Posts Tagged ‘European Molecular Biology Laboratory’

HeLa DNA: Lacks family and the N.I.H. settled on an agreement: the data from both studies should be stored in the institutes’ database of Genotypes and Phenotypes

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


A Family Consents to a Medical Gift, 62 Years Later

Henrietta Lacks was only 31 when she died of cervical cancer in 1951 in a Baltimore hospital. Not long before her death, doctors removed some of her tumor cells. They later discovered that the cells could thrive in a lab, a feat no human cells had achieved before.

Lacks Family, via The Henrietta Lacks Foundation — Henrietta Lacks in the 1940s.

Soon the cells, called HeLa cells, were being shipped from Baltimore around the world. In the 62 years since — twice as long as Ms. Lacks’s own life — her cells have been the subject of more than 74,000 studies, many of which have yielded profound insights into cell biology, vaccines, in vitro fertilization and cancer.

But Henrietta Lacks, who was poor, black and uneducated, never consented to her cells’ being studied. For 62 years, her family has been left out of the decision-making about that research. Now, over the past four months, the National Institutes of Health has come to an agreement with the Lacks family to grant them some control over how Henrietta Lacks’s genome is used.

“In 20 years at N.I.H., I can’t remember something like this,” Dr. Francis S. Collins, the institute’s director, said in an interview.

The agreement, which does not provide the family with the right to potential earnings from future research on Ms. Lacks’s genome, was prompted by two projects to sequence the genome of HeLa cells, the second of which was published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Though the agreement, which was announced Wednesday, is a milestone in the saga of Ms. Lacks, it also draws attention to a lack of policies to balance the benefits of studying genomes with the risks to the privacy of people whose genomes are studied — as well as their relatives.

As the journalist Rebecca Skloot recounted in her 2010 best-seller, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” it was not until 1973, when a scientist called to ask for blood samples to study the genes her children had inherited from her, that Ms. Lacks’s family learned that their mother’s cells were, in effect, scattered across the planet.

Some members of the family tried to find more information. Some wanted a portion of the profits that companies were earning from research on HeLa cells. They were largely ignored for years.

Ms. Lacks is survived by children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, many still living in or around Baltimore.

And this March they experienced an intense feeling of déjà vu.

Scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory published the genome of a line of HeLa cells, making it publicly available for downloading. Another study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health at the University of Washington, was about to be published in Nature. The Lacks family was made aware of neither project.

“I said, ‘No, this is not right,’ ” Jeri Lacks Whye, one of Henrietta Lacks’s grandchildren, said in an interview. “They should not have this up unless they have consent from the family.”

Officials at the National Institutes of Health now acknowledge that they should have contacted the Lacks family when researchers first applied for a grant to sequence the HeLa genome. They belatedly addressed the problem after the family raised its objections.

The European researchers took down their public data, and the publication of the University of Washington paper was stopped. Dr. Collins and Kathy L. Hudson, the National Institutes of Health deputy director for science, outreach and policy, made three trips to Baltimore to meet with the Lacks family to discuss the research and what to do about it.

“The biggest concern was privacy — what information was actually going to be out there about our grandmother, and what information they can obtain from her sequencing that will tell them about her children and grandchildren and going down the line,” Ms. Lacks Whye said.

The Lacks family and the N.I.H. settled on an agreement: the data from both studies should be stored in the institutes’ database of genotypes and phenotypes. Researchers who want to use the data can apply for access and will have to submit annual reports about their research. A so-called HeLa Genome Data Access working group at the N.I.H. will review the applications. Two members of the Lacks family will be members. The agreement does not provide the Lacks family with proceeds from any commercial products that may be developed from research on the HeLa genome.

With this agreement in place, the University of Washington researchers were then able to publish their results. Their analysis goes beyond the European study in several ways. Most important, they show precisely where each gene is situated in HeLa DNA.

A human genome is actually two genomes, each passed down from a parent. The two versions of a gene may be identical, or they may carry genetic variations setting them apart.

