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Archive - Jun 12, 2017

Possible “Game-Changer in Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes” Canagliflozin (Invokana) Drug Reduces Risks of Cardiovascular Disease, Heart Failure Hospitalization, and Kidney Disease Progression, According to Study Published in NEJM

A drug that lowers blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes has also been revealed to significantly reduce the risk of both cardiovascular and kidney disease. The study by The George Institute for Global Health has major implications for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, which affects approximately 450 million people worldwide. The findings published online on June 12, 2017 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the drug canagliflozin (Invokana) reduced the overall risk of cardiovascular disease by 14 per cent and reduced the risk of heart failure hospitalization by 33 per cent. It was also shown to have a significant impact on the progression of renal disease. Professor Bruce Neal, of The George Institute for Global Health, said the findings, which were presented at the American Diabetes Association Conference in San Diego (June 9-13) were exciting and offered real hope to people suffering from type 2 diabetes. "Coronary heart disease is the biggest killer by far for people with type 2 diabetes. Our findings suggest that not only does canagliflozin significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, it also has many other benefits too. We found it also reduced blood pressure and led to weight loss. Type 2 diabetes is growing rapidly all over the world and we need drugs that not only deal with glucose levels, but that also protect the many millions of people from the very real risks of stroke and heart attack." The study is particularly important to Australiaa because approximately 65% of all cardiovascular deaths occur in people with diabetes or pre-diabetes, and diabetes is also the leading cause of end-stage kidney disease. It also reinforces the findings from a previous study which also showed a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease associated with blood-sugar-level-lowering drugs.

Small Group of Hypothalamus Neurons (POMC) Modulates Amount of Insulin Pancreas Produces

The brain is key in the regulation of appetite, body weight, and metabolism. Specifically, there is a small group of hypothalamus neurons, called POMC (pro-opiomelanocortin) neurons, that detect and integrate signals that inform on the energy state of the organism and activate the appropriate physiological responses. These neurons are sensitive to fluctuations in nutrients such as glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids. Now, a research project co-chaired by Marc Claret, at the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS), and Antonio Zorzano, at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), both members of the CIBERDEM network, reveals the connection between POMC neurons at the hypothalamus and the release of insulin by the pancreas and describes new molecular mechanisms involved in this connection. The study was published in the June 6, 2017 issue of Cell Metabolism and the first authors are Sara Ramírez and Alicia G. Gómez-Valadés, both at IDIBAPS. The article is titled “Mitochondrial Dynamics Mediated by Mitofusin 1 Is Required for POMC Neuron Glucose-Sensing and Insulin Release Control.” POMC neurons detect changes in nutrient availability, but the molecular mechanisms involved are not known in detail. Also changes in the shape of mitochondria, a phenomenon known as mitochondrial dynamics, is a mechanism of energy adaptation in changing metabolic conditions, to adjust the needs of cells. To determine whether defects in the mitochondrial dynamics of this small nucleus of POMC neurons could cause alterations in metabolism, researchers removed a mitochondrial dynamics protein, mitofusin 1, in these cells in mice. First, the scientists observed that these mice have altered detection of glucose levels and adaptation between the fasting state and after being fed.

Liquid Biopsy Propelling Cancer Diagnostics Research Is Focus of Mid-Morning Session on Day 2 of Personalized Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2017 at Duke; GRAIL Founder Richard Klausner Speaks

Speakers in the mid-morning session of Day 2 of the PMWC 2017 at Duke focused on how “Liquid Biopsy Is Propelling Cancer Diagnostics Research.” The speakers included Richard Klausner, MD, former Director of the National Cancer Institute, past Chief Medical Officer at Illumina, and a founder of GRAIL, Inc. (, a life sciences company whose mission is to detect cancer early, when it can be cured, using wide and deep DNA sequencing analysis of circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA); John Beeler, PhD, VP of Corporate & Business Development, Inivata (, a company dedicated to transforming clinical cancer care with liquid biopsy; and Edward Kim, MD, Chair of Solid Tumor Oncology and Investigational Therapeutics and the Donald S. Kim Distinguished Chair for Cancer Research at the Levine Cancer Institute, Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Kim was previously at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas where he was a tenured Associate Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Section of Head and Neck Medical Oncology, and Director of Clinical Research Operations in the Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology. Dr. Klausner began the session by briefly telling the story of how GRAIL, a company that recently raised $900 million in funding, came to be. The story began not too long ago at Illumina, the biotech company where Dr. Klausner was CMO. Illumina had developed a highly specific and precise liquid biopsy test (Noninvasive Prenatal Testing) that could detect aberrant chromosome numbers (monosomies and trisomies) in fetal DNA in blood taken from expectant mothers as early as 10 weeks into the pregnancy. Dr. Klausner said that this test became the most rapidly adopted test in history.