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Archive - Nov 10, 2015

Liquid Biopsy of CSF for Circulating Brain-Tumor-Derived DNA Allows Less Invasive, More Effective Policing of Brain Tumors; CSF Is Far Better Source of Brain Tumor DNA Than Plasma; “Potential Game-Changer in Brain Cancer”

Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) in Barcelona, Spain is an institutional leader in research proposing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) as liquid biopsy for the early diagnosis, prognosis, therapeutic management, and tracking of brain cancer. The exploitation of CSF-derived circulating DNA as liquid biopsy promises a more accurate, more effective, and less invasive approach to unmasking the molecular characteristics of brain tumors, the VHIO scientist believe. As reported in an open-access article published on November 10, 2015 in Nature Communications, the VHIO Gene Expression and Cancer Group, led by Joan Seoane, Ph.D., has pioneered research evidencing demonstrating the utility of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) as liquid biopsy for the potential prognosis, treatment, identification, and tracking of brain tumor genomic alterations, not only in real time, but over time. Concentrations of circulating CNS-tumor-derived DNA are very low in plasma, but very high in CSF. The new article in Nature Communications is titled “Cerebrospinal Fluid-Derived Circulating Tumor DNA Better Represents the Genomic Alterations of Brain Tumors Than Plasma.” Dr. Seoane, the senior author of this article, is Director of Translational Research, VHIO; Head of the Gene Expression and Cancer Laboratory, VHIO, ICREA Professor, and Professor at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), and he led the current study. The first author of the new article is Leticia De Mattos-Arruda (photo), M.D., a medical oncologist in Dr. Soane’s group. In addition to her affiliation with VHIO, Dr. Mattoa-Aruda is also affiliated with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSCC) in New York, and with the UAB in Barcelona.

Why Humans Like to Look at Attractive Faces--University of Oslo PhD Thesis

Few visual impressions can be compared to humans’ interest for faces. New research suggests that our brain rewards us for looking at pretty faces. A quick glimpse of a face provides us with rich information about the person in front of us. Are we acquainted? Man or woman? Happy or angry? Attractive? In her Ph.D. thesis, conducted at the Department of Psychology, University of Oslo in Norway, Olga Chelnokova (photo) has explored how our visual system is able to direct attention to the most important information in a face. Her study suggest that evolution has made us experts on faces. “We are very curious about others’ faces, we read stories in them and evaluate their aestetic value,” says Ms. Chelnokova. Together with colleagues from the research group Hedonic Pharmacology lab, she revealed that the brain reward system – a cluster of regions deep in our brain – is involved in our evaluation of other people’s attractiveness. “The reward system is involved in generating the experience of pleasure when, for instance, we enjoy tasty food or happen to win a lottery. It turns out that the same system is also engaged in creating the feelings of pleasure when we look at a pretty face,” Ms. Chelnokova says. Previous research has shown a high level of agreement between/among people when it comes to evaluating facial attractiveness. In the current study, the scientists let participants view images of faces pre-rated as most, intermediate, or less attractive. This was done after participants received a small dose of morphin, a drug that stimulates the reward system. “Participants rated the most attractive faces as even more attractive, and were willing to do more presses on the button that let them look at the picture for a longer time. They also spent more time looking at the eyes of the people in the pictures.”

Exosome-Based Platform Can Enrich for Cancer-Specific Exosomes; New Data Demonstrates mRNA Signature in Exosomes Derived from Metastatic Melanoma Patients Treated with Ipilimumab; Early Signature Changes Associated with Improved Progression-Free Survival

On November 9, 2015, Exosome Diagnostics, Inc., a developer of revolutionary, biofluid-based molecular diagnostics, announced new data demonstrating the novel ability of its proprietary exosomal RNA (exoRNA) technology platform to enrich for cancer-specific exosomes in order to more precisely determine tumor-specific gene changes in response to immunotherapy treatment. The data were presented on Sunday, November 8, in a late-breaking poster session at the 26th AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics taking place November 5-9 in Boston, Massachusetts. The session was entitled, “Early Exosome mRNA Changes Are Associated with Improved Progression-Free survival of Metastatic Melanoma Patients on Ipilimumab: Identification of a Novel Exosome mRNA Signature of Ipilimumab Response.” “These data are quite exciting, as they represent the continued evolution and maturation of how we can potentially utilize exosomes to derive critical molecular information about cancer with the end goal of improving treatment and outcomes for patients,” said Keith Flaherty (photo), M.D., Director, Henri and Belinda Termeer Center for Targeted Therapies at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center in Boston, Massachusetts, and a co-author of the abstract. “The ability of the Exosome Diagnostics platform to pinpoint tumor-specific gene changes associated with immunotherapy treatment responses in exosomes is a key advancement.

Pancreatic Cancer: CD44v6-Specific Peptides (v6peps) Inhibit Cancer Spread & May Induce Regression of Existing Metastases, Animal Studies Show; v6peps Inhibit CD44v6, a Co-Receptor for CD44-Dependent MET & VEGFR-2 Receptor Tyrosine Kinases

Due to their rapid metastatic spread, pancreatic tumors are among the most aggressive types of cancer. Only three to five percent of patients have a survival rate of five years. A team of researchers at the Karlshue Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany has now established a basis for new therapeutic approaches In an article published online on October 24, 2015 in Gastroenterology, the scientist report that in various pancreatic cancer mouse models CD44v6-specific peptides do not only inhibit the spread of tumor cells, but may even lead to the regression of already existing metastases.The article is titled “Inhibition of Tumor Growth and Metastasis in Pancreatic Cancer Models by Interference with CD44v6 Signaling.” “We think that these peptides have a high potential for tumor therapy, above all for the treatment of pancreatic cancer with its aggressive metastases,” Véronique Orian-Rousseau, Ph.D., Group Leader in the Institute of Toxicology and Genetics (ITG) at KIT, says. The CD44v6 protein was discovered in the 1990s by KIT researchers. It acts as a co-receptor for receptor tyrosine kinases, such as MET or VEGFR-2, that depend on CD44 for their activation. These enzymes largely influence the activities of tumor cells. MET accelerates their proliferation, migration, and invasion. VEGFR-2 promotes angiogenesis, i.e., the formation of new blood vessels required to supply the tumor. Hence, MET and VEGFR-2 are decisive for the growth and spread of tumor cells. In pre-clinical studies on animals and using various pancreatic cancer models, KIT scientists have proved, for the first time, that the co-receptor function of CD44v6 drives the metastatic spreading. Interestingly, small segments of the CD44v6 protein (called v6pep) turned out to be successful inhibitors of metastasis in animal experiments.