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USPTO Guidance On Patentable Subject Matter


USPTO Guidance On Patentable Subject Matter

Curator and Reporter: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

LH Bernstein

LH Bernstein

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revised 4 July, 2014

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/07/03/uspto-guidance-on-patentable-subject-matter

 

I came across a few recent articles on the subject of US Patent Office guidance on patentability as well as on Supreme Court ruling on claims. I filed several patents on clinical laboratory methods early in my career upon the recommendation of my brother-in-law, now deceased.  Years later, after both brother-in-law and patent attorney are no longer alive, I look back and ask what I have learned over $100,000 later, with many trips to the USPTO, opportunities not taken, and a one year provisional patent behind me.

My conclusion is

(1) that patents are for the protection of the innovator, who might realize legal protection, but the cost and the time investment can well exceed the cost of startup and building a small startup enterprize, that would be the next step.

(2) The other thing to consider is the capability of the lawyer or firm that represents you.  A patent that is well done can be expected to take 5-7 years to go through with due diligence.   I would not expect it to be done well by a university with many other competing demands. I might be wrong in this respect, as the climate has changed, and research universities have sprouted engines for change.  Experienced and productive faculty are encouraged or allowed to form their own such entities.

(3) The emergence of Big Data, computational biology, and very large data warehouses for data use and integration has changed the landscape. The resources required for an individual to pursue research along these lines is quite beyond an individuals sole capacity to successfully pursue without outside funding.  In addition, the changed designated requirement of first to publish has muddied the water.

Of course, one can propose without anything published in the public domain. That makes it possible for corporate entities to file thousands of patents, whether there is actual validation or not at the time of filing.  It would be a quite trying experience for anyone to pursue in the USPTO without some litigation over ownership of patent rights. At this stage of of technology development, I have come to realize that the organization of research, peer review, and archiving of data is still at a stage where some of the best systems avalailable for storing and accessing data still comes considerably short of what is needed for the most complex tasks, even though improvements have come at an exponential pace.

I shall not comment on the contested views held by physicists, chemists, biologists, and economists over the completeness of guiding theories strongly held.  Only history will tell.  Beliefs can hold a strong sway, and have many times held us back.

I am not an expert on legal matters, but it is incomprehensible to me that issues concerning technology innovation can be adjudicated in the Supreme Court, as has occurred in recent years. I have postgraduate degrees in  Medicine, Developmental Anatomy, and post-medical training in pathology and laboratory medicine, as well as experience in analytical and research biochemistry.  It is beyond the competencies expected for these type of cases to come before the Supreme Court, or even to the Federal District Courts, as we see with increasing frequency,  as this has occurred with respect to the development and application of the human genome.

I’m not sure that the developments can be resolved for the public good without a more full development of an open-access system of publishing. Now I present some recent publication about, or published by the USPTO.

DR ANTHONY MELVIN CRASTO

Dr. Melvin Castro - Organic Chemistry and New Drug Development

Dr. Melvin Castro – Organic Chemistry and New Drug Development

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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USPTO Guidance On Patentable Subject Matter: Impediment to Biotech Innovation

Joanna T. Brougher, David A. Fazzolare J Commercial Biotechnology 2014 20(3):Brougher

jcbiotech-patents

jcbiotech-patents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abstract In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision upending more than three decades worth of established patent practice when it ruled that isolated gene sequences are no longer patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. Section 101.While many practitioners in the field believed that the USPTO would interpret the decision narrowly, the USPTO actually expanded the scope of the decision when it issued its guidelines for determining whether an invention satisfies Section 101.

The guidelines were met with intense backlash with many arguing that they unnecessarily expanded the scope of the Supreme Court cases in a way that could unduly restrict the scope of patentable subject matter, weaken the U.S. patent system, and create a disincentive to innovation. By undermining patentable subject matter in this way, the guidelines may end up harming not only the companies that patent medical innovations, but also the patients who need medical care.  This article examines the guidelines and their impact on various technologies.

Keywords:   patent, patentable subject matter, Myriad, Mayo, USPTO guidelines

Full Text: PDF

References

35 U.S.C. Section 101 states “Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.

” Prometheus Laboratories, Inc. v. Mayo Collaborative Services, 566 U.S. ___ (2012)

Association for Molecular Pathology et al., v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 569 U.S. ___ (2013).

