New Drug Could Improve Effectiveness of Stem Cell Therapy – Pain News Network

By Pat Anson, PNN Editor

Scientists have developed an experimental drug that can lure stem cells to damaged tissues and help them heal -- a discovery being touted as a major advancement in the field of regenerative medicine.

The findings, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), could improve the effectiveness of stem cell therapy in treating spinal cord injuries, stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis(ALS), Parkinsons disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. It could also expand the use of stem cells to treat conditions such as heart disease and arthritis.

The ability to instruct a stem cell where to go in the body or to a particular region of a given organ is the Holy Grail for regenerative medicine, said lead authorEvan Snyder, MD, director of theCenter for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicineat Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla, CA. Now, for the first time ever, we can direct a stem cell to a desired location and focus its therapeutic impact.

Over a decade ago, Snyder and his colleagues discovered that stem cells are drawn to inflammation -- a biological fire alarm that signals tissue damage has occurred. However, using inflammation as a therapeutic lure for stem cells wasnt advisable because they could further inflame diseased or damaged organs, joints and other tissue.

To get around that problem, scientists modified CXCL12 -- an inflammatory molecule that Snyders team discovered could guide stem cells to sites in need of repair to create a drug called SDV1a. The new drug works by enhancing stem cell binding, while minimizing inflammatory signals.

Since inflammation can be dangerous, we modified CXCL12 by stripping away the risky bit and maximizing the good bit, Snyder explained. Now we have a drug that draws stem cells to a region of pathology, but without creating or worsening unwanted inflammation.

To demonstrate its effectiveness, Snyders team injected SDV1a and human neural stem cells into the brains of mice with a neurodegenerative disease called Sandhoff disease. The experiment showed that the drug helped stem cells migrate and perform healing functions, which included extending lifespan, delaying symptom onset, and preserving motor function for much longer than mice that didnt receive the drug. Importantly, the stem cells also did not worsen the inflammation.

Researchers are now testing SDV1as ability to improve stem cell therapy in a mouse model of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrigs disease, which is caused by a progressive loss of motor neurons in the brain. Previous studies conducted by Snyders team found that broadening the spread of neural stem cells helps more motor neurons survive so they are hopeful that SDV1a will improve the effectiveness of neuroprotective stem cells and help slow the onset and progression of ALS.

We are optimistic that this drugs mechanism of action may potentially benefit a variety of neurodegenerative disorders, as well as non-neurological conditions such as heart disease, arthritis and even brain cancer, says Snyder. Interestingly, because CXCL12 and its receptor are implicated in the cytokine storm that characterizes severe COVID-19, some of our insights into how to selectively inhibit inflammation without suppressing other normal processes may be useful in that arena as well.

Snyders research is supported by the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Defense, National Tay-Sachs & Allied Disease Foundation, Childrens Neurobiological Solutions Foundation, and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).

Thanks to decades of investment in stem cell science, we are making tremendous progress in our understanding of how these cells work and how they can be harnessed to help reverse injury or disease, says Maria Millan, MD, president and CEO of CIRM. This drug could help speed the development of stem cell treatments for spinal cord injury, Alzheimers, heart disease and many other conditions for which no effective treatment exists.

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Hematologist/Stem Cell Biologist to Direct Hematology and Cellular Therapy at Cedars-Sinai – Newswise

Newswise LOS ANGELES (Dec. 1, 2020) -- Internationally recognized hematologist John P. Chute, MD, has been selected to direct the Division of Hematology and Cellular Therapy in the Department of Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Cancer. The physician-scientist also will serve as director of the Center for Myelodysplastic Diseases Research and associate director of the Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. Chute assumed his new post Nov. 23.

The selection of Chute, following a national search, reflects the importance of his pioneering research in blood-forming stem cells called hematopoietic stem cells, which can self-renew and generate all cell types found in the blood and immune system. Over the past decade, Chute's lab has discovered several growth factors produced by the cells that line the walls of blood vessels; they play a critical role in blood-forming stem cell regeneration.

"Dr. Chute is an exceptional addition to our faculty," saidDanTheodorescu, MD, PhD, director ofCedars-Sinai Cancer. "His international reputation as a physician-scientist who has made major contributions to stem cell and hematopoietic cell biologywill greatly contribute to positioning the newly created Division of Hematology and Cell Therapy as one of the best in the nation, while providing Cedars-Sinai Cancer patients with exciting new options for the treatment of blood malignancies."

