New Platform Aims To Improve Cancer Markers Braf p.V600E/K Mutations

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Thurai Moorthy Ph.D.</strong> President, MultiGEN Diagnostics Greensboro, NC 27405

Dr. Moorthy

Thurai Moorthy Ph.D.
President, MultiGEN Diagnostics
Greensboro, NC 27405

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

Response: As more cancer related genetic markers are reported, there is a need for appropriate molecular tests to meet clinical expectations. These expectations include detection at very low amount in a heterogeneous cell population, such as Formalin Fixed Paraffin embedded (FFPE) tumor biopsies.

Braf p.V600E/K mutations are cancer-specific markers found in a variety of cancers. There are several drugs in use, and more drugs are being developed, which are prescribed only to those patients whose tumor carries either of these (Braf p.V600E/K) mutations.

Hence, detection of Braf p. V600E/K is critical in the treatment of cancer patients. In this regard, we developed a new platform technology, Allele Specific Multiplex Sequencing (ASMS, for the detection of cancer markers from biopsy samples. As a demonstration project, we tested the new platform technology for the detection of Braf p.V600E/K using tumor samples (FFPE) previously tested by two presently used methods.

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Rapid Rule-Out of Acute Myocardial Infarction With a Single High-Sensitivity Cardiac Troponin T Measurement

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Martin P. Than, MBBS
Emergency Department, Christchurch Hospital and
Dr John W Pickering, PhD
Associate Professor Senior Research Fellow in Acute Care
Emergency Care Foundation, Canterbury Medical Research Foundation, Canterbury District Health Board | Christchurch Hospital
Research Associate Professor | Department of Medicine | University of Otago
Christchurch New Zealand

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

Response: Patients being investigated for possible acute coronary syndrome comprise one of the largest groups of patients presenting to emergency rooms. Troponin assays have developed such that they can now measure with greater accuracy much lower concentrations of troponin. A large retrospective registry based study and a couple of smaller prospective studies suggested that patients with a very low concentrations of troponin T (below the current limit of detection of 5 ng/L) measured with Roche Diagnostic’s high-sensitivity troponin T (hsTnT) assay on presentation to the emergency department (ie single blood draw) are very unlikely to be having a myocardial infarction (MI).

Our study gathers the current best evidence for using concentrations below the limit of detection in conjunction with no evidence of new ischaemia on ECG to safely risk stratify patients to a very low-risk group for MI and, therefore, potentially identify patients safe for early discharge.

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Pre-Clinical Study of Tbit™ System for Detection of Traumatic Brain Injury

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sergey A. Dryga, PhD, MBA Chief Scientific Officer BioDirection, Inc.

Dr. Sergey Dryga

Sergey A. Dryga, PhD, MBA
Chief Scientific Officer
BioDirection, Inc. 

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

Response: When patients have suffered a head injury, they typically undergo a series of subjective cognitive tests to confirm a diagnosis of a concussion or other traumatic brain injury. In many cases these tests are inaccurate and inconsistent, increasing the risk of misdiagnosis. In other cases, patients may undergo an unnecessary CT scan, which is costly and exposes them to radiation. Early, objective diagnostic testing of patients who have experienced a head injury can support more rapid and appropriate treatment decisions while potentially reducing the use of unnecessary CT scans or other forms of intervention.

We know that protein biomarkers, including S100 calcium binding protein beta (S100β) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), are released from the brain into the bloodstream immediately following a concussion or other traumatic brain injury. The Tbit™ System is a new medical device based on a nanotechnology biosensor that rapidly detects and accurately measures these protein biomarkers. The system includes a disposable cartridge and portable analyzer designed for testing using a single drop of blood at the earliest stages of a concussion.

This pre-clinical study was designed to evaluate the ability of the Tbit System to screen traumatic brain injury patients for a CT positive or CT negative test. Frozen plasma samples were collected from a total of 100 patients who had undergone CT scans post hospital admission. The Tbit System demonstrated 100% sensitivity with no false negative results, and a 41% specificity level.

