AACR, Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Melanoma, NYU, Personalized Medicine, Wistar / 21.04.2015

Melissa Wilson, MD, PhD Assisstant Professor Perlmutter Cancer Center NYU Langone Medical Center New York, NYMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Melissa Wilson, MD, PhD Assisstant Professor Perlmutter Cancer Center NYU Langone Medical Center New York, NY Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Wilson: Metastatic cutaneous melanoma is an extremely aggressive form of skin cancer.  Traditionally, it has been characterized by clinicopathologic characteristics.  More recently, melanoma tumors have also been stratified by common somatic mutations for which targeted therapies have been developed or are under investigation, including BRAF, NRAS and KIT.  In addition to somatic mutations, aberrant intracellular signaling pathways and cell cycle disruption contribute to melanoma pathogenesis.  Indeed, recent next generation sequencing studies have identified a number of new genes involved in melanomagenesis.  A comprehensive evaluation and understanding of concurrent and mutually exclusive mutations in tumors has been lacking.  Therefore, we developed a comprehensive custom targeted capture of 108 genes previously implicated in melanoma pathogenesis.  We used the targeted panel to perform massively parallel sequencing on 94 well-established human melanoma cell lines, 67 patient-derived xenografts (PDX), and 5 cell lines made from PDX, all untreated. Samples were clustered based on deleterious mutations.  Eighty-three percent of samples had deleterious mutations in the MAPK signaling pathway (including BRAF, RAS) and NF1.  Ten percent of samples had PI3K pathway mutations which were predominantly associated with BRAF mutations.  TP53 was found to be mutated in 24% of the samples and were also associated with mutations in the MAPK pathway.  Mutations in chromatin remodeling genes were mutually exclusive with each other, but were associated with BRAF and NRAS mutations.  Of particular interest, five of the 10 NF1mutated samples harbored likely deleterious mutations in MAP3K5 or MAP3K9, suggesting the potential involvement of JNK signal transduction pathway in a cohort of samples. (more…)
Author Interviews, Duke, Personalized Medicine, Technology / 27.03.2015

Ryan Jeffrey Shaw, PhD, MS, RN Assistant Professor School of Nursing Center for Health Informatics Center for Precision Medicine Duke University MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ryan Jeffrey Shaw, PhD, MS, RN Assistant Professor School of Nursing Center for Health Informatics Center for Precision Medicine Duke University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Shaw: Primary care delivery revolves around a series of episodes, rather than functioning as a continuum. When patients come to a clinic data on their health is collected as a single data point. This model neglects potentially meaningful data from patients’ daily lives and results in less informed treatment and scheduling of follow-up visits. Lack of meaningful data further blinds clinicians to patients’ health outside of the clinic and can contribute to unnecessary emergency department visits and hospitalizations. Personalized care through mobile health technologies inspires the transition from isolated snapshots based on serial visits to real time and trended data. By using technologies from cell phones to wearable sensors, providers have the ability to monitor patients and families outside of the traditional office visit. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Melanoma, Personalized Medicine / 08.03.2015

Pedram Gerami MD Associate Professor of Dermatology and Pathology Northwestern UniversityMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Pedram Gerami MD Associate Professor of Dermatology and Pathology Northwestern University MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Gerami: The outcomes for patients with cutaneous melanoma are highly variable and there are limitations to the conventional staging system for melanoma. For example while the status of the sentinel lymph node biopsy is considered the strongest prognosticator, approximately 2/3 of cutaneous melanoma patients that ultimately die from their melanoma will have a negative sentinel lymph node biopsy result. In this study we showed that using a technique known as mRNA expression profiling to determine which genes are highly active and which are not that a molecular prognostic assay with accuracy could be developed. This assay can accurately classify patients based on their gene signature as having a high or low risk for metastasis and death from their melanoma. In an independent validation cohort, patients with a class I or low risk signature had a 5 year disease free survival rate of 97% while those with a class II or high risk signature had a 5 year disease free survival rate of only 31%. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Duke, Genetic Research, JAMA, Personalized Medicine / 05.03.2015

