induced transcriptional activity).  Note that the canonical and noncanonical involve different transducers of the signal.

Noncanonical WNT Signaling

Note: In noncanonical signaling the transducer is a G-protein and second messenger system is IP3/DAG/Ca++ and/or kinases such as MAPK, JNK.

Depending on the different combinations of WNT ligands and the receptors, WNT signaling activates several different intracellular pathways  (i.e. canonical versus noncanonical)

 

In addition different Wnt ligands are expressed at different times (temporally) and different cell types in development and in the process of oncogenesis. 

The following paper on Wnt signaling in ovarian oncogenesis shows how certain Wnt ligands are expressed in normal epithelial cells but the Wnt expression pattern changes upon transformation and ovarian oncogenesis. In addition, differential expression of canonical versus noncanonical WNT ligands occur during the process of oncogenesis (for example below the authors describe the noncanonical WNT5a is expressed in normal ovarian  epithelia yet WNT5a expression in ovarian cancer is lower than the underlying normal epithelium. However the canonical WNT10a, overexpressed in ovarian cancer cells, serves as an oncogene, promoting oncogenesis and tumor growth.

Wnt5a Suppresses Epithelial Ovarian Cancer by Promoting Cellular Senescence

Benjamin G. Bitler,1 Jasmine P. Nicodemus,1 Hua Li,1 Qi Cai,2 Hong Wu,3 Xiang Hua,4 Tianyu Li,5 Michael J. Birrer,6Andrew K. Godwin,7 Paul Cairns,8 and Rugang Zhang1,*

A.           Abstract

Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) remains the most lethal gynecological malignancy in the US. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop novel therapeutics for this disease. Cellular senescence is an important tumor suppression mechanism that has recently been suggested as a novel mechanism to target for developing cancer therapeutics. Wnt5a is a non-canonical Wnt ligand that plays a context-dependent role in human cancers. Here, we investigate the role of Wnt5a in regulating senescence of EOC cells. We demonstrate that Wnt5a is expressed at significantly lower levels in human EOC cell lines and in primary human EOCs (n = 130) compared with either normal ovarian surface epithelium (n = 31; p = 0.039) or fallopian tube epithelium (n = 28; p < 0.001). Notably, a lower level of Wnt5a expression correlates with tumor stage (p = 0.003) and predicts shorter overall survival in EOC patients (p = 0.003). Significantly, restoration of Wnt5a expression inhibits the proliferation of human EOC cells both in vitro and in vivo in an orthotopic EOC mouse model. Mechanistically, Wnt5a antagonizes canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling and induces cellular senescence by activating the histone repressor A (HIRA)/promyelocytic leukemia (PML) senescence pathway. In summary, we show that loss of Wnt5a predicts poor outcome in EOC patients and Wnt5a suppresses the growth of EOC cells by triggering cellular senescence. We suggest that strategies to drive senescence in EOC cells by reconstituting Wnt5a signaling may offer an effective new strategy for EOC therapy.

Oncol Lett. 2017 Dec;14(6):6611-6617. doi: 10.3892/ol.2017.7062. Epub 2017 Sep 26.

Clinical significance and biological role of Wnt10a in ovarian cancer. 

Li P1Liu W1Xu Q1Wang C1.

Ovarian cancer is one of the five most malignant types of cancer in females, and the only currently effective therapy is surgical resection combined with chemotherapy. Wnt family member 10A (Wnt10a) has previously been identified to serve an oncogenic function in several tumor types, and was revealed to have clinical significance in renal cell carcinoma; however, there is still only limited information regarding the function of Wnt10a in the carcinogenesis of ovarian cancer. The present study identified increased expression levels of Wnt10a in two cell lines, SKOV3 and A2780, using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Functional analysis indicated that the viability rate and migratory ability of SKOV3 cells was significantly inhibited following Wnt10a knockdown using short interfering RNA (siRNA) technology. The viability rate of SKOV3 cells decreased by ~60% compared with the control and the migratory ability was only ~30% of that in the control. Furthermore, the expression levels of β-catenin, transcription factor 4, lymphoid enhancer binding factor 1 and cyclin D1 were significantly downregulated in SKOV3 cells treated with Wnt10a-siRNA3 or LGK-974, a specific inhibitor of the canonical Wnt signaling pathway. However, there were no synergistic effects observed between Wnt10a siRNA3 and LGK-974, which indicated that Wnt10a activated the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway in SKOV3 cells. In addition, using quantitative PCR, Wnt10a was overexpressed in the tumor tissue samples obtained from 86 patients with ovarian cancer when compared with matching paratumoral tissues. Clinicopathological association analysis revealed that Wnt10a was significantly associated with high-grade (grade III, P=0.031) and late-stage (T4, P=0.008) ovarian cancer. Furthermore, the estimated 5-year survival rate was 18.4% for patients with low Wnt10a expression levels (n=38), whereas for patients with high Wnt10a expression (n=48) the rate was 6.3%. The results of the present study suggested that Wnt10a serves an oncogenic role during the carcinogenesis and progression of ovarian cancer via the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway.

Targeting the Wnt Pathway includes curations of articles related to the clinical development of Wnt signaling inhibitors as a therapeutic target in various cancers including hepatocellular carcinoma, colon, breast and potentially ovarian cancer.

 

2.         Question: Given that different Wnt ligands and receptors activate different signaling pathways, AND  WNT ligands  can be deferentially and temporally expressed  in various tumor types and the process of oncogenesis, how would you approach a personalized therapy targeting the WNT signaling pathway?

3.         Question: What are the potential mechanisms of either intrinsic or acquired resistance to Wnt ligand antagonists being developed?

 

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

Targeting the Wnt Pathway [7.11]

Wnt/β-catenin Signaling [7.10]

Cancer Signaling Pathways and Tumor Progression: Images of Biological Processes in the Voice of a Pathologist Cancer Expert

e-Scientific Publishing: The Competitive Advantage of a Powerhouse for Curation of Scientific Findings and Methodology Development for e-Scientific Publishing – LPBI Group, A Case in Point 

Electronic Scientific AGORA: Comment Exchanges by Global Scientists on Articles published in the Open Access Journal @pharmaceuticalintelligence.com – Four Case Studies

 

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Energy dysfunction detected in skin cells a possible additional explanation of the Alzheimer’s disease’s hallmark Dementia

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

A team at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital tested the cells of late-onset Alzheimer’s patients and found malfunctions in their energy production, including problems with the health of their mitochondria, the cellular power plants that provide most of their energy.

The brain, because it is the body’s most energy-hungry organ, demanding as much as 20 times the energy of other tissues. Such a malfunction, he said, could damage or kill nerve cells and help explain the cognitive decline associated with the disease.

McLean researchers detect dysfunction in cells’ energy production in late-onset patients

“Although people hope with a lot of these conditions we study — normal or abnormal — that there are going to be simple answers … it’s never simple, it’s always all kinds of factors interacting to determine whether you get lucky or not, whether you get sick or not,” Cohen said.

The next step, Cohen said, will be to do a similar study on the neurons and other brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients, to see whether the energy dysfunction detected in skin cells is replicated there. Even if medical understanding of the disease remains imperfect, Cohen said the ultimate hope is to find an intervention that interrupts Alzheimer’s most devastating effects.

“You don’t have to fix everything to keep somebody from getting sick,” Cohen said. “The reason somebody gets sick is you’re unlucky five different ways and it all combines to tip you over the edge. Maybe you only need to fix one of them and you don’t tip over the edge anymore.”

