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1.  Safety of biologics in rheumatoid arthritis: data from randomized controlled trials and registries 
Over the past decade, the use of biologics has significantly changed the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Biologics selectively target components of the immune system, resulting in better disease control. However, the growing use of biologics in RA has increased safety concerns among rheumatologists. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and registries are the most reliable sources of clinical safety data. Although safety data from RCTs provide certain insights into the clinical safety profile of an agent, strict constraints in study design (eg, exclusion criteria and restrictive treatment protocols) often do not accurately reflect possible safety issues in the use of the agent, either in the clinical setting or over long-term treatment. Registries, on the other hand, are not restrictive regarding patient enrollment, making them more reliable in evaluating long-term safety. A number of registries have been established globally: in Europe, the United States, and Asia. However, the availability of registry data from Eastern Europe is lacking. The notable exceptions so far are registries from the Czech Republic (ATTRA, a registry of patients treated with anti-tumor necrosis factor-alpha drugs) and Serbia (National registry of patients with rheumatoid arthritis in Serbia [NARRAS]). The current report provides an overview of safety data with biologics in RA from RCTs and registries. Availability of regional safety data from Eastern Europe is of great importance to its clinicians for making evidence-based treatment decisions in RA.
PMCID: PMC4315467
biologic therapy; biologic drugs; adverse events; infections; pregnancy; malignancies
2.  Multikinase inhibitors use in differentiated thyroid carcinoma 
Thyroid cancer is the most common endocrine malignancy, and its incidence is increasing. Standard therapy for most patients with localized differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) includes surgery, radioactive iodine, and thyroid hormone replacement. A minority of thyroid cancer patients requires systemic therapy for metastatic disease. Patients with metastatic DTC do not usually benefit from traditional cytotoxic chemotherapy. In this review, we describe newly developed small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) that are being actively tested and used in the management of advanced thyroid cancer. The use of TKIs as a form of molecular targeted therapy is evolving based on understanding of the pathways involved in DTC. Disrupting tumor vascular supply by targeting vascular endothelial growth factor receptor signaling is the most commonly used approach to treat advanced/metastatic DTC. Other mechanisms include targeting BRAF, MAPK/ERK kinase, or mammalian target of rapamycin signaling. Although TKIs appear to have superior efficacy compared to cytotoxic chemotherapy, they can cause substantial adverse effects; symptomatic management of adverse effects, dose adjustment, or cessation of therapy may be required.
PMCID: PMC4260520  PMID: 25506209
differentiated thyroid cancer; progression-free survival; adverse effects; targeted therapy; sorafenib; lenvatinib
3.  Inactivation of chromatin remodeling factors sensitizes cells to selective cytotoxic stress 
The SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling complex plays an essential role in several cellular processes including cell proliferation, differentiation, and DNA repair. Loss of normal function of the SWI/SNF complex because of mutations in its subunits correlates with tumorigenesis in humans. For many of these cancers, cytotoxic chemotherapy is the primary, and sometimes the only, therapeutic alternative. Among the antineoplastic agents, anthracyclines are a common treatment option. Although effective, resistance to these agents usually develops and serious dose-related toxicity, namely, chronic cardiotoxicity, limits its use. Previous work from our laboratory showed that a deletion of the SWI/SNF factor SNF2 resulted in hypersensitivity to doxorubicin. We further investigated the contribution of other chromatin remodeling complex components in the response to cytotoxic chemotherapy. Our results indicate that, of the eight SWI/SNF strains tested, snf2, taf14, and swi3 were the most sensitive and displayed distinct sensitivity to different cytotoxic agents, while snf5 displayed resistance. Our experimental results indicate that the SWI/SNF complex plays a critical role in protecting cells from exposure to cytotoxic chemotherapy and other cytotoxic agents. Our findings may prove useful in the development of a strategy aimed at targeting these genes to provide an alternative by hypersensitizing cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents.