In addition to his hematopoietic stem cell research, Chute said he looks forward to expanding Cedars-Sinai's CAR T-cell research and therapy. He describes the immune-boosting therapeutic as "transformative" for patients with advanced non-Hodgkinlymphoma,childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemiaand potentially several additional blood cancers.

CAR T-cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy in which patients' own immune cells, called T cells, are collected from their blood, and then an artificial receptor chimeric antigen receptor, or CAR is added to the cells' surface. The receptor enables the modified cells to specifically eradicate cancer cells. The cells are infused back into a patient's body intravenously, where they multiply and attack tumor cells.

"CAR T therapy has become an important treatment option for so many patients with advanced cancer who had no options before," Chute said. "That's what makes CAR T therapy so exciting."

Chute joins Cedars-Sinai from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the UCLA, where he was a professor of Medicine and Radiation Oncology in the Division of Hematology/Oncology and an investigator in the Broad Stem Cell Research Center.

Chute earned his medical degree at Georgetown University. He completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at the National Naval Medical Center. He completed his research training at the National Cancer Institute and the Naval Medical Research Institute.

"I'm excited to join the Cedars-Sinai Cancer faculty because of the opportunity to collaborate with the world-class scientists and top-tier physicians at the cancer center," Chute said. "Cedars-Sinai has always been a leading medical center and is deeply committed to basic and translational research, while also growing the hematology and cellular therapy specialties. I'm eager to play a leading role in that growth."

Clickhereto read more from the Cedars-Sinai Newsroom.

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Experimental stem cell gene therapy may give a new lease of life for patient with sickle cell disease – News-Medical.Net

For Evie Junior, living with sickle cell disease has been like running a marathon.

"But it's a marathon whereas you keep going, the trail gets rockier and then you lose your shoes," the 27-year-old said. "It gets harder as you get older. Things start to fail and all you can think about is how much worse it's going to get down the road."

In sickle cell disease, a genetic mutation causes the blood-forming stem cells -- which give rise to all blood and immune cells -- to produce hard, sickle-shaped red blood cells. These misshapen cells die early, leaving an insufficient number of red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.

Because of their sickle shape, these cells also get stuck in blood vessels, blocking blood flow and resulting in excruciating bouts of pain that come on with no warning and can leave patients hospitalized for days.

The disease affects 100,000 people in the United States and millions around the world, the majority of whom are of African or Hispanic descent. It can ultimately lead to strokes, organ damage, and early death.

As a child growing up in the Bronx, New York, Junior had to have his gall bladder and spleen removed due to complications from the disease, but he refused to let his condition limit him. He played football, basketball, and baseball during the day, even though on some nights he experienced pain crises so severe he couldn't walk.

"It was just really routine if I had a sickle cell crisis," he said. "Going to the emergency room, staying in the hospital, coming out in a few days, and then getting back to normal life."

When he was 24 and living in Portland, Oregon, Junior began working as an emergency medical technician. He adopted the same mentality -- trying to treat his pain episodes the best he could, and hoping they would resolve overnight so he could get back to work.

Around that time, though, the crises became harder to manage. He developed pericarditis, an inflammation in the layers of tissue around his heart, and needed six weeks to recover.

"The big worry with sickle cell disease is that you're going to die young from some type of complications or damage to your organs," he said. "In the last couple of years, I've been seeing that slowly happen to me and I can only suspect that it's going to keep getting worse. I want to create a better future for myself."

In July 2019, in pursuit of that future, Junior enrolled in a clinical trial for an experimental stem cell gene therapy for sickle cell disease. The study is led by UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center physician-scientists Dr. Donald Kohn and Dr. Gary Schiller and funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

The therapy, developed by Kohn over the past 10 years, is intended to correct the mutation in patients' blood-forming stem cells to allow them to produce healthy red blood cells. Kohn has already applied the same concept to successfully treat several immune system deficiencies, including a cure for a form of severe combined immune deficiency, also known as bubble baby disease.

But sickle cell disease has proven more difficult to treat with gene therapy than those other conditions. Junior volunteered for the trial knowing there was a chance the therapy wouldn't cure him.

"Even if it doesn't work for me, I'm hoping that it can be a cure later down the road for millions of people," he said.

In July 2020, Junior received an infusion of his own blood-forming stem cells that had been genetically modified to overcome the mutation that causes his disease.

"The goal of this treatment is to give him a future, let him plan for college, family or whatever he wants without worrying about getting hospitalized because of another pain crisis," said Kohn, a distinguished professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, pediatrics, and molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Three months after his treatment, blood tests indicated that 70% of Junior's blood stem cells had the new corrected gene. Kohn and Schiller estimate that even a 20% correction would be enough to prevent future sickle cell complications.