SOURCE

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/11/new-clues-to-alzheimers-disease/

Other related articles on Mitochondria’s functions published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following:

Search all +5,200 Journal articles for “Mitochondria”

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/?s=Mitochondria

Proteomics, Metabolomics, Signaling Pathways, and Cell Regulation – Articles of Note, LPBI Group’s Scientists @ http://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/proteomics-metabolomics-signaling-pathways-cell-lev-ari-phd-rn/

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Knowing the genetic vulnerability of bladder cancer for therapeutic intervention, Volume 2 (Volume Two: Latest in Genomics Methodologies for Therapeutics: Gene Editing, NGS and BioInformatics, Simulations and the Genome Ontology), Part 1: Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)

Knowing the genetic vulnerability of bladder cancer for therapeutic intervention

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

References:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Recent Research On SMAD4 In Pancreatic Cancer

Curator: David Orchard-Webb, PhD

 

Deleted in Pancreatic Cancer, locus 4 (DPC4) officially known as SMAD4 is a component of the Transforming Growth Factor Beta (TGFß) pathway with tumour suppressive properties. As its name suggests it is frequently lost in pancreatic cancer, although through a variety of mechanisms in addition to gene deletion. The loss of SMAD4 is important in the progression of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) towards pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). The expression of SMAD4 can suppress metastasis, angiogenesis, and cancer stem-like cell generation. SMAD4 can promote cancer cell apoptosis through a recently described mechanism involving a lethal epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT). SMAD4 status has a predictive role in pancreatic cancer personalised medicine. This curation categorises recent publications of note regarding SMAD4.

 

Role of SMAD4 in neoplastic progression towards PDAC

 

Garcia-Carracedo, Dario, Chih-Chieh Yu, Nathan Akhavan, Stuart A. Fine, Frank Schönleben, Naoki Maehara, Dillon C. Karg, et al. ‘Smad4 Loss Synergizes with TGFα Overexpression in Promoting Pancreatic Metaplasia, PanIN Development, and Fibrosis’. Edited by Ilse Rooman. PLOS ONE 10, no. 3 (24 March 2015): e0120851. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0120851.

 

Norris, A M, A Gore, A Balboni, A Young, D S Longnecker, and M Korc. ‘AGR2 Is a SMAD4-Suppressible Gene That Modulates MUC1 Levels and Promotes the Initiation and Progression of Pancreatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia’. Oncogene 32, no. 33 (15 August 2013): 3867–76. doi:10.1038/onc.2012.394.

 

Leung, Lisa, Nikolina Radulovich, Chang-Qi Zhu, Dennis Wang, Christine To, Emin Ibrahimov, and Ming-Sound Tsao. ‘Loss of Canonical Smad4 Signaling Promotes KRAS Driven Malignant Transformation of Human Pancreatic Duct Epithelial Cells and Metastasis’. Edited by Hidayatullah G Munshi. PLoS ONE 8, no. 12 (27 December 2013): e84366. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084366.

 

Mechanism of SMAD4 deactivation

 

Xia, Xiang, Kundong Zhang, Gang Cen, Tao Jiang, Jun Cao, Kejian Huang, Chen Huang, Qian Zhao, and Zhengjun Qiu. ‘MicroRNA-301a-3p Promotes Pancreatic Cancer Progression via Negative Regulation of SMAD4’. Oncotarget 6, no. 25 (28 August 2015): 21046–63. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.4124.

 

Murphy, Stephen J., Steven N. Hart, Geoffrey C. Halling, Sarah H. Johnson, James B. Smadbeck, Travis Drucker, Joema Felipe Lima, et al. ‘Integrated Genomic Analysis of Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinomas Reveals Genomic Rearrangement Events as Significant Drivers of Disease’. Cancer Research 76, no. 3 (1 February 2016): 749–61. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-15-2198.

 

Sawai, Yugo, Yuzo Kodama, Takahiro Shimizu, Yuji Ota, Takahisa Maruno, Yuji Eso, Akira Kurita, et al. ‘Activation-Induced Cytidine Deaminase Contributes to Pancreatic Tumorigenesis by Inducing Tumor-Related Gene Mutations’. Cancer Research 75, no. 16 (15 August 2015): 3292–3301. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-14-3028.

 

Demagny, Hadrien, and Edward M De Robertis. ‘Point Mutations in the Tumor Suppressor Smad4/DPC4 Enhance Its Phosphorylation by GSK3 and Reversibly Inactivate TGF-β Signaling’. Molecular & Cellular Oncology 3, no. 1 (2 January 2016): e1025181. doi:10.1080/23723556.2015.1025181.

 

Foster, David. ‘BxPC3 Pancreatic Cancer Cells Express a Truncated Smad4 Protein upon PI3K and mTOR Inhibition’. Oncology Letters, 28 January 2014. doi:10.3892/ol.2014.1833.

 

Hao, Jun, Shuyu Zhang, Yingqi Zhou, Cong Liu, Xiangui Hu, and Chenghao Shao. ‘MicroRNA 421 Suppresses DPC4/Smad4 in Pancreatic Cancer’. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 406, no. 4 (25 March 2011): 552–57. doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2011.02.086.

 

SMAD4 effects on cell motility

 

Zhang, Xueying, Junxia Cao, Yujun Pei, Jiyan Zhang, and Qingyang Wang. ‘Smad4 Inhibits Cell Migration via Suppression of JNK Activity in Human Pancreatic Carcinoma PANC‑1 Cells’. Oncology Letters, 7 April 2016. doi:10.3892/ol.2016.4427.

 

Kang, Ya ’an, Jianhua Ling, Rei Suzuki, David Roife, Xavier Chopin-Laly, Mark J. Truty, Deyali Chatterjee, et al. ‘SMAD4 Regulates Cell Motility through Transcription of N-Cadherin in Human Pancreatic Ductal Epithelium’. Edited by Neil A. Hotchin. PLoS ONE 9, no. 9 (29 September 2014): e107948. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107948.

 

Chen, Yu-Wen, Pi-Jung Hsiao, Ching-Chieh Weng, Kung-Kai Kuo, Tzu-Lei Kuo, Deng-Chyang Wu, Wen-Chun Hung, and Kuang-Hung Cheng. ‘SMAD4 Loss Triggers the Phenotypic Changes of Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Cells’. BMC Cancer 14, no. 1 (2014): 1. https://bmccancer.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2407-14-181.

 

SMAD4 effects on angiogenesis

 

Zhou, Zhichao, Juming Lu, Jingtao Dou, Zhaohui Lv, Xi Qin, and Jing Lin. ‘FHL1 and Smad4 Synergistically Inhibit Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Expression’. Molecular Medicine Reports 7, no. 2 (February 2013): 649–53. doi:10.3892/mmr.2012.1202.

 

SMAD4 mediated repression of cancer stem-like cells

 

Hoshino, Yukari, Jun Nishida, Yoko Katsuno, Daizo Koinuma, Taku Aoki, Norihiro Kokudo, Kohei Miyazono, and Shogo Ehata. ‘Smad4 Decreases the Population of Pancreatic Cancer–Initiating Cells through Transcriptional Repression of ALDH1A1’. The American Journal of Pathology 185, no. 5 (2015): 1457–1470. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002944015000802.

 

SMAD4 mediated growth inhibition/ apoptosis induction

 

David, Charles J., Yun-Han Huang, Mo Chen, Jie Su, Yilong Zou, Nabeel Bardeesy, Christine A. Iacobuzio-Donahue, and Joan Massagué. ‘TGF-β Tumor Suppression through a Lethal EMT’. Cell 164, no. 5 (February 2016): 1015–30. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2016.01.009.