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First Diagnostic Blood Test for Coronary Artery Plaque Detection

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Szilard Voros, MD, FACC, FSCCT, FAHA CEO of Global Genomics Group

Dr. Voros

Szilard Voros, MD, FACC, FSCCT, FAHA
CEO of Global Genomics Group 

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

Response: Atherosclerotic coronary artery disease (ASCAD) is the leading cause of death and morbidity in the United States and worldwide, despite relatively successful medical therapies such as statins, like Zocor or Lipitor. A significant majority of patients with ASCAD present with sudden cardiac arrest, and the clinical evaluation of those patients who present with chest pain to their physicians is very inefficient. Based on current clinical guidelines, patients who present to their physician with complaints of new onset chest pain or its equivalent, such as exertional dyspnea should be assessed for the probability of the presence of significant ASCAD based on simple clinical predictors. Approximately 60% of such patients have an intermediate probability, and they are typically referred for initial non-invasive evaluation, such as a stress test with cardiac imaging, or for some other type of non-invasive test. Strikingly, no more that 5% of such stress tests performed in the United States are actually positive, and even when patients with positive stress test are taken for invasive coronary angiography, no more than 40% have significant ASCAD.

A blood test that could serve as first step, as a “gatekeeper”, to non-invasive evaluation, would be highly desirable. Global Genomics Group, or G3, has performed one of the largest, unbiased, mass-spectrometry-based discovery studies in over 1,000 patients who underwent detailed cardiac CT to assess the presence or absence of ASCAD, by measuring over 1,000 metabolites from the blood. Using sophisticated bioinformatics tools, the researchers identified 8 important metabolites that were significantly abnormal in patients with ASCAD, and generated a biomarker signature for the detection of ASCAD based on those analytes, called “knowPLAQUETM”. The biomarker signature was generated in approximately 800 subjects, and was validated in an independent set of approximately 400 subjects, showing an area under the curve (“AUC”) of 0.82 for the diagnosis of Atherosclerotic coronary artery disease. This biomarker signature can be adapted relatively easily on commercial mass spectrometry platforms, and the researchers anticipate that this signature may be available for physicians to use by 2018. In addition to its diagnostic power, this biomarker signature also has uncovered important biological insights for the development of ASCAD, which can be leveraged for therapeutic purposes.

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Biomarker VCAM-1 Associated With New Onset Atrial Fibrillation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Stefan Kiechl, MD and
Karin Willeit, MD
Department of Neurology
Medical University Innsbruck
Innsbruck, Austria 

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

Response: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia and a major contributor to thromboembolic stroke and population morbidity and mortality. Aside from well-established risk factors such as age, heart failure, and hypertension, inflammation has been suggested to play a significant role in the pathogenesis of AF. This is evidenced by histologic studies that found marked inflammatory infiltrates in atrial biopsies of AF patients and by epidemiological studies demonstrating an association of circulatory inflammation markers with incident AF. Of note, an increased endocardial expression of vascular intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1), a mediator of leukocyte trafficking, during rapid atrial pacing was demonstrated which was shown to contribute to an inflammatory and prothrombotic environment within atrial tissue.

Because it is still unclear whether inflammation related to AF is primarily a systemic or localized phenomenon, we sought to examine the association of 13 baseline inflammation markers with incident atrial fibrillation in the prospective population-based Bruneck Study and to replicate key findings in a second cohort, the SAPHIR Study.

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ALS: Urinary p75ECD as a Prognostic, Disease Progression, and Pharmacodynamic Biomarker

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Mary-Louise Rogers, PhD Senior Research Fellow, Lab Head, Motor Neurone Disease and Neurotrophic Research Laboratory, Department of Human Physiology, Centre for Neuroscience, Flinders University, School of Medicine, South Australia, Australia

Dr. Rogers

Mary-Louise Rogers, PhD
Senior Research Fellow, Lab Head,
Motor Neurone Disease and Neurotrophic Research Laboratory,
Department of Human Physiology,
Centre for Neuroscience,
Flinders University, School of Medicine,
South Australia, Australia

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

Response: ALS is a fatal neurodegenerative disease in which motor neurons, cells that control muscle activity such as walking, talking and breathing, gradually die off, resulting in paralysis. There is no cure for ALS.

