Gene Dosage at 22q11.2 Helps Determine Schizophrenia vs Autism Brain Differences

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Carrie Bearden, Ph.D. Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Psychology Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Bearden

Carrie Bearden, Ph.D.
Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Psychology
Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior
University of California, Los Angeles

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: A 22q11.2 deletion confers the highest known genetic risk for schizophrenia, but a duplication in the same region is strongly associated with autism and is less common in schizophrenia cases than in the general population.

Thus, we became interested in trying to understand whether there were differences in brain development that might predispose to one condition vs. the other.

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Familial History Improves Predictive Value of TOMM40 Gene in Alzheimer’s Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Auriel Willette, M.S., Ph.D. Assistant Professor Departments of Food Science and Human Nutrition and Psychology Iowa State University

Dr. Willette

Auriel Willette, M.S., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Departments of Food Science and Human Nutrition and Psychology
Iowa State University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Translocase of Outer Mitochondrial Membrane 40 (TOMM40) is a gene that regulates the width of the outer mitochondrial pore, facilitating the transport of ribosomal pre-proteins into the inner mitochondrial matrix for translational modification into functional proteins. In 2010, Dr. Allen Roses, who discovered the Apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene, Dr. Michael Lutz, and other colleagues found that a variation in poly-T length at locus rs10524523 (‘523) within intron 6 predicted Alzheimer’s disease onset. Specifically, a “long” versus “short” poly-T length was related to earlier age of onset by 8 years.

However, several multi-cohort studies either failed to replicate the findings or found the opposite relationship, where a “long” or “very long” poly-T length was related to later age of onset. The literature has remained mixed to this day.

We were interested in testing factors that might change the relationship between TOMM40 and both cognitive decline and risk for having Alzheimer’s disease. It is known that a family history (FH) of Alzheimer’s disease has been associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. We reasoned, then, that FH may interact with TOMM40 to modulate how it was related to our outcomes of interest. We investigated this hypothesis in two separate cohorts: the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (WRAP), a late middle-aged cohort, and the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), a well-characterized sample of aged participants from across the Alzheimer’s spectrum.

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Genomic Profile Can Improve Confidence in Active Surveillance of Prostate Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Bela S. Denes, MD, FACS Senior Director Medical Affairs UROLOGY Genomic Health Inc. Redwood City, CA. 94063

Dr. Bela S. Denes

Bela S. Denes, MD, FACS
Senior Director Medical Affairs
UROLOGY
Genomic Health Inc.
Redwood City, CA. 94063

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: This is a prospective community based non-interventional study designed to provide information on the utility of Oncotype GPS in the management of men presenting with a new diagnosis of clinically localized low risk prostate cancer. We sought to understand the impact of incorporating a molecular marker into the shared treatment decision in practices already well versed in Active Surveillance (AS) as measured by persistence on surveillance at 2 years as well as a number of patient reported outcomes. The current publication reports on the results of a one year pre-specified interim analysis.

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Malignancies More Common In Men With BRCA Germline Mutations

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Roy Mano, MD and
David Margel, MD, PhD
Department of Urology, Rabin Medical Center
Petach Tikva, Israel

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: According to previous reports, male BRCA mutation carriers have a higher risk of developing malignancies of the prostate, pancreas, breast, colon and melanoma. While malignancy screening protocols for female BRCA carriers are well established and widely implemented, little is known about the optimal screening protocol for male BRCA carriers, and current screening protocols focus on malignancies of the breast and prostate rather than offer a comprehensive screening protocol for all BRCA associated malignancies.

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TeloView Measures Genomic Stability To Predict Disease Aggressiveness

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

3D SignaturesJason Flowerday, CEO
Director of 3D Signatures 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for 3D Signatures?

Response: 3D Signatures, and its clinical lab tests, which incorporate its proprietary TeloViewTM software analytics, is the culmination of over 20 years of ground-breaking research conducted by Dr. Sabine Mai and her colleagues. It is the only technology in the world that quantifies genomic instability, which is the hallmark of cancer and other proliferative diseases at the whole-cell level.