Dr. Michaela A. Dinan Ph.D Department of Medicine Duke UniversityMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Michaela A. Dinan Ph.D Department of Medicine Duke University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Dinan: We wanted to examine how  Oncotype DX® Breast Cancer Test (ODX) was being used in real-world practice at the population level. ODX has been examined in clinical trials and limited academic settings but we know that these patients are often younger, have fewer medical comorbidities, and do not necessarily accurately reflect the majority patients with cancer.  In our study, we observed that Oncotype DX® Breast Cancer Test was being used predominately in accordance with guidelines which recommend the test for women with estrogen-receptor positive, node negative disease. We also looked just at women under the age of 70 who met guideline criteria for testing, because this population would include those women who were more likely to be chemotherapy candidates, and we saw a rapid uptake of the test between 2005 and 2009, with use of the test increasing from 8% to 39%. (more…)
Genetic Research, MD Anderson, Melanoma, Personalized Medicine / 04.03.2015

Linda Chin, MD Department Chair, Department of Genomic Medicine, Division of Cancer Medicine The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, TXMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Linda Chin, MD Department Chair, Department of Genomic Medicine, Division of Cancer Medicine The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, TX Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Chin: BRAF inhibitors have worked very well against melanoma in the clinic, but when the tumors relapse on treatment, it is not always clear what causes it. Without this information, it can be difficult for doctors to identify specific second-line therapies likely to overcome the drug resistance. In this study, we used both mouse and patient melanoma samples to identify patterns of selected protein levels that can categorize modes of drug resistance when other assays such as DNA sequencing are uninformative. We hope that this information can provide missing clues for clinicians. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, MD Anderson, Nature, Personalized Medicine / 28.02.2015

Dr. Anil Sood MD Professor of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Anil Sood MD Professor of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? MedicalResearch: What is the background for this approach? What are the main findings? Dr. Sood: The background involves several different issues: management approaches have varied quite a bit across the US; definition of “optimal” surgery and rates of complete surgical removal of tumor (R0) have also varied. It is quite apparent that patients who benefit the most from surgery upfront are those who have removal of tumor resection. To address these issues, we have implanted a much more personalized approach whereby patients with suspected advanced ovarian cancer undergo laparoscopic assessment using a validated scoring system (based on the pattern and extent of disease noted during laparoscopic assessment); patients with a score <8 undergo upfront debulking surgery and those with a score ≥8 receive neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by surgery after 3-4 cycles. To date, this program has been fully implemented as part of the Moonshot Program at M.D. Anderson. This program has already resulted in several benefits – for example, prior to this algorithm being put into place among all patients with suspected advanced ovarian cancer, around 20% would have removal of tumor resection; after the implementation of the algorithm, of those going to upfront debulking surgery (after laparoscopic assessment), almost 85% of times removal of tumor resection can be achieved. Also, this method of treatment is allowing for new and innovative clinical trial designs. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Melanoma, NYU, Personalized Medicine / 24.02.2015

Iman Osman, MD Professor, Departments of Dermatology, Medicine and Urology Associate Director, NYU Cancer Institute  Director, Interdisciplinary Melanoma Program  New York University Langone Medical Center New York, NY 10016MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Iman Osman, MD Professor, Departments of Dermatology, Medicine and Urology Associate Director The Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center Director, Interdisciplinary Melanoma Program New York University Langone Medical Center New York, NY 10016 MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Osman: We were interested in exploring molecules that could be biomarkers or functional regulators of metastasis in melanoma in early-stage tumor lesions on the skin. Though these tumors are treated largely the same (by surgical removal ), patients with these tumors have vastly different outcomes (apparent cure vs. metastatic spread of the disease). The reasons for these disparities are unclear and we have little ability to identify or predict the patients that will be cured and those that won’t. We also don’t have much data to know even if these tumors have differences at the molecular level. Our findings indicate that there are molecular differences in these tumors and that some of these differences contribute to tumor spread.  (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Personalized Medicine / 18.02.2015

