New Prostate Cancer Specific Assay May Reduce Need For Biopsies Interview with:

Eric A. Klein, MD</strong> Chairman, Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute Cleveland Clinic

Dr. Klein

Eric A. Klein, MD
Chairman, Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute
Cleveland Clinic Which of these results did you find most interesting or surprising?

Response: What’s most interesting is that the IsoPSA assay redefines how PSA is measured, which links it more closely to the underlying biology of cancer. Current assays measure only the concentration of PSA, which can be affected by conditions other than cancer – BPH most commonly, but also infection and inflammation – which limits its diagnostic accuracy for finding cancer. Its been known for several decades that PSA exists in multiple different forms in the bloodstream in patients with prostate cancer.

These novel molecules arise because cancer cells have deranged cellular metabolism that result in the generation of new species of PSA, making their measurement more tightly linked to the presence or absence of cancer and even the presence of high grade cancer (where cellular metabolism is even more disordered).

The IsoPSA assay is the first assay to measure all of these isoforms and thus has better diagnostic accuracy for cancer.

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TeloView Measures Genomic Stability To Predict Disease Aggressiveness Interview with:

3D SignaturesJason Flowerday, CEO
Director of 3D Signatures 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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Saliva Test Can Predict Concussion Duration in Children Interview with:

Steven Daniel Hicks, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Division of Academic General Pediatrics College of Medicine Penn State Health

Dr. Hicks

Steven Daniel Hicks, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Division of Academic General Pediatrics
College of Medicine
Penn State Health What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There are about 3 million concussions in the US each year and the majority occur in children. Parents of children with concussions commonly cite length of recovery as a major concern, but pediatricians have no objective or accurate tests for addressing this concern.

Our research group previously identified small regulatory molecules called microRNAs that were altered in both the spinal fluid and saliva in children with traumatic brain injuries. In this study we investigated whether those microRNAs could predict duration of concussion symptoms. In 52 children with concussion we found a set of microRNAs that predict whether concussion symptoms would last beyond one month with over 80% accuracy. This was significantly more accurate than survey based tools such as the sports concussion assessment tool or a modified concussion clinical risk score. Interestingly, the microRNAs with predictive accuracy targeted pathways involved in brain repair and showed correlations with specific concussion symptoms.

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Granzyme B Probe Plus PET Scanning Helps Determine Response To Immunotherapy Interview with:

Ben Larimer, PhD research fellow in lab of Umar Mahmood, MD, PhD Massachusetts General Hospital Professor, Radiology, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Ben Larimer

Ben Larimer, PhD research fellow in lab of
Umar Mahmood, MD, PhD

Massachusetts General Hospital
Professor, Radiology, Harvard Medical School What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Although immunotherapies such as checkpoint inhibitors have revolutionized cancer treatment, unfortunately they only work in a minority of patients. This means that most people who are put on a checkpoint inhibitor will not benefit but still have the increased risk of side effects. They also lose time they could have spent on other therapies. The ability to differentiate early in the course of treatment patients who are likely to benefit from immunotherapy from those who will not greatly improves individual patient care and helps accelerate the development of new therapies.

The main purpose of our study was to find a way to separate immunotherapy responders from non-responders at the earliest time point possible, and develop an imaging probe that would allow us to distinguish this non-invasively.

Granzyme B is a protein that immune cells use to actually kill their target. They keep it locked up in special compartments until they get the right signal to kill, after which they release it along with another protein called perforin that allows it to go inside of tumor cells and kill them. We designed a probe that only binds to granzyme B after it is released from immune cells, so that we could directly measure immune cell killing. We then attached it to a radioactive atom that quickly decays, so we could use PET scanning to noninvasively image the entire body to see where immune cells were actively releasing tumor-killing granzyme B.

We took genetically identical mice and gave them identical cancer and then treated every mouse with checkpoint inhibitors, which we knew would result in roughly half of the mice responding, but we wouldn’t know which ones until their tumors began to shrink. A little over a week after giving therapy to the mice, and before any of the tumors started to shrink, we injected our imaging probe and performed PET scans. When we looked at the mice by PET imaging, they fell into two groups. One group had high PET uptake, meaning high levels of granzyme B in the tumors, the other group had low levels of PET signal in the tumors. When we then followed out the two groups, all of the mice with high granzyme B PET uptake ended up responding to the therapy and their tumors subsequently disappeared, whereas those with low uptake had their tumors continue to grow.

We were very excited about this and so we expanded our collaboration with co-authors Keith Flaherty and Genevieve Boland to get patient samples from patients who were on checkpoint inhibitor therapy to see if the same pattern held true in humans. When we looked at the human melanoma tumor samples we saw the same pattern, high secreted granzyme levels in responders and much lower levels in non-responders.

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New Platform Aims To Improve Cancer Markers Braf p.V600E/K Mutations 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 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 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 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 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. 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 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 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 Interview with:
Stefan Kiechl, MD and
Karin Willeit, MD
Department of Neurology
Medical University Innsbruck
Innsbruck, Austria 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 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 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 Interview with:

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

Dr. Kun Zhang

Kun Zhang, PhD
UCSD Department of Bioengineering
La Jolla, CA 92093-0412 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 Interview with:
Rauno Joks, MD

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