ITL to develop ground-breaking cancer imaging project

Innovative medical device contractor ITL Group has partnered with King’s College London (KCL) to develop a ground-breaking cancer imaging project.

The project, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 scheme, brings a consortium of 20 companies, including technology giants Phillips and Siemens, to exploit developments in engineering and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to develop Magnetic Resonance Force Imaging (MRFI) for new applications in cancer diagnostics.

The project aims to address a fundamental need in planning and monitoring of cancer treatment by allowing better identification and sizing of cancer tumours.

ITL Group joined the consortium in 2015 as a medical device design, development and manufacturing partner, becoming active in 2017 once earlier elements of the project had been completed.

Re-imagining MRI for new applications could provide a non-invasive way to diagnose and measure cancer tumours. This project will produce three prototypes developed for use on brain, liver and breast cancer patients.

Picture: ITL Group

ITL Group, with 40 years of industry experience, will further develop KCL’s initial hardware design, and manufacture several prototypes, which will be presented to Harvard Medical School this summer. The hardware is an advanced vibration transducer which functions by measuring interstitial fluid pressure and cell traction forces.

The global company, with operations in UK, US and China, has taken the original three vibration transducers through a rigorous development process to improve on the initial concept.

King’s provided ITL with an initial design and brief; to make the device smaller and more compact, more aesthetically pleasing, easier to handle and with improved performance and efficiency.

ITL has made significant headway in improving the technology that can guide treatment choices in breast, liver and brain cancer patients, with prototypes ready for trials in June 2017.

ITL Mechanical Engineer, Dan Hollands, is leading the project, taking dual roles as Project Manager and Head Engineer.

For the project, ITL has been trialling a state-of-the-art 3D printer to open up the possibilities of development and experimentation. As the transducer will be used in a MRI scanner it’s necessary that all components are plastic, therefore it lends itself to the 3D printing process.

Unlike commercial projects ITL has completed over the past 40 years, this grant gives ITL free reign to experiment and innovate. Essentially the design and development process can continue to the capacity of the grant – giving Dan Hollands time to push the design to its limits.

Over the year’s ITL has collaborated with a host of leading universities in the UK.

Source: ITL Group

Non-invasive prostate cancer diagnosing and monitoring

Photo: Washington State University

Technology being developed at Washington State University provides a non-invasive approach for diagnosing prostate cancer and tracking the disease’s progression.

The innovative filter-like device isolates prostate cancer indicators from other cellular information in blood and urine. It could enable doctors to determine how cancer patients are responding to different treatments without needing to perform invasive biopsies.

Guidance for effective treatment

The WSU research team fitted a mat of tiny glass springs with specially designed biomarkers that attract the fatty droplets of proteins and RNA that tumor cells shed into body fluids. The droplets, called exosomes, contain genetic information that can be analyzed to determine a cancer’s molecular composition, even how far it has advanced.

“It may be possible to predict which drugs would be most effective in treating a patient’s cancer,” said WSU chemistry professor Clifford Berkman, who led the design of the biomarkers. “More broadly, this technology could be expanded to other types of cancers and diseases.”

Writing in Springer’s Journal of Materials Science, Berkman, Parissa Ziaei, a Ph.D. student in the interdisciplinary materials science and engineering program, and Grant Norton, professor of mechanical and materials engineering, said their capture technique is more efficient than previous approaches at isolating prostate tumor exosomes from other bits and pieces of cellular information.

The researchers are working on designs for a version of their filter-like device for use in a clinical setting.

A non-invasive alternative to biopsy

Prostate cancer can be a serious disease, but most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. In fact, more than 2.9 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today, according to the American Cancer Society.

The fact that prostate cancer can remain in a human for years before spreading to other organs makes monitoring its progression and response to treatment an important, long-term process.

A biopsy, a procedure in which small samples of the prostate are removed with a needle, is sometimes performed on a patient if blood tests reveal abnormalities that indicate the presence of prostate cancer. Biopsies are also performed to track the progression of the disease and how it is responding to treatment. The biopsy is generally safe but sometimes leads to bleeding or infection.

The WSU exosome capture technique could provide a reliable and non-invasive alternative to biopsy.