Junior said he hasn't had a pain crisis since undergoing the treatment and he has more energy and feels breathless often.

"I noticed a big difference in my cardiovascular endurance in general -- even going for a light jog with my dogs, I could feel it," he said.

Junior and his doctors are cautiously optimistic about the results.

It's too early to declare victory, but it's looking quite promising at this point. Once we're at six months to a year, if it looks like it does now, I'll feel very comfortable that he's likely to have a permanent benefit."

Dr. Donald Kohn, Physician-Scientist, University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

After a lifetime of dealing with the unwelcome surprises of the disease, Junior is even more cautious than his doctors. But as the weeks pass, he's slowly allowing a glimmer of hope that he could soon be someone who used to have sickle cell disease. For him, that hope feels like "a burst of happiness" that's followed by thoughts of all the things he could do with a healthy future: pursue his dream of becoming a firefighter, get married and start a family.

"I want to be present in my kids' lives, so I've always said I'm not going to have kids unless I can get this cured," he said. "But if this works, it means I could start a family one day."

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Coronavirus Updates: The Latest Treatments and Vaccines – GovTech

(TNS) - Scientists at Bay Area universities, laboratories, biotechnology companies and drug manufacturers are fashioning drug concoctions out of blood plasma, chimpanzee viruses and cells taken from bone marrow in the race to rid the world of COVID-19.

The microbial treasure hunt is not just to find a cure which may not be possible but to control the debilitating health problems caused by the coronavirus.

Major progress has been made this year. The antiviral drug remdesivir, produced in Foster City, has improved recovery times, and the steroid dexamethasone has cut the number of deaths in severely ill patients.

What follows is a list of some of the most promising medications and vaccines with ties to the Bay Area:

Antibodies

and Immunity

Mesenchymal stem cells / UCSF and UC Davis Medical Center:

UCSF Dr. Michael Matthay is leading a study of whether a kind of stem cell found in bone marrow can help critically ill patients with severe respiratory failure, known as ARDS. Matthay hopes the stem cells can help reduce the inflammation associated with some of ARDS' most dire respiratory symptoms, and help patients' lungs recover.

In all, 120 patients are being enrolled at UCSF Medical Center, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento and hospitals in Oregon and Texas. He said the trial, which includes a small number of ARDS patients who don't have COVID-19, should have results by summer or fall 2021. So far, 28 patients are enrolled in San Francisco.

Lambda-interferon / Stanford University:

Lambda-interferon is a manufactured version of a naturally occurring protein that had been used to treat hepatitis, and researchers hoped it would help patients in the early stages of COVID-19.

Stanford researchers completed their trial of lambda-interferon and found that it did not boost the immune system response to coronavirus infections.

"That trial did not find any difference in outcomes between the treatment and placebo," said Yvonne Maldonado, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, where 120 patients were enrolled in the trial. "It didn't work."

Antiviral drugs

Remdesivir / Gilead Sciences ( Foster City):

Remdesivir, once conceived as a potential treatment for Ebola, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in October for use on hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Trademarked under the name Veklury, the drug interferes with the process through which the virus replicates itself. It was one of the drugs given to President Trump and has been used regularly in hospitals under what is known as an emergency use authorization.

It was approved after three clinical trials showed hospitalized coronavirus patients who received remdesivir recovered five days faster on average than those who received a placebo. Patients who required oxygen recovered seven days faster, according to the studies.

Gilead now plans to conduct clinical trials to see how remdesivir works on pediatric patients, from newborns to teenagers, with moderate to severe COVID-19 symptoms. Remdesivir is also being studied with steroids and other drugs to see if it works better as part of a medicinal cocktail. An inhalable form of the drug is also being developed.

Favipiravir / Fujifilm Toyama Chemical ( Stanford University):

This antiviral drug, developed in 2014 by a subsidiary of the Japanese film company to treat influenza, is undergoing numerous clinical studies worldwide, including a trial involving 180 patients at Stanford University.

Stanford epidemiologists are testing favipiravir to see if it prevents the coronavirus from replicating in human cells, halts the shedding of the virus and reduces the severity of infection. Unlike remdesivir, it can be administered orally, so it can be used to treat patients early in the disease, before hospitalization is necessary.

The Stanford study has so far enrolled about 90 patients, who are given the drug within 72 hours of when they were first diagnosed with COVID-19. Half of them get a placebo. People can enroll by emailing treatcovid@stanford.edu.