 

Wang, Qi, Juanjuan Li, Wei Wu, Ruizhe Shen, He Jiang, Yuting Qian, Yanping Tang, et al. ‘Smad4-Dependent Suppressor Pituitary Homeobox 2 Promotes PPP2R2A-Mediated Inhibition of Akt Pathway in Pancreatic Cancer’. Oncotarget 7, no. 10 (8 March 2016): 11208–22. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.7158.

 

Poorly characterised targets of SMAD4

 

Fullerton, Paul T., Chad J. Creighton, and Martin M. Matzuk. ‘Insights Into SMAD4 Loss in Pancreatic Cancer From Inducible Restoration of TGF-β Signaling’. Molecular Endocrinology (Baltimore, Md.) 29, no. 10 (October 2015): 1440–53. doi:10.1210/me.2015-1102.

 

Li, Lei, Zhaoshen Li, Xiangyu Kong, Dacheng Xie, Zhiliang Jia, Weihua Jiang, Jiujie Cui, et al. ‘Down-Regulation of MicroRNA-494 via Loss of SMAD4 Increases FOXM1 and β-Catenin Signaling in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Cells’. Gastroenterology 147, no. 2 (August 2014): 485–497.e18. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2014.04.048.

 

Drugs that restore SMAD4

 

Lin, Sheng-Zhang, Jin-Bo Xu, Xu Ji, Hui Chen, Hong-Tao Xu, Ping Hu, Liang Chen, et al. ‘Emodin Inhibits Angiogenesis in Pancreatic Cancer by Regulating the Transforming Growth Factor-Β/drosophila Mothers against Decapentaplegic Pathway and Angiogenesis-Associated microRNAs’. Molecular Medicine Reports 12, no. 4 (October 2015): 5865–71. doi:10.3892/mmr.2015.4158.

 

Predictive value of SMAD4 status in personalised medicine

 

Whittle, Martin C., Kamel Izeradjene, P. Geetha Rani, Libing Feng, Markus A. Carlson, Kathleen E. DelGiorno, Laura D. Wood, et al. ‘RUNX3 Controls a Metastatic Switch in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma’. Cell 161, no. 6 (June 2015): 1345–60. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2015.04.048.

 

Boone, Brian A., Shirin Sabbaghian, Mazen Zenati, J. Wallis Marsh, A. James Moser, Amer H. Zureikat, Aatur D. Singhi, Herbert J. Zeh, and Alyssa M. Krasinskas. ‘Loss of SMAD4 Staining in Pre-Operative Cell Blocks Is Associated with Distant Metastases Following Pancreaticoduodenectomy with Venous Resection for Pancreatic Cancer’. Journal of Surgical Oncology 110, no. 2 (August 2014): 171–75. doi:10.1002/jso.23606.

 

Herman, Joseph M., Katherine Y. Fan, Aaron T. Wild, Laura D. Wood, Amanda L. Blackford, Ross C. Donehower, Manuel Hidalgo, et al. ‘Correlation of Smad4 Status With Outcomes in Patients Receiving Erlotinib Combined With Adjuvant Chemoradiation and Chemotherapy After Resection for Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma’. International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics 87, no. 3 (November 2013): 458–59. doi:10.1016/j.ijrobp.2013.06.2039.

 

Other Related Articles Published In This Open Access Online Journal Include The Following:

 

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/06/10/pancreatic-cancer-modeling-using-retrograde-viral-vector-delivery-and-in-vivo-crisprcas9-mediated-somatic-genome-editing/

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/04/10/wnt%CE%B2-catenin-signaling-7-10/

 

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Signaling through the T Cell Receptor (TCR) Complex and the Co-stimulatory Receptor CD28

Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

 

 

New connections: T cell actin dynamics

Fluorescence microscopy is one of the most important tools in cell biology research because it provides spatial and temporal information to investigate regulatory systems inside cells. This technique can generate data in the form of signal intensities at thousands of positions resolved inside individual live cells. However, given extensive cell-to-cell variation, these data cannot be readily assembled into three- or four-dimensional maps of protein concentration that can be compared across different cells and conditions. We have developed a method to enable comparison of imaging data from many cells and applied it to investigate actin dynamics in T cell activation. Antigen recognition in T cells by the T cell receptor (TCR) is amplified by engagement of the costimulatory receptor CD28. We imaged actin and eight core actin regulators to generate over a thousand movies of T cells under conditions in which CD28 was either engaged or blocked in the context of a strong TCR signal. Our computational analysis showed that the primary effect of costimulation blockade was to decrease recruitment of the activator of actin nucleation WAVE2 (Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein family verprolin-homologous protein 2) and the actin-severing protein cofilin to F-actin. Reconstitution of WAVE2 and cofilin activity restored the defect in actin signaling dynamics caused by costimulation blockade. Thus, we have developed and validated an approach to quantify protein distributions in time and space for the analysis of complex regulatory systems.

RELATED CONTENT

 

Triple-Color FRET Analysis Reveals Conformational Changes in the WIP-WASp Actin-Regulating Complex

 

RELATED CONTENT

T cell activation by antigens involves the formation of a complex, highly dynamic, yet organized signaling complex at the site of the T cell receptors (TCRs). Srikanth et al. found that the lymphocyte-specific large guanosine triphosphatase of the Rab family CRACR2A-a associated with vesicles near the Golgi in unstimulated mouse and human CD4+ T cells. Upon TCR activation, these vesicles moved to the immunological synapse (the contact region between a T cell and an antigen-presenting cell). The guanine nucleotide exchange factor Vav1 at the TCR complex recruited CRACR2A-a to the complex. Without CRACR2A-a, T cell activation was compromised because of defective calcium and kinase signaling.

More than 60 members of the Rab family of guanosine triphosphatases (GTPases) exist in the human genome. Rab GTPases are small proteins that are primarily involved in the formation, trafficking, and fusion of vesicles. We showed that CRACR2A (Ca2+ release–activated Ca2+ channel regulator 2A) encodes a lymphocyte-specific large Rab GTPase that contains multiple functional domains, including EF-hand motifs, a proline-rich domain (PRD), and a Rab GTPase domain with an unconventional prenylation site. Through experiments involving gene silencing in cells and knockout mice, we demonstrated a role for CRACR2A in the activation of the Ca2+ and c-Jun N-terminal kinase signaling pathways in response to T cell receptor (TCR) stimulation. Vesicles containing this Rab GTPase translocated from near the Golgi to the immunological synapse formed between a T cell and a cognate antigen-presenting cell to activate these signaling pathways. The interaction between the PRD of CRACR2A and the guanidine nucleotide exchange factor Vav1 was required for the accumulation of these vesicles at the immunological synapse. Furthermore, we demonstrated that GTP binding and prenylation of CRACR2A were associated with its localization near the Golgi and its stability. Our findings reveal a previously uncharacterized function of a large Rab GTPase and vesicles near the Golgi in TCR signaling. Other GTPases with similar domain architectures may have similar functions in T cells.

 

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Effect of mitochondrial stress on epigenetic modifiers

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator

LPBI

 

Early Mitochondrial Stress Alters Epigenetics, Secures Lifelong Health Benefits

GEN 5/3/2016  http://www.genengnews.com/gen-news-highlights/early-mitochondrial-stress-alters-epigenetics-secures-lifelong-health-benefits/81252685/

A little adversity builds character, or so the saying goes. True or not, the saying does seem an apt description of a developmental phenomenon that shapes gene expression. While it knows nothing of character, the gene expression apparatus appears to respond well to short-term mitochondrial stress that occurs early in development. In fact, transient stress seems to result in lasting benefits. These benefits, which include improved metabolic function and increased longevity, have been observed in both worms and mice, and may even occur—or be made to occur—in humans.

