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News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

CarraShield Labs, Inc. reported today that Rutgers University New Jersey Medical School and Albert Einstein College of Medicine are performing a National Cancer Institute-funded study on a revolutionary way of blocking the transmission of the human papillomavirus (HPV) from person to person using Divine 9® personal lubricant. Divine 9 is made with a unique formulation of natural seaweed extracts called CarraShield® . Divine 9 with CarraShield has been shown in previous in vitro (laboratory) and in vivo (mouse) studies conducted by the National Cancer Institute to act as an HPV blocking agent. These past results were important factors that led the research team to select Divine 9 with CarraShield for this new study. Funded through a grant by the National Cancer Institute, the Rutgers and Einstein study is a combined clinical trial and translational research project to determine how well CarraShield protects against HPV. One hundred sexually active women are being recruited and then are randomly assigned to receive either Divine 9 with CarraShield as a blocking agent or an ordinary personal lubricant as a placebo. Both the Divine 9 and placebo lubricants are packaged in single-use applicators. The women are asked to use an applicator before, during or within twelve hours after a sexual encounter. Each participant is tested monthly for a wide range of HPV types to determine if CarraShield is able to protect against acquiring new HPV infections. The principal investigator for the study is Dr. Mark Einstein, Chair of the Department of OB/GYN & Women’s Health and Assistant Dean of the Clinical Research Unit at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. In 2015, Dr. Einstein launched the initial study on CarraShield at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECOM) in conjunction with the Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Einstein is collaborating with a distinguished group of experts from AECOM including Robert Burk, M.D., Vice Chair for Translational Research and Professor of Pediatrics, and Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women’s Health, and of Epidemiology & Population Health. Dr. Burk is an expert on detecting and characterizing HPV in clinical samples. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), HPV is the cause of essentially all cervical cancers (>99%) and cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women worldwide by age-standardized incidence rate. More than 85% of cervical cancer deaths are in developing countries, where it accounts for 13% of all female cancers. WHO also estimates that HPV causes 90% of anal cancer cases. In a separate study on HPV and throat cancer, AECOM found that the presence of an HPV type in the mouth increases the odds of developing head and neck cancer by twenty-two times. HPV is also the underlying cause of all genital warts. Current approaches to HPV prevention have limitations. While great strides have been made in creating HPV vaccines, most adults are not able to benefit because they are approved only for those aged 26 and younger. The vaccines can also be too expensive for widespread distribution in developing countries. Unfortunately, condoms are not always effective in preventing HPV infection due to the fact that HPV is transferred through skin to skin contact. A safe, effective product in the form of a personal lubricant that can be applied before, during or after sexual activity would allow people to protect themselves in a pleasant and unobtrusive fashion. “People around the world need an accessible and affordable way to protect themselves from the misery and heartache that HPV infections can cause,” stated Dean Fresonke, CEO of CarraShield Labs. “With a successful outcome from this study, we will have made significant progress toward an entirely new approach to helping prevent cervical cancer, genital warts and the other health issues caused by HPV.” CarraShield Labs, Inc., combines nature with science to create products that improve sexual well-being. Intensive research has led to the company’s proprietary, naturally-derived sea algae concentrate called CarraShield®. Divine 9® personal lubricant, made with CarraShield, was shown to block transmission of cancer-causing HPV infection in National Cancer Institute laboratory studies and is now undergoing clinical trials on women and men at McGill University. With the announcement of the new studies at Rutgers Medical School and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the only studies in the world on HPV prevention with a personal lubricant use Divine 9 with CarraShield. While the health benefits of CarraShield are being studied, consumers can enjoy the exotic, sensual feel of Divine 9 personal lubricant today. Look for Divine 9 and other products made with CarraShield in health conscious stores and websites. Learn more at http://www.CarraShieldLabs.com.