“If you think of the variations as beads on a string, you really have two strings,” said Dr. Jay Shendure, who led the Washington genome study. “The way we sequence genomes today, for the most part we just get a list of where the genes are located, but no information about which ones are on which string.”

Dr. Shendure and his colleagues have developed new methods that allow them to gather that information. By reconstructing both strings of the HeLa genome, they could better understand how Ms. Lacks’s healthy cells had been transformed over the past 60 years.

For example, they could see how Ms. Lacks got cancer. Cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus infections. The virus accelerates the growth of infected cells, which may go on to become tumors.

Dr. Shendure and his colleagues discovered the DNA of a human papillomavirus embedded in Ms. Lacks’s genome. By landing at a particular spot, Ms. Lacks’s virus may have given her cancer cells their remarkable endurance.

“That’s one of the frequent questions that I and the Lacks family get whenever we talk about this stuff,” Ms. Skloot said. “The answer was always, ‘We don’t know.’ Now, there’s at least somewhat of an answer: because it happened to land right there.”

Richard Sharp, the director of biomedical ethics at the Mayo Clinic, said he thought the agreement “was pretty well handled.” But he warned that it was only a “one-off solution,” rather than a broad policy to address the tension between genome research and the privacy of relatives, now that recent research has demonstrated that it is possible to reveal a person’s identity through sequencing.

Dr. Sharp considered it impractical to set up a working group of scientists and relatives for every genome with these issues. “There’s absolutely a need for a new policy,” he said.

Eric S. Lander, the founding director of the Broad Institute, a science research center at Harvard and M.I.T., said resolving these issues was crucial to taking advantage of the knowledge hidden in our genomes.

“If we are going to solve cancer, it’s going to take a movement of tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of patients willing to contribute information from their cancer genomes towards a common good,” Dr. Lander said. “We are going to need to have ways to have patients feel comfortable doing that. We can’t do it without a foundation of respect and trust.”



Read Full Post »

Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Screen Shot 2021-07-19 at 7.16.18 PM

Word Cloud By Danielle Smolyar

A new etiology for Prostate Cancer based on Integrative Genomic Analyses reveals difference in Pathomechanism between Early onset and and Non-Early onset  was reported this week in Cancer CellVolume 23, Issue 2, 159-170, 11 February 2013

Early Onset: Androgen-Driven Somatic Alteration Landscape in Early-Onset Prostate Cancer

Median age of 47: EO-PCAs harbored a prevalence of balanced SRs, with a specific abundance of androgen-regulated ETS gene fusions including TMPRSS2:ERG

Non Early onset:

Around 65 years of age at onset:  elderly-onset PCAs displayed primarily non-androgen-associated structural rearrangement (SR) formations.

Treatment Comparison for Clinically Localized Primary Prostate Cancer Therapies



Selected Risks


Selected Outcomes

HIFU – (high intensity focused ultrasound) Minimally invasive use of focused ultrasound waves
to ablate diseased tissue
Incontinence: 0-10% 1-3
Impotence: 8-50%4,5
Rectal Injury: <3% 4-6
Catheter worn for
approximately 2-3 weeks; can
return to normal activities
within a few days
55-95% biochemical
disease-free survival rate at 5 years; 55-98% negative biopsy1-9
Cryotherapy Minimally invasive
procedure using
controlled freeze and thaw cycles to destroy the prostate
Incontinence: 3-10% 10
Impotence: 40-100% 10
Rectal Injury: 0-3% 10
2-3 hour procedure with possible overnight stay; return to normal activities within a few days 50-92% biochemical
disease-free survival at 5 years; 87-98% negative biopsy 11,12
Radical Prostatectomy Surgery to remove
prostate, open or
Incontinence: 9-20% 13
Impotence: 4-85%13
Rectal Injury:0-5%14
2-3 day hospital stay, catheter for 2-3 weeks for open surgery; shorter
hospitalization and fewer postoperative complications for laparoscopic procedure
68–98% biochemical
disease-free survival15,16
External Beam Radiation 6-8 week treatment;
external machine
concentrating radiation
beams to the prostate
Incontinence: 4-15% 17
Impotence: 41-62% 17
Rectal Injury: 15%17
Five treatments per week for 6-8 weeks, up to 2 months fatigue after full course of treatment 55–86% biochemical
disease-free survival18-19
Brachytherapy Minimally invasive implants of radiation seeds in the prostate Incontinence: 3-18% 20
Impotence: 14-82% 20
Rectal Injury: 3%21
1-2 hour procedure with
possible overnight stay
78–89% biochemical
disease-free survival22