Gene expression is known to be subject to reprogramming by epigenetic modifiers, but such modifiers generally affect metabolism or lifespan, not both. A new set of epigenetic modifiers, however, has been found to trigger changes that do just that—both improve metabolism and extend lifespan.

Scientists based at the University of California, Berkeley, and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have discovered enzymes that are ramped up after mild stress during early development and continue to affect the expression of genes throughout the animal’s life. When the scientists looked at strains of inbred mice that have radically different lifespans, those with the longest lifespans had significantly higher expression of these enzymes than did the short-lived mice.

“Two of the enzymes we discovered are highly, highly correlated with lifespan; it is the biggest genetic correlation that has ever been found for lifespan in mice, and they’re both naturally occurring variants,” said Andrew Dillin, a UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology. “Based on what we see in worms, boosting these enzymes could reprogram your metabolism to create better health, with a possible side effect of altering lifespan.”

Details of the work, which appeared online April 29 in the journal Cell, are presented in a pair of papers. One paper (“Two Conserved Histone Demethylases Regulate Mitochondrial Stress-Induced Longevity”) resulted from an effort led by Dillin and the EPFL’s Johan Auwerx. The other paper (“Mitochondrial Stress Induces Chromatin Reorganization to Promote Longevity and UPRmt”) resulted from an effort led by Dillin and his UC Berkeley colleague Barbara Meyer.

According to these papers, mitochondrial stress activates enzymes in the brain that affect DNA folding, exposing a segment of DNA that contains the 1500 genes involved in the work of the mitochondria. A second set of enzymes then tags these genes, affecting their activation for much or all of the lifetime of the animal and causing permanent changes in how the mitochondria generates energy.

The first set of enzymes—methylases, in particular LIN-65—add methyl groups to the DNA, which can silence promoters and thus suppress gene expression. By also opening up the mitochondrial genes, these methylases set the stage for the second set of enzymes—demethylases, in this case jmjd-1.2 and jmjd-3.1—to ramp up transcription of the mitochondrial genes. When the researchers artificially increased production of the demethylases in worms, all the worms lived longer, a result identical to what is observed after mitochondrial stress.

“By changing the epigenetic state, these enzymes are able to switch genes on and off,” Dillin noted. This happens only in the brain of the worm, however, in areas that sense hunger or satiety. “These genes are expressed in neurons that are sensing the nutritional status of the animal, and these signals emanate out to the periphery to change peripheral metabolism,” he continued.

When the scientists profiled enzymes in short- and long-lived mice, they found upregulation of these genes in the brains of long-lived mice, but not in other tissues or in the brains of short-lived mice. “These genes are expressed in the hypothalamus, exactly where, when you eat, the signals are generated that tell you that you are full. And when you are hungry, signals in that region tell you to go and eat,” Dillin explained said. “These genes are all involved in peripheral feedback.”

Among the mitochondrial genes activated by these enzymes are those involved in the body’s response to proteins that unfold, which is a sign of stress. Increased activity of the proteins that refold other proteins is another hallmark of longer life.

These observations suggest that the reversal of aging by epigenetic enzymes could also take place in humans.

“It seems that, while extreme metabolic stress can lead to problems later in life, mild stress early in development says to the body, ‘Whoa, things are a little bit off-kilter here, let’s try to repair this and make it better.’ These epigenetic switches keep this up for the rest of the animal’s life,” Dillin stated.

 

Two Conserved Histone Demethylases Regulate Mitochondrial Stress-Induced Longevity

Carsten Merkwirth6, Virginija Jovaisaite6, Jenni Durieux,…., Reuben J. Shaw, Johan Auwerx, Andrew Dillin

Highlights
  • H3K27 demethylases jmjd-1.2 and jmjd-3.1 are required for ETC-mediated longevity
  • jmjd-1.2 and jmjd-3.1 extend lifespan and are sufficient for UPRmt activation
  • UPRmt is required for increased lifespan due to jmjd-1.2 or jmjd-3.1 overexpression
  • JMJD expression is correlated with UPRmt and murine lifespan in inbred BXD lines

Across eukaryotic species, mild mitochondrial stress can have beneficial effects on the lifespan of organisms. Mitochondrial dysfunction activates an unfolded protein response (UPRmt), a stress signaling mechanism designed to ensure mitochondrial homeostasis. Perturbation of mitochondria during larval development in C. elegans not only delays aging but also maintains UPRmt signaling, suggesting an epigenetic mechanism that modulates both longevity and mitochondrial proteostasis throughout life. We identify the conserved histone lysine demethylases jmjd-1.2/PHF8 and jmjd-3.1/JMJD3 as positive regulators of lifespan in response to mitochondrial dysfunction across species. Reduction of function of the demethylases potently suppresses longevity and UPRmt induction, while gain of function is sufficient to extend lifespan in a UPRmt-dependent manner. A systems genetics approach in the BXD mouse reference population further indicates conserved roles of the mammalian orthologs in longevity and UPRmt signaling. These findings illustrate an evolutionary conserved epigenetic mechanism that determines the rate of aging downstream of mitochondrial perturbations.

Figure thumbnail fx1

 

Mitochondrial Stress Induces Chromatin Reorganization to Promote Longevity and UPRmt
Ye Tian, Gilberto Garcia, Qian Bian, Kristan K. Steffen, Larry Joe, Suzanne Wolff, Barbara J. Meyer, Andrew Dillincorrespondence
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2016.04.011             Publication stage: In Press Corrected Proof
Highlights
  • LIN-65 accumulates in the nucleus in response to mitochondrial stress
  • Mitochondrial stress-induced chromatin changes depend on MET-2 and LIN-65
  • LIN-65 and DVE-1 exhibit interdependence in nuclear accumulation
  • met-2 and atfs-1 act in parallel to affect mitochondrial stress-induced longevity

Organisms respond to mitochondrial stress through the upregulation of an array of protective genes, often perpetuating an early response to metabolic dysfunction across a lifetime. We find that mitochondrial stress causes widespread changes in chromatin structure through histone H3K9 di-methylation marks traditionally associated with gene silencing. Mitochondrial stress response activation requires the di-methylation of histone H3K9 through the activity of the histone methyltransferase met-2 and the nuclear co-factor lin-65. While globally the chromatin becomes silenced by these marks, remaining portions of the chromatin open up, at which point the binding of canonical stress responsive factors such as DVE-1 occurs. Thus, a metabolic stress response is established and propagated into adulthood of animals through specific epigenetic modifications that allow for selective gene expression and lifespan extension

 Siddharta Mukherjee’s Writing Career Just Got Dealt a Sucker Punch
Author: Theral Timpson

Siddharha Mukherjee won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction for his book, The Emperor of All Maladies.  The book has received widespread acclaim among lay audience, physicians, and scientists alike.  Last year the book was turned into a special PBS series.  But, according to a slew of scientists, we should all be skeptical of his next book scheduled to hit book shelves this month, The Gene, An Intimate History.

Publishing an article on epigenetics in the New Yorker this week–perhaps a selection from his new book–Mukherjee has waltzed into one of the most active scientific debates in all of biology: that of gene regulation, or epigenetics.

