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Key Assay Development at HUPO

Proteome Sciences presented novel data and key assay developments at the HUPO 12th Annual World Congress in Japan covering Tau in Alzheimer’s disease, SysQuant® in pancreatic cancer and a missing isoform in sugar structures of clusterin, a plasma protein biomarker for Alzheimer’s in brain atrophy.

pTau

The new Tau phosphorylation assay (pTau SRM) demonstrated powerful sensitivity and reproductivity measuring Tau phosphorylation on human and mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease from a much smaller sample amount.

In a different application the pTau SRM was successfully used to determine the effect of Tau kinase inhibitors PS110 and PS278-05 on CK1d on the Tau protein in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s. The results confirmed that Tau phosphorylation was reduced by the two compounds but not affected by the control substance.

SysQuant®

Over 5,000 different phosphorylation sites were quantified in tumour and healthy tissue in pancreas cancer with SysQuant®. In addition to major alterations in proteins related to cell morphology and motility, individual patterns of pathway activation were able to accurately predict the likelihood of tumour recurrence and to provide a truly personalised treatment regime.

Glycopreotomics

Novel data was presented that showed diagnostic changes in sugar structures attached to clusterin, a plasma marker for Alzheimer’s in brain atrophy. This revealed a unique isoform that lacked a specific branching pattern in patients with high levels of brain atrophy.

Commenting from Yokohama, Dr. Ian Pike, Chief Operating Officer, said: 

“We were delighted to be invited to the 12th HUPO congress to show results from the powerful biomarker services platform that we have developed from our TMT® mass tags for customers where we are at the forefront in proteomics. New assays for pTau and clusterin glycoprotein provide important additions to the range of assays and services that we offer our customers in Alzheimer’s The added power delivered by SysQuant® identifies thousands of phosphorylation sites across key signalling pathways that give clinicians the ability for the first time to provide real time patient management, in this case in pancreas cancer. These are exciting developments from proteomics that are fundamentally changing how clinicians identify and manage disease.”

Source: Proteome Sciences

BIDMC Cardiovascular Institute Researchers Will Lead $4 Million NIH Grant to Study MicroRNAs

A cardiovascular research team from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), led by BIDMC Principal Investigator Saumya Das, MD, PhD, has been awarded a $4 million Common Fund grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as part of a newly formed program on Extracellular RNA Communication. The five-year grant will focus on identifying microRNA biomarkers in heart disease.

Each year, complications from heart attacks (myocardial infarctions) contribute to more than half a million cases of heart failure and 300,000 cases of sudden cardiac arrest, when the heart suddenly stops. Both of these conditions are closely related to a process known as remodeling, in which the structure and function of the heart changes – or remodels — following a heart attack.

“Our goal is to explore the role that microRNAs play in predicting which heart-attack patients will go on to experience complications,” explains Das, an electrophysiologist in BIDMC’s Cardiovascular Institute and co-director of the cardiovascular genetics program within the Outpatient Cardiovascular Clinic.

“Current strategies used to identify the highest risk patients have often been inaccurate,” he adds. “We think that a blood test that makes use of microRNA biomarkers could replace existing strategies and more accurately predict which patients might experience poor outcomes and thereby identify who would most benefit from frequent monitoring and medical care.” Other investigators who are part of the NIH grant, “Plasma miRNA Predictors of Adverse Mechanical and Electrical Remodeling After Myocardial Infarction,” include BIDMC Director of Cardiovascular Research Anthony Rosenzweig, MD, and BWH investigators Raymond Y. Kwong, MD, MPH, and Mark Sabatine, MD, MPH.

microRNAs are one type of extracellular RNA. Once considered nothing more than genomic “junk,” microRNAs have more recently been recognized as playing a key role in cellular functions. Several years ago, scientists began to recognize that these small, noncoding RNAs were not only found inside cells, but could also be found in blood and other tissue fluids.

Using patient plasma samples from extensively characterized patients who have suffered heart attacks, the scientific team will first identify which specific microRNAs are related to poor heart remodeling. They will then use cell culture and animal models of heart disease to further prioritize which microRNAs play a functional role in disease progression. Finally, the investigators will validate these prioritized microRNAs as prognostic markers for poor health outcomes after heart attacks in a large prospective clinical trial.

“Ultimately, we think that miRNA-based tests could replace current tests to predict which patients might be at risk of complications and, therefore, be good candidates to receive an implanted defibrillator,” says Das. “At the same time, we hope to be able to better predict which individuals are at less risk of complications – and thereby spare them unnecessary and costly procedures.”

Source: EurekAlert!

MicroRNAs have diagnostic and prognostic potential in urinary bladder cancer

German researchers have identified four biomarkers that correctly determine malignancy of urinary bladder cancers and contribute to the accurate prediction of patient outcomes. Their results are published in the September issue of The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics.