PMCID: PMC4238754  PMID: 25484574
chromatin remodeling; cancer; DNA damage/repair; heat-shock response; oxidative stress
4.  Targeted alpha anticancer therapies: update and future prospects 
Targeted alpha therapy (TAT) is an emerging option for local and systemic cancer treatment. Preclinical research and clinical trials show that alpha-emitting radionuclides can kill targeted cancer cells while sparing normal cells, thus reducing toxicity. 223RaCl2 (Xofigo®) is the first alpha emitting radioisotope to gain registration in the US for palliative therapy of prostate cancer bone metastases by indirect physiological targeting. The alpha emitting radioisotopes 211At, 213Bi, 225Ac and 227Th are being used to label targeting vectors such as monoclonal antibodies for specific cancer therapy indications. In this review, safety and tolerance aspects are considered with respect to microdosimetry, specific energy, Monte Carlo model calculations, biodosimetry, equivalent dose and mutagenesis. The clinical efficacy of TAT for solid tumors may also be enhanced by its capacity for tumor anti-vascular (TAVAT) effects. This review emphasizes key aspects of TAT research with respect to the PAI2-uPAR complex and the monoclonal antibodies bevacizumab, C595 and J591. Clinical trial outcomes are reviewed for neuroendocrine tumors, leukemia, glioma, melanoma, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and prostate bone metastases. Recommendations and future directions are proposed.
PMCID: PMC4232037  PMID: 25422581
biodosimetry; microdosimetry; mutagenesis; PAI2; bevacizumab; C595; J591; tumors; cancer; metastases
5.  Resistant mutations in CML and Ph+ALL – role of ponatinib 
In 2012, ponatinib (Iclusig®), an orally available pan-BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) developed by ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc., was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in resistant or intolerant chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph+ALL). Ponatinib is the only approved TKI capable of inhibiting BCR-ABL with the gatekeeper T315I kinase domain mutation, known to be the cause for 20% of resistant or relapsed CML cases. In 2013, ponatinib sales were temporarily suspended due to serious side effects seen in nearly 12% of the patient population. These side effects are thought to stem from the potent nature and pan-activity of this TKI. ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has since been permitted to resume sales and marketing of ponatinib to a limited patient population with an expanded black box warning. In the following review, the use of ponatinib in CML and Ph+ALL will be discussed. Mechanisms of resistance in CML are discussed, which provide insight and background into the need for this third generation TKI, followed by the molecular design and pharmacology of ponatinib, which lead to its success as a therapeutic. Finally, the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of ponatinib will be highlighted, including summaries of the important clinical trials involving ponatinib as well as its current place in therapy.
PMCID: PMC4208348  PMID: 25349473
BCR-ABL; T315I; Ph+ALL; PACE trial; EPIC trial; ARIAD; compound mutations
6.  Botulinum toxin type A products are not interchangeable: a review of the evidence 
Botulinum toxin type A (BoNTA) products are injectable biologic medications derived from Clostridium botulinum bacteria. Several different BoNTA products are marketed in various countries, and they are not interchangeable. Differences between products include manufacturing processes, formulations, and the assay methods used to determine units of biological activity. These differences result in a specific set of interactions between each BoNTA product and the tissue injected. Consequently, the products show differences in their in vivo profiles, including preclinical dose response curves and clinical dosing, efficacy, duration, and safety/adverse events. Most, but not all, published studies document these differences, suggesting that individual BoNTA products act differently depending on experimental and clinical conditions, and these differences may not always be predictable. Differentiation through regulatory approvals provides a measure of confidence in safety and efficacy at the specified doses for each approved indication. Moreover, the products differ in the amount of study to which they have been subjected, as evidenced by the number of publications in the peer-reviewed literature and the quantity and quality of clinical studies. Given that BoNTAs are potent biological products that meet important clinical needs, it is critical to recognize that their dosing and product performance are not interchangeable and each product should be used according to manufacturer guidelines.