News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Pregnant women are almost twice as likely to quit smoking if they are supported from their first midwife appointment - and then are more likely to have heavier, healthier babies. Newcastle University researchers evaluated the "BabyClear" programme which follows the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance around smoking in pregnancy by screening all pregnant women for smoking using carbon monoxide monitoring. Any woman still smoking when she first saw a midwife, at around eight weeks into pregnancy, was given information about the risks to their unborn baby. She was then put in contact with agencies who could help her quit. Publishing today in Tobacco Control, the research team report that in the study of 40,000 mothers-to-be, the number of women helped to stop smoking almost doubled. Dr Ruth Bell, senior lecturer in the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University, who led the study, said: "This shows that if we help make it routine for midwives to ask about smoking and screen every mother-to-be for carbon monoxide, we can double the number of women who quit smoking in pregnancy and substantially increase the number of healthy babies." The team found the women who did not smoke in pregnancy, went on to have babies that were more than half-a-pound heavier (260 grams or 0.57lb) at full term, than those who continued to smoke. Even women who quit smoking during their pregnancy were shown to have heavier babies (by around 210 grams or 0.46lb) than those of mothers who smoked throughout pregnancy. This is an indicator of a healthier infant that is likely to need less medical help. The large study in NHS maternity units across the north east of England, included 10, 594 women who were smokers. Every woman was offered carbon monoxide (CO) monitoring and anyone with high carbon monoxide readings, indicating smoking, was routinely referred to Stop Smoking Services within 24 hours, where they received help to stop from a trained smoking cessation adviser. Dr Bell said: "Training midwives particularly on how to start a conversation about smoking, along with providing clear routes for women to get support to help stop smoking, ensured that national guidance was followed. This package proved to be highly effective in helping mothers to stop smoking, equivalent to nearly 100 extra quitters per year in a maternity unit delivering 3,000 babies." The study was funded by the NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR) and Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health. The study examined the records of 37,726 births of single babies across the North East, including 10,594 to mothers who smoked during pregnancy. The authors report that the referral rate more than doubled (2.5 times higher) across all the trusts in the first three months after the introduction of the new approach. The introduction of the programmes was associated with a substantial increase in quitting during pregnancy, and quitting was associated with referral to stop smoking services. Further analysis of birthweight revealed that babies were significantly heavier if a mother quit smoking during pregnancy. Professor Eugene Milne, a co-author of the study and Director of Public Health at Newcastle City Council, said: "It is hard to overstate the impact that being smoke free can have on babies, mothers and families. "Reducing smoking reduces the risk of stillbirth, low birth weight, and of problems with health not only in childhood but into adult life and even old age. There is clear evidence that heavier babies have lower rates of heart disease in later life. "This new study provides important evidence that giving the right care to help pregnant mothers quit smoking is an effective and important intervention, and provides the information and help that mothers want. "We are working to ensure that all prospective mothers receive this standard of care and support in Newcastle and the North East." Economic analysis revealed that the additional cost of the intervention per delivery was £31. The work was possible as the North East has a regional approach to reducing smoking during pregnancy, embedding NICE guidance using the BabyClear approach developed by Improving Performance in Practice (iPiP). This was rolled out in the North East by Fresh, the North East's regional tobacco control programme, working with all of the North East's hospital foundation trusts and Stop Smoking Services. Smoking at the time of delivery rates have fallen in the North East since 2009/10 when 22.2% of women smoked at the time they gave birth, down to 16% in 2016. Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, which supported the introduction of the approach across the region said: "These findings and the drastic decline in smoking in pregnancy in the North East by around a third since 2009 shows the vital role the NHS can play in reducing harm from tobacco. But it is vital this work continues. "There is a lack of awareness around just how smoking harms unborn babies and midwives played an important role in communicating this. Women overwhelmingly supported this approach, even if some initially found the facts shocking. "There has also been demand for this approach to be rolled out nationally by leads from the national Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group, a coalition working to reduce the harm caused by tobacco." Professor Linda Bauld, Co-Chair of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group and Professor of Health Policy at the University of Stirling said: "The North East of England has taken a lead in implementing recommendations from NICE and the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge group, and progress achieved is impressive. "These results show the vital role health professionals can play when they raise the issue of smoking. These changes have undoubtedly saved lives and have implications that go beyond pregnancy for the role front line NHS professionals can play." Dr Bell adds: "Our analysis shows that by improving the links between midwives and smoking cessation services we can really help mothers give their babies the best start in life." REFERENCE: Evaluation of a complex healthcare intervention to increase smoking cessation in pregnant women: interrupted time series analysis with economic evaluation. Ruth Bell et al. Tobacco Control. Doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2016-053476 Melanie Snowdon, 40, from South Shields, welcomed her fifth child, Faith, to the world in March. When she found out she was expecting she sought support from her local stop smoking service to quit tobacco for the good of her unborn child. She's continued to be smoke free following the birth and is confident that she'll remain that way in the future. She said: "I was about 17 when I started smoking. In those days everybody smoked, we knew it was bad but you don't think about that when you're a teenager. On average I smoked about 20 - 30 a day and it wasn't until I was pregnant with my fifth child that I stopped. "I smoked through my first four pregnancies and there were no issues, I had four healthy babies. There was a big gap in between my first four and my youngest. "Not long after I married my husband, we fell pregnant again. I decided that I needed to quit smoking as my husband doesn't smoke and doesn't like it. "The thing that really hit home for me was when the midwife at hospital showed me how much carbon monoxide was in my breath and explained how smoking starves the baby of oxygen. "I was referred to my local stop smoking service and, at first, I was very sceptical. I used patches, sprays and an ecig for a little bit too and I managed to come off the cigarettes completely after seven weeks. "I couldn't quite believe the difference in weight, my daughter was 9lbs 12oz whereas all my other children were much lighter. I never believed that smokers had smaller babies. "I wasn't sure how I would do after my daughter was born but I'm still off the cigarettes and I can't see myself going back. I still carry a spray in my bag just in case but the thought and the smell of smoking really puts me off. "My husband has said he is really proud of me because he thought once the baby was born I would have started again. "I would encourage other mums to give it a try - it doesn't cost anything. I smoked for so many years and would never have thought I would be able to stop but I did."


