Friday, February 27, 2015

Mirati begins dosage in MGCD265 Phase 1b clinical trial for NSCLC

Mirati Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRTX) today announced that the first patient with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) has been dosed in a Phase 1b clinical trial of MGCD265 in selected patients exhibiting genetic alterations of MET or Axl. In this segment of the study, one of the expansion cohorts will enroll patients with NSCLC and another will enroll patients with other solid tumors. Both cohorts will enroll only those patients that have specific MET driver mutations including MET gene point mutations, gene amplification, and MET or Axl gene rearrangements.

MGCD-265 Chemical Structure
"In the dose escalation phase of this trial, we identified an optimal dose that achieved serum levels that we believe will result in greater than 90% inhibition of MET and Axl," said Charles M. Baum, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of Mirati. "We are focused on patients whose tumors harbor the specific MET and Axl genetic alterations that MGCD265 is designed to treat. By selecting and treating only those patients who carry the targeted mutations, there is strong rationale that we'll see proof of concept based on a high overall response rate in early 2015 that supports accelerated drug development."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Pre-clinical studies confirm TRXE-009 as new potential treatment for melanoma

Novogen Limited (ASX:NRT; NASDAQ: NVGN), Australian/US biotechnology company, announces that it has confirmed that its lead candidate product, TRXE-009, originally developed for the treatment of brain cancers, has been shown in pre-clinical studies also to be highly active against melanoma.

The Company believes this is an important breakthrough discovery for two reasons. The first is that it confirms that TRXE-009 is an important new potential treatment for melanoma, including for the treatment of secondary brain cancers due to melanoma, for which there currently are no effective therapies. The second is that it offers evidence for the first time of an hypothesized link between brain cancer and melanoma.

The link has long been considered a possibility because nerve cells and melanocytes (the melanin pigment-bearing cells in skin that lead to melanoma) have a common origin in the embryo known as the neural crest. This primitive tissue gives rise to the neural cells that go on to form the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves, as well as cells that form the structures of the skull; melanocytes also come from this embryonic tissue. Up till now, no functional link has been found between brain cells and melanocytes, or between brain cancer and melanoma. TRXE-009 is the first compound to demonstrate the possibility of a common link, suggesting that is the first drug with the ability to identify cancers arising in cells that have the neural crest as their common origin.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Isis Pharmaceuticals begins ISIS-DMPK Rx clinical study in DM1 patients

Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ISIS) announced  that it has initiated a study for ISIS-DMPKRx in patients with Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1 (DM1). DM1 is a rare genetic neuromuscular disease caused by the production of toxic dystrophia myotonica-protein kinase (DMPK) RNA in cells. ISIS-DMPKRx is specifically designed to reduce toxic DMPK RNA.

"The Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation is pleased that Isis is advancing to the next phase of clinical trials for ISIS-DMPKRx," said Molly White, executive director of the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation. "Myotonic Dystrophy, the most common form of muscular dystrophy, is a devastating disease with no therapeutic option. Myotonic dystrophy research has accelerated significantly in the last 10 years, helping bring about the innovative science behind ISIS-DMPKRx, a drug that specifically targets the genetic defect that causes myotonic dystrophy type 1. We applaud Isis for investing in and leading drug development efforts for myotonic dystrophy type 1, and we appreciate the commitment Isis Pharmaceuticals has made to improve the lives of patients in our community."

"We have an innovative and productive partnership with Biogen Idec in developing drugs to treat severe and rare diseases, like DM1. In just under two and a half years, we have been able to discover and complete early development on ISIS-DMPKRx, which includes completing a Phase 1 single ascending-dose study in healthy volunteers. Today we advance this program into patients," said B. Lynne Parshall, chief operating officer at Isis. "The speed at which we have advanced ISIS-DMPKRx highlights the productive and collaborative nature of our partnership."

Friday, February 20, 2015

Researchers identify 53 existing drugs that may block Ebola virus from entering human cells

Researchers found 53 existing drugs that may keep the Ebola virus from entering human cells, a key step in the process of infection, according to a study led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and published today in the Nature Press journal Emerging Microbes and Infections.

Among the better known drug types shown to hinder infection by an Ebola virus model: several cancer drugs, antihistamines and antibiotics. Among the most effective at keeping the virus out of human cells were microtubule inhibitors used to treat cancer.