Sean M. Murphy, Ph.D. Assistant Professor  Department of Health Policy & Administration Washington State University MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sean M. Murphy, Ph.D. Assistant Professor  Department of Health Policy & Administration Washington State University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Murphy: Professional healthcare advice regarding excessive alcohol consumption has been shown to reduce demand in a controlled setting. However, success in a clinical trial isn’t always indicative of an intervention’s effectiveness in everyday use. Studies testing the effect of provider advice on alcohol demand in a non-controlled environment are few, and have failed to control for non-moderate drinkers.  Therefore, it is possible that the estimated effect of professional-health advice primarily reflected moderate-drinkers’ responses. The distinction between moderate and non-moderate drinkers is an important one, as society bears a large cost for those who consume above-moderate quantities, while moderate drinkers have been shown to be relatively productive and healthy. Excise taxes may not be efficient given that they impose negative externalities on moderate drinkers, while excessive drinkers have been shown to be relatively unresponsive to price increases. We found that personalized information from a healthcare professional was negatively associated with reported alcohol consumption among both “risky” and “binge" drinkers. Moreover, we found that personalized drinking advice may have an impact on those who are reluctant to state that they were given such advice. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Personalized Medicine / 13.02.2015

Prof. Jozef GECZMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. Jozef Gecz NH&MRC Senior Principal Research Fellow Professor of Human Genetics School of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health Faculty of Health Sciences The University of Adelaide at the Women's and Children's Hospital North Adelaide, SA Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Prof. Gecz: Cerebral palsy is the most frequent movement disorder of children for many years considered to be due to brain injury. Given that cerebral palsy incidence has not changed dramatically over many years while medical care is constantly improving, we look for other causes and specifically genetic mutation. By investigating 183 children with cerebral palsy and for many also one or both of their parents we find that for at least 14% of these we can find plausible explanation in genetic mutation being involved in the causation of their cerebral palsy. Importantly, we find that 10% of these mutations are de novo, which means that these mutations are not present in the parents (specifically in their blood as that is the tissue source we tested). 4% of mutations were inherited from unaffected mothers to affected sons. Previous estimates suggested 2% genetic contribution to Cerebral palsy. We now know that it is at least 14% and likely more. If you are looking for compensation for this condition, contact an Indiana cerebral palsy lawyer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Leukemia, NEJM, Personalized Medicine / 11.02.2015

David G. Kent, Ph.D From the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research and Wellcome Trust–Medical Research Council Stem Cell Institute University of CambridgeMedicalResearch.com Interview with: David G. Kent, Ph.D From the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research and Wellcome Trust–Medical Research Council Stem Cell Institute University of Cambridge Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Kent: Cancers are the result of the sequential acquisition of errors in the genetic code.  Most studies have focused on the sum of these mutations (e.g., A+B+C = cancer) but no study in patients has asked the question of whether or not the order of genetic mutations impacts the disease (e.g., does A to AB equal B to BA).  We studied patients with chronic blood disorders (known as myeloproliferative neoplasms, or MPNs) that are precursors to cancer to access the earliest stages of tumour development and studied whether or not the order of mutation acquisition impacted disease.  We studied patients with mutations in two genes (JAK2 and TET2) and showed that the order of acquisition of these mutations impacted timing of clinical presentation, disease subtype, frequency of thrombotic events, and differed in their response to targeted therapy in the lab. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, JAMA, Personalized Medicine / 09.02.2015

Andres Moreno De Luca, MD Investigator and Resident Physician Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute Department of Radiology Geisinger Health System Danville, PA 17822MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Andres Moreno De Luca, MD Investigator and Resident Physician Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute Department of Radiology Geisinger Health System Danville, PA 17822   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The main finding of our study is that family background contributes to the variability in cognitive, behavioral, and motor performance seen in children with 16p11.2 deletions, and perhaps other genetic syndromes, and this may be attributed in part to genetic background effects. In the general population the best predictor of a child’s outcomes in traits such as cognitive ability, height, BMI, etc. is the biparental mean performance in such domains and this is due in part to genetic background. For example, if a child’s parents have IQ scores of 130 and 110, it is expected that the child will have an IQ within 2 standard deviations of 120 (bi-parental mean). However, when studying individuals with genetic conditions, most researchers tend to overlook the influence of familial/genetic background on the affected child’s outcomes and commonly attribute the manifestations (or lack thereof) to the genetic mutation alone. This creates confusion when studying children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, which show significant clinical variability, as some children with a specific genetic mutation (e.g. deletion 16p11.2) may have intellectual disability without autism, while other children with the same mutation may have autism without intellectual disability. Based on these observations, some researchers have argued that deletion 16p11.2 is incompletely penetrant. However, our study showed that the 16p11.2 deletion has a detrimental effect on cognitive and behavioral performance for all children, but the clinical status (affected vs. unaffected) and ultimate performance level is influenced by the parental performance. (more…)