Video abstract
PMCID: PMC4199839  PMID: 25336912
onabotulinumtoxinA; abobotulinumtoxinA; incobotulinumtoxinA; glabellar lines; non-interchangeability
7.  New product development with the innovative biomolecular sublingual immunotherapy formulations for the management of allergic rhinitis 
The molecular allergy technique, currently defined as component-resolved diagnosis, significantly improved the diagnosis of allergy, allowing for differentiation between molecules actually responsible for clinical symptoms (genuine sensitizers) and those simply cross-reacting or shared by several sources (panallergens), thus influencing the appropriate management of a patient’s allergy. This also concerns allergen immunotherapy (AIT), which may be prescribed more precisely based on the component-resolved diagnosis results. However, the advance in diagnosis needs to be mirrored in AIT. According to consensus documents and to expectations of specialists, therapy should be based on standardized extracts containing measured amounts of the clinically relevant molecules, ie, the major allergens. The new generation of extracts for sublingual immunotherapy fulfills these requirements and are thus defined as biomolecular (BM). BM refers to natural extracts with a defined content of major allergens in micrograms. All Staloral BM products are indicated for the treatment of allergic rhinitis with or without asthma. The effectiveness of AIT is related to its ability to modify the immunological response of allergic subjects. The 5-grass and house dust mite extracts were evaluated addressing the T helper 1, T helper 2, and T helper 3 cells by polymerase chain reaction array on mRNA extracted from Waldeyer’s ring tissue (adenoids). Sublingual immunotherapy with a defined content of major allergens in micrograms induced a strong downregulation of genes involved in T helper 2 and T helper 1 activation and function, allowing the definition of the immunologic effect as “bio-homeostatic”. This clinical and immunological model must be implemented with respect to other allergens, thus expanding the application of a treatment with a unique disease-modifying capacity.
PMCID: PMC4167485  PMID: 25246765
allergen immunotherapy; allergy; component resolved diagnosis; major allergens; allergen molecules
8.  Apoptosis and the FLIP and NF-kappa B proteins as pharmacodynamic criteria for biosimilar TNF-alpha antagonists 
Various criteria are necessary to assess the efficacy and safety of biological medications in order to grant companies the right to register these medications with the appropriate bodies that regulate their sale. The imminent expiration of the patents on reference biological products which block the cytokine TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor-α) raises the possibility of bringing so-called biosimilars to the market (similar to the biologicals of reference products). This occurrence is inevitable, but criteria to adequately evaluate these medications are now needed. Even among controversy, there is a demand from publications correlating the pro-apoptotic mechanism of the original TNF-α antagonists (etanercept, infliximab, adalimumab, golimumab, and certolizumab pegol) in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases. In this article, the authors discuss the possibility of utilizing the pro-apoptotic effect correlated with the regulation of the anti-apoptotic proteins FLIP and NF-κB as new criteria for analyzing the pharmacodynamics of possible biosimilar TNF-α antagonists which should be submitted to regulatory agencies for evaluation.
PMCID: PMC4124053  PMID: 25114503
anti-TNF drugs; rheumatoid arthritis; apoptosis; NF-κB; FLIP
9.  Plasma membrane coenzyme Q: evidence for a role in autism 
The Voltage Dependent Anion Channel (VDAC) is involved in control of autism. Treatments, including coenzyme Q, have had some success on autism control.
Data sources
Correlation of porin redox activity and expression of autism is based on extensive literature, especially studies of antibodies, identification of cytosolic nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide reduced (NADH) dehydrogenase activity in the VDAC, and evidence for extreme sensitivity of the dehydrogenase to a mercurial. Evidence for a coenzyme Q requirement came from extraction and analog inhibition of NADH ferricyanide reductase in the erythrocyte plasma membrane, done in 1994, and reinterpreted when it was identified in VDAC in 2004. The effects of ubiquinol (the QH2 – reduced form of coenzyme Q) in children with autism were studied.
A new role for coenzyme Q in the porin channels has implications on autism. Ubiquinol, the more active form of coenzyme Q, produces favorable response in children with autism. Agents which affected electron transport in porin show parallel effects in autism.
We propose a hypothesis that autism is controlled by a coenzyme Q-dependent redox system in the porin channels; this conclusion is based on the effects of agents that positively or negatively affect electron transport and the symptoms of autism. The full understanding of the mechanism of their control needs to be established.