Parke-Davis & Co. v. H.K. Mulford Co., 189 F. 95, 103 (C.C.S.D.N.Y. 1911)

USPTO. Guidance For Determining Subject Matter Eligibility Of Claims Reciting Or Involving Laws of Nature, Natural Phenomena, & Natural Products.

http://www.uspto.gov/patents/law/exam/myriad-mayo_guidance.pdf

Funk Brothers Seed Co. v. Kalo Inoculant Co., 333 U.S. 127, 131 (1948)

USPTO. Guidance For Determining Subject Matter Eligibility Of Claims Reciting Or Involving Laws of Nature, Natural Phenomena, & Natural Products.

http://www.uspto.gov/patents/law/exam/myriad-mayo_guidance.pdf

Courtney C. Brinckerhoff, “The New USPTO Patent Eligibility Rejections Under Section 101.” PharmaPatentsBlog, published May 6, 2014, accessed http://www.pharmapatentsblog.com/2014/05/06/the-new-patent-eligibility-rejections-section-101/

Courtney C. Brinckerhoff, “The New USPTO Patent Eligibility Rejections Under Section 101.” PharmaPatentsBlog, published May 6, 2014, accessed http://www.pharmapatentsblog.com/2014/05/06/the-new-patent-eligibility-rejections-section-101/

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5912/jcb664

 

Science 4 July 2014; 345 (6192): pp. 14-15  DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.345.6192.14
  • IN DEPTH

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Biotech feels a chill from changing U.S. patent rules

A 2013 Supreme Court decision that barred human gene patents is scrambling patenting policies.

PHOTO: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

A year after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that human genes cannot be patented, the biotech industry is struggling to adapt to a landscape in which inventions derived from nature are increasingly hard to patent. It is also pushing back against follow-on policies proposed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to guide examiners deciding whether an invention is too close to a natural product to deserve patent protection. Those policies reach far beyond what the high court intended, biotech representatives say.

“Everything we took for granted a few years ago is now changing, and it’s generating a bit of a scramble,” says patent attorney Damian Kotsis of Harness Dickey in Troy, Michigan, one of more than 15,000 people who gathered here last week for the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s (BIO’s) International Convention.

At the meeting, attorneys and executives fretted over the fate of patent applications for inventions involving naturally occurring products—including chemical compounds, antibodies, seeds, and vaccines—and traded stories of recent, unexpected rejections by USPTO. Industry leaders warned that the uncertainty could chill efforts to commercialize scientific discoveries made at universities and companies. Some plan to appeal the rejections in federal court.

USPTO officials, meanwhile, implored attendees to send them suggestions on how to clarify and improve its new policies on patenting natural products, and even announced that they were extending the deadline for public comment by a month. “Each and every one of you in this room has a moral duty … to provide written comments to the PTO,” patent lawyer and former USPTO Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea told one audience.

At the heart of the shake-up are two Supreme Court decisions: the ruling last year in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics Inc. that human genes cannot be patented because they occur naturally (Science, 21 June 2013, p. 1387); and the 2012 Mayo v. Prometheus decision, which invalidated a patent on a method of measuring blood metabolites to determine drug doses because it relied on a “law of nature” (Science, 12 July 2013, p. 137).

Myriad and Mayo are already having a noticeable impact on patent decisions, according to a study released here. It examined about 1000 patent applications that included claims linked to natural products or laws of nature that USPTO reviewed between April 2011 and March 2014. Overall, examiners rejected about 40%; Myriad was the basis for rejecting about 23% of the applications, and Mayo about 35%, with some overlap, the authors concluded. That rejection rate would have been in the single digits just 5 years ago, asserted Hans Sauer, BIO’s intellectual property counsel, at a press conference. (There are no historical numbers for comparison.) The study was conducted by the news service Bloomberg BNA and the law firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciseri in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

USPTO is extending the decisions far beyond diagnostics and DNA?

The numbers suggest USPTO is extending the decisions far beyond diagnostics and DNA, attorneys say. Harness Dickey’s Kotsis, for example, says a client recently tried to patent a plant extract with therapeutic properties; it was different from anything in nature, Kotsis argued, because the inventor had altered the relative concentrations of key compounds to enhance its effect. Nope, decided USPTO, too close to nature.

