Rapid progress in genomics and nanotechnology continue to advance our approach to patient care, from diagnosis and prognosis, to targeting and personalization of therapeutics. However, the clinical application of molecular diagnostics in ophthalmology has been limited even though there have been demonstrations of disease risk and pharmacogenetic associations. There is a high clinical need for therapeutic personalization and dosage optimization in ophthalmology and may be the focus of individualized medicine in this specialty. In several retinal conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic macular edema, retinal vein occlusion and pre-threshold retinopathy of prematurity, anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapeutics have resulted in enhanced outcomes. In glaucoma, recent advances in cytoskeletal agents and prostaglandin molecules that affect outflow and remodel the trabecular meshwork have demonstrated improved intraocular pressure control. Application of recent developments in nanoemulsion and polymeric micelle for targeted delivery and drug release are models of dosage optimization, increasing efficacy and improving outcomes in these major eye diseases.
personalized medicine; pharmacogenetics; clinical utility; ophthalmology; VEGF; age-related macular degeneration; glaucoma; retinopathy; drug delivery; nanotechnology
Complete arginase I deficiency is the least severe urea cycle disorder, characterized by hyperargininemia and infrequent episodes of hyperammonemia. Patients suffer from neurological impairment with cortical and pyramidal tract deterioration, spasticity, loss of ambulation, and seizures, and is associated with intellectual disability. In mice, onset is heralded by weight loss beginning around day 15; gait instability follows progressing to inability to stand and development of tail tremor with seizure-like activity and death. Here we report that hyperargininemic mice treated neonatally with an adeno-associated virus expressing arginase and followed long-term lack any presentation consistent with brain dysfunction. Behavioral and histopathological evaluation demonstrated that treated mice are indistinguishable from littermates and that putative compounds associated with neurotoxicity are diminished. In addition, treatment results in near complete resolution of metabolic abnormalities early in life; however there is the development of some derangement later with decline in transgene expression. Ammonium challenging revealed that treated mice are affected by exogenous loading much greater than littermates. These results demonstrate that AAV-based therapy for hyperargininemia is effective and prevents development of neurological abnormalities and cognitive dysfunction in a mouse model of hyperargininemia; however nitrogen challenging reveals that these mice remain impaired in the handling of waste nitrogen.
Hyperargininemia; AAV; Gene Therapy; Brain
In clinical exome and genome sequencing, there is potential for the recognition and reporting of incidental or secondary findings unrelated to the indication for ordering the sequencing but of medical value for patient care. The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) recently published a policy statement on clinical sequencing, which emphasized the importance of disclosing the possibility of such results in pretest patient discussions, clinical testing, and reporting of results. The ACMG appointed a Working Group on Incidental Findings in Clinical Exome and Genome Sequencing to make recommendations about responsible management of incidental findings when patients undergo exome or genome sequencing. This Working Group conducted a year-long consensus process, including review by outside experts, and produced recommendations that have been approved by the ACMG Board. Specific and detailed recommendations, and the background and rationale for these recommendations, are described herein. We recommend that laboratories performing clinical sequencing seek and report mutations of the specified classes or types in the genes listed here. This evaluation and reporting should be performed for all clinical germline (constitutional) exome and genome sequencing, including the ‘normal’ of tumor-normal subtractive analyses in all subjects, irrespective of age, but excluding fetal samples. We recognize that there are insufficient data on clinical utility to fully support these recommendations and we encourage the creation of an ongoing process for updating these recommendations at least annually as further data are collected.
secondary findings; incidental findings; genome; genomic medicine; personalized medicine; whole-exome; whole-genome; sequencing
To explore specific conditions and types of genetic variants that specialists in genetics recommend should be returned as incidental findings in clinical sequencing.
Sixteen specialists in clinical genetics and/or molecular medicine selected variants in 99 common conditions to return to the ordering physician if discovered incidentally through whole genome sequencing. For most conditions, the specialists independently considered 3 molecular scenarios for both adults and minor children: a known pathogenic mutation, a truncating variant presumed pathogenic (where other truncating variants were known to be pathogenic), or a missense variant predicted in silico to be pathogenic.