“Say you have a urine sample from a patient known to have prostate cancer. You could pass the urine through the device we are in the process of putting together and measure the number of exosomes that are specifically from prostate cancer cells,” Norton said. “The physician would propose a treatment plan and the amount of exosomes in a follow-up urine sample would indicate how effective the treatment was.”

Possibilities for detecting other cancers

In addition to helping doctors monitor the progression of prostate cancer, the WSU researchers hope their new approach can be applied to help treat patients with other forms of cancer and disease. The filter-like mat of glass nanosprings synthesized in Norton’s lab could feasibly be fitted with a wide array of biomarkers to attract cancer exosomes in urine, blood and other bodily fluids.

“It wouldn’t be a big step to imagine applying what we are doing now to breast cancer or pancreatic cancer,” Norton said. “It opens up all kinds of exciting possibilities.”

The research supports WSU’s Grand Challenges – initiatives aimed at particularly pressing societal concerns. It is particularly relevant to the challenge of sustaining health and changing the course of disease.

Source: Washington State University

Myriad Genetics launches early stage breast cancer test in US

Myriad Genetics announced that it has launched the EndoPredict® test in the United States for patients with ER+ HER2- early-stage breast cancer.  EndoPredict is a second-generation test for assessing the 10-year risk of disease recurrence following surgery and for determining which patients can safely forgo adjuvant chemotherapy.

“Today’s launch strengthens our oncology product portfolio and represents a meaningful advancement in the treatment of patients with breast cancer,” said Lloyd Sanders, general manager, Oncology, Myriad Genetic Laboratories.  “Along with our best-in-class tests for hereditary cancer and our companion diagnostics, the launch of EndoPredict underscores our commitment to pioneering science, personalized medicine and patient care.”

EndoPredict is supported by multiple prospective clinical studies and data from more than 3,500 patients with ER+ HER2- node negative and node positive early-stage breast cancer.  The results of the clinical development program show that EndoPredict substantially outperforms the first generation breast cancer recurrence tests.  EndoPredict was trained and validated using 10-year outcomes data and includes proliferation-related genes as well as hormone receptor-related genes, providing accurate assessment of early and late risk for recurrence and definitively classifies patients as low or high risk.

“Breast cancer is a complicated disease and there is a critical need for accurate breast cancer recurrence tests that help physicians determine which patients can safely forgo adjuvant chemotherapy,” said Johnathan Lancaster, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer, Myriad Genetic Laboratories.  “The launch of EndoPredict is an important advancement for patients and doctors.  By automatically incorporating clinical features and generating an individualized patient test result, EndoPredict identifies a larger subset of true low-risk patients who may safely forgo adjuvant chemotherapy.”

EndoPredict already is included in medical guidelines including the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) and the St. Gallen International Breast Conference.  Additionally, the Integrated Oncology Network (ION) named EndoPredict as its preferred breast cancer recurrence test.  Myriad is working with payers to making sure EndoPredict is a widely accessible to patients.  So far, the test has received positive coverage decisions from 19 payers, bringing total coverage to over 70 million patients in the United States.

Source: Myriad Genetics

How Cancer Cells May Develop Resistance to FGFR Inhibitors

A new study by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) has identified a mechanism by which cancer cells develop resistance to a class of drugs called fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) inhibitors.

The study, published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, also found that use of a second inhibitor might improve the effectiveness of these drugs by possibly preventing resistance, and it recommends that clinical trials should be designed to include a second inhibitor.

FGFR inhibitors are a new family of targeted agents designed to inhibit the action of the fibroblast growth factor receptor, which is often overexpressed in lung, bladder, biliary and breast cancers.

“Understanding how drug resistance develops can help in the design of new agents or strategies to overcome resistance,” says principal investigator Sameek Roychowdhury, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and of pharmacology in the Division of Medical Oncology at the OSUCCC – James.

“Our paper demonstrates in a laboratory model how cancer can evade this class of therapy, and it provides insights into how clinical trials for these therapies could be further developed to overcome the problem of drug resistance,” he adds.

The laboratory study by Roychowdhury and his colleagues induced resistance to the FGFR inhibitor BGJ398 in lung- and bladder-cancer cells after long-term exposure to the agent. The researchers then found that, while the drug continued to inhibit FGFR activity in the resistant cells, its inhibition of FGFR signaling had no appreciable effect on the cells’ survival.