"In light of the historic and devastating outbreak of Ebola virus disease, there is an urgent need to rapidly develop useful treatments against Ebola infection, and our study results argue that repurposing existing drugs may be among the fastest ways to achieve this," said lead author Adolfo García-Sastre, PhD, Director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute within the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "Many of the compounds identified in this study promise to become lead compounds in near-future drug development efforts studies targeting this virus," said Dr. García-Sastre, also the Fishberg Chair and Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases) within the School.

A few are listed below...

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Nocodazole (IC50=0.4 µM), Toremifene (0.55 µM), Tamoxifen (0.76 µM), Raloxifene 1.84 (1.53 µM), Cepharanthine (1.53 µM), Clomiphene (1.72 µM), Dronedarone (2.2 µM), Amodiaquine (4.43 µM), Imipramine (13.7 µM), Chloroquine (15.3 µM), and Nilotinib (15.3 µM).

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Study shows how cannabidiol works within cells


A team of Stony Brook University researchers have identified fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs) as intracellular transporters for two ingredients in marijuana, THC and CBD (cannabidiol). The finding, published early online in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, is significant because it helps explain how CBD works within the cells. Recent clinical findings have shown that CBD may help reduce seizures and could be a potential new medicine to treat pediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy.

CBD differs from THC in that it is not psychoactive and does not bind to cannabinoid receptors. Some children who are resistant to conventional antiepileptic drugs have been reported to show improvement with oral CBD treatment. The Stony Brook research team found that three brain FABPs carry THC and CBD from the cell membrane to the interior of the cell. This action enabled them to conduct experiments inhibiting FABPs and thereby reducing anandamide breakdown inside the cells.

"Anandamide, an endocannabinoid, has been shown to have neuroprotective effects against seizures in basic research studies and this may turn out to be a key mechanism of seizure control," explained Dale Deutsch, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and a faculty member of the Institute of Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery at Stony Brook University. "Therefore by CBD inhibiting FABPs, we could potentially raise the levels of anandamide in the brain's synapses."

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Jazz Pharmaceuticals to present defibrotide results for hepatic VOD at BMT Tandem meetings

Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc (Nasdaq: JAZZ) announced today that researchers will present data on the use of defibrotide, an investigational medicine being studied in the United States (U.S.) for the treatment of hepatic veno-occlusive disease (VOD), a rare, potentially life-threatening, early complication in patients undergoing hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) therapy. The three presentations include an update from an ongoing treatment investigational new drug (T-IND) study in the U.S., as well as updates from a number needed to treat (NNT, an epidemiological measure of effectiveness) analysis from a historically controlled pivotal Phase 3 trial in patients undergoing HSCT therapy, and from an international defibrotide compassionate use program.

Data from the three defibrotide studies will be presented today in an oral abstract session at the 2015 BMT (Bone Marrow Transplantation) Tandem meetings, the combined annual meetings of the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT) and the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR), in San Diego, California. BMT Tandem is one of the largest international forums dedicated specifically to HSCT.

"VOD is a potentially life-threatening complication in patients undergoing HSCT therapy, and there are currently no approved therapies for VOD in the U.S," said Jeffrey Tobias, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer of Jazz Pharmaceuticals. "The data presented at the BMT Tandem meetings build upon existing evidence showing that, when recognized and diagnosed, severe VOD may be effectively treated with defibrotide. The data also provide additional information on defibrotide's efficacy and safety profile in important subgroups of patients such as children, adults, and allograft and autograft recipients."

Monday, February 16, 2015

'Mad Cow' discovery points to possible neuron killing mechanism behind alzheimer’s and parkinson’s diseases

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have for the first time discovered a killing mechanism that could underpin a range of the most intractable neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS.

The new study, published recently in the journal Brain, revealed the mechanism of toxicity of a misfolded form of the protein that underlies prion diseases, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“mad cow disease”) and its human equivalent, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Our study reveals a novel mechanism of neuronal death involved in a neurodegenerative protein-misfolding disease,” said Corinne Lasmézas, a TSRI professor who led the study. “Importantly, the death of these cells is preventable. In our study, ailing neurons in culture and in an animal model were completely rescued by treatment, despite the continued presence of the toxic misfolded protein. This work suggests treatment strategies for prion diseases—and possibly other protein misfolding diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Diabetes drug can boost efficacy of TB medication without causing drug resistance

In continuation of my update on Metformin

A more effective treatment for tuberculosis (TB) could soon be available as scientists have discovered that Metformin (MET), a drug for treating diabetes, can also be used to boost the efficacy of TB medication without inducing drug resistance.