In a groundbreaking study published in the journal Neurology, and led by Mary-Louise Rogers, Ph.D., senior research fellow at Flinders University, Australia, and Michael Benatar, M.D., Ph.D, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine,  have identified concentrations of p75ECD, the extracellular domain on the common neurotrophin receptor p75, as the first biological fluid-based biomarker for ALS progression. .

Neurotrophin receptor p75 is a growth factor receptor for neurotrophins whom promote the survival of nerve cells. Under normal circumstances, it is highly expressed on motor neurons during development but decreases after birth. Following nerve injury, however, the expression of p75 is increased and the extracellular domain of p75 is detectable in urine. Dr Rogers and her Doctoral student Stephanie Shepheard hypothesized and then showed, that p75ECD is excreted into the urine of SOD1 mice, the most commonly used animal model of ALS. These findings empowered further investigation of p75ECD, showing raised levels in the urine of patients with ALS and that it might have potential as an ALS biomarker.

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Gene “Decorations” Can Serve as Blood Biomarkers To Detect Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kun Zhang, PhD Professor UCSD Department of Bioengineering La Jolla, CA 92093-0412

Dr. Kun Zhang

Kun Zhang, PhD
Professor
UCSD Department of Bioengineering
La Jolla, CA 92093-0412

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

Response: We have been interested in a type of chemical modification on the DNA, called CpG methylation, for years. This is like a decoration of DNA molecules that is specific to the cell type or tissue type. We were particularly interested in studying how such decoration spread along the DNA molecules. In this study, we did a very comprehensive search of the entire human genome for various human cell types and tissue types, and found close to 150,000 regions (called MHB in this study) in which adjacent CpG share the same decoration. We then went on to find out how many of such regions are unique to each normal cell/tissue type, and how many are specific to cancers. Then we took some of these highly informative regions as “biomarkers”, and showed that we can detect the absence or presence of cancer, and, in the latter case, where the tumor grow, in a patient’s blood.

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Sleep Duration and Exhaled Nitric Oxide in Asthma and Health Adults

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Rauno Joks, MD

Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine
Chief, Division of Allergy & Immunology
Program Director, Allergy &Immunology Fellowship
SUNY Downstate Medical Center

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

Response: There are circadian and circannular patterns to many diseases, including allergy and asthma. Humans spend roughly one-third of their lifetimes asleep. Your immune system never sleeps, but shifts its activity when you sleep.

It is known that asthma disease activity can be worse at night – the reasons for this are complex, and may involve changes in allergic responses.

We found, in a preliminary study of both adults with and without asthma, that longer duration of nighttime sleep was associated with lower levels of exhaled nitric oxide, a biomarker which is elevated in exhaled breath of those with allergic asthma. This may carry over into the afternoon as well, but the sample size was too small to fully conclude that.

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Genetic Defect in DNA Repair Enzyme Linked to Prostate Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
G. Andrés Cisneros, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Chemistry Center for Advanced Scientific Computing and Modeling, University of North Texas

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

Response: The accurate maintenance of DNA is crucial, if DNA damage is not addressed it can lead to various diseases including cancer. Therefore, the question arises about what happens if enzymes in charge of DNA repair are themselves mutated. We previously developed a method to perform targeted searches for cancer-related SNPs on genes of interest called HyDn-SNP-S. This method was applied to find prostate-cancer SNPs on DNA dealkylases in the ALKB family of enzymes.

Our results uncovered a particular mutation on ALKBH7, R191Q, that is significantly associated with prostate cancer. Subsequent computer simulations and experiments indicate that this cancer mutation results in a decreased ability of ALKBH7 to bind its co-factor, thus impeding its ability to perform its native function.

