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Archive - Sep 15, 2017

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Aethlon Medical Is Awarded $300K NCI Government Contract to Develop Device Strategy for Isolating Oncosomes and Non-Malignant Exosomes

Aethlon Medical, Inc. (Nasdaq: AEMD), a therapeutic technology company focused on unmet needs in global health and biodefense, announced, on September 14, 2017, that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded the Company a government contract (number HHSN261201700022C). The title of this SBIR Topic 359 Phase I contract is "Device Strategy for Selective Isolation of Oncosomes and Non-Malignant Exosomes." The NCI Phase I contract period runs from September 15, 2017 and runs through June 14, 2018. The total amount of the firm fixed price contract is $299,250. The contract calls for two subcontractors to work with the Company. The subcontractors under Aethlon Medical on the contract are University of Pittsburgh and Massachusetts General Hospital. Aethlon Medical is investigating the potential use of the Aethlon Hemopurifier® to reduce the presence of circulating tumor-derived exosomes (oncosomes), which contribute to cancer progression. The Hemopurifier® is currently being advanced to treat life-threatening viral infections under an FDA designated Expedited Access Pathway (EAP) program. The Company is also engaged in the advancement of exosomal biomarkers to diagnose and monitor cancer and other disease conditions. Aethlon Medical is focused on addressing unmet needs in global health and biodefense. The Aethlon Hemopurifier® was designed to reduce the presence of life-threatening viral pathogens from the circulatory system of infected individuals. The technology provides a first-line candidate defense against viruses that are not addressed with approved therapies, including a broad-spectrum of naturally occurring pandemic threats and agents of bioterrorism.

Evidence for Lack of Anti-Viral Argonaute2 Proteins in Vertebrates

Insects and plants have an important ancient defense mechanism that helps them to fight viruses. This is encoded in their DNA. Scientists have long assumed that vertebrates - including humans - also had this same mechanism. But researchers at KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium, have found that vertebrates have lost this particular asset in the course of their evolution. The possibilities encoded in our DNA are expressed via RNA. Conversely, RNA interference (RNAi) can also suppress the expression of a specific gene. Insects and plants use this RNAi mechanism to defend themselves against viruses, among other things. With a little help, insects and plants can even be made resistant to certain diseases through this RNAi mechanism. Examples include so-called genetically modified crops. It seems only logical to assume, then, that humans can be protected against specific diseases in a similar way. However, past experiments to this effect have proven to be a challenge. Researchers from the Animal Physiology and Neurobiology unit at KU Leuven have now shown why this is the case. The research was published online on August 23, 2017 in Scientific Reports. The open-access article is titled “The Evolution of Animal Argonautes: Evidence for the Absence of Antiviral AGO Argonautes in Vertebrates.” KU Leuven researcher Dr. Niels Wynant studied Argonaute proteins, which play an important role in the RNAi process. "In a first stage, we compared the DNA of more than 40 living organisms from various important animal groups. It's the first time that such a diverse group was studied. It didn't take us long to find the Argonaute proteins in these organisms. We also discovered the existence of three distinct types of Argonautes, each with a specific biological role," Dr. Wynant explains.

$11.6 Million NIH Grant Will Finance Studies of Possible Role of Exosomes in Heart Repair and Regeneration

The incidence of heart disease is on the rise, and new therapeutic strategies are needed. Approaches based on stem cells, which can potentially preserve or even regenerate heart muscle cells damaged by ischemia - a hallmark of heart disease - are especially promising. Now, thanks to an $11.6-Million Program Project Grant (PPG) from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under award number P01HL134608, scientists at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) are poised to explore new possibilities in stem-cell-based treatments for heart repair and regeneration. According to a release dated September 13, 2017, the project is aimed specifically at better understanding the regenerative capabilities of stem-cell-derived microvesicles known as exosomes. The Principal Investigator on the new award is Raj Kishore, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine and Director of the Stem Cell Therapy Program in the Center for Translational Medicine at LKSOM. According to Dr. Kishore, exosomes offer an exciting opportunity to develop a cell-free approach to stem cell-based therapy for heart disease. "Previous attempts at stem cell therapy for heart disease did not work as hoped," Dr. Kishore said. "In many cases, the stem cells themselves were injured by inflammation in the heart following injection or were not functioning optimally, having been weakened from disease, such as diabetes, or age." Exosomes differ from stem cells in that they are not actually cells. Rather, they are tiny packages, roughly 50-150 nanometers in diameter, which are secreted by stem cells and taken up by neighboring tissue cells. They can carry stem cell-specific small RNAs, proteins, and other cargo that mimic stem cell functions once released inside cells, giving them beneficial properties.