On average, for adults and children respectively, each specialist selected 83.5 and 79.0 conditions or genes out of 99 in the known pathogenic mutation categories, 57.0 and 53.5 out of 72 in the truncating variant categories, and 33.4 and 29.7 out of 72 in the missense variant categories. Concordance in favor of disclosure within the adult/known pathogenic mutation category was 100% for 21 conditions or genes and 80% or higher for 64 conditions or genes.
Specialists were highly concordant for the return of findings in 64 conditions or genes if discovered incidentally during whole exome or whole genome sequencing.
whole genome sequencing; incidental findings
The urea cycle exists for the removal of excess nitrogen from the body. Six separate enzymes comprise the urea cycle, and a deficiency in any one of them causes a urea cycle disorder (UCD) in humans. Arginase is the only urea cycle enzyme with an alternate isoform, though no known human disorder currently exists due to a deficiency in the second isoform. While all of the UCDs usually present with hyperammonemia in the first few days to months of life, most disorders are distinguished by a characteristic profile of plasma amino acid alterations that can be utilized for diagnosis. While enzyme assay is possible, an analysis of the underlying mutation is preferable for an accurate diagnosis. Mouse models for each of the urea cycle disorders exist (with the exception of NAGS deficiency), and for almost all of them, their clinical and biochemical phenotypes rather closely resemble the phenotypes seen in human patients. Consequently, all of the current mouse models are highly useful for future research into novel pharmacological and dietary treatments and gene therapy protocols for the management of urea cycle disorders.
urea; hyperammonemia; knockout; N-acetylglutamate synthase; carbamyl phosphate synthetase I; ornithine transcarbamylase; argininosuccinate synthetase; argininosuccinate lyase; arginase
In the field of oncology, clinical molecular diagnostics and biomarker discoveries are constantly advancing as the intricate molecular mechanisms that transform a normal cell into an aberrant state in concert with the dysregulation of alternative complementary pathways are increasingly understood. Progress in biomarker technology, coupled with the companion clinical diagnostic laboratory tests, continue to advance this field, where individualized and customized treatment appropriate for each individual patient define the standard of care. Here, we discuss the current commonly used predictive pharmacogenetic biomarkers in clinical oncology molecular testing: BRAF V600E for vemurafenib in melanoma; EML4–ALK for crizotinib and EGFR for erlotinib and gefitinib in non-small-cell lung cancer; KRAS against the use of cetuximab and panitumumab in colorectal cancer; ERBB2 (HER2/neu) for trastuzumab in breast cancer; BCR–ABL for tyrosine kinase inhibitors in chronic myeloid leukemia; and PML/RARα for all-trans-retinoic acid and arsenic trioxide treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia.
biomarker; cancer; clinical laboratory; clinical utility; molecular diagnostics; oncology; personalized medicine; pharmacogenetic; predictive medicine; testing
In the past decade, significant strides have been made in the area of cardiovascular pharmacogenomic research, with the discovery of associations between certain genotypes and drug-response phenotypes. While the motivations for personalized and predictive medicine are promising for patient care and support a model of health system efficiency, the implementation of pharmacogenomics for cardiovascular therapeutics on a population scale faces substantial challenges. The greatest obstacle to clinical implementation of cardiovascular pharmacogenetics may be the lack of both reproducibility and agreement about the validity and utility of the findings. In this review, we present the scientific evidence in the literature for diagnostic variants for the US FDA-labeled cardiovascular therapies, namely CYP2C19 and clopidogrel, CYP2C9/VKORC1 and warfarin, and CYP2D6/ADRB1 and β-blockers. We also discuss the effect of HMGCR/LDLR in decreasing the effectiveness of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol with statin therapy, the SLCO1B1 genotype and simvastatin myotoxicity, and ADRB1/ADD1 for antihypertensive response.