Monoclonal antibodies

REGN-COV2 / Regeneron Pharmaceuticals / Stanford School of Medicine:

The REGN-COV2 cocktail is the same one Trump received, and Stanford is one of dozens of locations nationwide where clinical trials are being held. Two separate trials are under way at Stanford one for hospitalized patients, the other for outpatients. A third trial is about to begin for people who aren't sick but are in contact with carriers of the virus.

Regeneron halted testing on severely ill patients requiring high-flow oxygen or mechanical ventilation after the independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board determined that the drug was unlikely to help them.

The drug is a combination of two monoclonal antibodies lab-made clones of the antibodies produced naturally in people who have recovered from COVID-19. The antibodies bind to the virus' spike protein and block the virus' ability to enter cells.

Dr. Aruna Subramanian, professor of infectious diseases at Stanford and lead investigator for the inpatient trial, said the 21 hospitalized patients in the study receive a high dose like Trump, a lower dose or a placebo. Subramanian plans to expand the inpatient trial to 45 patients. The outpatient study has enrolled a little more than 40 of the 60 patients researchers intend to sign up.

"There's enough promising evidence that it helps people early in the infection," Subramanian said. "What we don't know is whether it helps people who are pretty sick but not critically ill."

Bamlanivimab / Eli Lilly / Stanford and UCSF:

Stanford and UCSF are testing the Eli Lilly monoclonal antibodies on outpatients after the pharmaceutical company halted trials on hospitalized COVID-19 patients because of adverse results.

Dr. Andra Blomkalns, chair of emergency medicine at Stanford and the lead in the Eli Lilly outpatient trial, said she is now enrolling older people with comorbidities like heart disease, chronic lung disease, a history of strokes and severe obesity shortly after they test positive.

The hypothesis is that the bamlanivimab monotherapy, which is very similar to the Regeneron monoclonals, might work best early in the infection. Although about 400 patients have been enrolled in the Lilly phase 3 trials nationwide, to date fewer than 10 have been enrolled at Stanford and UCSF.

Matthay, who headed up the Lilly monoclonal study with LY-CoV555 at UCSF, said the cancellation of this inpatient trial was disappointing, but "just because this one did not work, doesn't mean another one won't work for hospitalized patients."

Blomkalns said the testing criteria has been changing. She expects the outpatient trial to open soon to adolescents ages 12 and up to determine whether the drug can be used as a preventive.

Designer monoclonal antibodies / Vir Biotechnology, San Francisco:

Scientists at Vir are studying several types of monoclonal antibodies, including a type engineered to activate T cells, which can search out and destroy cells infected with the coronavirus. A study published in the journal Nature in October found that monoclonals, modified to bind with certain receptors, stimulated T cells and improved the human immune response.

"By observing and learning from our body's powerful natural defenses, we have discovered how to maximize the capacity of antibodies through the amplification of key characteristics that may enable more effective treatments for viral diseases," said Herbert Virgin, the chief scientific officer at Vir and co-author of the study.

A similarly modified monoclonal antibody, leronlimab, is being studied in coronavirus clinical trials by its Washington state drugmaker, CytoDyn, which has developed drugs to treat HIV. The company's chief medical officer is in San Francisco, and the company that does laboratory tests of leronlimab is in San Carlos.

Anti-inflammatory drugs

Colchicine / UCSF ( San Francisco and New York):

The anti-inflammatory drug commonly used to treat gout flare-ups is being studied by scientists at UCSF and New York University. The drug short-circuits inflammation by decreasing the body's production of certain proteins, and researchers hope that it will reduce lung complications and prevent deaths from COVID-19.

Preliminary results from a clinical trial found that "Colchicine can be effective in reducing systemic symptoms of COVID-19 by inhibiting inflammatory biomarkers."

Selinexor / Kaiser Permanente:

Kaiser hospitals in San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento are studying selinexor, an anticancer drug that blocks a key protein in the cellular machinery for DNA processing. Preliminary findings during the trials indicated that low doses of selinexor helped hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19. The drug has both antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, and it's administered orally, according to Kaiser's Dr. Jacek Skarbinski.

Vaccines

VXA-COV2-1 / Vaxart, South San Francisco:

The biotechnology company Vaxart is testing VXA-COV2-1, the only potential vaccine in pill form. It uses the genetic code of the coronavirus to trigger a defensive response in mucous membranes. The hope is that the newly fortified membranes will prevent the virus from entering the body.

"It's the only vaccine (candidate) that activates the first line of defense, which is the mucosa," said Andrei Floroiu, Vaxart's chief executive. He said intravenous vaccines kill the virus after it is inside the body, but this one stops it beforehand.