News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

(Edmonton, AB) Every day tens of thousands of Canadians unwillingly find themselves becoming shadows of their former selves. They grasp onto moments of clarity--fleeting windows of time--before slipping away again into confusion; robbed of memories, talents and their very personalities. Alzheimer's is a heart-wrenching disease that directly affects half a million Canadians. There is no cure, let alone treatment to stop progression of the disease. While current answers are few, research at the University of Alberta is spearheading the discovery of new potential therapies for the future. A study published in the journal Alzheimer's and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Intervention examines if a compound called AC253 can inhibit a "rogue" protein called amyloid. The protein is found in large numbers in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and is suspected to be a key player in the development of the disease. "The way I look at it, it's hard to ignore the biggest player on the stage, which is the amyloid protein. Whatever treatment you develop, it's got to address that player," says Jack Jhamandas, Professor of Neurology in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta and senior author of the study. "In our previous work we have shown that there are certain drug compounds that can protect nerve cells from amyloid toxicity. One of these is a compound we call AC253. It sounds like an Air Canada flight. I hope this one is on time and takes us to our destination!" The team, comprised of postdoctoral fellows and research associates Rania Soudy, Aarti Patel and Wen Fu, tested AC253 on mice bred by David Westaway (a University of Alberta collaborator) to develop Alzheimer's. Mice were treated with a continuous infusion of AC253 for five months, beginning at three months of age before development of the disease. "We found at eight months, when these mice typically have a lot of amyloid in the brain and have a lot of difficulty in memory and learning tasks, that they actually improved their memory and learning," says Jhamandas, also a member of the U of A's Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute. As part of the study, the team of local and international researchers also developed and tested a more efficient method of getting the compound into the brain. Given an injection three times a week for 10 weeks of AC253 with a slightly modified structure, they again found there was an improvement in memory and learning performance. In addition, the researchers noted there was a lower amount of amyloid in the brains of mice treated with the compound compared to mice that did not get the drug, and that they exhibited reduced inflammation of the brain. The team is now planning additional studies to examine optimal dosage and methods of further improving the compound to increase its effectiveness in the brain. Much more work is needed before the research can move to human trials. Despite the long path still ahead, Jhamandas believes the findings offer both hope and a new way forward to unlock the Alzheimer's enigma. "Alzheimer's is a complex disease. Not for a moment do I believe that the solution is going to be a simple one, but maybe it will be a combination of solutions." "We can't build nursing homes and care facilities fast enough because of an aging population. And that tsunami, the silver tsunami, is coming if not already here," adds Jhamandas. "At a human level, if you can keep someone home instead of institutionalized, even for a year, what does it mean to them? It means the world to them and their families."


New Review of ctDNA Liquid Biopsies in Nature Reviews Cancer Co-Authored by Inivata CSO Nitzan Rosenfeld Research Triangle Park, NC and Cambridge, UK 24 February 2017 -- Inivata, a global clinical cancer genomics company employing a revolutionary approach to circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) analysis to improve personalized healthcare in oncology, today announces the publication of a new review of the use of ctDNA as a liquid biopsy for cancer treatment in the journal Nature Reviews Cancer co-authored by Inivata's Chief Scientific Officer and Founder Nitzan Rosenfeld and Co-Founder and Clinical Advisor James Brenton. In "Liquid biopsies come of age: towards the implementation of circulating tumour DNA" (available online at www.nature.com/nrc/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nrc.2017.7.html) the authors* review the potential of ctDNA in cancer diagnosis, treatment selection and monitoring disease burden. They also highlight the importance of assay sensitivity, as sampling often yields low concentrations of ctDNA, and review currently available approaches for sensitive detection. The authors conclude that liquid biopsies have demonstrated broad potential clinical utility across a range of applications and they are beginning to be used for patient benefit. 1Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, 2Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre, 3Clinical Trials Unit, Clinic Institute of Haematalogical and Oncological Diseases, Hospital Clinic de Barcelona, 4Department of Oncology, University of Cambridge Hutchison-MRC Research Centre. About Nitzan Rosenfeld Nitzan Rosenfeld is a senior group leader at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge, and Inivata's co-founder and CSO. Nitzan trained in Physics, and specialized in quantitative molecular biology, obtaining a Ph.D. in the field of Systems Biology from the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2005 he joined Rosetta Genomics Ltd, where he was head of Computational Biology and led development of molecular diagnostic tests. In 2009 Nitzan joined Cancer Research UK's Cambridge Institute. His research group combines molecular technologies with genomic approaches to develop new diagnostic strategies. The focus of current research, the application of circulating tumour DNA for personalised cancer diagnostics, formed the basis of Inivata. In 2013 Nitzan was awarded the CRUK Future Leaders in Cancer Research prize, the British Association for Cancer Research Translational Research Award, and a prestigious ERC Starting Grant.  At the end of 2015, Nitzan received the Foulkes Medal which is awarded biennially to an outstanding bioscience researcher within ten years of completing their PhD. About Inivata Inivata, a clinical cancer genomics company, is employing the precision of ctDNA analysis to improve personalized healthcare in oncology. Using a simple blood test, ctDNA analysis is a new tool for oncologists to detect cancer, stratify patients, and assess individual response to treatment. Inivata's proprietary technology is based on pioneering research from the Rosenfeld Lab at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute (CRUK-CI), University of Cambridge. Inivata's Invision ctDNA assay provides a highly sensitive analysis of a highly-select gene panel to identify actionable mutations for oncologists to treat their patients optimally. In 2016, Inivata opened a CLIA lab in Research Triangle Park, NC and launched a large-scale, prospective clinical validation study of the Company's ctDNA analysis in lung cancer. For more information and a full listing of investors, please go to www.inivata.com. Follow us on Twitter @Inivata.