PMCID: PMC4043426
porin; channel; oxidation; reduction; autism
10.  Golimumab in unresponsive ulcerative colitis 
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammation mainly affecting the colon mucosa. It predominantly occurs in younger patients. Until recently, the main goals in the treatment of UC were to temper the symptoms, such as diarrhea, pain, and weight loss, by using mesalazine and steroids. With newer medications, such as immunomodulators (thiopurines) and the biologics providing blockade of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), the goals of the therapy in UC have changed to long-term remission and mucosal healing. The first available anti-TNF therapy in UC included infusion therapy with infliximab every few weeks. In 2012, subcutaneously administered adalimumab gained approval for the treatment of UC in Germany. In patients with a mild disease, therapy with mesalazine, orally or topically, can be sufficient. In patients with moderate to severe disease, therapy with azathioprine or anti-TNF is often required to reach disease control; however, this is only efficient in about two-thirds of patients. Some patients either show no response or a lost response while on treatment. So, further medical options are warranted in the treatment of UC. With golimumab, a new approach in the treatment of mild to moderate UC recently became available in Germany and is a promising new option in the therapy regimen for patients with UC.
PMCID: PMC4041219  PMID: 24904202
anti-TNF; biological therapy; inflammatory bowel disease
11.  Clinical and comparative utility of afatinib in non-small cell lung cancer 
The first targeted agents approved for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treatment, the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) gefitinib and erlotinib, have an impressive activity in the presence of activating mutations of the EGFR gene. However, all patients develop acquired resistance principally through secondary mutations (T790M), HER2 amplification, MET amplification, and other molecular aberrations. An attempt to overcome EGFR TKI resistance has been through the development of irreversible blockers. Afatinib is an irreversible inhibitor of the tyrosine kinase activity of all members of the HER family. The pharmacologic properties of afatinib (formation of covalent bonds, inhibition of other family members, and in vitro and in vivo activity on T790M mutation positive tumors) made this drug particularly appealing to study in clinic. Therefore, an intense program of clinical research (LUX-Lung program) was started and clinical results have shown very encouraging activity profiles in patients harboring EGFR activating mutations and in those with acquired resistance to reversible TKIs.
PMCID: PMC4003149  PMID: 24790411
NSCLC; EGFR; tyrosine kinase inhibitor; afatinib
12.  Anti-TNF therapy in Jordan: a focus on severe infections and tuberculosis 
A high rate of infection has been reported in patients receiving treatment with anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF). This study describes the rate of and risk factors for serious infections in patients receiving anti-TNF agents in Jordan.
This retrospective observational study was conducted at a large tertiary referral center in the north of Jordan. Between January 2006 and January 2012, 199 patients who received an anti-TNF agent (infliximab, adalimumab, or etanercept) were included. Patients received the anti-TNF treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, inflammatory bowel disease, or other conditions. A serious infection was defined as any bacterial, viral, or fungal infection that required hospitalization, administration of appropriate intravenous antimicrobial therapy, and temporary withholding of anti-TNF treatment.
The mean duration of anti-TNF treatment was 26.2 months. Steroids were used in 29.1% of patients, while 54.8% were given additional immunosuppressant therapy (methotrexate or azathioprine). Only one anti-TNF agent was given in 70.4% of patients, while 29.6% received different anti-TNF agents for the duration of treatment. Serious infections were documented in 39 patients (19.6%), including respiratory tract infections (41%), urinary tract infections (30.8%), and skin infections (20.5%), and extrapulmonary tuberculosis in three patients (7.7%). Exposure to more than one anti-TNF agent was the only factor associated with a significant increase in the rate of infection (relative risk 1.9, 95% confidence interval 1.06–4.0, P=0.03).
Serious infections, including tuberculosis, were a common problem in patients receiving anti-TNF agents, and exposure to more than one anti-TNF agent increased the risk of serious infection.