Current prognosticators of bladder cancer, such as tumor grade, stage, size, and number of foci, have limited usefulness for clinicians since they do not accurately reflect clinical outcomes. Therefore, investigators have been searching for new biomarkers with better diagnostic and prognostic capabilities. Focusing on the role of microRNAs (miRNAs), small non-coding RNAs, researchers have identified four miRNAs that together perfectly discriminated between nonmalignant and malignant tissue, including one alone that classified 81% of the samples correctly. Levels of two miRNAs correlated with overall survival time.

Urinary bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the West. According to the National Cancer Institute, it is estimated that in the United States 72,570 individuals will be diagnosed with and 15,210 will die of cancer of the urinary bladder in 2013. At presentation, in 75% of patients the cancers are confined to the mucosa or submucosa (known as non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, NMIBC), whereas in 25% of cases the cancers have already invaded nearby muscle (muscle-invasive bladder cancer, MIBC).

In a series of experiments, investigators analyzed bladder tissue from patients with NMIBC, MIBC, and nonmalignant bladders. After screening 723 miRNAs by microarray, they selected a subset of 15 distinctively deregulated miRNAs for further validation by real-time quantitative PCR. Seven miRNAs were found to be up-regulated, and eight were down-regulated in malignant bladder tissue samples compared to healthy tissue. Four miRNAs were expressed differently in bladder cancers that invaded muscle compared to those that did not. With one exception, no correlation was found between tumor stage and miRNA levels.

When all 15 of the selected miRNAs were considered together, they correctly classified 100% of tissues as either normal or malignant. Further analysis identified four miRNAs that led to 100% correct classification, and one miRNA (miR-130b) that by itself had an 81% accuracy rate. “These results underline the great potential of miRNAs to serve as diagnostic markers, as previously noted for other urological tumors,” says lead investigator Klaus Jung, MD, the Department of Urology at the University Hospital Charité, Berlin and the Berlin Institute for Urologic Research.

The investigators found that tumor grading could not be correlated with overall survival. Yet, they were able to find two miRNAs that significantly correlated with survival: miR-141 and miR-205. miR-141 showed a trend (P=0.08) of being able to stratify patients with muscle-invasive tumors into two groups with different overall survival times. “This finding could be of clinical importance, but these results must be interpreted cautiously,” says Dr. Jung. “However, previously published studies underline the possible prognostic potential of miRNAs to predict progression and disease-specific or overall survival in bladder cancer patients.”

miRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that contain between 19 and 24 nucleotides. miRNAs regulate gene expression by degrading messenger RNAs or impairing their translation. In recent years there has been a growing interest in miRNAs as potential diagnostic and/or prognostic biomarkers in cancers and other diseases.

Study: miRNA Profiling Identifies Candidate miRNAs for Bladder Cancer Diagnosis and Clinical Outcome [The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics]

Source: EurekAlert!

Mount Sinai and Exosome Diagnostics Partner to Accelerate Translation of Body Fluid Molecular Diagnostics to Overcome Limitations of Tissue Biopsy in Areas of Critical Unmet Medical Needs

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Exosome Diagnostics today announced a collaboration on the research and development of real-time nucleic acid-based body-fluid diagnostics to advance personalized medicine. Exosome will provide technical and development support to Mount Sinai researchers along with early access to proprietary technology products upgrades. The agreement will allow Exosome and Mount Sinai to establish targeted research and biomarker discovery programs in oncology, inflammation and other disease areas. Exosome anticipates pursuing commercial development and FDA review of successful validations for in vitro diagnostics.

“This collaboration represents the model that research centers and private companies need to adopt in the post-recession, sequestered economy to develop diagnostic products that can improve clinical outcomes, help advance drug development programs and help lower healthcare costs,” said James McCullough, Chief Executive Officer of Exosome Diagnostics. “New York State has taken an aggressive and appropriate approach to promoting cooperation of its leading research centers, such as Mount Sinai, with private industry resources and commercial capability to drive translational medicine. Mount Sinai and Exosome together can accelerate cutting-edge diagnostic products to serve the clinical market.”

Carlos Cordon-Cardo, MD, PhD, Chair, Department of Pathology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, added, “As we advance our precise medicine program in the Departments of Pathology and Genomics at Mount Sinai, biofluid-based, point-in-time analyses, made possible by the Exosome Diagnostics-Mount Sinai relationship, will undoubtedly lead to an improved, patient-centric understanding of disease, thereby guiding more informed treatment decisions and response to therapy.”

The agreement was negotiated by Mount Sinai Innovation Partners (Mount Sinai IP), which encourages the commercialization of novel research conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai plans to leverage the considerable expertise of its clinical investigators in areas of key unmet medical needs to develop clinical study programs taking advantage of Exosome’s unique technology that has the ability to extract high-quality RNA from blood, urine and cerebrospinal fluid.