News Article | September 23, 2016
Site: www.biosciencetechnology.com

Chronic pain and loss of bladder control are among the most devastating consequences of spinal cord injury, rated by many patients as a higher priority for treatment than paralysis or numbness. Now a UC San Francisco team has transplanted immature human neurons into mice with spinal cord injuries, and shown that the cells successfully wire up with the damaged spinal cord to improve bladder control and reduce pain. This is a key step towards developing cell therapies for spinal cord injury in humans, say the researchers, who are currently working to develop the technique for future clinical trials. Recent mouse studies have demonstrated that transplants of neurons may be effective treatments for neuropathic pain, epilepsy, and even Parkinson’s disease. The new study – published Sept. 22, 2016, in Cell Stem Cell – is the first to successfully transplant human neurons as a treatment for symptoms of spinal cord injury. “This is an important proof of principle for using cell therapy to repair damaged neural tissue. It brings us one step closer to using such transplants to bring much needed relief to people with spinal cord injuries,” said co-senior author Arnold Kriegstein, M.D., Ph.D., who is a professor of developmental and stem cell biology and director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF. Currently, over a quarter of a million people in the U.S. live with spinal cord injuries, and 17,000 new cases occur each year, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center. In addition to paralysis and loss of sensation, recent estimates suggest that more than half of patients with spinal cord injury go on to develop chronic neuropathic pain, and nearly all develop bladder dysfunction. In addition to being painful, the inability to empty the bladder leads to back up in the urinary system that can result in kidney damage. “The field has been very focused on restoring patients’ ability to walk, perhaps because that’s often their most visible impairment,” said co-senior author Linda Noble-Haeusslein, PhD, who is the Alvera L. Kan Endowed Chair of Neurological Surgery and a professor of physical therapy and rehabilitation at UCSF. But a 2004 study that directly asked patients with spinal cord injury about their experiences found that nearly 20 percent of paraplegics and 10 percent of quadriplegics ranked bladder control as their highest priority for treatment, while fewer patients prioritized walking. “That study suggested that we had really missed the boat as a field,” said Noble-Haeusslein, who is also co-director of UCSF’s Neurobehavioral Core for Rehabilitation Research. “It caused us to dramatically shift what we do in the lab.” Chronic pain and loss of bladder control are caused by wide-spread inflammation immediately following acute spinal injuries, which can lead to more wide-spread damage further from the site of injury. In particular, inflammation damages inhibitory neural circuitry that uses the neurotransmitter GABA to keep spinal circuits’ activity under control. When GABA-producing cells are weakened, the spinal cord loses control over circuits controlling pain sensation as well as those responsible for emptying the bladder. Previously, researchers led by Kriegstein’s collaborator Allan Basbaum, Ph.D., chair of anatomy at UCSF, successfully treated neuropathic pain caused by peripheral nerve damane by transplanting GABA-producing medial ganglionic eminence (MGE)-like cells derived from mouse stem cells into the uninjured spinal cord. In another recent study, Scott C. Baraban, Ph.D., who holds the William K. Bowes Jr. Endowed Chair in Neuroscience Research at UCSF, successfully controlled seizures in epileptic mice by transplanting mouse MGE-like cells into the hippocampus, a brain region where seizures often begin. In the new paper, Noble-Haeusslein and Kriegstein took these efforts a step closer to therapies that could be used in human patients by testing whether human GABA-producing cells could effectively integrate into the damaged spinal cord and improve bladder dysfunction and chronic pain. They caused lab-grown human embryonic stem cells to differentiate into MGE-like inhibitory neuron precursors, then transplanted the immature human cells into mice two weeks following injury of the thoracic spinal cord (about half-way up the back). Six months later, the cells, which had been introduced just below the inflamed lumbar region of the spine where bladder function is controlled, had successfully migrated toward the site of injury, developed into mature inhibitory neurons and made synaptic connections with the local spinal cord circuitry. While untreated mice with spinal cord injuries developed hypersensitivity to touch and painful stimuli as well as abnormal scratching and grooming, mice with new human inhibitory neurons showed significantly fewer of all these signs of neuropathic pain by three to six months after transplantation. Treated mice also exhibited significantly improved bladder function – measured by decreased bladder pressure, lower amounts of urine in the bladder, and improved function of bladder muscles. As a result, the researchers observed, the mice were able to produce more normal, voluntary patterns of urination in their cages. The researchers hope the new findings will lead to the use of neural progenitors to improve the lot of patients with spinal cord injury, but Noble emphasizes that clinical trials are still a long way off: “This was a trial run,” Noble-Haeusslein said. “There’s still much to optimize going forward.” First, researchers will need to replicate the findings, and investigate the optimal timing of the intervention for improving bladder control and chronic pain. There are also safety concerns regarding transplanting neurons into the spinal cord: although the researchers saw no evidence of negative impacts on movement control or other spinal functions in experiments in uninjured control mice, more detailed safety studies still need to be done. Nevertheless, the researchers emphasize the new study should be cause for cautious optimism among spinal cord patients: “This is a very important step,” Kriegstein said. “It shows efficacy of a human cell therapy for neuropathic pain and bladder dysfunction in an animal model of spinal cord injury. The next step on the way to the clinic and a trial in patients is scaling up production of the interneuron precursors facilities that meet FDA quality and safety standards.” Kriegstein and co-author Cory Nicholas, Ph.D., are co-founders of Neurona Therapeutics, a startup company that is developing human MGE-like cells for future clinical trials. The research was supported by the US National Institute of Health Challenge Grant RC1 NS068200, the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine Early Translational Research Grant TR3-05606, and philanthropic support from Mr. Robert Sieker.