This discovery was made by a team of international scientists led by the Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN), a research institute under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore.

TB is an air-borne infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), which often infects the lungs. Even though drugs are available to treat the disease, TB continues to be a major threat to public health, killing close to 1.5 million people every year .

Conventional drugs used to treat TB usually adopt a pathogen-targeted strategy which attacks and kills bacteria directly. This approach has caused Mtb strains to acquire drug resistance, making existing treatments become increasingly ineffective and resulting in a pressing need to design new therapeutic strategies for the disease.

MET as an adjunct treatment for TB

The team of scientists led by SIgN began searching for drugs that could control Mtb replication indirectly. They screened FDA-approved drugs and identified MET, an old anti-diabetic drug that could defend Mtb invasion without targeting the bacteria directly. Instead, MET targets the host cells to trigger the production of a chemical which then damages Mtb and stops its replication. Such indirect, host-targeted approach is less likely to engender drug resistance. The team also discovered that MET improves the efficacy of conventional anti-TB drugs when used in combination with them.

The scientists then validated the findings with patient data provided by the Tuberculosis Clinical Unit at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital, and consequently verified that the use of MET is indeed associated with improved TB control and decreased disease severity. This anti-diabetic drug is therefore a promising adjunctive therapy that could enhance the effectiveness of existing TB treatments. As it is a drug that is currently in use, another benefit of using MET as an adjunct treatment for TB is that it is likely to shorten the time required for clinical trials.

Monday, February 9, 2015

FL118 agent shows efficacy as personalized, targeted therapy for certain cancer tumors

A team led by Fengzhi Li, PhD, and Xinjiang Wang, PhD, of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) has reported new findings regarding therapeutic targets of the novel anticancer agent FL118. Previous studies from these researchers have showed that FL118 induces cancer cell death, or apoptosis, by inhibiting expression of multiple cell-survival proteins (survivin, Mcl-1, XIAP or cIAP2). Study results published in the peer-reviewed American Association for Cancer Research journal Cancer Research  showed that FL118 can also activate   the p53 tumor-suppressor pathway in cancer cells, encouraging cell senescence,    or aging. In both processes, FL118 demonstrates potent antitumor efficacy,   suggesting additional applications as a personalized, targeted therapy for certain cancer tumors.

In a study of preclinical models of colorectal cancer, the researchers identified an underlying mechanism for the activation of p53 by FL118. The agent activates the p53 tumor-suppressor protein largely independent of ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM)-dependent DNA damage-mediated p53 activation. ATM-dependent activation of p53 is usually induced by many — if not all  types of DNA-damage drugs, including camptothecin compounds such as irinotecan and topotecan,  leading  the authors  to  conclude  that  FL118's mechanisms of action are distinct among camptothecin analogues.

"While FL118 is an analogue of irinotecan and topotecan, two FDA-approved cancer drugs that are also based on the naturally occurring compound camptothecin, our findings add further evidence that FL118 has novel mechanisms of action that may make it especially potent against solid tumors and especially effective as a well-tolerated, targeted therapy," said Dr. Li, an Associate Professor of Oncology in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

FL118 agent shows efficacy as personalized, targeted therapy for certain cancer tumors

Friday, February 6, 2015

Addition of S-1 to cisplatin plus radiotherapy ‘favourable’ in NSCLC

In continuation of my update on cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil derivative S-1v

Research suggests that treatment with cisplatin plus S-1 together with thoracic radiotherapy is relatively efficacious and tolerable in patients with locally advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Although cisplatin-based chemotherapy with thoracic radiotherapy is a standard treatment for unresectable, locally advanced NSCLC, the outcomes are not satisfactory, explain Katsuyuki Hotta, from Okayama University Hospital in Japan, and colleagues. They investigated the effect of adding the 5-fluorouracil derivative S-1 to the standard treatment in a phase II trial, the primary endpoint of which was the response rate.

A total of 48 patients with stage III NSCLC received cisplatin plus S-1 (at a dose of 40 mg/m2 twice daily from days 1–14 and 29–42 of treatment) with concurrent thoracic irradiation, of whom 37 had a partial response, giving an overall response rate (ORR) of 77%.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

First-line dacomitinib may improve advanced NSCLC survival


Preliminary research suggests that the second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) dacomitinib (see right structure)may improve progression-free survival (PFS) in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations.

Noting that the majority of patients develop resistance to the first-generation TKIs, such as gefitinib and erlotinib (below structures from left and right side respectively), Pasi Jänne (Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA) and co-workers explain that alternative agents are needed to improve patient outcomes.

