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Hermann P.C.,Stem Cells and Cancer Group | Trabulo S.M.,Stem Cells and Cancer Group | Sainz Jr. B.,Stem Cells and Cancer Group | Balic A.,Stem Cells and Cancer Group | And 8 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Purpose:In spite of intense research efforts, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma remains one of the most deadly malignancies in the world. We and others have previously identified a subpopulation of pancreatic cancer stem cells within the tumor as a critical therapeutic target and additionally shown that the tumor stroma represents not only a restrictive barrier for successful drug delivery, but also serves as a paracrine niche for cancer stem cells. Therefore, we embarked on a large-scale investigation on the effects of combining chemotherapy, hedgehog pathway inhibition, and mTOR inhibition in a preclinical mouse model of pancreatic cancer.Experimental Design:Prospective and randomized testing in a set of almost 200 subcutaneous and orthotopic implanted whole-tissue primary human tumor xenografts.Results:The combined targeting of highly chemoresistant cancer stem cells as well as their more differentiated progenies, together with abrogation of the tumor microenvironment by targeting the stroma and enhancing tissue penetration of the chemotherapeutic agent translated into significantly prolonged survival in preclinical models of human pancreatic cancer. Most pronounced therapeutic effects were observed in gemcitabine-resistant patient-derived tumors. Intriguingly, the proposed triple therapy approach could be further enhanced by using a PEGylated formulation of gemcitabine, which significantly increased its bioavailability and tissue penetration, resulting in a further improved overall outcome.Conclusions:This multimodal therapeutic strategy should be further explored in the clinical setting as its success may eventually improve the poor prognosis of patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. © 2013 Hermann et al.

Kalamarides M.,University Paris Diderot | Acosta M.T.,Childrens National Medical Center | Babovic-Vuksanovic D.,Mayo Medical School | Carpen O.,University of Turku | And 18 more authors.
Acta Neuropathologica | Year: 2012

The 2011 annual meeting of the Children's Tumor Foundation, the annual gathering of the neurofibromatosis (NF) research and clinical communities, was attended by 330 participants who discussed integration of new signaling pathways into NF research, the appreciation for NF mutations in sporadic cancers, and an expanding pre-clinical and clinical agenda. NF1, NF2, and schwannomatosis collectively affect approximately 100,000 persons in US, and result from mutations in different genes. Benign tumors of NF1 (neurofibroma and optic pathway glioma) and NF2 (schwannoma, ependymoma, and meningioma) and schwannomatosis (schwannoma) can cause significant morbidity, and there are no proven drug treatments for any form of NF. Each disorder is associated with additional manifestations causing morbidity. The research presentations described in this review covered basic science, preclinical testing, and results from clinical trials, and demonstrate the remarkable strides being taken toward understanding of and progress toward treatments for these disorders based on the close interaction among scientists and clinicians. © 2011 The Author(s).

Stevenson D.A.,University of Utah | Little D.,Childrens Hospital | Little D.,University of Sydney | Armstrong L.,University of British Columbia | And 19 more authors.
Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics | Year: 2013

BACKGROUND: Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) is an autosomal dominant disorder with various skeletal abnormalities occurring as part of a complex phenotype. Tibial dysplasia, which typically presents as anterolateral bowing of the leg with subsequent fracture and nonunion (pseudarthrosis), is a serious but infrequent osseous manifestation of NF1. Over the past several years, results from clinical and experimental studies have advanced our knowledge of the role of NF1 in bone. On the basis of current knowledge, we propose a number of concepts to consider as a theoretical approach to the optimal management of tibial pseudarthrosis. METHODS: A literature review for both clinical treatment and preclinical models for tibial dysplasia in NF1 was performed. Concepts were discussed and developed by experts who participated in the Children's Tumor Foundation sponsored International Bone Abnormalities Consortium meeting in 2011. RESULTS: Concepts for a theoretical approach to treating tibial pseudarthrosis include: bone fixation appropriate to achieve stability in any given case; debridement of the "fibrous pseudarthrosis tissue" between the bone segments associated with the pseudarthrosis; creating a healthy vascular bed for bone repair; promoting osteogenesis; controlling overactive bone resorption (catabolism); prevention of recurrence of the "fibrous pseudarthrosis tissue"; and achievement of long-term bone health to prevent recurrence. CONCLUSIONS: Clinical trials are needed to assess effectiveness of the wide variation of surgical and pharmacologic approaches currently in practice for the treatment of tibial pseudarthrosis in NF1. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level V, expert opinion. Copyright © 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Acosta M.T.,The Gilbert Neurofibromatosis Institute | Acosta M.T.,National Health Research Institute | Bearden C.E.,University of California at Los Angeles | Castellanos X.F.,New York University | And 12 more authors.
American Journal of Medical Genetics, Part A | Year: 2012