In March, USPTO released draft guidance designed to help its examiners decide such questions, setting out 12 factors for them to weigh. For example, if an examiner deems a product “markedly different in structure” from anything in nature, that counts in its favor. But if it has a “high level of generality,” it gets dinged.

The draft has drawn extensive criticism. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything as complicated as this,” says Kevin Bastian, a patent attorney at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton in San Francisco, California. “I just can’t believe that this will be the standard.”

USPTO officials appear eager to fine-tune the draft guidance, but patent experts fear the Supreme Court decisions have made it hard to draw clear lines. “The Myriad decision is hopelessly contradictory and completely incoherent,” says Dan Burk, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. “We know you can’t patent genetic sequences,” he adds, but “we don’t really know why.”

Get creative in using Draft Guidelines!

For now, Kostis says, applicants will have to get creative to reduce the chance of rejection. Rather than claim protection for a plant extract itself, for instance, an inventor could instead patent the steps for using it to treat patients. Other biotech attorneys may try to narrow their patent claims. But there’s a downside to that strategy, they note: Narrower patents can be harder to protect from infringement, making them less attractive to investors. Others plan to wait out the storm, predicting USPTO will ultimately rethink its guidance and ease the way for new patents.

 

Public comment period extended

USPTO has extended the deadline for public comment to 31 July, with no schedule for issuing final language. Regardless of the outcome, however, Stanek Rea warned a crowd of riled-up attorneys that, in the world of biopatents, “the easy days are gone.”

 

United States Patent and Trademark Office

Today we published and made electronically available a new edition of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP). Manual of Patent Examining Procedure uspto.gov http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/index.html Summary of Changes

PDF Title Page
PDF Foreword
PDF Introduction
PDF Table of Contents
PDF Chapter 600 –
PDF   Parts, Form, and Content of Application Chapter 700 –
PDF    Examination of Applications Chapter 800 –
PDF   Restriction in Applications Filed Under 35 U.S.C. 111; Double Patenting Chapter 900 –
PDF   Prior Art, Classification, and Search Chapter 1000 –
PDF  Matters Decided by Various U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Officials Chapter 1100 –
PDF   Statutory Invention Registration (SIR); Pre-Grant Publication (PGPub) and Preissuance Submissions Chapter 1200 –
PDF    Appeal Chapter 1300 –
PDF   Allowance and Issue Appendix L –
PDF   Patent Laws Appendix R –
PDF   Patent Rules Appendix P –
PDF   Paris Convention Subject Matter Index 
PDF Zipped version of the MPEP current revision in the PDF format.

Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP)Ninth Edition, March 2014

The USPTO continues to offer an online discussion tool for commenting on selected chapters of the Manual. To participate in the discussion and to contribute your ideas go to:
http://uspto-mpep.ideascale.com.

Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) Ninth Edition, March 2014
The USPTO continues to offer an online discussion tool for commenting on selected chapters of the Manual. To participate in the discussion and to contribute your ideas go to: http://uspto-mpep.ideascale.com.

Note: For current fees, refer to the Current USPTO Fee Schedule.
Consolidated Laws – The patent laws in effect as of May 15, 2014. Consolidated Rules – The patent rules in effect as of May 15, 2014.  MPEP Archives (1948 – 2012)
Current MPEP: Searchable MPEP

The documents updated in the Ninth Edition of the MPEP, dated March 2014, include changes that became effective in November 2013 or earlier.
All of the documents have been updated for the Ninth Edition except Chapters 800, 900, 1000, 1300, 1700, 1800, 1900, 2000, 2300, 2400, 2500, and Appendix P.
More information about the changes and updates is available from the “Blue Page – Introduction” of the Searchable MPEP or from the “Summary of Changes” link to the HTML and PDF versions provided below. Discuss the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) Welcome to the MPEP discussion tool!