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A combination of two cancer drugs inhibited both dengue and Ebola virus infections in mice in a study led by Stanford University School of Medicine researchers, despite the fact that these two viruses are vastly different from each other. In laboratory-dish experiments, the drug combination, which has previously shown efficacy against the hepatitis C virus, also was effective against West Nile and Zika viruses, both of which are relatives of the hepatitis C virus, and multiple other unrelated viruses. The multi-institution study, to be published online Feb. 27 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, also pinpointed the specific molecular mechanism by which these drugs derail a variety of RNA viruses, whose genetic material consists not of DNA but of its close relative, RNA. "We've shown that a single combination of drugs can be effective across a broad range of viruses -- even when those viruses hail from widely separated branches of the evolutionary tree," said the study's senior author, Shirit Einav, MD, assistant professor of infectious diseases and of microbiology and immunology. The study's lead authors are former Stanford postdoctoral scholars Elena Bekerman, PhD, now at Gilead Sciences Inc., and Gregory Neveu, PhD, now at the University of Lyon and French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. The reason the drugs used in the study are able to combat infections by such different viruses is that their disabling action is directed not at the virus but at proteins of the host cell it's trying to infect, Einav said. Einav and her team are investigating strategies for combatting RNA viruses, such as dengue and Ebola. These viruses have a faulty replication process that results in frequent errors as their genetic material is copied, rendering them especially prone to mutations. Consequently, they swiftly acquire resistance to a typical antiviral drug that targets a specific viral enzyme, Einav said. "The 'one drug, one bug' approach can be quite successful, as in the case of hepatitis C virus," for which a concerted effort has generated several approved antiviral treatments, she said. But it took more than 10 years of research, she noted, and drug development costs typically exceed $2 billion. Making matters worse, Einav added, is the impossibility of predicting what the next emerging viral threat will look like. "We're always getting blindsided," she said. The deadly Ebola epidemic of a few years ago has subsided but could return at any time. Dengue infects an estimated 390 million people annually in over 100 countries. Four distinct strains of the dengue virus exist, hampering the development of a vaccine and boosting the chances of a once-infected person's re-infection by a different strain against which that person hasn't achieved sufficient immunity. Secondary infections can become life-threatening. While an Ebola vaccine has shown promise, it's not yet approved. A recently approved dengue vaccine has only limited efficacy. No viable antiviral drugs are currently available for either virus. Viruses are cut-rate brigands: They produce nothing on their own, but rather hijack the machinery of our cells. Hepatitis C, dengue, Ebola and other viruses hop onto molecular "buses" that whisk cargo between cell compartments. These buses shuttle the viruses around inside of cells. The buses' routes and fares are regulated by numerous cellular enzymes. Two such enzymes, which go by the acronyms AAK1 and GAK, essentially lower the fares charged by the molecular buses by tweaking them so they bind more strongly to their cargo. The standard antiviral approach aims to disable a specific viral enzyme. Einav and her associates' alternative approach took advantage of viruses' total dependence on infected cells' molecular machinery. The two-drug drug combination Einav's team put to work against dengue and Ebola impedes AAK1's and GAK's activity, effectively pricing bus fares beyond the viral budget. Erlotinib and sunitinib, each approved by the Food and Drug Administration more than a decade ago, are prescribed for various cancer indications. Neither AAK1 nor GAK are the primary targets of these drugs in their cancer-fighting roles. But Einav's group discovered, by accessing publicly available databases, that the two drugs impair AAK1 and GAK activity, too. Einav and her colleagues previously demonstrated that erlotinib and sunitinib inhibit hepatitis C virus infection in cells. In the new study, the investigators conducted experiments in lab dishes to show that both drugs inhibit viral infection by impeding the activity of AAK1 and GAK. Next, they tested the combination in lab dishes against the dengue and Ebola viruses, and observed that viral activity was strongly inhibited in both. While the dengue virus is a relatively close cousin of hepatitis C, it is quite different from the Ebola virus. The same drug combination also showed efficacy against a variety of other RNA viruses related to hepatitis C, including the Zika and West Nile viruses, and even against several unrelated viruses. In a prevention experiment in mice, the investigators administered the erlotinib-sunitinib combination once daily starting on the day of dengue-virus infection, employing the two drugs for five days at doses comparable to those approved for use against cancer in humans. All the control mice died between days four and eight. But of those treated with the drug combination, 65 to 100 percent, depending on the individual experiment, survived and regained their pre-infection weight and mobility. Given individually, the drugs provided substantially less protection, Einav said. In another experiment designed to test the drugs as a therapy, the combination retained substantial antiviral efficacy as long as it was given less than 48 hours after infection. In a similar prevention experiment with the Ebola virus, the scientists administered the drug daily for 10 days starting at six hours before infection. Some 90 percent of the control mice died within a week or two. But half the mice receiving the drug combination survived. Again, the drugs were substantially less effective when given individually. Additional lab experiments showed that the combination profoundly inhibited the dengue virus's ability to develop drug resistance. There's no possible way for viral mutations to alter the proteins of the cells it infects, Einav said, and no easy way for the virus to mutate around its dependence on those proteins. Stanford's Office of Technology Licensing has filed for patents on intellectual property associated with the findings. Other Stanford study co-authors are Claude Nagamine, DVM, PhD, assistant professor of comparative medicine; and research scientist Robert Mateo, PhD. The study was carried out in collaboration with researchers from the University of Chicago, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Maryland, the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Leuven in Belgium. The study was funded by the National Institute of Health (grants IU19AI10966201 and U19A1083019); the American Cancer Society; the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; the Department of Defense; Stanford Bio-X; the Stanford Spark program; the Stanford Translational Research and Applied Medicine program; Spectrum, which administers Stanford's Clinical and Translational Science Award (grant UL1TR001085) from the NIH; the Stanford Child Health Research Institute; and the Taiwan Ministry of Science and Technology. Stanford's departments of Medicine and of Microbiology and Immunology also supported the work. The Stanford University School of Medicine consistently ranks among the nation's top medical schools, integrating research, medical education, patient care and community service. For more news about the school, please visit http://med. . The medical school is part of Stanford Medicine, which includes Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. For information about all three, please visit http://med. .