By measuring the degree of genomic instability from different tissues, TeloViewTM has produced clinically actionable distinctions in the stage of disease, rate of progression of disease, drug efficacy, and drug toxicity. The technology is well developed and supported by 22 clinical studies on over 2,000 patients on 13 different cancers including Alzheimer’s disease. The results have been exceptional and represent a universal biomarker platform across all disease areas that the company has investigated to date.

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Gene Delivered By Nanoparticle System Can Potentially Cure Congenital Blindness

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Zheng-Rong Lu, Ph.D.

M. Frank Rudy and Margaret Domiter Rudy Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, OH 44106

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Genetic vision disorders are a major cause of severe vision loss and blindness, especially in children and young adults. Currently, there are no approved therapies to treat these types of disorders.

This study focused on one such disease known as Leber’s congenital amaurosis type 2 (LCA2). Patients with LCA2 are born with some degree of vision loss, and are often legally blind by early adulthood. LCA2 is a recessive disease caused by a mutation in one of the genes responsible for visual processing. LCA2 is a good candidate for gene therapy, and clinical trials underway to test viral vectors that deliver a healthy copy of the mutated gene into the eye have demonstrated considerable therapeutic efficacy. These trials have validated the feasibility of gene therapy to treat this disease, however viral vectors are limited by potential safety issues, complex preparation methods, and limitations on the size of genes that can be delivered.

In this study, we successfully treated LCA2 in mice for 120 days by delivering the gene responsible for LCA2 in a synthetic lipid nanoparticle instead of a viral vector. Our delivery system, called ECO, specifically targets the cells in the retinal pigmented epithelium, where the mutation behind LCA2 occurs. Our nanoparticle delivery system is easy to produce, safe, and has unlimited cargo capacity. Most important, our nanoparticle gene delivery system is a platform that can be used to deliver any gene into the retina, opening the door for safe and effective gene therapy for any genetic vision disorder.

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Gene-silencing RNAs Targeting CTNNB1 and PD-L1 May Attack a Variety of Cancers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Youzhi Li

Vice President at Boston Biomedical 

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: RNAi (RNA interference) technology has the potential to target any genes causing disease, including conventionally “undruggable” targets in cancer. One particularly interesting RNAi target in oncology is the CTNNBI oncogene, which encodes the β-Catenin protein whose nuclear form acts as a transcription factor promoting tumorigenesis. Aberrant β-Catenin signaling has been demonstrated in 90 percent of colorectal carcinomas, 40 percent of hepatocellular carcinoma, and 90 percent of non-ductal pancreatic carcinomas. Recent research also suggests active β-Catenin contributes to tumor immune evasion and to the recurrence of melanoma in patients post the check-point blockage immunotherapy.

However, the direct blockade of β-Catenin activity has proved difficult with conventional approaches. While the application of traditional RNAi technology has the potential to block this pathway, in clinical cancer therapy, this approach has proven challenging due to the difficulty in systemic delivery of RNAi to tumor sites located in various organs.

We have recently developed BBI-801, a lipid-based nanoparticle that encapsulates therapeutic aiRNAs targeting CTNNB1 and PD-L1 to simultaneously target immune evasion via both these pathways. Here, we investigate the in vivo delivery and anti-tumor activity of BBI-801.

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Do Our Genes Influence Our Attraction to Social Media?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Chance York, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Mass Communication Kent State University

Dr. Chance York

Chance York, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Mass Communication
Kent State University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This research used twin study survey data from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) to investigate the relative influence of genetics and environment on social media use.

While the research cannot directly examine the gene-level influence on social media behavior, I was able to leverage known levels of genetic relatedness between identical and fraternal twins to suss out how much genetic traits and environmental factors impact frequency of using social media.

The results showed that between one- and two-thirds of variance in social media use is explained by genes, while environmental factors (parental socialization, peers, work, school, individual characteristics, etc.) explained the rest. In other words, this very specific communication behavior—social media use—is partially guided by our genetic makeup.