Data presented are for clinically localized, low-high risk primary prostate cancer. The information provided in the chart is therapy and not device specific and may not include all potential risks, recovery and outcome information. For further information please see references.

The Sonablate® 500 is approved for investigational use within the U.S. and is being studied for the treatment of prostate cancer in clinical trials in the U.S. The FDA has made no decision as to the safety or efficacy of the Sonablate® 500 for the treatment of prostate cancer. Currently, the device is available for the treatment of prostate cancer outside the U.S. in more than 30 countries.



Prostate Cancer and Nanotecnology

Dr. T. Barlyia summaried:

Early detection of prostate cancer increased dramatically the five-year survival of patients. “This study demonstrates for the first time that it is possible to generate medicines with both targeted and programmable properties that can concentrate the therapeutic effect directly at the site of disease, potentially revolutionizing how complex diseases such as cancer are treated”. The Phase I clinical trial is still ongoing and continued dose escalation is underway; BIND Biosciences is now planning Phase II trials, which will further investigate the treatment’s effectiveness in a larger number of patients.


BIND-014 is a programmable nanomedicine that combines a targeting ligandand a therapeutic nanoparticle.  BIND-014 contains docetaxel, a proven cancer drug which is approved in major cancer indications including breast, prostate and lung, encapsulated in FDA-approved biocompatible and biodegradable polymers. BIND-014 is targeted to prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA), a cell surface antigen abundantly expressed on the surface of cancer cells and on new blood vessels that feed a wide array of solid tumors.  In preclinical cancer models, BIND-014 was shown to deliver up to ten-fold more docetaxel to tumors than an equivalent dose of conventional docetaxel.  The increased accumulation of docetaxel at the site of disease translated to marked improvements in antitumor activity and tolerability.  BIND-014 is currently in Phase 1 human clinical testing in cancer patients with advanced or metastatic solid tumor cancers (NCT01300533). The early development of BIND-014 was funded in part by the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) under its Advanced Technology Program (ATP).

State of the art in oncologic imaging of Prostate

Dr. D. Nir summarizes:

In regards to treatment choice: “active surveillance, focal therapy, radical prostatectomy, and radiation therapy represent a range of treatments with varying degrees of invasiveness for men with different disease grades and stages. Active surveillance and focal therapy, which are relatively new options, are promising but are complicated by uncertainties in risk stratification that affect treatment decision-making, as well as by uncertainties regarding the definition of appropriate outcome measures. Biopsy, which leaves the possibility of under sampling, is not sufficient to resolve these uncertainties. Novel biomarkers and modern imaging are expected to play increasingly important roles in facilitating broader acceptance of both active surveillance and focal therapy. Further research, particularly involving prospective validation, is needed to facilitate standardization and establish the roles of advanced imaging tools in routine prostate cancer management.”

My summary: Prostate cancer is a disease managed by urologists, not radiologists. This disease’s multi-choice of pathways is “craving” for tissue characterization. Nothing could fit the urologist’s work-flow better than ultrasound-based tissue characterization!

Age-related differences in structural rearrangement (SR) formation became evident, suggesting distinct disease pathomechanisms. 

Early Onset:

Median age of 47: EO-PCAs harbored a prevalence of balanced SRs, with a specific abundance of androgen-regulated ETS gene fusions including TMPRSS2:ERG,

Non Early onset:

Around 65 years of age at onset:  elderly-onset PCAs displayed primarily non-androgen-associated SRs.