NovogeneAIT Singapore and the Genome Institute of Singapore Forge Public-Private Partnership to Establish Whole Genome Sequencing Centre in Singapore Novogene, a leading commercial provider of genomic services and solutions with cutting edge next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics expertise; AITbiotech Pte Ltd, a Singapore biotechnology company; and the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) announced today that NovogeneAIT Genomics Singapore (NovogeneAIT) - a new joint venture between Novogene and AITbiotech - will establish a joint whole genome sequencing (WGS) centre at Biopolis, Singapore. The new centre will provide Illumina HiSeq X based whole genome sequencing and bioinformatics analysis of human, plant and animal samples for biomedical and agricultural researchers. The centre will devote a major portion of its sequencing capability to support public research projects and empower super scale sequencing initiatives in Singapore and the region. In addition, NovogeneAIT will collaborate with GIS to develop new applications of next-generation sequencing, such as WGS solutions for cancer diagnosis and stratified cancer treatment. "I am very excited and pleased to announce this significant new initiative with the Genome Institute of Singapore," stated Dr. Ruiqiang Li, CEO of Novogene. "The centre is the first major project for NovogeneAIT and is an important milestone for our company. We look forward to providing high-quality sequencing services in Singapore and to advancing important research initiatives that can benefit humanity." "We are delighted to work with a local biotech company," said Prof. Ng Huck Hui, Executive Director of GIS. "Such public-private partnerships will prove to be highly beneficial as it leverages the strengths of both parties to advance genomic science and medicine in Singapore, as well as to create successful local biotech companies." About Novogene Corporation Novogene is a leading provider of genomic services and solutions with cutting edge NGS and bioinformatics expertise and one of the largest sequencing capacities in the world. Novogene utilizes scientific excellence, a commitment to customer service and unsurpassed data quality to help our clients realize their research goals in the rapidly evolving world of genomics. With 1,300 employees, multiple locations around the world, 43 NGS related patents, and over 200 publications in top tier journal such as Nature and Science, the company has rapidly become a world-leader in NGS services. For more information, visit http://en.novogene.com. NovogeneAIT, a newly formed joint venture between Novogene and AITbiotech announced in September 2016, provides Illumina HiSeq X based NGS services to the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) and other Asian regions. About AITbiotech AITbiotech is a leading Genomic Services and MDx company based in Singapore. Founded by Alex Thian in 2008, it has a core molecular services and R&D laboratory in Singapore managed by a team of experienced biotechnologists. It provides a complete suite of Genomic Services including Capillary Sequencing, Next-generation Sequencing Services, Bioinformatics Services and customized molecular services to the research, healthcare and biomedical industries in Singapore and Asia. AITbiotech is also an ISO 13485 certified company which manufactures and distributes its own line of real-time PCR pathogen detection assays branded as abTESTM in the Asian and European markets. For more information, please visit our website: www.aitbiotech.com. About A*STAR's Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) The Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) is an institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). It has a global vision that seeks to use genomic sciences to achieve extraordinary improvements in human health and public prosperity. Established in 2000 as a centre for genomic discovery, the GIS will pursue the integration of technology, genetics and biology towards academic, economic and societal impact. The key research areas at the GIS include Human Genetics, Infectious Diseases, Cancer Therapeutics and Stratified Oncology, Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Cancer Stem Cell Biology, Computational and Systems Biology, and Translational Research. The genomics infrastructure at the GIS is utilised to train new scientific talent, to function as a bridge for academic and industrial research, and to explore scientific questions of high impact. For more information about GIS, please visit www.gis.a-star.edu.sg Media contacts: Mr Alex Thian AITbiotech +65 6778 6822 www.aitbiotech.com Joyce Peng, Ph.D. Global Marketing Director and General Manager Novogene Corporation +1-626-222-5584 Joyce Ang Senior Officer, Office of Corporate Communications Genome Institute of Singapore, A*STAR +65 6808 8101