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GeneStrat Test Provides Quick Analysis of Genetic Lung Cancer Mutations

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Hestia Mellert, PhD

Director, Molecular Product Development
Biodesix: Making Medicine Personal
Boulder, CO

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Identifying specific genetic mutations in non-small cell lung cancer patients helps clinicians choose the best treatment options; specific therapies that target mutations can improve patient outcomes, including reducing the risk of death or lessening the severity of the disease. However, nearly 80% of cancer patients do not have genetic mutation results available at initial oncology consultation; up to 25% of patients begin treatment before receiving their results. These factors hinder physicians’ ability to pursue optimal treatment strategies.

This study found that a blood-based assay, the GeneStrat test, provides results in 72 hours for 94% of patients, which expands testing options, and supports faster treatment decisions by physicians.

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Proove Opioid Risk Profile Predictive of Opioid Use Disorder

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Maneesh Sharma, M.D</strong> Director of Pain Medicine MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Director of the Interventional Pain Institute Baltimore, Maryland

Dr. Maneesh Sharma

Maneesh Sharma, M.D
Director of Pain Medicine
MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
Medical Director of the Interventional Pain Institute
Baltimore, Maryland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Opioid abuse in chronic pain patients is a major public health issue, with rapidly increasing addiction rates and deaths from unintentional overdose more than quadrupling since 1999. Just in the last year alone according to the CDC, synthetic opioid deaths have increased 72%. As a practicing interventional pain specialist, I am confronted with the challenge of assessing patient risk for opioids as I evaluate multi-modal approaches to effective pain management. Existing tools are inadequate, as they either rely on a urine toxicology test to evaluate a patient’s current potential substance abuse as a predictor of future abuse, or on a patient’s honesty to fill out a questionnaire. We know that many patients who are not currently abusing illicit drugs or misusing prescription medications can develop prescription opioid tolerance, dependence, or abuse—especially with prolonged opioid therapy. Furthermore, we know that patients who are looking to abuse medications or divert those prescriptions will obviously lie on questionnaires.
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Trunk and Branch Drivers Distinguish Early vs Late Mutations in Hepatocellular Carcinoma

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sara Torrecilla Recio

PhD Student
Mount Sinai Liver Cancer Program – Division of Liver Diseases Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
New York, NY

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of primary liver cancer, which represents the second-leading cause of cancer related death worldwide. The landscape of molecular alterations in HCC has been thoroughly explored using next-generation sequencing technologies in single biopsies of tumors. However, in the recent years it has been demonstrated that not all the regions of a tumor harbor the same molecular alterations. This intra-tumor heterogeneity may lead to a misinterpretation of the molecular landscape of the malignancy since not all the molecular alterations would be captured by single-biopsies.

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Gene Linked To X-linked Intellectual Disability Identified In Less Than A Day

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Daryl Armstrong Scott, M.D., Ph.D
Associate Professor
Molecular and Human Genetics
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX, US

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This case started with a male child with intellectual disability, developmental delay, hypotonia, hypermobile joints and relative macrocephaly (large head size). Clinical testing showed that he carried a small deletion on chromosome Xp11.22. Since the deleted region had not been previously associated with human disease, the patient was referred to our clinic for additional testing. However, a more detailed analysis revealed that mice that were missing one of the genes located in the deletion interval, Maged1, had neurocognitive and neurobehavioral problems. This sparked additional inquiries which resulted in the identification of three other males from two other families who carried small, overlapping Xp11.22 deletions and had similar features. In all cases, their deletions were inherited from their asymptomatic mothers.

We concluded that deletion of an ~430 kb region on chromosome Xp11.22 that encompasses two pseudogenes (CENPVL1 and CENPVL2) and two protein-coding genes (MAGED1 and GSPT2) causes a novel, syndromic form of X-linked intellectual disability characterized by developmental delay, hypotonia, hypermobile joints and relative macrocephaly.

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