Integrative Genomic Analyses Reveal an Androgen-Driven Somatic Alteration Landscape in Early-Onset Prostate Cancer

  • Genome sequencing revealed age-related genetic alterations in PCA
  • Early-onset PCAs display a specific abundance of androgen-driven rearrangements
  • These age-linked alterations coincide with activity levels of the androgen receptor
  • This is an observation of age-specific DNA alterations in a common cancer


Early-onset prostate cancer (EO-PCA) represents the earliest clinical manifestation of prostate cancer. To compare the genomic alteration landscapes of EO-PCA with “classical” (elderly-onset) PCA, we performed deep sequencing-based genomics analyses in 11 tumors diagnosed at young age, and pursued comparative assessments with seven elderly-onset PCA genomes. Remarkable age-related differences in structural rearrangement (SR) formation became evident, suggesting distinct disease pathomechanisms. Whereas EO-PCAs harbored a prevalence of balanced SRs, with a specific abundance of androgen-regulated ETS gene fusions includingTMPRSS2:ERG, elderly-onset PCAs displayed primarily non-androgen-associated SRs. Data from a validation cohort of > 10,000 patients showed age-dependent androgen receptor levels and a prevalence of SRs affecting androgen-regulated genes, further substantiating the activity of a characteristic “androgen-type” pathomechanism in EO-PCA.

Early onset prostate cancer tumors tend to have a propensity for containing balanced structural rearrangements, particularly involving genes regulated by the androgen hormone, according to a study in Cancer Cell. As part of the International Cancer Genome Project’s Early-Onset Prostate Cancer project, researchers from Germany and the UK performed whole-genome sequencing on tumor and matched normal samples from 11 individuals who were surgically treated for prostate cancer at a median age of 47 years old. The tumors were also subjected to transcriptome and methylome sequencing.

When they compared sequences from these tumors with sequences from a previously described set of samples taken from seven individuals diagnosed with prostate cancer at around 65 years of age, investigators saw a rise in gene fusion-producing structural changes in the early onset samples.

Those fusions often affected ETS family genes and other genes prone to androgen-related regulation, researchers reported. In contrast, tumors from individuals whose prostate cancer appeared later in life were more apt to contain structural rearrangements affecting genes without any androgen ties.

Follow-up tests using samples from more than 10,000 other patients seemed to support this link between age at prostate cancer diagnosis and androgen receptor rearrangement, study authors said, pointing to a distinct, androgen-driven “pathomechanism” in early-onset forms of the disease.



Cancer Cell, Volume 23, Issue 2, 159-170, 11 February 2013
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.