News Article | February 28, 2017
Site: www.cemag.us

A National Institute for Materials Science-Osaka University joint research team has developed a mesh which can be wrapped around injured peripheral nerves to facilitate their regeneration and restore their functions. The team — consisting of Mitsuhiro Ebara, MANA associate principal investigator, Mechanobiology Group, NIMS, and Hiroyuki Tanaka, assistant professor, Orthopaedic Surgery, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine — created a mesh that incorporates vitamin B12, a substance vital to the normal functioning of nervous systems, which is very soft and degrades in the body. When the mesh was applied to injured sciatic nerves in rats, it promoted nerve regeneration and recovery of their motor and sensory functions. The team is currently considering clinical application of the mesh to treat peripheral nerve disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Artificial nerve conduits have been developed in the past to treat peripheral nerve injuries, but they merely form a cross-link to the injury site and do not promote faster nerve regeneration. Moreover, their application is limited to relatively few patients suffering from a complete loss of nerve continuity. Vitamin B12 has been known to facilitate nerve regeneration, but oral administration of it has not proven to be very effective, and no devices capable of delivering vitamin B12 directly to affected sites had been available. Therefore, it had been hoped to develop such medical devices to actively promote nerve regeneration in the many patients who suffer from nerve injuries but have not lost nerve continuity. The NIMS-Osaka University joint research team recently developed a special mesh that can be wrapped around an injured nerve which releases vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) until the injury heals. By developing very fine mesh fibers (several hundred nanometers in diameter) and reducing the crystallinity of the fibers, the team successfully created a very soft mesh that can be wrapped around a nerve. This mesh is made of a biodegradable plastic which, when implanted in animals, is eventually eliminated from the body. In fact, experiments demonstrated that application of the mesh directly to injured sciatic nerves in rats resulted in regeneration of axons and recovery of motor and sensory functions within six weeks. The team is currently negotiating with a pharmaceutical company and other organizations to jointly study clinical application of the mesh as a medical device to treat peripheral nerve disorders, such as CTS. This study was supported by the JSPS KAKENHI program (Grant Number JP15K10405) and AMED’s Project for Japan Translational and Clinical Research Core Centers (also known as Translational Research Network Program). This research was published online in the April 2017 issue of Acta Biomaterialia.