PMCID: PMC4003144  PMID: 24790412
anti-tumor necrosis factor therapy; biologics; developing world; extra-pulmonary tuberculosis; immune mediated diseases
13.  Long term efficacy and safety of etanercept in the treatment of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis 
Psoriasis is a chronic, immune-mediated inflammatory disease affecting both the skin and joints. Approximately 20% of patients suffer a moderate to severe form of skin disease and up to 30% have joint involvement. Standard therapies for psoriasis include topical medications, phototherapy, and both oral systemic and biological therapies whereas therapies for psoriatic arthritis include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs followed by disease modifying antirheumatic drugs and/or tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α inhibitors and interleukin-12/23p40 inhibitors. Treatment of both diseases is typically driven by disease severity. In the past decade, major advances in the understanding of the immunopathogenesis of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis have led to the development of numerous biological therapies, which have revolutionized the treatment for moderate to severe plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Anti-TNF-α agents are currently considered as first line biological therapies for the treatment of moderate to severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Currently approved anti-TNF-α agents include etanercept, adalimumab, and infliximab for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis as well as golimumab and certolizumab for psoriatic arthritis. In this article, we aim to evaluate the long term safety and efficacy of etanercept in psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
PMCID: PMC4000175  PMID: 24790410
psoriasis; psoriatic arthritis; etanercept; biological therapy; tumor necrosis factor; safety
14.  Epoetin zeta in the management of anemia associated with chronic kidney disease, differential pharmacology and clinical utility 
Epoetin zeta was granted marketing authorization in October 2007 by the European Medicines Agency as a recombinant human erythropoietin erythropoiesis-stimulating agent to treat symptomatic anemia of renal origin in adult and pediatric patients on hemodialysis and adults on peritoneal dialysis, as well as for symptomatic renal anemia in adult patients with renal insufficiency not yet on dialysis. Currently, epoetin zeta can be administered either subcutaneously or intravenously to correct for hemoglobin concentrations ≤10 g/dL (6.2 mmol/L) or with dose adjustment to maintain hemoglobin levels at desired levels not in excess of 12 g/dL (7.5 mmol/L). This review article focuses on epoetin zeta indications in chronic kidney disease, its use in managing anemia of renal origin, and discusses its pharmacology and clinical utility.
PMCID: PMC3999275  PMID: 24790409
biosimilar; chronic kidney disease; epoetin alfa; erythropoiesis; renal anemia; Retacrit®
15.  Multikinase inhibitors in the treatment of thyroid cancer: specific role of lenvatinib 
Thyroid cancers are the most frequent neoplasms of the endocrine system and in the initial stages their prognosis is excellent. However, few therapeutic options are available for advanced or metastatic disease. In the last decade, a better understanding of the molecular events involved in the tumorigenesis of thyroid cancers has led to development of new targeted agents for the management of advanced and refractory disease. Multikinase inhibitors that are able to block pathways involved in the proliferation, invasion, and neoangiogenesis of thyroid cancer have been the most widely studied. After an international effort to identify and recruit sufficient patients, four placebo-controlled studies of multikinase inhibitors have been completed. These trials have led to the approval of the first agents with activity in advanced medullary thyroid cancers, which will probably change the landscape of treatment for iodine-refractory differentiated thyroid cancer in the near future. The purpose of this paper is to review the development of targeted agents for thyroid malignancy, with a special focus on lenvatinib, a multikinase inhibitor.
PMCID: PMC3990290  PMID: 24748771
thyroid cancer; lenvatinib; tyrosine kinase inhibitors; multikinase inhibitors; targeted therapies
16.  Monoclonal antibodies in rheumatoid arthritis: comparative effectiveness of tocilizumab with tumor necrosis factor inhibitors 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by persistent joint inflammation, systemic inflammation, and immunological abnormalities. Because cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and interleukin (IL)-6 play a major role in the development of RA, their targeting could constitute a reasonable novel therapeutic strategy for treating RA. Indeed, worldwide clinical trials of TNF inhibiting biologic disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) including infliximab, adalimumab, golimumab, certolizumab pegol, and etanercept as well as the humanized anti-human IL-6 receptor antibody, tocilizumab, have demonstrated outstanding clinical efficacy and tolerable safety profiles, resulting in worldwide approval for using these bDMARDs to treat moderate to severe active RA in patients with an inadequate response to synthetic disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (sDMARDs). Although bDMARDs have elicited to a paradigm shift in the treatment of RA due to the prominent efficacy that had not been previously achieved by sDMARDs, a substantial percentage of patients failed primary or secondary responses to bDMARD therapy. Because RA is a heterogeneous disease in which TNF-α and IL-6 play overlapping but distinct pathological roles, further studies are required to determine the best use of TNF inhibitors and tocilizumab in individual RA patients.