  1. Uchida T, Ohkusa H, Nagata Y, Hyodo T, Satoh T, Irie A. Treatment of localized prostate cancer using high-intensity focused ultrasound. BJU international 2006;97:56-61.
  2. Uchida T, Ohkusa H, Yamashita H, et al. Five years experience of transrectal high-intensity focused ultrasound using the Sonablate device in the treatment of localized prostate cancer. International journal of urology : official journal of the Japanese Urological Association 2006;13:228-33.
  3. Muto S, Yoshii T, Saito K, Kamiyama Y, Ide H, Horie S. Focal therapy with high-intensity-focused ultrasound in the treatment of localized prostate cancer. Japanese journal of clinical oncology 2008;38:192-9.
  4. Ahmed HU, Zacharakis E, Dudderidge T, et al. High-intensity-focused ultrasound in the treatment of primary prostate cancer: the first UK series. British journal of cancer 2009;101:19-26.
  5. Inoue Y, Goto K, Hayashi T, Hayashi M. Transrectal high-intensity focused ultrasound for treatment of localized prostate cancer. International journal of urology : official journal of the Japanese Urological Association 2011;18:358-62.
  6. Uchida T, Shoji S, Nakano M, et al. Transrectal high-intensity focused ultrasound for the treatment of localized prostate cancer: eight-year experience. International journal of urology : official journal of the Japanese Urological Association 2009;16:881-6.
  7. Sumitomo M, Hayashi M, Watanabe T, et al. Efficacy of short-term androgen deprivation with high-intensity focused ultrasound in the treatment of prostate cancer in Japan. Urology 2008;72:1335-40.
  8. Sumitomo M, Asakuma J, Yoshii H, et al. Anterior perirectal fat tissue thickness is a strong predictor of recurrence after high-intensity focused ultrasound for prostate cancer. International journal of urology : official journal of the Japanese Urological Association 2010;17:776-82.
  9. Dudderidge T, Ahmed H, Emberton M. High-intensity focused ultrasound for localized prostate cancer: initial experience with a 2-year follow-up. BJU international 2009;104:1170-1; author reply 1.
  10. Shelley M, Wilt TJ, Coles B, Mason MD. Cryotherapy for localised prostate cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2007:CD005010.
  11. Cheetham P, Truesdale M, Chaudhury S, Wenske S, Hruby GW, Katz A. Long-term cancer-specific and overall survival for men followed more than 10 years after primary and salvage cryoablation of the prostate. Journal of endourology / Endourological Society 2010;24:1123-9.
  12. Jones JS, Rewcastle JC, Donnelly BJ, Lugnani FM, Pisters LL, Katz AE. Whole gland primary prostate cryoablation: initial results from the cryo on-line data registry. The Journal of urology 2008;180:554-8.
  13. Hu JC, Gu X, Lipsitz SR, et al. Comparative effectiveness of minimally invasive vs open radical prostatectomy. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association 2009;302:1557-64.
  14. Williams SB, Prasad SM, Weinberg AC, et al. Trends in the care of radical prostatectomy in the United States from 2003 to 2006. BJU international 2011;108:49-55.
  15. Mullins JK, Feng Z, Trock BJ, Epstein JI, Walsh PC, Loeb S. The impact of anatomical radical retropubic prostatectomy on cancer control: the 30-year anniversary. The Journal of urology 2012;188:2219-24.
  16. Loeb S, Zhu X, Schroder FH, Roobol MJ. Long-term radical prostatectomy outcomes among participants from the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC) Rotterdam. BJU international 2012.
  17. Budaus L, Bolla M, Bossi A, et al. Functional outcomes and complications following radiation therapy for prostate cancer: a critical analysis of the literature. European urology 2012;61:112-27.
  18. Grimm P, Billiet I, Bostwick D, et al. Comparative analysis of prostate-specific antigen free survival outcomes for patients with low, intermediate and high risk prostate cancer treatment by radical therapy. Results from the Prostate Cancer Results Study Group. BJU international 2012;109 Suppl 1:22-9.
  19. Wilt TJ, MacDonald R, Rutks I, Shamliyan TA, Taylor BC, Kane RL. Systematic review: comparative effectiveness and harms of treatments for clinically localized prostate cancer. Annals of internal medicine 2008;148:435-48.
  20. Buckstein M, Kerns S, Forysthe K, Stone NN, Stock RG. Temporal patterns of selected late toxicities in patients treated with brachytherapy or brachytherapy plus external beam radiation for prostate adenocarcinoma. BJU international 2012.
  21. Orio PF, 3rd, Merrick GS, Galbreath RW, Butler WM, Lief J, Wallner KE. Patient-reported long-term rectal function after permanent interstitial brachytherapy for clinically localized prostate cancer. Brachytherapy 2012;11:341-7.
  22. Critz FA, Benton JB, Shrake P, Merlin ML. 25 year disease free survival rate after irradiation of prostate cancer calculated with the prostate specific antigen definition of recurrence used for radical prostatectomy. The Journal of urology 2012.


Other research papers related to the management of Prostate cancer were published on this One Access Online Scientific Journal

Imaging agent to detect Prostate cancer-now a reality

Scientists use natural agents for prostate cancer bone metastasis treatment

Today’s fundamental challenge in Prostate cancer screening


Men With Prostate Cancer More Likely to Die from Other Causes

New Prostate Cancer Screening Guidelines Face a Tough Sell, Study Suggests

New clinical results supports Imaging-guidance for targeted prostate biopsy

Prostate Cancer and Nanotecnology


State of the art in oncologic imaging of Prostate


Genomically Guided Treatment after CLIA Approval: to be offered by Weill Cornell Precision Medicine Institute

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: