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Archive - Feb 28, 2017

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Molecular Paleontology Reveals Secrets of Octopus, Cuttlefish, and Squid Evolution

Octopus, cuttlefish, and squid are well known in the invertebrate world. With their ink-squirting decoy technique, ability to change color, bizarre body plan, and remarkable intelligence, they highlight that lacking a back-bone doesn't always mean lacking sophistication. Examining their deep evolutionary past, researchers have been spoiled by their generous fossil record, as demonstrated by drawer after drawer of ammonites and belemnites in every natural history museum shop. But, the mostly shell-less modern cephalopods have been less easy to understand. Now, a new study, led by researchers from the University of Bristol (UK), has found out how these remarkable creatures evolved by comparing their fossil records with the evolutionary history chronicled in their gene sequences to shed light on their origins. Published online on February 28,2017 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the study shows that the cephalopods diversified into the familiar modern octopuses, cuttlefish, and squid during a time of great change in the marine world, known as the Mesozoic Marine Revolution, 160 to 100 million years in the past. Lead author, Al Tanner, a Ph.D. student at the University of Bristol's School of Biological Sciences, is a molecular biologist and bioinformatician at the Bristol Palaeobiology Research Group--a world leading evolutionary research group. He said: "On land this was the time of the dinosaurs, but beneath the seas, ecologies were changing rapidly. Fish, squid, and their predators were locked in evolutionary 'arms-races,' leading to increasingly speedy and agile predators and prey.

“Exceptional Results” Suggest That CAR T Cell Therapy Could Become New Standard of Care for Patients with Refractory Aggressive Lymphoma

On February 28, 2017, Kite Pharma, Inc., (Nasdaq:KITE) announced positive data from the primary analysis of ZUMA-1 for its lead CAR-T candidate, axicabtagene ciloleucel (previously referred to as KTE-C19), in patients with chemorefractory aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). The study of 101 patients met the primary endpoint of objective response rate (ORR), or rates of tumor response (complete response + partial response) recorded after a single infusion of axicabtagene ciloleucel, with 82 percent (p < 0.0001). 41% of patients were in response and 36% were in complete response (CR) at month 6 of the study. According to Kite, these results demonstrate the treatment effect of axicabtagene ciloleucel in a patient population with multiple types of aggressive NHL, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) enrolled in Cohort 1, as well as primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma (PMBCL) and transformed follicular lymphoma (TFL) enrolled in Cohort 2. "These results with axicabtagene ciloleucel are exceptional and suggest that more than a third of patients with refractory aggressive NHL could potentially be cured after a single infusion of axicabtagene ciloleucel," said Jeff Wiezorek, M.D., Senior Vice President of Clinical Development. "The ZUMA-1 study was built on a foundation of support and commitment from Dr. Steven Rosenberg and the National Cancer Institute and our ZUMA-1 clinical trial investigators who believed in the potential for CAR-T therapy to change the paradigm of cancer treatment." “This seems extraordinary ... extremely encouraging,” said one independent expert, Dr. Roy Herbst, cancer medicines chief at the Yale Cancer Center, as quoted in a Washington Post article (see link below) on the Kite announcement.