Jerry Coyne, the evolutionary biologist known for keeping journalists honest, has published a two part critique of Mukherjee’s New Yorker piece.  The first part–wildly tweeted yesterday–is a list of quotes from Coyne’s colleagues and those who have written in to the New Yorker, including two Nobel prize winners, Wally Gilbert and Sidney Altman, offering some very unfriendly sentences.

Wally Gilbert: “The New Yorker article is so wildly wrong that it defies rational analysis.”

Sidney Altman:  “I am not aware that there is such a thing as an epigenetic code.  It is unfortunate to inflict this article, without proper scientific review, on the audience of the New Yorker.”

The second part is a thorough scientific rebuttal of the Mukherjee piece.  It all serves as a great drama about one of the most contested ideas in biology and also as a cautionary tale to journalists, even experienced writers such as Mukherjee, about the dangers of wading into scientific arguments.  Readers may remember that a few years ago, science writer, David Dobbs, similarly skated into the same topic with his piece, Die, Selfish Gene, Die, and which raised a similar shitstorm, much of it from Coyne.

Mukherjee’s mistake is in giving credence to only one side of a very fierce debate–that the environment causes changes in the genome which can be passed on; another kind of evolution–as though it were settled science.   Either Mukherjee, a physicisan coming off from a successful book and PBS miniseries on cancer, is setting himself up as a scientist, or he has been a truly naive science reporter.   If he got this chapter so wrong, what does it mean about an entire book on the gene?

Coyne quotes one of his colleagues who raised some questions about the New Yorker’s science reporting, one particular question we’ve been asking here at Mendelspod.  How do we know what we know?  Does science now have an edge on any other discipline for being able to create knowledge?

Coyne’s colleague is troubled by science coverage in the New Yorker, and goes so far as to write that the New Yorker has been waging a “war on behalf of cultural critics and literary intellectuals against scientists and technologists.”

From my experience, it’s not quite that tidy.  First of all, the New Yorker is the best writing I read each week.  Period.  Second, I haven’t found their science writing to have the slant claimed in the quote above.  For example, most other mainstream outlets–including the New York Times with the Amy Harmon pieces–have given the anti-GMO crowd an equal say in the mistaken search for a “balance” on whether GMOs are harmful.  (Remember John Stewart’s criticism of Fox News?  That they give a false equivalent between two sides even when there is no equivalent on the other side?)

But the New Yorker has not fallen into this trap on GMOs and most of their pieces on the topic–mainly by Michael Specter–have been decidedly pro science and therefore decided pro GMO.

So what led Mukherjee to play scientist as well as journalist?  There’s no question about whether I enjoy his prose.  His writing beautifully whisks me away so that I don’t feel that I’m really working to understand.  There is a poetic complexity that constantly brings different threads effortlessly together, weaving them into the same light.  At one point he uses the metaphor of a web for the genome, with the epigenome being the stuff that sticks to the web.  He borrows the metaphor from the Hindu notion of “being”, or jaal.

“Genes form the threads of the web; the detritus that adheres to it transforms every web into a singular being.”

There have been a few writers on Twitter defending Mukherjee’s piece.  Tech Review’s Antonio Regalado called Coyne and his colleagues “tedious literalists” who have an “issue with epigenetic poetry.”

At his best, Mukherjee can take us down the sweet alleys of his metaphors and family stories with a new curiosity for the scientific truth.  He can hold a mirror up to scientists, or put the spotlight on their work.   At their worst, Coyne and his scientific colleagues can reek of a fear of language and therefore metaphor.  The always outspoken scientist and author, Richard Dawkins, who made his name by personifying the gene, was quick to personify epigentics in a tweet:   “It’s high time the 15 minutes of underserved fame for “epigenetics” came to an overdue end.”  Dawkins is that rare scientist who has consistently been as comfortable with rhetoric and language as he is with data.

Hats off to Coyne who reminds us that a metaphor–however lovely–does not some science make. If Mukherjee wants to play scientist, let him create and gather data. If it’s the role of science journalist he wants, let him collect all the science he can before he begins to pour it into his poetry.

 

Same but Different  

How epigenetics can blur the line between nature and nurture.

Annals of Science MAY 2, 2016 ISSUE     BY

http://www.newyorker.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/160502_r28072-1200.jpg

The author’s mother (right) and her twin are a study in difference and identity. CREDIT: PHOTOGRAPH BY DAYANITA SINGH FOR THE NEW YORKER

October 6, 1942, my mother was born twice in Delhi. Bulu, her identical twin, came first, placid and beautiful. My mother, Tulu, emerged several minutes later, squirming and squalling. The midwife must have known enough about infants to recognize that the beautiful are often the damned: the quiet twin, on the edge of listlessness, was severely undernourished and had to be swaddled in blankets and revived.

The first few days of my aunt’s life were the most tenuous. She could not suckle at the breast, the story runs, and there were no infant bottles to be found in Delhi in the forties, so she was fed through a cotton wick dipped in milk, and then from a cowrie shell shaped like a spoon. When the breast milk began to run dry, at seven months, my mother was quickly weaned so that her sister could have the last remnants.
Tulu and Bulu grew up looking strikingly similar: they had the same freckled skin, almond-shaped face, and high cheekbones, unusual among Bengalis, and a slight downward tilt of the outer edge of the eye, something that Italian painters used to make Madonnas exude a mysterious empathy. They shared an inner language, as so often happens with twins; they had jokes that only the other twin understood. They even smelled the same: when I was four or five and Bulu came to visit us, my mother, in a bait-and-switch trick that amused her endlessly, would send her sister to put me to bed; eventually, searching in the half-light for identity and difference—for the precise map of freckles on her face—I would realize that I had been fooled.

But the differences were striking, too. My mother was boisterous. She had a mercurial temper that rose fast and died suddenly, like a gust of wind in a tunnel. Bulu was physically timid yet intellectually more adventurous. Her mind was more agile, her tongue sharper, her wit more lancing. Tulu was gregarious. She made friends easily. She was impervious to insults. Bulu was reserved, quieter, and more brittle. Tulu liked theatre and dancing. Bulu was a poet, a writer, a dreamer.

….. more

Why are identical twins alike? In the late nineteen-seventies, a team of scientists in Minnesota set out to determine how much these similarities arose from genes, rather than environments—from “nature,” rather than “nurture.” Scouring thousands of adoption records and news clips, the researchers gleaned a rare cohort of fifty-six identical twins who had been separated at birth. Reared in different families and different cities, often in vastly dissimilar circumstances, these twins shared only their genomes. Yet on tests designed to measure personality, attitudes, temperaments, and anxieties, they converged astonishingly. Social and political attitudes were powerfully correlated: liberals clustered with liberals, and orthodoxy was twinned with orthodoxy. The same went for religiosity (or its absence), even for the ability to be transported by an aesthetic experience. Two brothers, separated by geographic and economic continents, might be brought to tears by the same Chopin nocturne, as if responding to some subtle, common chord struck by their genomes.

One pair of twins both suffered crippling migraines, owned dogs that they had named Toy, married women named Linda, and had sons named James Allan (although one spelled the middle name with a single “l”). Another pair—one brought up Jewish, in Trinidad, and the other Catholic, in Nazi Germany, where he joined the Hitler Youth—wore blue shirts with epaulets and four pockets, and shared peculiar obsessive behaviors, such as flushing the toilet before using it. Both had invented fake sneezes to diffuse tense moments. Two sisters—separated long before the development of language—had invented the same word to describe the way they scrunched up their noses: “squidging.” Another pair confessed that they had been haunted by nightmares of being suffocated by various metallic objects—doorknobs, fishhooks, and the like.