We have received many thoughtful ideas on Chapters 100-600 and 1800 of the MPEP as well as on how to improve the discussion site. Each and every idea submitted by you, the participants in this conversation, has been carefully reviewed by the Office, and many of these ideas have been implemented in the August 2012 revision of the MPEP and many will be implemented in future revisions of the MPEP. The August 2012 revision is the first version provided to the public in a web based searchable format. The new search tool is available at http://mpep.uspto.gov. We would like to thank everyone for participating in the discussion of the MPEP.

We have some great news! Chapters 1300, 1500, 1600 and 2400 of the MPEP are now available for discussion. Please submit any ideas and comments you may have on these chapters. Also, don’t forget to vote on ideas and comments submitted by other users. As before, our editorial staff will periodically be posting proposed new material for you to respond to, and in some cases will post responses to some of the submitted ideas and comments.Recently, we have received several comments concerning the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA). Please note that comments regarding the implementation of the AIA should be submitted to the USPTO via email t aia_implementation@uspto.gov or via postal mail, as indicated at the America Invents Act Web site. Additional information regarding the AIA is available at www.uspto.gov/americainventsact  We have also received several comments suggesting policy changes which have been routed to the appropriate offices for consideration. We really appreciate your thinking and recommendations!

FDA Guidance for Industry:Electronic Source Data in Clinical Investigations

Electronic Source Data

Electronic Source Data

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The FDA published its new Guidance for Industry (GfI) – “Electronic Source Data in Clinical Investigations” in September 2013.
The Guidance defines the expectations of the FDA concerning electronic source data generated in the context of clinical trials. Find out more about this Guidance.
http://www.gmp-compliance.org/enews_4288_FDA%20Guidance%20for%20Industry%3A%20Electronic%20Source%20Data%20in%20Clinical%20Investigations
_8534,8457,8366,8308,Z-COVM_n.html

After more than 5 years and two draft versions, the final version of the Guidance for
Industry (GfI) – “Electronic Source Data in Clinical Investigations” was published in
September 2013. This new FDA Guidance defines the FDA’s expectations for sponsors,
CROs, investigators and other persons involved in the capture, review and retention of
electronic source data generated in the context of FDA-regulated clinical trials.In an
effort to encourage the modernization and increased efficiency of processes in clinical
trials, the FDA clearly supports the capture of electronic source data and emphasizes
the agency’s intention to support activities aimed at ensuring the reliability, quality,
integrity and traceability of this source data, from its electronic source to the electronic
submission of the data in the context of an authorization procedure. The Guidance
addresses aspects as data capture, data review and record retention. When the
computerized systems used in clinical trials are described, the FDA recommends
that the description not only focus on the intended use of the system, but also on
data protection measures and the flow of data across system components and
interfaces. In practice, the pharmaceutical industry needs to meet significant
requirements regarding organisation, planning, specification and verification of
computerized systems in the field of clinical trials. The FDA also mentions in the
Guidance that it does not intend to apply 21 CFR Part 11 to electronic health records
(EHR). Author: Oliver Herrmann Q-Infiity Source: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/
Guidances/UCM328691.pdf
Webinar: https://collaboration.fda.gov/p89r92dh8wc

 

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Alzheimer’s Genomic Diagnosis and Treatment

Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

 

Gene Mutation Protects Against Alzheimer’s

by Greg Miller on 11 July 2012
Brain preserver. A newly discovered gene mutation appears to protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Credit: Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center/NIA/NIH
http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2012/07/gene-mutation-protects-against-a.html

A rare mutation that alters a single letter of the genetic code protects people from the

  • memory-robbing dementia of Alzheimer’s disease.

The DNA change may inhibit the buildup of β amyloid, the

  • protein fragment that forms the hallmark plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
  • The mutation affects a gene called APP,
  • which encodes a protein that gets broken down into pieces,
  • including β amyloid.

Researchers previously identified more than 30 mutations to APP, none of them good. Several of these changes increase β amyloid formation and cause

•      a devastating inherited form of Alzheimer’s that afflicts people in their 30s and 40s—

•      much earlier than the far more common “late-onset” form of Alzheimer’s

  • that typically strikes people their 70s and 80s.

The new mutation, discovered from whole-genome data from 1795 Icelanders for variations in APP that protect against Alzheimer’s, appears to do the opposite. The mutation interferes with one of the enzymes that breaks down the APP protein and causes a 40% reduction in β amyloid formation

New pharmacological strategies for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: focus on disease modifying drugs.
Salomone S, Caraci F, Leggio GM, Fedotova J, Drago F.
University of Catania, Viale Andrea Doria 6, Catania, Italy.
Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2012 Apr;73(4):504-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2011.04134.x.

Current approved drug treatments for Alzheimer disease (AD) include

These drugs provide symptomatic relief but poorly affect the progression of the disease. Drug discovery has been directed, in the last 10 years, to develop ‘disease modifying drugs’ hopefully able to counteract the progression of AD. Because in a chronic, slow progressing pathological process, such as AD, an early start of treatment enhances the chance of success,

  • it is crucial to have biomarkers for early detection of AD-related brain dysfunction,
    • usable before clinical onset.

Reliable early biomarkers need therefore to be prospectively tested for predictive accuracy,

  • with specific cut off values validated in clinical practice.

Disease modifying drugs developed so far include drugs to

  • reduce β amyloid () production,
  • drugs to prevent Aβ aggregation,
  • drugs to promote Aβ clearance,
  • drugs targeting tau phosphorylation and assembly

None of these drugs has demonstrated efficacy in phase 3 studies. The failure of clinical trials with disease modifying drugs raises a number of questions, spanning from

  • methodological flaws to
  • fundamental understanding of AD pathophysiology and biology.

Diagnostic criteria applicable to presymptomatic stages of AD have now been published.

These new criteria may impact on drug development, such that future trials on disease modifying drugs will include populations susceptible to AD, before clinical onset. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22035455

Gene mutation defends against Alzheimer’s disease
Rare genetic variant suggests a cause and treatment for cognitive decline.
Ewen Callaway  11 July 2012
http://www.nature.com/news/gene-mutation-defends-against-alzheimer-s-disease-1.10984

J. NIETH/CORBIS
Almost 30 million people live with Alzheimer’s disease worldwide, a staggering health-care burden that is expected to quadruple by 2050. Yet doctors can offer no effective treatment, and scientists have been unable to pin down the underlying mechanism of the disease.
Research published this week offers some hope on both counts – few people carry a genetic mutation that naturally prevents them from developing the condition – 0.5% of Icelanders have a protective gene, as are 0.2–0.5% of Finns, Swedes and Norwegians. Icelanders who carry it have a 50% better chance of reaching age 85, are more than five times more likely to reach it 85 without Alzheimer’s.   The mutation seems to put a brake on the milder mental deterioration that most elderly people experience. Carriers are about 7.5 times more likely than non-carriers to reach the age of 85 without major cognitive decline, and perform better on the cognitive tests that are administered thrice yearly to Icelanders who live in nursing homes.
The discovery not only confirms the principal suspect that is responsible for Alzheimer’s, it also suggests that the disease could be

  • an extreme form of the cognitive decline seen in many older people.

The mutation — the first ever found to protect against the disease — lies in a gene that produces

  • amyloid-β precursor protein (APP),
  • which has an unknown role in the brain

APP was discovered 25 years ago in patients with rare,

  • inherited forms of Alzheimer’s that strike in middle age.
  • In the brain, APP is broken down into a smaller molecule called amyloid-β.

Visible clumps, or plaques, of amyloid-β found in the autopsied brains of patients are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.
Scientists have long debated whether the plaques are a cause of the neuro­degenerative condition

  • or a consequence of other biochemical changes associated with the disease.

The latest finding supports other genetics studies blaming amyloid-β, according to Rudolph Tanzi, a neurologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and a member of one of the four teams that discovered APP’s role in the 1980s.
If amyloid-β plaques were confirmed as the cause of Alzheimer’s, it would bolster efforts to develop drugs that block their formation, says Kári Stefánsson, chief executive of deCODE Genetics in Reykjavik, Iceland, who led the latest research. He and his team first discovered the mutation by comparing the complete genome sequences of 1,795 Icelanders with their medical histories. The researchers then studied the variant in nearly 400,000 more Scandinavians.
This suggests that Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline are two sides of the same coin, with a common cause — the build-up of amyloid-β plaques in the brain, something seen to a lesser degree in elderly people who do not develop full-blown Alzheimer’s. A drug that mimics the effects of the mutation, might slow cognitive decline as well as prevent Alzheimer’s.
Stefánsson and his team discovered that the mutation introduces a single amino-acid alteration to APP. This amino acid is close to the site where an enzyme called

  • β-secretase 1 (BACE1) ordinarily snips APP into smaller amyloid-β chunks —
  • and the alteration is enough to reduce the enzyme’s efficiency.

Stefánsson’s study suggests that blocking β-secretase from cleaving APP has the potential to prevent Alzheimer’s, but Philippe Amouyel, an epidemiologist at the Pasteur Institute in Lille, France, says “it is very difficult to identify the

  • precise time when this amyloid toxic effect could still be modified”.

“If this effect needs to be blocked as early as possible in life to protect against Alzheimer’s disease, we will need to propose a new design for clinical trials” to identify an effective treatment.

The results demonstrate that whole-genome sequencing can uncover very rare mutations that might offer insight into common diseases.

  • disease risk, may be determined by genetic variants that slightly tilt the odds of developing disease
  • In this case a rare mutant may provide very key mechanistic insights into Alzheimer’s

Jonsson, T. et al. Nature     http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature11283 (2012).
Kang, J. et al. Nature 325, 733–736 (1987).
Goldgaber, D., Lerman, M. I., McBride, O. W., Saffiotti, U. & Gajdusek, D. C. Science 235, 877–880 (1987).

BHCE genetic data combined with brain imaging using agent florbetapir connects the BHCE gene to AD plaque buildup. BHCE is an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine in the brain, which is depleted early in the disease and results in memory loss.   http://www.genengnews.com/

New Alzheimer’s Genes Found
Gigantic Scientific Effort Discovers Clues to Treatment, Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease
By Daniel J. DeNoon
WebMD Health News Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD
http://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/news/20110403/new-alzheimers-genes-found

A massive scientific effort has found five new gene variants linked to Alzheimer’s disease. The undertaking involved analyzing the genomes of nearly 40,000 people with and without Alzheimer’s. This study was undertaken by two separate research consortiums in the U.S. and in Europe, which collaborated to confirm each other’s results.
Four genes had previously been linked to Alzheimer’s. Three of them affect only the risk of relatively rare forms of Alzheimer’s. The fourth is APOE, until now the only gene known to affect risk of the common, late-onset form of Alzheimer’s. Roughly 27% of Alzheimer’s disease can be attributed to the five new gene variants.  Even though Alzheimer’s is a very complex disease, the new findings represent a large chunk of Alzheimer’s risk, according to Margaret A. Pericak-Vance, PhD, of the U.S. consortium –

  • 20% of the causal risk of Alzheimer’s disease and
  • 32% of the genetic risk.

Alzheimer’s Tied to Mutation Harming Immune Response
By GINA KOLATA   Published: November 14, 2012  in NY Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/15/health/gene-mutation-that-hobbles-immune-response-is-linked-to-alzheimers.html?_r=0
Alzheimer’s researchers and drug companies have for years concentrated on one hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease: the production of toxic shards of a protein that accumulate in plaques on the brain.
Two groups of researchers working from entirely different starting points have converged on a mutated gene involved in another aspect of Alzheimer’s disease:

  • the immune system’s role in protecting against the disease.

The mutation is suspected of interfering with

  • the brain’s ability to prevent the buildup of plaque.

When the gene is not mutated, white blood cells in the brain spring into action,

  • gobbling up and eliminating the plaque-forming toxic protein, beta amyloid.

As a result, Alzheimer’s can be staved off or averted.  People with the mutated gene have a threefold to fivefold increase in the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease in old age.

Comparing Differences

Dr. Julie Williams’s, Cardiff, Wales (European team leader) report identified CLU and Picalm. A second study published in Nature Genetics, by Philippe Amouyel from Institut Pasteur de Lille in France, pinpointed CLU and CR1. The greatest inherited risk comes from the APOE gene, discovered in 1993 by a team led by Allen Roses, now director of the Deane Drug Discovery Institute at Duke UMC, in Durham, North Carolina.
The findings “are beginning to give us insight into the biology, but I don’t think you can expect treatments overnight,” Dr. Michael Owen (Cardiff, Wales) said. Instead, the genes will show a mosaic of risk, and “the key issue is what hand of cards you’re dealt,” he said.

