Wednesday, November 25, 2015

CU Cancer Center study reports 'robust antitumor activity' of TAK-733 drug in mouse models of colorectal cancer

In continuation of my update on TAK-733

A University of Colorado Cancer Center study recently published online ahead of print in the journal Oncotarget reports "robust antitumor activity" of the drug TAK-733 in cells and mouse models of colorectal cancer. In all, 42 of 54 tested cell lines were sensitive to the drug, as were 15 of 20 tumors grown on mice from patient samples. Nine of these patient-derived tumors showed regression, meaning that tumor tumors shrank in response to the drug.

"This was a large preclinical study that showed good activity for the drug and gave preliminary evidence for a potential biomarker that could predict which tumors would respond best to the drug," says Christopher Lieu, MD, investigator at the CU Cancer Center and assistant professor of medical oncology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Specifically, the drug intercedes in the MAPK signaling pathway, a cascade of cellular communication that controls cell growth and survival and is frequently altered in many cancers (especially including melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, and colorectal cancer). The drug does this by silencing an essential link in this signaling chain, namely the molecule MEK. Without activity of the MEK kinase, MAPK signaling cannot occur and instead of surviving and proliferating, cancer cells dependent on this pathway die.

A handful of successful MEK kinase inhibitors exist, including trametinib and selumetinib.

"The preclinical results for TAK-733 were fairly impressive. We had high hopes that TAK-733 could be a next-generation MEK inhibitor that might support or replace the use of current drugs," Lieu says.

The study seemed a perfect precursor to a human clinical trial of TAK-733 in colorectal cancer.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sense oligonucleotide antidote reverses actions of antisense antithrombotic drug, prevents bleeding

Researchers from Isis Pharmaceuticals (Carlsbad, CA) and Prysis Biotechnologies (Pudong, Shanghai, China) have demonstrated proof-of-concept for using a sense oligonucleotide to undo the effects of an antisense drug, an antithrombotic agent in this novel study. The sense oligonucleotide antidote reversed the actions of the antisense antithrombotic drug in the mouse model and prevented the bleeding that commonly occurs with anti-coagulation therapy, as described in an article in Nucleic Acid Therapeutics, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. publishers. The article is available free on the Nucleic Acid Therapeutics website until November 13, 2015.

Jeff Crosby, Chenguang Zhao, Hong Zhang, A. Robert MacLeod, Shuling Guo, and Brett Monia treated mice with an antisense oligonucleotide drug designed to suppress the ability of liver and blood cells to produce prothrombin, a protein required for blood to coagulate. Subsequent treatment with a prothrombin sense oligonucleotide antidote led to a dose-dependent reversal of the antisense drug activity and the return of prothrombin to normal levels. The authors describe the study design and the implications of their findings in the article "Reversing Antisense Oligonucleotide Activity with a Sense Oligonucleotide Antidote: Proof of Concept Targeting Prothrombin."

"An elegant demonstration of the feasibility of reversing the effects of an antisense oligonucleotide in vivo by administering an antidote oligonucleotide," says Executive Editor Graham C. Parker, PhD, The Carman and Ann Adams Department of Pediatrics, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Children's Hospital of Michigan, Detroit, MI. "It will be fascinating to now see how the chemistry can be optimized to achieve translation to clinical efficacy."

Sense oligonucleotide antidote reverses actions of antisense antithrombotic drug, prevents bleeding

Monday, November 23, 2015

Tamoxifen drug clears MRSA, reduces mortality

In continuation of my update on Tamoxifen

Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences have found that the breast cancer drug tamoxifen gives white blood cells a boost, better enabling them to respond to, ensnare and kill bacteria in laboratory experiments. Tamoxifen treatment in mice also enhances clearance of the antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogen MRSA and reduces mortality.

The study is published October 13 by Nature Communications.

"The threat of multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens is growing, yet the pipeline of new antibiotics is drying up. We need to open the medicine cabinet and take a closer look at the potential infection-fighting properties of other drugs that we already know are safe for patients," said senior author Victor Nizet, MD, professor of pediatrics and pharmacy. "Through this approach, we discovered that tamoxifen has pharmacological properties that could aid the immune system in cases where a patient is immunocompromised or where traditional antibiotics have otherwise failed."

Tamoxifen targets the estrogen receptor, making it particularly effective against breast cancers that display the molecule abundantly. But some evidence suggests that tamoxifen has other cellular effects that contribute to its effectiveness, too. For example, tamoxifen influences the way cells produce fatty molecules, known as sphingolipids, independent of the estrogen receptor. Sphingolipids, and especially one in particular, ceramide, play a role in regulating the activities of white blood cells known as neutrophils.

"Tamoxifen's effect on ceramides led us to wonder if, when it is administered in patients, the drug would also affect neutrophil behavior," said first author Ross Corriden, PhD, project scientist in the UC San Diego School of Medicine Department of Pharmacology.

To test their theory, the researchers incubated human neutrophils with tamoxifen. Compared to untreated neutrophils, they found that tamoxifen-treated neutrophils were better at moving toward and phagocytosing, or engulfing, bacteria. Tamoxifen-treated neutrophils also produced approximately three-fold more neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), a mesh of DNA, antimicrobial peptides, enzymes and other proteins that neutrophils spew out to ensnare and kill pathogens. Treating neutrophils with other molecules that target the estrogen receptor had no effect, suggesting that tamoxifen enhances NET production in a way unrelated to the estrogen receptor. Further studies linked the tamoxifen effect to its ability to influence neutrophil ceramide levels.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

FDA approves Endo’s BELBUCA (buprenorphine) buccal film for use in patients with chronic pain

New treatment option combines proven efficacy and established safety profile of buprenorphine with a novel delivery system that adds convenience and flexibility.

Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., a subsidiary of Endo International plc (NASDAQ: ENDP) (TSX: ENL), and BioDelivery Sciences International, Inc. (NASDAQ: BDSI), announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved BELBUCA™ (buprenorphine) buccal film for use in patients with chronic pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment and for which alternative treatment options are inadequate.  BELBUCA™, which is the first and only buprenorphine developed with a dissolving film that is absorbed through the inner lining of the cheek for chronic pain management, is expected to be commercially available in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2016 in seven dosage strengths, allowing for flexible dosing ranging from 75 μg to 900 μg every 12 hours. This enables physicians to individualize titration and treatment based on the optimally effective and tolerable dose for each patient.

“The availability of new, convenient and flexible treatment options is important for patients whose lives are burdened by chronic pain, a debilitating condition that affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined,” said Richard L. Rauck, M.D., Director of Carolinas Pain Institute, Winston Salem, NC. “BELBUCA™ provides a unique approach for chronic pain management, combining the proven efficacy and established safety of buprenorphine with a novel buccal film delivery system that adds convenience and flexibility. For both opioid-naïve and opioid-experienced patients who require around-the-clock treatment and for whom alternative treatment options are inadequate, BELBUCA™ offers appropriate, consistent pain relief and a low incidence of typical opioid-like side effects.”

BELBUCA™ is a mu-opioid receptor partial agonist and a potent analgesic with a long duration of action that utilizes BDSI’s patented BioErodible MucoAdhesive (BEMA®) drug delivery technology. Through this unique delivery system, buprenorphine is efficiently and conveniently delivered across the buccal mucosa (inside lining of the cheek). Buprenorphine is a Schedule III controlled substance, meaning that it has been defined as having lower abuse potential than Schedule II drugs, a category that includes most opioid analgesics. Among chronic pain patients taking opioids, the vast majority are on daily doses of 160 mg of oral morphine sulfate equivalent (MSE) or less. With seven dosage strengths up to 160 mg MSE, BELBUCA™ offers a treatment choice for a wide range of opioid needs in chronic pain sufferers.

Last resort antibiotics may no longer work

Last resort antibiotics may no longer work

Antiviral agent protects rhesus monkeys from deadly Ebola virus

Rhesus monkeys were completely protected from the deadly Ebola virus when treated three days after infection with a compound that blocks the virus's ability to replicate. These encouraging preclinical results suggest the compound, known as GS-5734, should be further developed as a potential treatment, according to research findings to be presented tomorrow at the IDWeek conference.

Travis Warren, Ph.D., a principal investigator at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), said the work is a result of the continuing collaboration between USAMRIID and Gilead Sciences of Foster City, Calif. Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also contributed by performing initial screening of the Gilead Sciences compound library to find molecules with promising antiviral activity.

The initial work identified the precursor to GS-5734, a small-molecule antiviral agent, which led to the effort by Gilead and USAMRIID to further refine, develop and evaluate the compound. Led by USAMRIID Science Director Sina Bavari, Ph.D., the research team used cell culture and animal models to assess the compound's efficacy against several pathogens, including Ebola virus.

In animal studies, treatment initiated on day 3 post-infection with Ebola virus resulted in 100 percent survival of the monkeys. They also exhibited a substantial reduction in viral load and a marked decrease in the physical signs of disease, including internal bleeding and tissue damage.