The Minnesota twin study raised questions about the depth and pervasiveness of qualities specified by genes: Where in the genome, exactly, might one find the locus of recurrent nightmares or of fake sneezes? Yet it provoked an equally puzzling converse question: Why are identical twins different? Because, you might answer, fate impinges differently on their bodies. One twin falls down the crumbling stairs of her Calcutta house and breaks her ankle; the other scalds her thigh on a tipped cup of coffee in a European station. Each acquires the wounds, calluses, and memories of chance and fate. But how are these changes recorded, so that they persist over the years? We know that the genome can manufacture identity; the trickier question is how it gives rise to difference.

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But what turns those genes on and off, and keeps them turned on or off? Why doesn’t a liver cell wake up one morning and find itself transformed into a neuron? Allis unpacked the problem further: suppose he could find an organism with two distinct sets of genes—an active set and an inactive set—between which it regularly toggled. If he could identify the molecular switches that maintain one state, or toggle between the two states, he might be able to identify the mechanism responsible for cellular memory. “What I really needed, then, was a cell with these properties,” he recalled when we spoke at his office a few weeks ago. “Two sets of genes, turned ‘on’ or ‘off’ by some signal.”

more…

“Histones had been known as part of the inner scaffold for DNA for decades,” Allis went on. “But most biologists thought of these proteins merely as packaging, or stuffing, for genes.” When Allis gave scientific seminars in the early nineties, he recalled, skeptics asked him why he was so obsessed with the packing material, the stuff in between the DNA.  …. A skein of silk tangled into a ball has very different properties from that same skein extended; might the coiling or uncoiling of DNA change the activity of genes?

In 1996, Allis and his research group deepened this theory with a seminal discovery. “We became interested in the process of histone modification,” he said. “What is the signal that changes the structure of the histone so that DNA can be packed into such radically different states? We finally found a protein that makes a specific chemical change in the histone, possibly forcing the DNA coil to open. And when we studied the properties of this protein it became quite clear that it was also changing the activity of genes.” The coils of DNA seemed to open and close in response to histone modifications—inhaling, exhaling, inhaling, like life.

Allis walked me to his lab, a fluorescent-lit space overlooking the East River, divided by wide, polished-stone benches. A mechanical stirrer, whirring in a corner, clinked on the edge of a glass beaker. “Two features of histone modifications are notable,” Allis said. “First, changing histones can change the activity of a gene without affecting the sequence of the DNA.” It is, in short, formally epi-genetic, just as Waddington had imagined. “And, second, the histone modifications are passed from a parent cell to its daughter cells when cells divide. A cell can thus record ‘memory,’ and not just for itself but for all its daughter cells.”

…..

 

 

The New Yorker screws up big time with science: researchers criticize the Mukherjee piece on epigenetics

Jerry Coyne
https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/the-new-yorker-screws-up-big-time-with-science-researchers-criticize-the-mukherjee-piece-on-epigenetics/

Abstract: This is a two part-post about a science piece on gene regulation that just appeared in the New Yorker. Today I give quotes from scientists criticizing that piece; tomorrow I’ll present a semi-formal critique of the piece by two experts in the field.

esterday I gave readers an assignment: read the new New Yorkerpiece by Siddhartha Mukherjee about epigenetics. The piece, called “Same but different” (subtitle: “How epigenetics can blur the line between nature and nurture”) was brought to my attention by two readers, both of whom praised it.  Mukherjee, a physician, is well known for writing the Pulitzer-Prize-winning book (2011) The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. (I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my list.)  Mukherjee has a new book that will be published in May: The Gene: An Intimate History. As I haven’t seen it, the New Yorker piece may be an excerpt from this book.

Everyone I know who has read The Emperor of All Maladies gives it high praise. I wish I could say the same for Mukherjee’s New Yorker piece. When I read it at the behest of the two readers, I found his analysis of gene regulation incomplete and superficial. Although I’m not an expert in that area, I knew that there was a lot of evidence that regulatory proteins called “transcription factors”, and not “epigenetic markers” (see discussion of this term tomorrow) or modified histones—the factors emphasized by Mukherjee—played hugely important roles in gene regulation. The speculations at the end of the piece about “Lamarckian evolution” via environmentally induced epigenetic changes in the genome were also unfounded, for we have no evidence for that kind of adaptive evolution. Mukherjee does, however, mention that lack of evidence, though I wish he’d done so more strongly given that environmental modification of DNA bases is constantly touted as an important and neglected factor in evolution.

Unbeknownst to me, there was a bit of a kerfuffle going on in the community of scientists who study gene regulation, with many of them finding serious mistakes and omissions in Mukherjee’s piece.  There appears to have been some back-and-forth emailing among them, and several wrote letters to the New Yorker, urging them to correct the misconceptions, omissions, and scientific errors in “Same but different.” As I understand it, both Mukherjee and the New Yorker simply batted these criticisms away, and, as far as I know, will not publish any corrections.  So today and tomorrow I’ll present the criticisms here, just so they’ll be on the record.

Because Mukherjee writes very well, and because even educated laypeople won’t know the story of gene regulation revealed over the last few decades,  they may not see the big lacunae in his piece. It is, then,  important to set matters straight, for at least we should know what science has told us about how genes are turned on and off. The criticism of Mukherjee’s piece, coming from scientists who really are experts in gene regulation, shows a lack of care on the part of Mukherjee and theNew Yorker: both a superficial and misleading treatment of the state of the science, and a failure of the magazine to properly vet this piece (I have no idea whether they had it “refereed” not just by editors but by scientists not mentioned in the piece).

Let me add one thing about science and the New Yorker. I believe I’ve said this before, but the way the New Yorker treats science is symptomatic of the “two cultures” problem. This is summarized in an email sent me a while back by a colleague, which I quote with permission:

The New Yorker is fine with science that either serves a literary purpose (doctors’ portraits of interesting patients) or a political purpose (environmental writing with its implicit critique of modern technology and capitalism). But the subtext of most of its coverage (there are exceptions) is that scientists are just a self-interested tribe with their own narrative and no claim to finding the truth, and that science must concede the supremacy of literary culture when it comes to anything human, and never try to submit human affairs to quantification or consilience with biology. Because the magazine is undoubtedly sophisticated in its writing and editing they don’t flaunt their postmodernism or their literary-intellectual proprietariness, but once you notice it you can make sense of a lot of their material.

. . . Obviously there are exceptions – Atul Gawande is consistently superb – but as soon as you notice it, their guild war on behalf of cultural critics and literary intellectuals against scientists, technologists, and analytic scholars becomes apparent.

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Researchers criticize the Mukherjee piece on epigenetics: Part 2

Trigger warning: Long science post!

Yesterday I provided a bunch of scientists’ reactions—and these were big names in the field of gene regulation—to Siddhartha Mukherjee’s ill-informed piece in The New Yorker, “Same but different” (subtitle: “How epigenetics can blur the line between nature and nurture”). Today, in part 2, I provide a sentence-by-sentence analysis and reaction by two renowned researchers in that area. We’ll start with a set of definitions (provided by the authors) that we need to understand the debate, and then proceed to the critique.

