Author Interviews, Bristol Myers Squibb, Cancer Research, Pharmaceutical Companies / 19.03.2020 Interview with: Anat Cohen-Dayag, Ph.D. President and CEO Compugen What is the background for this announcement? Would you discuss Compugen’s underlying cancer hypothesis regarding the targeting of multiple checkpoint pathways to enhance tumor response? Response: Cancer immunotherapy has revolutionized the landscape for cancer treatments by providing new drug options leading to lasting benefits for patients. Yet, response rates vary greatly across different cancer indications, leaving a significant unmet medical need for many patients and a continuing challenge to discover new biological pathways that can serve for the development of new cancer immunotherapies for non-responsive and refractory patients. Using a computational approach which is designed to discover new biological pathways and drug targets, we identified PVRIG as a novel immune checkpoint and a newly discovered inhibitory pathway in the DNAM axis. Our hypothesis is that PVRIG and TIGIT (another inhibitory pathway discovered by us and others) are two parallel and complementary inhibitory pathways in the DNAM axis and that in certain tumor types and patient populations, there may be a need to block both PVRIG and TIGIT in order to enhance anti-tumor immune responses. Moreover, reported molecular intersections between the DNAM axis and the PD-1 pathway, the most prevalent pathway targeted by approved immunotherapies, suggest that there is a linkage between these three pathways. As such, our PVRIG inhibitor may work in synergy with PD-1 and TIGIT inhibitors, suggesting that various drug combinations may be required to address these three pathways based on their dominance in different cancer patients and cancer indications. With this recently announced Phase 1/2 triple combination study, we will be directly testing our hypothesis of an intersection between the three parallel immune checkpoint pathways – PVRIG, TIGIT and PD-1 – and that the simultaneous blockade of these pathways has the potential to synergistically enhance anti-tumor immune response and expand the reach of cancer immunotherapy to patients non-responsive or refractory to approved immunotherapies.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Science, Surgical Research, Technology / 19.05.2019 Interview with: Haishan Zeng, PhDDistinguished ScientistImaging Unit - Integrative Oncology DepartmentBC Cancer Research CentreProfessor of Dermatology, Pathology, and Physics, University of British ColumbiaVancouver, BC, Canada Haishan Zeng, PhD Distinguished Scientist Imaging Unit - Integrative Oncology Department BC Cancer Research Centre Professor of Dermatology, Pathology, and Physics, University of British Columbia Vancouver, BC, Canada What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We developed a fast multiphoton microscope system that enables clinical imaging of the skin at the level of cellular resolution. With this system, we can see microstructures inside of the skin without cutting into it. We subsequently conceived the idea of directly treating the microstructures that are responsible for disease. We increased the laser power to generate intense localized heat to destroy the targeted structure. In this study, we demonstrated the feasibility of this new treatment by targeting and closing single blood vessels using our new microscope.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, MRI, Prostate Cancer / 21.03.2018 Interview with: Veeru Kasivisvanathan MBBS BSc MRCS MSc PGCert Lead for CPD, Division of Surgery and Interventional Science, UCL Academic Section Committee, British Association of Urological Surgeons Twitter: @veerukasi PRECISION Study Coordinator What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 
  • We knew that there were limitations in the standard of care pathway for the diagnosis of prostate cancer, TRUS biopsy which missed harmful cancers and over diagnosed harmless cancers.
  • Emerging reports in the literature showed that using an alternative diagnostic pathway, MRI and MRI-targeted biopsy, showed promising prostate cancer detection rates
  • In 2012 we set out in an international working group to design a study that could change clinical practice and replace the standard of care with a pathway involving MRI 
Author Interviews, Geriatrics, Heart Disease, Personalized Medicine, UCLA / 12.12.2017 Interview with: Joseph A. Ladapo, MD, PhD Principal Substudy Investigator, PRESET Registry Subgroup Analysis, Elderly Patients Associate Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research David Geffen School of Medicine University of California, Los Angeles What is the background for this study?  Response: The mapping of the Human Genome 14 years ago ushered in a new era of precision medicine. Many people are familiar with advances in oncology using precision medicine, but recently, new developments in precision medicine in cardiology have allowed us to develop a tool to differentiate patients likely to have obstructive coronary artery (CAD) from those who have non-cardiac causes of their symptoms. Diagnosing CAD in the elderly is challenging. Aging individuals often present with atypical symptoms of CAD which can complicate the evaluation process. The typical diagnostic pathway for possible CAD often starts with less invasive testing and progresses to invasive testing, especially in older patients. Invasive procedures pose greater risk in the elderly population than they do in younger patients because of the higher risk of side effects, including bleeding, vascular complications and kidney injury. Elderly adults evaluated for CAD have a higher pretest probability of CAD and are also at higher risk of experiencing procedure-related complications during their evaluation.[i],[ii] It is also important to note that elderly patients are often underrepresented in clinical trials and other types of comparative effectiveness research.[iii],[iv] For example, the 2013 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease Risk Algorithm is only formally approved to be used in individuals up to the age of 75, despite the fact that individuals exceeding this threshold in age experience higher rates of adverse cardiovascular events.