News Article | February 28, 2017
Site: phys.org

Conceptual diagram showing a nanofiber mesh incorporating vitamin B12 and its application to treat a peripheral nerve injury. Credit: National Institute for Materials Science A research team consisting of Mitsuhiro Ebara, MANA associate principal investigator, Mechanobiology Group, NIMS, and Hiroyuki Tanaka, assistant professor, Orthopaedic Surgery, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, developed a mesh which can be wrapped around injured peripheral nerves to facilitate their regeneration and restore their functions. This mesh incorporates vitamin B12—a substance vital to the normal functioning of nervous systems—which is very soft and degrades in the body. When the mesh was applied to injured sciatic nerves in rats, it promoted nerve regeneration and recovery of their motor and sensory functions. The team is currently considering clinical application of the mesh to treat peripheral nerve disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Artificial nerve conduits have been developed in the past to treat peripheral nerve injuries, but they merely form a cross-link to the injury site and do not promote faster nerve regeneration. Moreover, their application is limited to relatively few patients suffering from a complete loss of nerve continuity. Vitamin B12 has been known to facilitate nerve regeneration, but oral administration of it has not proven to be very effective, and no devices capable of delivering vitamin B12 directly to affected sites had been available. Therefore, it had been hoped to develop such medical devices to actively promote nerve regeneration in the many patients who suffer from nerve injuries but have not lost nerve continuity. The NIMS-Osaka University joint research team recently developed a special mesh that can be wrapped around an injured nerve which releases vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) until the injury heals. By developing very fine mesh fibers (several hundred nanometers in diameter) and reducing the crystallinity of the fibers, the team successfully created a very soft mesh that can be wrapped around a nerve. This mesh is made of a biodegradable plastic which, when implanted in animals, is eventually eliminated from the body. In fact, experiments demonstrated that application of the mesh directly to injured sciatic nerves in rats resulted in regeneration of axons and recovery of motor and sensory functions within six weeks. The team is currently negotiating with a pharmaceutical company and other organizations to jointly study clinical application of the mesh as a medical device to treat peripheral nerve disorders, such as CTS. This study was supported by the JSPS KAKENHI program (Grant Number JP15K10405) and AMED's Project for Japan Translational and Clinical Research Core Centers (also known as Translational Research Network Program). This research was published online in the April 2017 issue of Acta Biomaterialia on February 5, 2017. Explore further: Laser therapy on the repair of a large-gap transected sciatic nerve in a reinforced nerve conduit More information: Koji Suzuki et al. Electrospun nanofiber sheets incorporating methylcobalamin promote nerve regeneration and functional recovery in a rat sciatic nerve crush injury model, Acta Biomaterialia (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2017.02.004


RALEIGH, N.C. & BRUSSELS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--BioPontis Alliance for Rare Diseases, an international charitable organization, is announcing the introduction of its Translational Research Readiness Tool (TRRT). The TRRT is the first of a series of initiatives by BioPontis to help rare disease patient’s organizations manage their research programs toward the essential data and tools needed to start the journey from basic disease knowledge to drug discovery. BioPontis is extending its therapy discovery mission to more effectively utilize the wealth of great discovery science being supported by public agencies and by rare disease patient advocacy organizations to generate a more robust flow of new potential therapies. The TRRT is intended to provide guidance to patient organizations on the types of research investments that they and their researchers can carry out to more effectively move from detailed knowledge about a disease to potential therapeutic strategies for counteracting the causes of that disease and set up the basis for the search for actual treatment candidates. “By using the TRRT with patient groups and their advisors in basic science and clinical practice, BioPontis can add the drug discovery and development focus to highlight promising paths to new therapies,” explains BioPontis’ Chief Science Officer, David Spencer, PhD. The TRRT is available for download at http://biopontisalliance.org/readiness-survey/. Patient organizations are invited to download the tool and contact BioPontis with questions and suggestions for how it can be best applied in their specific organization’s strategic planning and management. June Kinoshita, Chief Operating Officer of the Facioscapulohumeral (FSH) Society, helped to pilot the TRRT and remarks; “Working with BioPontis on the TRRT was a highly educational and rewarding experience. The exercise gave the FSH Society an opportunity to review the critical benchmarks that the field needs to meet in order to proceed with drug discovery and development and to have several scientific experts weigh in on the current status of the field. This process brought to the surface the need to invest more in the development of cell lines, for example, and establishing other resources that are more easily available to researchers. We’ll be able to continually update the TRRT to measure our progress and efficacy of our funding.” As a nonprofit organization performing the earliest stages of drug discovery and development, BioPontis Alliance for Rare Diseases partners with academic research institutions and patient organizations with a dual mission: translate science into clinical candidates for rare neurologic diseases, and engage patient organizations to develop novel partnerships that enable patients’ participation on development teams. BioPontis is uniquely positioned to explore how patients’ representation and engagement could be practiced in treatment development. This initiative has been supported by generous contributions from Shire, GlaxoSmithKline, the Baillet Latour Fund and private donors to BioPontis Alliance. BioPontis Alliance for Rare Diseases is a 501c(3) public charity in the US (North Carolina) and a foundation of public utility (fup/son) in Belgium (Brussels). Managed by an international Board and executive team, BioPontis partners with patient organizations and clinical researchers to bridge the gap between promising science and new medicines. BioPontis Alliance for Rare Diseases is being established as a global non-profit, inviting corporate, private and foundation philanthropic support. More information, including how contributions to support our programs and mission can be made, at http://biopontisalliance.org.

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