PMCID: PMC3984066  PMID: 24741293
interleukin-6; rheumatoid arthritis; adalimumab; biologic
17.  Advancing personalized care in hemophilia A: ten years’ experience with an advanced category antihemophilic factor prepared using a plasma/albumin-free method 
Detailed analysis of data from studies of recombinant antihemophilic factor produced using a plasma/albumin-free method (rAHF-PFM) in previously treated patients showed a substantial level of interpatient variation in pharmacokinetics (PKs), factor VIII dosing, and annualized bleed rate (ABR), suggesting that individual patient characteristics contributed to outcome. For example, plasma half-life (t1/2), recovery, and clearance appeared to differ between patients aged <6 years and 10–65 years. Prophylaxis resulted in lower ABRs than episodic treatment in both age groups; better adherence to the prophylactic regimen resulted in a lower ABR in patients aged 10–65 years. The weekly frequency of dosing and adherence to dosing were both significantly and inversely related to the rate of bleeding (young children, P<0.0001 for both all bleeds and joint bleeds; older patients, P<0.0001 for all bleeds and P<0.05 for joint bleeds), as was adherence to dosing frequency (P<0.0001 for all comparisons). A post-marketing randomized study of prophylaxis demonstrated that a PK-guided dosing regimen, based on an individual patient’s rAHF-PFM PK (infusion interval, estimated t1/2, and recovery), was as effective as standard prophylaxis and that both prophylactic regimens were superior to episodic treatment with respect to ABR and quality of life measures. Thus, compared with standard prophylaxis, the PK-guided regimen achieved comparable efficacy with fewer weekly infusions. A two-compartment population PK model describes the PK data across the entire age range and forms the basis for future PK-guided therapy with rAHF-PFM. The model confirmed a shorter t1/2 and faster clearance of rAHF-PFM in children <6 years of age versus patients ≥10 years and predicted similar PK parameters with either a full or reduced blood sampling schedule, offering the potential for the use of PK-guided, individualized treatment in the routine clinical care setting.
PMCID: PMC3984057  PMID: 24741292
rAHF-PFM; ADVATE; FVIII; prophylaxis; pharmacokinetics; individualized
18.  Biologics: the role of delivery systems in improved therapy 
The beginning of the 21st century saw numerous protein and peptide therapeuticals both on the market and entering the final stages of clinical studies. They represent a new category of biologically originated drugs termed biologics or biologicals. Their main advantages over conventional drugs can be summarized by their high selectivity and potent therapeutic efficacy coupled with limited side effects. In addition, they exhibit more predictable behavior under in vivo conditions. However, up to now most of the formulations of biologics are designed and destined for the parenteral route of administration. As a consequence, many suffer from short plasma half-lives, resulting in their frequent administration and ultimately poor patient compliance. This review represents an attempt to address some of the challenges and promises in the product development of biologics both for parenteral and noninvasive administration. Some of the products currently in the pipeline of pharmaceutical development and corresponding perspectives are discussed in more detail.
PMCID: PMC3964020  PMID: 24672225
biologics; drug delivery systems; medical devices
19.  Targeted therapy for sarcomas 
Sarcomas are tumors of mesenchymal origin that make up approximately 1% of human cancers. They may arise as primary tumors in either bone or soft tissue, with approximately 11,280 soft tissue tumors and 2,650 bone tumors diagnosed each year in the United States. There are at least 50 different subtypes of soft tissue sarcoma, with new ones described with ever-increasing frequency. One way to look at sarcomas is to divide them into categories on the basis of their genetic make-up. One group of sarcomas has an identifiable, relatively simple genetic signature, such as the X:18 translocation seen in synovial sarcoma or the 11:22 translocation seen in Ewing’s sarcoma. These specific abnormalities often lead to the presence of fusion proteins, such as EWS-FLI1 in Ewing’s sarcoma, which are helpful as diagnostic tools and may become therapeutic targets in the future. Another group of sarcomas is characterized by complex genetic abnormalities as seen in leiomyosarcoma, osteosarcoma, and undifferentiated sarcoma. It is important to keep these distinctions in mind when contemplating the development of targeted agents for sarcomas. Different abnormalities in sarcoma could be divided by tumor subtype or by the molecular or pathway abnormality. However, some existing drugs or drugs in development may interfere with or alter more than one of the presented pathways.