[v] All of this means that the elderly population may have the most to gain from timely and accurate determination of their currently likelihood of obstructive CAD. This precision medicine tool, the age, sex and gene expression score (ASGES), and its clinical utility in the elderly population is the focus of this study. It was based on patient data from the PRESET Registry, a prospective, multicenter, observational study enrolling stable, symptomatic outpatients from 21 U.S. primary care practices from August 2012 to August 2014. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Cancer Research, JAMA / 29.12.2016 Interview with David A Mankoff, MD, PhD Gerd Muehllehner Professor of Radiology Attending Physician University of Pennsylvania Health System PET Center Director Vice-Chair of Research, Department of Radiology University of Pennsylvania What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This review was designed to describe the current status of molecular imaging, especially positron emission tomography (PET) as a clinical tool for helping to direct precision oncology. We found that while there had been a number of promising methods tested in small, single research studies, the number of new molecular imaging tests translated to the clinic was small. In addition, the application of molecular methods as tools for therapeutic decision making (versus use for disease detections and staging) was even smaller. We noted that some recently published studies, including a few large multi-center trials, indicated the considerable potential of new molecular imaging tests to identify therapeutic targets for cancer treatment, to evaluate early response to targeted cancer therapy, and to predict downstream outcomes such as progression free survival. We made some observations and recommendations in the review for directing these potentially powerful imaging tools towards use as biomarkers for precision oncology. (more…)
Author Interviews, Personalized Medicine, Technology / 16.11.2016 Interview with: Dr. Kezheng Chen Lab of Functional and Biomedical Nanomaterials College of Materials Science and Engineering Qingdao University of Science and Technology Qingdao China What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: From a view point of practical applications, superparamagnetism is usually highly desirable, because it can prevent the magnetic particles from irreversible aggregation and ensure an excellent dispersity once the applied magnetic field is removed. Up to now, the largest size of reported superparamagnetic clusters is around several hundreds of nanometers, which are composed of numerous nanocrystals, and hence exhibiting polycrystalline nature. In this sense, how to realize well pronounced superparamagnetism in large-size single crystals is of great interest to the general public. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Genetic Research, Personalized Medicine, UCLA / 24.01.2016 Interview with: Dr. Chirag Patil, MD American Board Certified Neurosurgeon Brain & Spine Tumor Program Lead Investigator, Precision Medicine Initiative Against Brain Cancer Program Director, Neurosurgical Residence training program Director, Center for Neurosurgical Outcomes Research Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California Editor’s note: Dr. Patil’s research is focused on developing a method of personalized cancer treatment through the harnessing of genome wide mutational analysis of a specific patient’s cancer. Would you tell us a little about yourself and your research interests? Dr. Patil: I am a Stanford-trained, Board Certified Neurosurgeon and cancer researcher at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. I primarily focus on the care of patients with malignant brain tumors, particularly glioblastomas. I received my undergraduate degree from Cornell, followed by a medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where I was a Regent’s scholar. I completed a residency in neurosurgery and a fellowship in stereotactic radiology at Stanford University. I also have a master’s degree in epidemiology with a focus on clinical trial design and mathematical modeling from Stanford. Can you tell us about some of your research interests? Dr. Patil: I am keenly interested in and focused on developing precision science-powered novel brain tumor therapies, immuno-therapies, and patient-centered “big data” outcomes research. I lead the recently-funded Cedars-Sinai Precision Medicine Initiative Against Brain Cancer, which utilizes tumor genomics to build a mathematical computer model, i.e., a virtual cancer cell of each patient’s unique tumor. The White House and several other stakeholders have taken keep interest in this research initiative as an example of a leading precision medicine program. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research / 13.07.2015 Interview with: Chun Chieh Fan Ph.D student USCD Cognitive Science and Professor Anders M. Dale Ph.D Department of Cognitive Science, Multimodal Imaging Laboratory, Department of Radiology University of California, San Diego School of Medicine La Jolla, CA 92037 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The shape of human skull is closely associated with the ancestral background. Forensics uses it for determining ethnicity. Anthropologists use it to infer neuroanatomical change in human evolution. Yet it is unclear the inner content of skull, human brain, contains how much information about individual’s ancestry. Our study found that different continental ancestries are associated with unique cortical folding patterns. Even for contemporary populations in modern day USA, a melting pot of ethnicities, cortical folding patterns are highly predictive of the percentage of each continental ancestry, as determined based on the person’s genotype. These shape differences between ancestral heritages are not necessarily related to brain function. It is highly possible that the shape differences are resulting from a random process accumulated along human history, without significant functional consequences. (more…)