biomarker; cardiovascular; clinical utility; clopidogrel; drug label; genetics; personalized medicine; pharmacogenetics; predictive medicine; warfarin
There are limited data on the impact of incorporating genetic counseling and testing into the newborn hearing screening process. We report on results from a prospective, longitudinal study to determine the impact of genetic counseling and GJB2/GJB6 genetic testing on parental knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about genetic testing. One hundred thirty culturally hearing parents of 93 deaf or hard-of-hearing children ages 0 – 3 years primarily identified through newborn hearing screening received pre- and post-test genetic counseling for GJB2 and GJB6. Parents completed questionnaires following pre-test counseling, and 1- and 6-months post-test result disclosure. Results indicate that following pre-test counseling all parents perceived benefits to genetic testing. While parents who received positive results continued to perceive benefits from testing, perceived benefit declined among parents who received inconclusive or negative results. Parents did not perceive genetic testing as harmful following pre-test counseling or receipt of test results. Parents who received positive test results performed better in understanding recurrence and causation of their child’s deafness and indicated greater interest in prenatal genetic testing than those who received inconclusive or negative test results. Parents felt that pediatricians and audiologists should inform parents of genetic testing availability; however, there was no consensus on timing of this discussion. Thus culturally hearing parents do not perceive genetic testing of their deaf or hard-of-hearing infants/toddlers as harmful; they feel that primary care providers should discuss genetic testing with them; and positive genetic test results with genetic counseling give rise to better understanding and perceived benefit than negative or inconclusive results.
Connexin 26; Cx26; newborn hearing screening; early hearing detection and intervention; EHDI; hearing loss; hearing impairment
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is the most common, lethal disease of childhood. One of 3500 new-born males suffers from this universally-lethal disease. Other than the use of corticosteroids, little is available to affect the relentless progress of the disease, leading many families to use dietary supplements in hopes of reducing the progression or severity of muscle wasting. Arginine is commonly used as a dietary supplement and its use has been reported to have beneficial effects following short-term administration to mdx mice, a genetic model of DMD. However, the long-term effects of arginine supplementation are unknown. This lack of knowledge about the long-term effects of increased arginine metabolism is important because elevated arginine metabolism can increase tissue fibrosis, and increased fibrosis of skeletal muscles and the heart is an important and potentially life-threatening feature of DMD.
We use both genetic and nutritional manipulations to test whether changes in arginase metabolism promote fibrosis and increase pathology in mdx mice. Our findings show that fibrotic lesions in mdx muscle are enriched with arginase-2-expressing macrophages and that muscle macrophages stimulated with cytokines that activate the M2 phenotype show elevated arginase activity and expression. We generated a line of arginase-2-null mutant mdx mice and found that the mutation reduced fibrosis in muscles of 18-month-old mdx mice, and reduced kyphosis that is attributable to muscle fibrosis. We also observed that dietary supplementation with arginine for 17-months increased mdx muscle fibrosis. In contrast, arginine-2 mutation did not reduce cardiac fibrosis or affect cardiac function assessed by echocardiography, although 17-months of dietary supplementation with arginine increased cardiac fibrosis. Long-term arginine treatments did not decrease matrix metalloproteinase-2 or -9 or increase the expression of utrophin, which have been reported as beneficial effects of short-term treatments.
Our findings demonstrate that arginine metabolism by arginase promotes fibrosis of muscle in muscular dystrophy and contributes to kyphosis. Our findings also show that long-term, dietary supplementation with arginine exacerbates fibrosis of dystrophic heart and muscles. Thus, commonly-practiced dietary supplementation with arginine by DMD patients has potential risk for increasing pathology when performed for long periods, despite reports of benefits acquired with short-term supplementation.
Although KIT mutations are present in 20–25% of cases of t(8;21)(q22;q22) acute myeloid leukemia (AML), concurrent development of systemic mastocytosis (SM) is exceedingly rare. We examined the clinicopathologic features of SM associated with t(8;21)(q22;q22) AML in ten patients (six from our institutions and four from published literature) with t(8;21) AML and SM. In the majority of these cases, a definitive diagnosis of SM was made after chemotherapy, when the mast cell infiltrates were prominent. Deletion 9q was an additional cytogenetic abnormality in four cases. Four of the ten patients failed to achieve remission after standard chemotherapy and seven of the ten patients have died of AML. In the two patients who achieved durable remission after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant, recipient-derived neoplastic bone marrow mast cells persisted despite leukemic remission. SM associated with t(8;21) AML carries a dismal prognosis; therefore, detection of concurrent SM at diagnosis of t(8;21) AML has important prognostic implications.