PMCID: PMC3962319  PMID: 24669185
sarcoma; targeted agents; tyrosine kinase inhibitors; mTor inhibition
20.  Porcine dermis implants in soft-tissue reconstruction: current status 
Soft-tissue reconstruction for a variety of surgical conditions, such as abdominal wall hernia or pelvic organ prolapse, remains a challenge. There are numerous meshes available that may be simply categorized as either synthetic or biologic. Within biologic meshes, porcine dermal meshes have come to dominate the market. This review examines the current evidence for their use and the limitations of knowledge. Although there is increasing evidence to support their safety, long-term follow-up studies that support their efficacy are lacking. Numerous clinical trials that remain ongoing may help elucidate their precise role in soft-tissue reconstruction.
PMCID: PMC3956623  PMID: 24648721
hernia; mesh; xenograft; biologic
21.  A critical evaluation of the role of subcutaneous abatacept in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: patient considerations 
There are now more therapeutic options for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) than ever before, involving a range of mechanisms of action and different routes of administration. The T-cell costimulation modulator abatacept is the first biologic therapy for RA to be available in both subcutaneous (SC) and intravenous (IV) formulations. This review evaluates the utility of SC abatacept, with a particular focus on patient-reported outcomes, including physical function, pain, fatigue, and quality of life. Practical questions relating to the clinical use of SC abatacept are also addressed, including the relevance of abatacept’s mechanism of action; whether IV and SC abatacept are comparable; if patients can easily switch from IV to SC abatacept; whether an IV loading dose is needed; and if temporary treatment interruptions or lack of concomitant methotrexate can affect efficacy or safety. Topics that are of particular concern to patients when using SC biologics, such as injection-site reactions, are also discussed. Observational data from registries and meta-analyses of clinical studies suggest comparable clinical efficacy between biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs; however, such analyses rarely focus on key determinants of patient quality of life such as pain, fatigue, and physical function. The head-to-head AMPLE study is one of the first studies powered to directly compare two biologics in patients with RA. Patient-reported outcomes from year 1 of the ongoing study are evaluated, demonstrating comparable improvements in physical function, pain, fatigue, Short Form-36 Health Survey, and Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data 3 scores between SC abatacept and SC adalimumab when administered with concomitant methotrexate. In summary, the data presented herein show that the SC formulation of abatacept provides a valuable addition to the range of available therapy options for patients with RA, capable of significantly improving key patient considerations such as pain, disability, loss of function, fatigue, and quality of life.
PMCID: PMC3933241  PMID: 24600202
rheumatoid arthritis; abatacept; subcutaneous; biologic DMARD; patient-reported outcomes
22.  Update on the use of systemic biologic agents in the treatment of noninfectious uveitis 
Uveitis is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide. Noninfectious uveitis may be associated with other systemic conditions, such as human leukocyte antigen B27-related spondyloarthropathies, inflammatory bowel disease, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, Behçet’s disease, and sarcoidosis. Conventional therapy with corticosteroids and immunosuppressive agents (such as methotrexate, azathioprine, mycophenolate mofetil, and cyclosporine) may not be sufficient to control ocular inflammation or prevent non-ophthalmic complications in refractory patients. Off-label use of biologic response modifiers has been studied as primary and secondary therapeutic agents. They are very useful when conventional immunosuppressive therapy has failed or has been poorly tolerated, or to treat concomitant ophthalmic and systemic inflammation that might benefit from these medications. Biologic therapy, primarily infliximab, and adalimumab, have been shown to be rapidly effective for the treatment of various subtypes of refractory uveitis and retinal vasculitis, especially Behçet’s disease-related eye conditions and the uveitis associated with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Other agents such as golimumab, abatacept, canakinumab, gevokizumab, tocilizumab, and alemtuzumab may have great future promise for the treatment of uveitis. It has been shown that with proper monitoring, biologic therapy can significantly improve quality of life in patients with uveitis, particularly those with concurrent systemic symptoms. However, given high cost as well as the limited long-term safety data, we do not routinely recommend biologics as first-line therapy for noninfectious uveitis in most patients. These agents should be used with caution by experienced clinicians. The present work aims to provide a broad and updated review of the current and in-development systemic biologic agents for the treatment of noninfectious uveitis.