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Prostate Cancer: Genetic Biomarker Predicts Response To Androgen Deprivation Therapy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Neeraj Agarwal, MD Associate Professor, Division of Oncology, Department of Medicine University of Utah School of Medicine

Dr. Neeraj Agarwal

Neeraj Agarwal, MD
Associate Professor, Division of Oncology, Department of Medicine
University of Utah School of Medicine

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

Response: Biomarkers predicting response to cancer therapy help guide physicians personalize medicine. Significant advances have been made in the development of therapeutic biomarkers in various malignancies, but not in prostate cancer. Dr. Nima Sharifi’s group at the Cleveland Clinic recently discovered that a germline inherited polymorphic variant (1245A→C) in the HSD3B1 gene correlates with shorter duration of response to androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) in hormone sensitive prostate cancer (HSPC). HSD3B1 gene encodes the enzyme 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-1 (3βHSD1), which catalyzes adrenal androgen precursors into dihydrotestosterone, the most potent androgen.

The authors found that the variant allele of HSD3B1 led to decreased progression-free survival in a dose-dependent manner in post-prostatectomy biochemical recurrence and metastatic HSPC (mHSPC). These results needed external validation before application in the clinic. In our study, we sought to provide the first independent validation of these results in patients with mHSPC.

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Roles of Angiotensin Peptides and Recombinant Human ACE2 in Heart Failure

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Gavin Y Oudit, MD, PhD, FRCPC Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta Clinician-Scientist, Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute Canada Research Chair in Heart Failure Division of Cardiology, 2C2 Walter Mackenzie Health Sciences Centre Edmonton, Alberta

Dr. Gavin Oudit

Gavin Y Oudit, MD, PhD, FRCPC
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta
Clinician-Scientist
Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute
Canada Research Chair in Heart Failure
Division of Cardiology
Edmonton, Alberta

Heart specialist Gavin Oudit and his research team discovered a molecule — angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2)—that works to restore balance to the pathways responsible for chronic and acute heart failure, including in hearts from patients with advanced heart failure who underwent heart transplants.

In developing the new drug, Oudit and his team discovered to an extent not seen before how the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), which regulates the body’s sodium balance, fluid volume, and blood pressure, is at play in both acute and chronic heart failure. In collaboration with Dr. Oudit, recombinant human ACE2 was made by Apeiron Biologics, purchased by GlaxoSmithKline, and has recently completed phase II clinical trial.

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New ‘Blood Biopsies’ with Experimental Device to Speed Cancer Diagnosis and Predict Disease Spread

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Edwin Posadas, MD, FACP, KM Director, Translational Oncology Program Medical Director, Urologic Oncology Program Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute

Dr. Edwin Posadas

Edwin Posadas, MD, FACP, KM
Director, Translational Oncology Program
Medical Director, Urologic Oncology Program
Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute
Clinical Chief, Division of Hematology/Oncology
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine
Cedars-Sinai

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings of your work so far?

Response: The technology we are using is called a NanoVelcro assay. This is a nanotechnology that can be used to isolate rare cells and cell-like particles in the blood stream. We have focused the use of the NanoVelcro on isolating circulating tumor cells (or CTCs). This technology is about 10 times more sensitive than that currently used in clinics. More importantly, because of some modification in our approach, we can now not only capture CTCs, but also examine them under the microscope and even analyze them using advanced molecular techniques. In this way, we take a classic and modern approach to our work.

We firmly believe that there is much to be learned by studying the shapes of these CTCs. We in the cancer field have long known that shape and cellular function are intimately related. In fact, a young pathologist in our group readily recognized that patients with the most aggressive cancers had CTCs with small nuclei, which we verified in a larger study. We are now exploring the importance of these shape variations in CTCs by coupling this classic microscopy-driven approach with RNA characterizations, giving us insight into the molecular nature of the CTC. My collaborator, UCLA Professor Hsian-Rong Tseng, PhD, is a brilliant engineer who has found ways of altering the system to allow us to capture and release live cells for analysis. By using this system, we believe that one day we may be able to avoid performing invasive tissue biopsies to study a cancer.

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