Systemic mastocytosis; Acute myeloid leukemia; KIT mutations; Pathogenesis; Translocation (8;21); Prognosis
Deficiency of liver arginase (AI) causes hyperargininemia (OMIM 207800), a disorder characterized by progressive mental impairment, growth retardation, and spasticity and punctuated by sometimes fatal episodes of hyperammonemia. We constructed a knockout mouse strain carrying a nonfunctional AI gene by homologous recombination. Arginase AI knockout mice completely lacked liver arginase (AI) activity, exhibited severe symptoms of hyperammonemia, and died between postnatal days 10 and 14. During hyperammonemic crisis, plasma ammonia levels of these mice increased >10-fold compared to those for normal animals. Livers of AI-deficient animals showed hepatocyte abnormalities, including cell swelling and inclusions. Plasma amino acid analysis showed the mean arginine level in knockouts to be approximately fourfold greater than that for the wild type and threefold greater than that for heterozygotes; the mean proline level was approximately one-third and the ornithine level was one-half of the proline and ornithine levels, respectively, for wild-type or heterozygote mice—understandable biochemical consequences of arginase deficiency. Glutamic acid, citrulline, and histidine levels were about 1.5-fold higher than those seen in the phenotypically normal animals. Concentrations of the branched-chain amino acids valine, isoleucine, and leucine were 0.4 to 0.5 times the concentrations seen in phenotypically normal animals. In summary, the AI-deficient mouse duplicates several pathobiological aspects of the human condition and should prove to be a useful model for further study of the disease mechanism(s) and to explore treatment options, such as pharmaceutical administration of sodium phenylbutyrate and/or ornithine and development of gene therapy protocols.
Single nucleotide polymorphisms are implicated as having a significant role in regulating growth, development and, thereby, human health and disease. We have developed a method for identifying single nucleotide genetic alterations by combining hairpin-forming DNA probes and electrochemical detection of sandwich DNA hybridization. Incorporation of hairpin-forming competitor probes and the catalyzed reporter deposition amplification system further improves assay specificity by 7-fold and sensitivity by 100-fold. We have demonstrated that the system successfully identified the factor V Leiden mutations from human blood specimens.
To determine whether maternal plasma cell–free DNA sequencing can effectively
identify trisomy 18 and 13.
Sixty-two pregnancies with trisomy 18 and 12 with trisomy 13 were selected from a
cohort of 4,664 pregnancies along with matched euploid controls (including 212
additional Down syndrome and matched controls already reported), and their samples
tested using a laboratory-developed, next-generation sequencing test. Interpretation of
the results for chromosome 18 and 13 included adjustment for CG content bias.
Among the 99.1% of samples interpreted (1,971/1,988), observed trisomy 18 and 13
detection rates were 100% (59/59) and 91.7% (11/12) at false-positive rates of 0.28% and
0.97%, respectively. Among the 17 samples without an interpretation, three were trisomy
18. If z-score cutoffs for trisomy 18 and 13 were raised slightly, the overall
false-positive rates for the three aneuploidies could be as low as 0.1% (2/1,688) at an
overall detection rate of 98.9% (280/283) for common aneuploidies. An independent
academic laboratory confirmed performance in a subset.
Among high-risk pregnancies, sequencing circulating cell–free DNA detects nearly
all cases of Down syndrome, trisomy 18, and trisomy 13, at a low false-positive rate.
This can potentially reduce invasive diagnostic procedures and related fetal losses by
95%. Evidence supports clinical testing for these aneuploidies.
clinical validation; detection rate; false-positive rate; fetal DNA; massively parallel shotgun sequencing; prenatal screening; trisomy 18; trisomy 13