Under the agreement, Mount Sinai will retain rights to molecular biomarkers associated with disease progression and drug response, and Exosome will retain commercial development rights for molecular in vitro diagnostic products. The collaboration will extend for five years. Dr. Cordon-Cardo receives financial compensation from Exosome Diagnostics as a member of its scientific advisory board.

Source: PR Newswire

University of Maryland, Baltimore’s Licensing Deals Fuel Local Life Sciences Community

University of Maryland (UM) Ventures recently announced agreements between University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and five different life sciences companies across the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan region. The companies include Montgomery County-based Rexahn Pharmaceuticals, Baltimore County-based Plasmonix, Prince Georges County-based IGI Technologies, Howard County-based A&G Pharmaceuticals, and Frederick County-based BioAssay Works. These deals are part of UM Ventures’ continual efforts to accelerate technology commercialization, advance industry collaboration, and support projects with commercial value at both the Baltimore and College Park campuses of the university.

“UMB is very excited to collaborate with these companies, each an innovator in its own right,” said Phil Robilotto, Assistant Vice President, Office of Technology Transfer, UMB. “These types of collaborations are at the core of our mission to channel the expertise of our industry partners and highlight our efforts to support the Maryland biotechnology community.”

UMB/Rexahn Exclusive License Agreement: In June 2013, UMB and Rexahn Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing the next generation of cancer drugs, executed an exclusive license agreement for a novel drug delivery platform, Nano-Polymer-Drug Conjugate Systems (NPDCS), which was co-developed by researchers with the University of Maryland (UM) School of Pharmacy in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, including Assistant Professor Anjan Nan, Ph.D. Rexahn’s platform uses existing chemotherapeutic agents, delivering them directly into cancer tumors. The UMB/Rexahn collaboration began after the company and a team of UMB researchers received a Maryland
Industrial Partnership (MIPS) award. The MIPS program is aimed at technology acceleration, providing funds that are matched by Maryland companies to support university-based research.

UMB/Plasmonix License Agreement: Also in June 2013, UMB entered into a license agreement with Plasmonix for a pathogen detection technology. Plasmonix focuses on the enhancement of luminescent signals through advanced use of metal nanoparticles, applying its technology in life science and diagnostic assays. Joseph Lakowicz, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology within the UM School of Medicine, invented the licensed UMB technology. His laboratory focuses on advancement of fluorescence compositions and methods for use in both research and commercial applications.

UMB Option Agreements with IGI Technologies/A&G Pharmaceuticals: UMB also executed option agreements (giving each company the exclusive right to evaluate a university technology for a short period of time prior to executing a full license agreement) during June 2013 with IGI Technologies and A&G Pharmaceuticals, both university start-ups, although at different stages of company development. Founded by Raj Shekhar, Ph.D., and William Plishker, Ph.D., former UM School of Medicine researchers from the Department of Diagnostic Radiology, IGI Technologies is an emerging start-up developing high-speed medical image registration technology through a Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A&G Pharmaceuticals, which was founded as a UMB startup in 2007, is discovering and developing theranostics (drug/test combinations) that improve screening, detection, and treatment of cancer. The company also offers custom antibody development through its service division – Precision AntibodyTM. UMB’s option agreement with A&G Pharmaceuticals is to explore the potential for the company’s development of a new cancer diagnostic test based on the tissue biomarker research of lead inventor Yun Qiu, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology, UM School of Medicine.

UMB/BioAssay Works Commercial Evaluation and Option Agreement: In September 2012, UMB entered into a commercial evaluation and option agreement with BioAssay Works to evaluate a Staph aureus diagnostic technology based on the work of lead inventor, Mark E. Shirtliff, Associate Professor, Department of Microbial Pathogenesis, with a dual appointment in UM Schools of Dentistry and Medicine. Dr. Shirtliff studies bacterial biofilms, a mode of growth where pathogens such as Staph aureus become resistant to conventional therapy. He was
awarded the 2013 BioMaryland LIFE Prize for his promising Staph vaccine work. BioAssay Works focuses on antibody-based and antigen-based detection technologies, and on their application in lateral-flow immunoassay. The partnership between BioAssay Works and UMB may lead to the development of a rapid and sensitive test for Staph, in particular the treatment-resistant type (“MRSA”).

Since UM Ventures launched in 2012, the University has helped faculty entrepreneurs manage and commercialize their discoveries, and has helped student entrepreneurs participate in and lead real-world early-stage business ventures. UMB and UMCP startups include a wide range of success stories. UM Ventures provides resources, funding, and expertise to help startups bring innovative technologies to the market.

Source: University of Maryland