Let me add one thing to avoid confusion: everything below the line, including the definition (except for my one comment at the end) was written by Ptashne and Greally.

by Mark Ptashne and John Greally

Introduction

Ptashne is The Ludwig Professor of Molecular Biology at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He wrote A Genetic Switch, now in its third edition, which describes the principles of gene regulation and the workings of a ‘switch’; and, with Alex Gann, Genes and Signals, which extends these principles and ideas to higher organisms and to other cellular processes as well.  John Greally is the Director of the Center for Epigenomics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

 

The New Yorker  (May 2, 2016) published an article entitled “Same But Different” written by Siddhartha Mukherjee.  As readers will have gathered from the letters posted yesterday, there is a concern that the article is misleading, especially for a non-scientific audience. The issue concerns our current understanding of “gene regulation” and how that understanding has been arrived at.

First some definitions/concepts:

Gene regulation refers to the “turning on and off of genes”.  The primary event in turning a gene “on” is to transcribe (copy) it into messenger RNA (mRNA). That mRNA is then decoded, usually, into a specific protein.  Genes are transcribed by the enzyme called RNA polymerase.

Development:  the process in which a fertilized egg (e.g., a human egg) divides many times and eventually forms an organism.  During this process, many of the roughly 23,000 genes of a human are turned “on” or “off” in different combinations, at different times and places in the developing organism. The process produces many different cell types in different organs (e.g. liver and brain), but all retain the original set of genes.

Transcription factors: proteins that bind to specific DNA sequences near specific genes and turn transcription of those genes on and off. A transcriptional ‘activator’, for example, bears two surfaces: one binds a specific sequence in DNA, and the other binds to, and thereby recruits to the gene, protein complexes that include RNA polymerase. It is widely acknowledged that the identity of a cell in the body depends on the array of transcription factors present in the cell, and the cell’s history.  RNA molecules can also recognize specific genomic sequences, and they too sometimes work as regulators.  Neither transcription factors nor these kinds of RNA molecules – the fundamental regulators of gene expression and development – are mentioned in the New Yorker article.

Signals:  these come in many forms (small molecules like estrogen, larger molecules (often proteins such as cytokines) that determine the ability of transcription factors to work.  For example, estrogen binds directly to a transcription factor (the estrogen receptor) and, by changing its shape, permits it to bind DNA and activate transcription.

Memory”:  a dividing cell can (often does) produce daughters that are identical, and that express identical genes as does the mother cell.  This occurs because the transcription factors present in the mother cell are passively transmitted to the daughters as the cell divides, and they go to work in their new contexts as before.  To make two different daughters, the cell must distribute its transcription factors asymmetrically.

Positive Feedback: An activator can maintain its own expression by  positive feedback.  This requires, simply, that a copy of the DNA sequence to which the activator binds is  present  near its own gene. Expression of the activator  then becomes self-perpetuating.  The activator (of which there now are many copies in the cell) activates  other target genes as it maintains its own expression. This kind of ‘memory circuit’, first described  in  bacteria, is found in higher organisms as well.  Positive feedback can explain how a fully differentiated cell (that is, a cell that has reached its developmental endpoint) maintains its identity.

Nucleosomes:  DNA in higher organisms (eukaryotes) is wrapped, like beads on a string, around certain proteins (called histones), to form nucleosomes.  The histones are subject to enzymatic modifications: e.g., acetyl, methyl, phosphate, etc. groups can be added to these structures. In bacteria there are no nucleosomes, and the DNA is more or less ‘naked’.

“Epigenetic modifications: please don’t worry about the word ”epigenetic”; it is misused in any case. What Mukherjee refers to by this term are the histone modifications mentioned above, and a modification to DNA itself: the addition of methyl groups. Keep in mind that the organisms that have taught us the most about development – flies (Drosophila) and worms (C. elegans)—do not have the enzymes required for DNA methylation. That does not mean that DNA methylation cannot do interesting things in humans, for example, but it is obviously not at the heart of gene regulation.

Specificity Development requires the highly specific sequential turning on and off of sets of genes.  Transcription factors and RNA supply this specificity, but   enzymes that impart modifications to histones  cannot: every nucleosome (and hence every gene) appears the same to the enzyme.  Thus such enzymes cannot pick out particular nucleosomes associated with particular genes to modify.  Histone modifications might be imagined to convey ‘memory’ as cells divide – but there are no convincing indications that this happens, nor are there molecular models that might explain why they would have the imputed effects.

Analysis and critique of Mukherjee’s article

The picture we have just sketched has taken the combined efforts of many scientists over 50 years to develop.  So what, then, is the problem with the New Yorker article?

There are two: first, the picture we have just sketched, emphasizing the primary role of transcription factors and RNA, is absent.  Second, that picture is replaced by highly dubious speculations, some of which don’t make sense, and none of which has been shown to work as imagined in the article.

(Quotes from the Mukherjee article are indented and in plain text; they are followed by comments, flush left and in bold, by Ptashne and Greally.)

In 1978, having obtained a Ph.D. in biology at Indiana University, Allis began to tackle a problem that had long troubled geneticists and cell biologists: if all the cells in the body have the same genome, how does one become a nerve cell, say, and another a blood cell, which looks and functions very differently?

The problems referred to were recognized long before 1978.  In fact, these were exactly the problems that the great French scientists François Jacob and Jacques Monod took on in the 1950s-60s.  In a series of brilliant experiments, Jacob and Monod showed that in bacteria, certain genes encode products that regulate (turn on and off) specific other genes.  Those regulatory molecules turned out to be proteins, some of which respond to signals from the environment.  Much of the story of modern biology has been figuring out how these proteins – in bacteria and in higher organisms  – bind to and regulate specific genes.  Of note is that in higher organisms, the regulatory proteins look and act like those in bacteria, despite the fact that eukaryotic DNA is wrapped in nucleosomes  whereas bacterial DNA is not.   We have also learned that certain RNA molecules can play a regulatory role, a phenomenon made possible by the fact that RNA molecules, like regulatory proteins, can recognize specific genomic sequences.

In the nineteen-forties, Conrad Waddington, an English embryologist, had proposed an ingenious answer: cells acquired their identities just as humans do—by letting nurture (environmental signals) modify nature (genes). For that to happen, Waddington concluded, an additional layer of information must exist within a cell—a layer that hovered, ghostlike, above the genome. This layer would carry the “memory” of the cell, recording its past and establishing its future, marking its identity and its destiny but permitting that identity to be changed, if needed. He termed the phenomenon “epigenetics”—“above genetics.”

This description greatly misrepresents the original concept.  Waddington argued that development proceeds not by the loss (or gain) of genes, which would be a “genetic” process, but rather that some genes would be selectively expressed in specific and complex cellular patterns as development proceeds.  He referred to this intersection of embryology (then called “epigenesis”) and genetics as “epigenetic”.We now understand that regulatory proteins work in combinations to turn on and off genes, including their own genes, and that sometimes the regulatory proteins respond to signals sent by other cells.  It should be emphasized that Waddington never proposed any “ghost-like” layer of additional information hovering above the gene.  This is a later misinterpretation of a literal translation of the term epigenetics, with “epi-“ meaning “above/upon” the genetic information encoded in DNA sequence.  Unfortunately, this new and pervasive definition encompasses all of transcriptional regulation and is of no practical value.

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By 2000, Allis and his colleagues around the world had identified a gamut of proteins that could modify histones, and so modulate the activity of genes. Other systems, too, that could scratch different kinds of code on the genome were identified (some of these discoveries predating the identification of histone modifications). One involved the addition of a chemical side chain, called a methyl group, to DNA. The methyl groups hang off the DNA string like Christmas ornaments, and specific proteins add and remove the ornaments, in effect “decorating” the genome. The most heavily methylated parts of the genome tend to be dampened in their activity.