Promise for Early Diagnosis
BHCE genetic data combined with brain imaging using agent florbetapir connects the BHCE gene to AD plaque buildup. BHCE is an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine in the brain, which is depleted early in the disease and results in memory loss.

Dr. Bernstein’s comments:

  1. There has been a long history of failure of drugs to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s.  Regression of the plaques has not corresponded with retention of cognitive ability, which has been behind the arguments over beta amyloid or tau.
  2. We now have two particularly interesting mutations –
    1. ApoE gene mutation that increases risk
    2. APP mutation that quite dramatically affects retention of cognition
β-amyloid fibrils.

β-amyloid fibrils. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzhei...

English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer’s disease (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Depiction of amyloid precursor protein process...

Depiction of amyloid precursor protein processing, created by I. Peltan Ipeltan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Diagram of how microtubules desintegr...

English: Diagram of how microtubules desintegrate with Alzheimer’s disease Français : La protéine Tau dans un neurone sain et dans un neurone malade Español: Esquema que muestra cómo se desintegran los microtúbulos en la enfermedad de Alzheimer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Histopathogic image of senile plaques...

English: Histopathogic image of senile plaques seen in the cerebral cortex in a patient with presenile onset of Alzheimer disease. Bowdian stain. The same case as shown in a file “Alzheimer_dementia_(1)_presenile_onset.jpg”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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The Automated Second Opinion Generator

Larry H. Bernstein, MD

Gil David and Larry Bernstein have developed a first generation software agent under the supervision of Prof. Ronal Coifman, in the Yale University Applied Mathematics Program that is the equivalent of an intelligent EHR Dashboard that learns.  What is a Dashboard?   A Dashboard is a visual display of essential metrics. The primary purpose is to gather information and generate the metrics relatively quickly, and analyze it, meeting the highest standard of accuracy.  This invention is a leap across traditional boundaries of Health Information Technology in that it integrates and digests extractable information sources from the medical record using the laboratory, the extractable vital signs, EKG, for instance, and documented clinical descriptors to form one or more  provisional diagnoses describing the patient status by inference from a nonparametric network algorithm.  This is the first generation of a “convergence” of medicine and information science.  The diagnoses are complete only after review of thousands of records to which diagnoses are first provided, and then training the algorithm, and validating the software by applying to a second set of data, and reviewing the accuracy of the diagnoses.

The only limitation of the algorithm is sparsity of data in some subsets, which doesn’t permit a probability calculation until sufficient data is obtained.  The limitation is not so serious because it does not disable the system from recognizing at least 95 percent of the information used in medical decision-making, and adequately covers the top 15 medical diagnoses.  An example of this exception would be the diagnosis of alpha or beta thalassemia, with a microcytic picture (MCV low) and RBC high with a low Hgb).  The accuracy is very high because the anomaly detection used for classifying the data creates aggregates that have common features.  The aggregates themselves are consistent within separatory  rules that pertain to any class.  As the model grows, however, there is unknown potential for there to be prognostic, as well as diagnostic information within classes (subclasses), and a further potential to uncover therapeutic differences within classes – which will be made coherent with new classes of drugs (personalized medicine) that are emerging from the “convergence” of genomics, metabolomics, and translational biology.

The fact that such algorithms have already been used for limited data sets and unencumbered diagnoses in many cases using the approach of studies with inclusions and exclusions common for clinical trials, the approach has proved ever more costly when used outside the study environment.   The elephant in the room is age-related co-morbidities and co-existence of obesity, lipid derangements, renal function impairment, genetic and environmental factors that are hidden from view.  The approach envisioned is manageable, overcoming these obstacles, and handles both inputs and outputs with considerable ease.

We anticipate that the effect of implementing this artificial intelligence diagnostic amplifier would result in higher physician productivity at a time of great human resource limitation(s), safer prescribing practices, rapid identification of unusual patients, better assignment of patients to observation, inpatient beds, intemsive care, or referral to clinic, shortened length of patients ICU and bed days.  If the observation of systemic issues in “To err is human” is now 10 years old with marginal improvement at great cost, this should be a quantum leap forward for the patient, the physician, the caregiving team, and the society that adopts it.

 

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