Examining other molecules in the FGFR pathway, the researchers found that a regulatory protein called Akt remained highly active, even during FGFR inhibition. Akt, a key regulator of cell biology, is directly involved in cell proliferation, cell survival and cell growth.

Furthermore, they found that by inhibiting Akt they could significantly slow cell proliferation, cell migration and cell invasion in the lung cancer and bladder cancer cells.

“Fibroblast growth factor receptor inhibitors are new therapies being developed in clinical trials for patients whose cancer cells have genetic alterations in this family of genes,” says Roychowdhury, a member of the OSUCCC – James Translational Therapeutics Program. “We believe our findings will help improve this therapy for lung, bladder and other cancers.”

Source: OSUCCC – James

Treatment of malignant brain tumor in children gets closer

malignant brain tumour
Picture: University of Copenhage

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have identified important mechanisms underlying how a special type of malignant brain tumor arises in children. Not only do these discoveries give researchers important information about the tumor but they could also result in possible treatment.

DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma) is a rare malignant cerebral tumor in children. It has only a 1% 5-year survival rate, amongst other things because it is not possible to operate because the tumor is located in the brain stem. Danish researchers have now just published a study in an international journal, Nature Medicine, in which they have investigated the molecular mechanisms that could be the reason why the malignant tumor arises and develops.

”DIPG is a terrible disease with very poor survival. Before we can identify a treatment, we need to understand the mechanisms underlying the formation and growth of the tumor. We have now made a major step forward and we also have ideas for possible treatment,” says Prof. Kristian Helin, Director of the Biotech Research and Innovation Center.

DIPG tumors are a type of cancer in which there are mutations in the so-called histone proteins. One of these is the H3K27M protein that could be the cause of the malignant brain tumor. In order to identify the specific mechanisms, researchers created a special mouse model based on the same genetic changes found in the brain tumor. This enabled them to gain a general understanding of the behaviour of the tumor and also to test possible treatments.

Source: University of Copenhagen

By Brückenkopf GmbH – Free online medical devices trade fair

Liver Tumor Growth in Mice Slowed with New Chemo-immunotherapy Treatment

Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common form of liver cancer, but treatment options are limited and many patients are diagnosed in late stages when the disease can’t be treated. Now, University of Missouri School of Medicine researchers have developed a new treatment that combines chemotherapy and immunotherapy to significantly slow tumor growth in mice. The researchers believe that with more research, the strategy could be translated to benefit patients with the disease.

“The current drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat hepatocellular carcinoma only increases the average survival of patients by about three months,” said Kevin Staveley-O’Carroll, MD, PhD, chair of the MU School of Medicine’s Hugh E. Stephenson Jr., MD, Department of Surgery and director of Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. “While any extension of life is valuable, our research team is developing a new therapeutic strategy that might extend and improve the quality of life for these patients.”

Immunotherapy boosts the body’s natural defenses to fight off cancer. The therapy has been used to help treat several cancers, such as melanoma and lung cancer. However, little research exists on combining immunotherapy with chemotherapy.

During the study, one group of mice was treated with the chemotherapy agent sunitinib and another group was treated with an immunotherapy antibody known as anti-PD-1. Over a period of four weeks, tumors in mice treated with sunitinib grew 25 times larger. Tumors in mice treated with immunotherapy grew at a slower rate and were 15 times larger. However, a third group of mice treated with a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy experienced even slower tumor growth at a size that was only 11 times larger.

“Our results show that a combined chemo-immunotherapeutic approach can slow tumor growth in mice more effectively than either individual treatment,” said Guangfu Li, PhD, DVM, assistant professor in the MU Department of Surgery. “This innovative combination promotes an anti-tumor immune response and better suppresses growth of the cancer. Our findings support the need for a clinical trial to test whether this could become a cost-effective treatment that could help improve the lives of patients with liver cancer.”

The study, “Successful Chemo-immunotherapy against Hepatocellular Cancer in a Novel Murine Model,” was published in the January issue of the Journal of Hepatology. Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (1 R01 CA164335-01A1 and R01-CA-025000) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (R01DK 057830). The researchers have no conflicts of interest to declare related to this study. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

Source: University of Missouri