"The compound, which is a novel nucleotide analog prodrug, works by blocking the viral RNA replication process," said Warren. "If the virus can't make copies of itself, the body's immune system has time to take over and fight off the infection."

In cell culture studies, GS-5734 was active against a broad spectrum of viral pathogens. These included Lassa virus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, Marburg virus, and multiple variants of Ebola virus, including the Makona strain causing the most recent outbreak in West Africa.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

YK-4-279 compound works against some forms of leukemia: Study

A compound discovered and developed by a team of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers that halts cancer in animals with Ewing sarcoma and prostate cancer appears to work against some forms of leukemia, too. That finding and the team's latest work was published online Oct. 8 in Oncotarget. 

YK-4-279 Chemical Structure

The compound is YK-4-279, the first drug targeted at similar chromosomal translocations found in Ewing sarcoma, prostate cancer and in some forms of leukemia. Translocations occur when two normal genes break off from a chromosome and fuse together in a new location. This fusion produces new genes that manufacture proteins, which then push cancer cells to become more aggressive and spread. One of those proteins is EWS-FLI1. YK-4-279 appears effective in controlling the cancer promoting functions of EWS-FLI1.

"EWS-FLI1 is already known to drive a rare but deadly bone cancer called Ewing sarcoma, which occurs predominantly in children, teens and young adults," says Aykut Üren, MD, professor of molecular oncology at Georgetown Lombardi. "It also appears to drive cancer cell growth in some prostate cancers."
In this new study led by Üren, mice with EWS-FLI1-driven leukemia were given injections of YK-4-279 five days per week for two weeks and compared with untreated mice. By the end of the first week the mice receiving YK-4-279 had much lower numbers of leukemia cells. At the end of two weeks the treated mice were nearly normal by many measures, while the untreated mice had overwhelming numbers of cancer cells and died on average after three weeks, the researchers say. By contrast, mice receiving only two weeks of YK-4-279 lived nearly three times as long.

"The fact that treated mice did not get sick from the YK-4-279 gives us an early indication that it might be safe to use in humans, but that is a question that can't be answered until we conduct clinical trials," Üren explains. "We are looking for ways that would allow us to administer more of it, or even to formulate a pill."

Üren says much more work remains for the team in order to translate this drug from a laboratory application into clinical trials.

Support for this work came from the Children's Cancer Foundation, St. Baldrick's Foundation, Go4theGoal, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Clinical Scientist Award in Translational Research, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), the Children´s Cancer Research Institute and from grants from the National Institutes of Health (RC4CA156509, R01CA133662, R01CA138212).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

First patients screened in Axovant's phase 3 study of RVT-101


Axovant Sciences Ltd. (NYSE: AXON), a leading clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the treatment of dementia, recently announced the first patients screened in MINDSET, a confirmatory global phase 3 study of Axovant's lead product candidate, RVT-101. Axovant also announced that the company and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have agreed to a Special Protocol Assessment (SPA) supporting this phase 3 program.

MINDSET is an international, multi-center, double blind, placebo-controlled study designed to evaluate the safety, tolerability and efficacy of RVT-101 in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease. The 24-week trial will compare 35-mg, once-daily oral doses of RVT-101 to placebo in approximately 1,150 patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease on a stable background of donepezil therapy. The primary efficacy evaluations are the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale – cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog) and the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study – Activities of Daily Living scale (ADCS-ADL), each of which have been used as endpoints to obtain regulatory approval of currently-marketed Alzheimer's disease treatments in the United States and Europe.
The MINDSET trial is designed to confirm the results of a 684-patient international, multi-center, double-blind placebo-controlled study in which patients on a stable background of donepezil therapy receiving 35 mg RVT-101 demonstrated statistically significant improvements on the ADAS-cog and ADCS-ADL as compared to patients receiving donepezil alone.

"I am grateful for the unwavering efforts of the entire development team that has so rapidly advanced RVT-101 into this final stage of the drug development process," said Axovant Chief Development Officer Dr. Lawrence Friedhoff, who is leading the RVT-101 development program and previously led the development program for donepezil (brand name Aricept®), the most widely used Alzheimer's treatment.

"No new compounds have been approved for Alzheimer's disease in over a decade, and physicians are scrambling to do more for their patients," said Dr. Gary Small, President of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. "We need well-tolerated, once-daily oral treatments that provide clinically meaningful benefits. The start of the MINDSET study is an important milestone for the field of Alzheimer's drug development."