Learning disabilities and other cognitive disorders represent one of the most important unmet medical needs and a significant source of lifelong disability. To accelerate progress in this area, an international consortium of researchers and clinicians, the Learning Disabilities Network (LeaDNet), was established in 2006. Initially, LeaDNet focused on neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), a common single gene disorder with a frequency of 1:3,000. Although NF1 is best recognized as an inherited tumor predisposition syndrome, learning, cognitive, and neurobehavioral deficits account for significant morbidity in this condition and can have a profound impact on the quality of life of affected individuals. Recently, there have been groundbreaking advances in our understanding of the molecular, cellular, and neural systems underpinnings of NF1-associated learning deficits in animal models, which precipitated clinical trials using a molecularly targeted treatment for these deficits. However, much remains to be learned about the spectrum of cognitive, neurological, and psychiatric phenotypes associated with the NF1 clinical syndrome. In addition, there is a pressing need to accelerate the identification of specific clinical targets and treatments for these phenotypes. The successes with NF1 have allowed LeaDNet investigators to broaden their initial focus to other genetic disorders characterized by learning disabilities and cognitive deficits including other RASopathies (caused by changes in the Ras signaling pathway). The ultimate mission of LeaDNet is to leverage an international translational consortium of clinicians and neuroscientists to integrate bench-to-bedside knowledge across a broad range of cognitive genetic disorders, with the goal of accelerating the development of rational and biologically based treatments. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Widemann B.C.,U.S. National Cancer Institute | Acosta M.T.,Gilbert NF Institute | Ammoun S.,University of Plymouth | Belzberg A.J.,Johns Hopkins University | And 36 more authors.
American Journal of Medical Genetics, Part A | Year: 2014

The neurofibromatoses (NF) are autosomal dominant genetic disorders that encompass the rare diseases NF1, NF2, and schwannomatosis. The NFs affect more people worldwide than Duchenne muscular dystrophy and Huntington's disease combined. NF1 and NF2 are caused by mutations of known tumor suppressor genes (NF1 and NF2, respectively). For schwannomatosis, although mutations in SMARCB1 were identified in a subpopulation of schwannomatosis patients, additional causative gene mutations are still to be discovered. Individuals with NF1 may demonstrate manifestations in multiple organ systems, including tumors of the nervous system, learning disabilities, and physical disfigurement. NF2 ultimately can cause deafness, cranial nerve deficits, and additional severe morbidities caused by tumors of the nervous system. Unmanageable pain is a key finding in patients with schwannomatosis. Although today there is no marketed treatment for NF-related tumors, a significant number of clinical trials have become available. In addition, significant preclinical efforts have led to a more rational selection of potential drug candidates for NF trials. An important element in fueling this progress is the sharing of knowledge. For over 20 years the Children's Tumor Foundation has convened an annual NF Conference, bringing together NF professionals to share novel findings, ideas, and build collaborations. The 2012 NF Conference held in New Orleans hosted over 350 NF researchers and clinicians. This article provides a synthesis of the highlights presented at the conference and as such, is a "state-of-the-field" for NF research in 2012. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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