PMCID: PMC3933243  PMID: 24600203
biologics; monoclonal antibody; eye
23.  Does the cis/trans configuration of peptide bonds in bioactive tripeptides play a role in ACE-1 enzyme inhibition? 
The milk casein-derived bioactive tripeptides isoleucine-proline-proline (IPP) and valine-proline-proline (VPP) have been shown to prevent development of hypertension in animal models and to lower blood pressure in moderately hypertensive subjects in most but not all clinical trials. Inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme 1 (ACE-1) has been suggested as the explanation for these antihypertensive and beneficial vascular effects. Previously, human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) have not been used to test ACE-1 inhibiting properties of casein derived tripeptides in vasculature.
We focused on the cis/trans configurations of the peptide bonds in proline-containing tripeptides in order to discover whether the different structural properties of these peptides influence their activity in ACE-1 inhibition. We hypothesized that the configuration of proline-containing peptides plays a significant role in enzyme inhibition.
AutoDock 4.2 docking software was used to predict suitable peptide bond configurations of the tripeptides. Besides modeling studies, we completed ACE-1 activity measurements in vitro using HUVEC cultures.
In HUVEC cells, both IPP and VPP inhibited ACE-1. Based on molecular docking studies, we propose that in ACE-1 inhibition IPP and VPP share a similar cis configuration between the first aliphatic (isoleucine or valine) and the second (proline) amino acid residues and more different configurations between two proline residues. In vivo experiments are needed to validate the significance of the present findings.
PMCID: PMC3930482  PMID: 24596454
ACE inhibition; Autodock modeling; Ile-Pro-Pro; Val-Pro-Pro; vascular function
24.  Therapeutic vaccines and cancer: focus on DPX-0907 
In an attempt to significantly enhance immunogenicity of peptide cancer vaccines, we developed a novel non-emulsion depot-forming vaccine platform called DepoVax™ (DPX). Human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A2 restricted peptides naturally presented by cancer cells were used as antigens to create a therapeutic cancer vaccine, DPX-0907. In a phase I clinical study, the safety and immune-activating potential of DPX-0907 in advanced-stage breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer patients were examined, following encouraging results in HLA-A2 transgenic mice. The DPX-0907 vaccine was shown to be safe and well tolerated, with injection-site reactions being the most commonly reported adverse event. Vaccinated cancer patients exhibited a 61% immune response rate, with higher response rates in the breast and ovarian cancer patient cohorts. In keeping with the higher immune efficacy of this vaccine platform, antigen-specific responses were detected in 73% of immune responders after just one vaccination. In 83% of responders, peptide-specific T-cells were detected at two or more time points post-vaccination, with 64% of these patients showing evidence of immune persistence. Immune monitoring also demonstrated the generation of antigen-specific T-cell memory, with the ability to secrete multiple type 1 cytokines. The novel DPX formulation promotes multifunctional effector/memory responses to peptide-based tumor-associated antigens. The data support the capacity of DPX-0907 to elicit type-1 biased immune responses, warranting further clinical development of the vaccine. In this review, we discuss the rationale for developing DPX-based therapeutic cancer vaccine(s), with a focus on DPX-0907, aimed at inducing efficient anti-tumor immunity that may eventually be shown to prolong patient survival.
PMCID: PMC3930480  PMID: 24596453
immunotherapy; DepoVax™; cancer vaccine; DPX-0907

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