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tarix Orphan's TXA127 granted FDA Fast Track Designation for treatment of DMD patients

Tarix Orphan LLC, a privately held biopharmaceutical company focused on the treatment of rare neuromuscular disorders and connective tissue diseases, today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted Fast Track Designation to TXA127 (angiotensin 1-7) to reduce skeletal muscle damage and fibrosis and thereby improve muscle strength in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) patients. Tarix Orphan has received notice that clinical testing under the company's Investigational New Drug (IND) application for TXA127 may proceed, and the company expects to initiate a multi-site Phase 2 safety and efficacy study in patients with DMD in early 2016 at both U.S. and European trial sites. Tarix has previously received Orphan Drug Status for TXA127 in the DMD indication in both the United States and Europe.

"Studies with TXA127 have shown significant development potential in preclinical models of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, and congenital muscular dystrophy, MDC1A and other conditions associated with the TGF-beta pathway. This peptide has several biological actions and has shown positive effects in animals including reductions in muscle fibrosis, increases in muscle strength and ambulation in affected animals, as well as normalization of cardiac dysfunction," said Rick Franklin, Tarix Orphan Chief Executive Officer. "We look forward to beginning our multi-site international Phase 2 study in DMD patients in early 2016. We are additionally preparing a clinical protocol for a study of TXA127 in children with congenital muscular dystrophy (MDC1A), and hope to initiate studies in 2016 in that indication, for which there are no current treatments."

The planned Phase 2 trial will be a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled safety and efficacy study of TXA127 in 45 ambulant patients with DMD, conducted for 48 weeks, followed by a 96-week open-label extension study. The study will be conducted at 3 sites in the United States and 3 in Europe. Endpoints for the study will include assessment of muscle quality by MRI, ambulatory assessments including the 2-Minute Walk Test, and safety assessments.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Solix Algredients introduces Solasta Astaxanthin to B2B marketplace

We know that, Astaxanthin /æstəˈzænθɨn/ is a keto-carotenoid.  It belongs to a larger class of chemical compounds known as terpenes, which are built from five carbon precursors; isopentenyl diphosphate (or IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (or DMAPP). Astaxanthin is classified as a xanthophyll (originally derived from a word meaning "yellow leaves" since yellow plant leaf pigments were the first recognized of the xanthophyll family of carotenoids), but currently employed to describe carotenoid compounds that have oxygen-containing moities, hydroxyl (-OH) or ketone (C=O), such as zeaxanthin and canthaxanthin. Indeed, astaxanthin is a metabolite of zeaxanthin and/or canthaxanthin, containing both hydroxyl and ketone functional groups. Like many carotenoids, astaxanthin is a colorful, lipid-soluble pigment. This colour is due to the extended chain of conjugated (alternating double and single) double bonds at the centre of the compound. This chain of conjugated double bonds is also responsible for the antioxidant function of astaxanthin (as well as other carotenoids) as it results in a region of decentralized electrons that can be donated to reduce a reactive oxidizing molecule.

Solix Algredients, Inc. has introduced Solasta™ Astaxanthin to the B2B ingredients marketplace.

Skeletal formula of astaxanthin

Solasta™ is a natural astaxanthin extract produced from the microalga Haematococcus pluvialis, the richest natural source of the antioxidant. Research has shown that algal astaxanthin has superior antioxidant activity compared to other well-known antioxidants.

Solasta™ Astaxanthin is an excellent source of astaxanthin for use in dietary supplement and personal care applications. Solasta™ is non-GMO, vegetarian, and extracted in the USA. The extraction uses super-critical carbon dioxide to ensure the safety, quality, and consistency of Solasta™.

Solix Algredients is now leveraging its extensive algal cultivation expertise to supply functional ingredients for consumer end-use. "The launch of Solasta™ Astaxanthin coincides with the repositioning of Solix Algredients as a global, B2B supplier of high quality natural ingredients derived from algae," explained James Tuan, Chief Commercial Officer.

Solasta™ will be sold to manufacturers and marketers of dietary supplement and personal care products. "Solasta™ Astaxanthin is the first commercial product in our portfolio of algae-based B2B ingredients," noted Mr. Tuan.

Solasta™ Astaxanthin is manufactured in accordance with industry best practices and guidelines (current Good Manufacturing Practice - GMP) defined by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Solasta™ meets the strict quality standards set forth in the Astaxanthin Esters Monographs of the Food Chemical Codex and the US Pharmacopeia.