It is true that enzymes that modify histones have been found—lots of them.  A striking problem is that, after all this time, it is not at all clear what the vast majority of these modifications do.  When these enzymatic activities are eliminated by mutation of their active sites (a task substantially easier to accomplish in yeast than in higher organisms) they mostly have little or no effect on transcription.  It is not even clear that histones are the biologically relevant substrates of most of these enzymes.  

 In the ensuing decade, Allis wrote enormous, magisterial papers in which a rich cast of histone-modifying proteins appear and reappear through various roles, mapping out a hatchwork of complexity. . . These protein systems, overlaying information on the genome, interacted with one another, reinforcing or attenuating their signals. Together, they generated the bewildering intricacy necessary for a cell to build a constellation of other cells out of the same genes, and for the cells to add “memories” to their genomes and transmit these memories to their progeny. “There’s an epigenetic code, just like there’s a genetic code,” Allis said. “There are codes to make parts of the genome more active, and codes to make them inactive.”

By ‘epigenetic code’ the author seems to mean specific arrays of nucleosome modifications, imparted over time and cell divisions, marking genes for expression.  This idea has been tested in many experiments and has been found not to hold.

….. and more

 

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

I hope that this piece brings greater clarity to the discussion.  I have heard the use of the term “epigenetics” for over a decade.  The term was never so clear.  I think that the New Yorker article was a reasonable article for the intended audience.  It was not intended to clarify debates about a mechanism for epigenetic based changes in evolutionary science.  I think it actually punctures the “classic model” of the cell depending only on double stranded DNA and transcription, which deflates our concept of the living cell.  The concept of epigenetics was never really formulated as far as I have seen, and I have done serious work in enzymology and proteins at a time that we did not have the technology that exists today.  I have considered with the critics that protein folding, protein misfolding, protein interactions with proximity of polar and nonpolar groups, and the regulatory role of microRNAs that are not involved in translation, and the evolving concept of what is “dark (noncoding) DNA” lend credence to the complexity of this discussion.  Even more interesting is the fact that enzymes (and isoforms of enzymes) have a huge role in cellular metabolic differences and in the function of metabolic pathways.  What is less understood is the extremely fast reactions involved in these cellular reactions.  These reactions are in my view critical drivers.  This is brought out by Erwin Schroedinger in the book What is Life? which infers that there can be no mathematical expression of life processes.

 

 

 

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Chemotherapy Benefit in Early Breast Cancer Patients

Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator

LPBI

 

Agendia’s MammaPrint® First and Only Genomic Assay to Receive Level 1A Clinical Utility Evidence for Chemotherapy Benefit in Early Breast Cancer Patients

http://www.b3cnewswire.com/201604191373/agendias-mammaprintr-first-and-only-genomic-assay-to-receive-level-1a-clinical-utility-evidence-for-chemotherapy-benefit-in-early-breast-cancer-patients.

  • Clinical high-risk patients with a low-risk MammaPrint® result, including 48 percent node-positive, had five-year distant metastasis-free survival rate in excess of 94 percent, whether randomized to receive adjuvant chemotherapy or not
  • MammaPrint could change clinical practice by substantially de-escalating the use of adjuvant chemotherapy and sparing many patients an aggressive treatment they will not benefit from
  • Forty-six percent overall reduction in chemotherapy prescription among clinically high-risk patients

April 19, 2016 / B3C newswire / Agendia, Inc., together with the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and Breast International Group (BIG), announced results from the initial analysis of the primary objective of the Microarray In Node-negative (and 1 to 3 positive lymph node) Disease may Avoid ChemoTherapy (MINDACT) study at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2016 in New Orleans, LA.

Using the company’s MammaPrint® assay, patients with early-stage breast cancer who were considered at high risk for disease recurrence based on clinical and biological criteria had a distant metastasis-free survival at five years in excess of 94 percent.The MammaPrint test—the first and only genomic assay with FDA 510(k) clearance for use in risk assessment for women of all ages with early stage breast cancer—identified a large group of patients for whom five-year distant metastasis–free survival was equally good whether or not they received adjuvant chemotherapy (chemotherapy given post-surgery).

“The MINDACT trial design is the optimal way to prove clinical utility of a genomic assay,” said Prof. Laura van ’t Veer, CRO at Agendia, Leader, Breast Oncology Program, and Director, Applied Genomics at UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. “It gives the level 1A clinical evidence (prospective, randomized and controlled) that empowers physicians to clearly and confidently know when chemotherapy is part of optimal early-stage breast cancer therapy.  In this trial, MammaPrint (70-gene assay) was compared to the standard of care physicians use today, to decide what is the best treatment option for an early-stage breast cancer patient.”

The MINDACT trial is the first prospective randomized controlled clinical trial of a breast cancer recurrence genomic assay with level 1A clinical evidence and the first prospective translational research study of this magnitude in breast cancer to report the results of its primary objective.

Among the 3,356 patients enrolled in the MINDACT trial, who were categorized as having a high risk of breast cancer recurrence based on common clinical and pathological criteria (C-high), the MammaPrint assay reduced the chemotherapy treatment prescription by 46 percent.Using the 70-gene assay, MammaPrint, 48 percent of lymph-node positive breast cancer patients considered clinically high-risk (Clinical-high) and genomic low-risk (MammaPrint-low) had an excellent distant metastasis-free survival at five years in excess of 94 percent.

“Traditionally, physicians have relied on clinical-pathological factors such as age, tumor size, tumor grade, lymph node involvement, and hormone receptor status to make breast cancer treatment decisions,” said Massimo Cristofanilli, MD, Associate Director of Translational Research and Precision Medicine at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Northwestern University in Chicago. “These findings provide level 1A clinical utility evidence by demonstrating that the detection of low-risk of distant recurrence reported by the MammaPrint test can be safely used in the management of thousands of women by identifying those who can be spared from a toxic and unnecessary treatment.”

MINDACT is a randomized phase III trial that investigates the clinical utility of MammaPrint, when compared (or – “used in conjunction with”) to the standard clinical pathological criteria, for the selection of patients unlikely to benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy. From 2007 to 2011, 6,693 women who had undergone surgery for early-stage breast cancer enrolled in the trial (111 centers in nine countries). Participants were categorized as low or high risk for tumor recurrence in two ways: first, through analysis of tumor tissue using MammaPrint at a central location in Amsterdam; and second, using Adjuvant! Online, a tool that calculates risk of breast cancer recurrence based on common clinical and biological criteria.

Patients characterized in both clinical and genomic assessments as “low- risk” are spared chemotherapy, while patients characterized as “high- risk” are advised chemotherapy. Those with conflicting results are randomized to use either clinical or genomic risk (MammaPrint) evaluation to decide on chemotherapy treatment.

The MINDACT trial is managed and sponsored by the EORTC as part of an extensive and complex partnership in collaboration with Agendia and BIG, and many other academic and commercial partners, as well as patient advocates.

“These MINDACT trial results are a testament that the science of the MammaPrint test is the most robust in the genomic breast recurrence assay market.  Agendia will continue to collaborate with pharmaceutical companies, leading cancer centers and academic groups on additional clinical research and in the pursuit of bringing more effective, individualized treatments within reach of cancer patients,” said Mark Straley, Chief Executive Officer at Agendia. “We value the partnership with the EORTC and BIG and it’s a great honor to share this critical milestone.”

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women worldwide(1). In 2012, there were nearly 1.7 million new breast cancer cases among women worldwide, accounting for 25 percent of all new cancer cases in women(2).

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