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Archive - Sep 29, 2015

Exosome-Based Platform Can Predict Early Treatment Response, and Serially and Longitudinally Monitor the Continuing Response, to Immunotherapy in Patients with Malignant Melanoma

Exosome Diagnostics, Inc., a developer of potentially revolutionary, biofluid-based molecular diagnostics, announced on Tuesday, September 29, 2015, data demonstrating the ability of its exosomal RNA (exoRNA) technology platform to predict early response to immunotherapy treatment two to four weeks after treatment initiation, based on mRNA expression changes, and to serially and longitudinally monitor the response in patients with malignant melanoma. The data were presented at a poster session entitled, “Profiling Exosomal mRNAs in Patients Undergoing Immunotherapy for Malignant Melanoma,” at the 18th European Cancer Congress (ECCO) – 40th European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Annual Meeting in Vienna, Austria (September 25-29). A link to the actual poster is provided at the end of this article. “While immunotherapy has emerged as a promising approach to treating cancer, responses vary dramatically among patients. Based on a current dearth of precise diagnostics, critical time elapses before we can determine whether a patient is responding to treatment – time we can’t afford to lose in patients with metastatic melanoma,” said Keith T. Flaherty, M.D., Director of the 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 ECCO-ESMO abstract. “The ability to use exosomal RNA in blood plasma to monitor treatment response and, more so, to predict response represents a breakthrough development that could dramatically accelerate the adoption of immunotherapy treatments by oncologists.

Biased Kappa Agonist May Be Effective Against “Chronic Intractable Itch” Associated with Dialysis & Renal Failure; Isoquinolinone 2.1 Shown Effective in Mouse Model, Without Inducing Sedation

If you have an itch, you have to scratch it. But that's a problem for people with a condition called "chronic intractable itch," where that itchy sensation never goes away--a difficult-to-treat condition closely associated with dialysis and renal failure. In a new study, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) describe a class of compounds with the potential to stop chronic itch without the adverse side effects normally associated with medicating the condition. "Our lab has been working on compounds that preserve the good properties of opioids and eliminate many of the side effects," said TSRI Professor Dr. Laura Bohn (photo). "The new paper describes how we have refined an aspect of signaling underlying how the drugs work at the receptor so they still suppress itch and do not induce sedation. Developing compounds that activate the receptors in this way may serve as a means to improve their therapeutic potential." In the study, which was published in the December 2015 issue of Neuropharmacology, a compound called isoquinolinone 2.1 was used to target the kappa opioid receptor, which is widely expressed in the central nervous system and serves to moderate pain perception and stress responses. The compound was effective in stopping irritant-induced itch, without causing sedation, in mouse models of the condition. The article is titled “Investigation of the Role of Beta Arrestin2 in Kappa Opioid Receptor Modulation in a Mouse Model of Pruritus.” Dr. Bohn noted isoquinolinone 2.1 is one example of a new class of "biased" kappa agonists that avoid many central nervous system side effects by preferentially activating a G-protein-mediated signaling cascade without involving another system based on β-arrestin protein interactions. The first author of this new study was Jenny Morgenweck.