Gefitinib structure.svg Erlotinib Structural Formulae.png

The open-label, phase II trial included 89 treatment-naïve patients with stage IIIB or IV NSCLC who were selected for dacomitinib once-daily treatment on the basis of clinical markers (never or former light smokers) or molecular markers (absence of KRASmutation in non-Asian patients or EGFR mutation).

First-line dacomitinib may improve advanced NSCLC survival

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Isis announces top-line results from ISIS-PTP1B Rx Phase 2 study in type 2 diabetes patients

Isis announces top-line results from ISIS-PTP1B Rx Phase 2 study in type 2 diabetes patients

Added benefit of daclatasvir drug not proven for chronic hepatitis C infection

In continuation of my update on daclatasvir Daclatasvir.svg

The drug daclatasvir (trade name Daklinza) has been available since August 2014 for the treatment of adults with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) infection. The German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) examined in a dossier assessment whether this new drug offers an added benefit over the appropriate comparator therapy.

The drug manufacturer presented data for patients without cirrhosis of the liver who are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1, and for patients with HCV genotype 4. However, these data are unsuitable in various aspects to prove an added benefit.

The manufacturer dossier contained no data at all for three further patient groups with HCV genotype 1 infection (pretreated patients, untreated patients with cirrhosis of the liver, and patients with HIV coinfection) as well as for patients with HCV genotype 3 (with compensated cirrhosis and/or treatment-experienced).

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Penn researchers find effective way to inhibit inflammatory response during kidney dialysis

Frequent kidney dialysis is essential for the approximately 350,000 end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients in the United States. But it can also cause systemic inflammation, leading to complications such as cardiovascular disease and anemia, and patients who rely on the therapy have a five-year survival rate of only 35 percent. Such inflammation can be triggered when the complement cascade, part of the body's innate immune system, is inadvertently activated by modern polymer-based dialysis blood filters. New work by Penn researchers has found an effective way to avoid these problems by temporarily suppressing complement during dialysis. Their work appears online in Immunobiology ahead of print.

Compstatin Ile-Cys-Val-Val-Gln-Asp-Trp-Gly-His-His-Arg-Cys-Thr-NH2 (Disulfide bridge: 2 -12)
Over the past several years, lead author John Lambris, PhD, the Dr. Ralph and Sallie Weaver Professor of Research Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and his colleagues have developed small molecule versions of the drug compstatin, which inhibits a component of the complement immune response called C3. Lambris explains that this next-generation compound, called Cp40, "is a small peptide similar to cyclosporine in many aspects, however it uses a different mechanism of action."

Previous studies by Lambris and his team, in which modern polymer-based hemodialysis filters were perfused with human blood, showed significant complement activation and an increase in inflammatory biomarkers. This response could be suppressed using compstatin, suggesting that it might be used in dialysis to decrease the inflammatory response side effect.
The new study took place in non-human primates to validate Cp40's complement-inhibiting properties in whole animals. Even after undergoing a single session of dialysis using a pediatric hemodialysis filter with high biocompatibility, healthy animals showed strong complement activation with 5 percent of their C3 being converted to a form that can trigger inflammation and stimulate the immune system.

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

SLU researcher discovers new information about how antibiotics stop staph infections

In research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Saint Louis University Mee-Ngan F. Yap, Ph.D., discovered new information about how antibiotics like azithromycin stop staph infections, and why staph sometimes becomes resistant to drugs.

Her evidence suggests a universal, evolutionary mechanism by which the bacteria eludes this kind of drug, offering scientists a way to improve the effectiveness of antibiotics to which bacteria have become resistant.

Staphylococcus aureus (familiar to many as the common and sometimes difficult to treat staph infection) is a strain of bacteria that frequently has become resistant to antibiotics, a development that has been challenging for doctors and dangerous for patients with severe infections.

Yap and her research team studied staph that had been treated with the antibiotic azithromycin and learned two things: One, it turns out that the antibiotic isn't as effective as was previously thought. And two, the process that the bacteria use to evade the antibiotic appears to be an evolutionary mechanism that the bacteria developed in order to delay genetic replication when beneficial.

The team studied the way antibiotics work within the ribosome, the site where bacteria translates the genetic codes into protein. When the bacteria encounter a potential problem in copying its genetic material, as posed by an antibiotic, it has a mechanism to thwart antibiotic inhibition by means of "ribosome stalling" that is mediated by special upstream peptide elements.