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Archive - Oct 15, 2015

Exosome Diagnostics CEO Presents at Fourth Annual OctoberINVESTfest Event Held at NY Academy of Sciences & Sponsored by Invest in Bavaria; High-Level Conference Connects Investors, Innovators, & Industry Leaders

Exosome Diagnostics, Inc., a developer of what it believes to be revolutionary, biofluid-based molecular diagnostics, announced that Tom McLain, CEO of Exosome Diagnostics, presented, on Tuesday, October 13, 2015, at the Fourth Annual OktoberINVESTfest event (http://www.oktoberinvestfest.com/) at the New York Academy of Sciences in New York City. Mr. McLain’s presentation at this very high-level conference focused on the evolving role of diagnostics in advancing personalized medicine and the progress that Exosome Diagnostics has made in this field. Exosome Diagnostics plans to launch, in 2015, a suite of innovative liquid biopsy tests based on its proprietary, exosome-based ExoLution™ platform to enhance mutation detection, screening, and drug-resistance monitoring for various types of cancer. Exosomes are sub-cellular vesicular messengers released by all living cells into biofluids, such as plasma/serum, urine, cerebrospinal fluid, and saliva. Exosomes can contain RNA, DNA, and proteins from their cell of origin. Exosome Diagnostics’ technology platform can achieve real-time access to comprehensive molecular information about cells in the body without direct access to the actual cells. The company is also exploring the development of exosome-based diagnostics for diseases beyond cancer, including neurodegenerative diseases. OktoberINVESTfest is hosted by Invest in Bavaria (http://www.invest-in-bavaria.com/en.html), the investment and location marketing organization of the German State of Bavaria’s Ministry for Economic Affairs, Media, Energy and Technology. The conference brings together US and German investors, innovators, industry leaders, and Bavarian state representatives, as well as a number of innovative North American and German small and microcap companies and also some early-stage investment opportunities.

Sex Pheromone Assembly Line in Moths of Tobacco Hornworm; Singe Amino Acid Change in Desaturase Enzyme Affects Evolution of Sex Pheromone Composition; Finding Enabled by Next-Gen Sequencing & Other New Technologies

Scientists from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry in Prague, Czech Republic, and from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, studied the pheromone chemistry of moths and discovered a new evolutionary mechanism: a single amino acid residue in desaturases − enzymes that introduce double bonds, of the tobacco hornworm Manduca sexta (image) − switches the desaturase products from mono- and di-unsaturated to tri-unsaturated sex pheromone precursors. The susceptibility of desaturases to major shifts in their specificities, due to minor mutations, may significantly contribute to the divergence in moth pheromone communication and so lead to the evolution of new insect species. These results were published in the October 13, 2015 issue of PNAS. The article is titled “Evolution of Moth Sex Pheromone Composition by a Single Amino Acid Substitution in a Fatty Acid Desaturase.” Sex pheromones represent a diverse group of chemical compounds that are central to mate-finding behavior in insects and can be found across various life forms. In most moth species, females use species-specific sex pheromones consisting of volatile fatty acid derivatives to attract conspecific males over long distances. These pheromones are predominantly long-chain aliphatic acetates, alcohols, or aldehydes containing up to three carbon-carbon double bonds with variable configurations at various positions along the carbon backbone. Pheromone-biosynthetic fatty acid desaturases, enzymes that introduce double bonds at specific positions and configurations into fatty acyl pheromone precursors of various chain lengths, contribute significantly to the number of possible pheromone structures. To maintain an efficient chemical communication, the signal receiver must stay tuned to the signal producer.

New 5-Gene-Signature Expression Test (MG5) Could Help Personalize Treatment for Common Childhood Cancer (Fusion-Gene-Negative Rhabdomyosarcoma)

A new gene expression test can identify which patients are likely to suffer more aggressive forms of the childhood cancer rhabdomyosarcoma, new research reports. Examining the activity of only five genes in a sample of the tumor was enough to identify high-risk children who might benefit from more intensive treatment or from new therapies in clinical trials. The findings, published in the October 15, 2015 issue of Clinical Cancer Research, could open up the opportunity for doctors to prescribe personalised treatment for children with cancer depending on the gene activity of their tumors. The article is titled “Clinical Application of Prognostic Gene Expression Signature in Fusion Gene–Negative Rhabdomyosarcoma: A Report from the Children's Oncology Group.” The five-gene signature test for rhabdomyosarcoma, known as MG5, was developed by researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research, London. It has now been validated in tests of samples from 68 patients led by scientists from the Children's Oncology Group in the US, in collaboration with The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR). The work was supported in the UK by the Chris Lucas Trust and the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at The Royal Marsden and the ICR, and also received funding from the US National Cancer Institute and Fondation Medic. The test for gene activity, specificall gene expression, is the first to be able to accurately predict which children with a type of rhabdomyosarcoma called “fusion-negative” will have more aggressive forms of the disease.

MIT Scientists Seek to Approach the ~100% Energy Transfer Efficiency of Plant Photosynthesis Using Quantum Effects Achievable with Engineered Viruses & Excitonic Networks

Nature has had billions of years to perfect photosynthesis, which directly or indirectly supports virtually all life on Earth. In that time, the process has achieved almost 100 percent efficiency in transporting the energy of sunlight from receptors to reaction centers where it can be harnessed — a performance vastly better than even the best solar cells. One way plants achieve this efficiency is by making use of the exotic effects of quantum mechanics — effects sometimes known as “quantum weirdness.” These effects, which include the ability of a particle to exist in more than one place at a time, have now been used by engineers at MIT, together with collaborators, to achieve a significant efficiency boost in a light-harvesting system. Surprisingly, the MIT researchers achieved this new approach to solar energy not with high-tech materials or microchips, but by using genetically engineered viruses. This achievement in coupling quantum research and genetic manipulation was described online on October 12, 2015 in Nature Materials in an article titled “Enhanced Energy Transport in Genetically Engineered Excitonic Networks.” A video describing this new work is available within the MIT press release for which a link is provided below. This advance was the work of MIT professors Angela Belcher, an expert on engineering viruses to carry out energy-related tasks, and Seth Lloyd, an expert on quantum theory and its potential applications; research associate Dr. Heechul Park; and 14 collaborators at MIT and in Italy. Dr. Lloyd, a professor of mechanical engineering, explains that in photosynthesis, a photon hits a receptor called a chromophore, which in turn produces an exciton — a quantum particle of energy.