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Hematologist Discusses the Impact a Myeloma CAR T-Cell Approval Would Have on the Treatment Landscape – DocWire News

Ankit Kansagra, MD, an assistant professor in theDepartment of Internal Medicineat UT Southwestern Medical Center and assistant director of theOutpatient Stem Cell Transplant Program, discusses chimeric antigen receptor T-cell agents in the pipeline for multiple myeloma (MM) and how these therapies may impact the treatment landscape pending future approvals.

In part two of this interview with Dr. Kansagra, available December X, he discusses potential new combination therapy options for MM.

DocWire News: Dr. Kansagra, can you discuss some of the CAR T-cell therapies in development for multiple myeloma, including their targets, clinical trial data that weve seen, and your expectations for any future FDA approvals?

Dr. Kansagra: In multiple myeloma, a few of the CAR T-cell therapy targets, which in the most developments, have been the BCMA-targeted CAR T-cell therapies. Those have been most exciting because they have made it to the phase I to phase II trials, especially the registrational studies from Celgene or Bluebird, BMS, the bb2121 compound or the Janssen compound 4538, being farthest out in the clinical development for CAR T-cell therapy. There are certainly a few other CAR T-cell therapies for multiple myeloma, which have grown, and theyre probably in the earlier development of therapy. An example being the CD38 CAR T-cell therapy, the SLAMF CAR T-cell therapy, and GPR5CD CAR T-cell therapy. Those are the three different targets which are being evaluated as T-cell targets.

DocWire News: How do you see the approval of these CAR T-cell therapy impacting the treatment landscape for multiple myeloma?

Dr. Kansagra: I think its going to be a huge improvement in our momentum of our treatment options. We have already seen cell therapy in myeloma have impressive results in terms of the response rates. I think the first important step is you have these patients who have got six or seven different lines of treatment, and now they are getting a novel product or a novel mechanism of action and also novel target and seeing an impressive response rate. That was amazing. Thats step number one.

Step number two is, as we have got further into the clinical development of CAR T-cell therapy, we have seen the safety of these products because that is extremely important that our products are safer.

Then the third thing which we have seen is that long-term follow-ups are not there, but what we have started seeing is that our responses, which could last up to a year or a year and a half for the population, where we would have usually seen maybe barely a response in a matter of months.

I think those are exciting times for our patients with multiple myeloma, where they have failed a lot of therapies. I think the more exciting times are going to come when we will start seeing these CAR T-cell therapies, potentially even in earlier lines of treatment options, where they could use maybe as a second-line treatment or as a first-line treatment after stem cell transplant or in lieu of stem cell transplant, maybe we can have deeper and longer remission rates.

DocWire News: With some of these agents potentially coming to market, do you foresee any challenges, either associated with adverse events or the ability to make these treatments widely available to patients?

Dr. Kansagra: Access to care is certainly near and dear to me, and thinking about those challenges is extremely, extremely important. I think were going to probably face challenges in a lot of different ways.

The first thing is, obviously, how can we get our patients to the centers who are giving CAR T-cell therapy? How are we going to bring them? We know from our autologous stem cell transplant over the last three to four decades, that still not every eligible transplant patient is referred to a transplant center, for whatever reasons. There are multiple reasons; there are socioeconomic reasons; there are distance reasons. But a lot of them are fixable reasons. There are some which are unfixable, but there are some fixable. I think the first and the foremost important thing is going to be to get our patients to a place who is delivering CAR T-cell therapy. Thats the challenge number one.

Challenge number two is, once they are in there, making sure that they are able to get that thing. So it means theyre not coming too late in their game, so trying to make sure theyre referred in earlier points, so that processes in place, that insurance approval has got started, if we need to work on the sociodemographic issues, how are they going to stay in a particular area? What is the social help, what is the family help theyre going to need? If they had referred earlier on, thats another, I call it, bottleneck that we need to think of that. Thats where we need to act on it.

The hard thing is obviously the cost. We dont know what is going to be the cost of the myeloma CAR T-cell therapy, or what is the price of those things. We can certainly estimate that its not going to be as cheap given the three CAR-Ts, which are not FDA-approved. I think its going to be expensive. You will have to think of the cost of care model of how we are going to work with this.

Last but not least of the challenges are the CAR-T itself. These are in the logistical challenge bucket. Then there are the challenges in the CAR-T landscape or the product itself. We still know that these are second-generation CAR T-cell therapies. They dont work for everybody. They have a high response rates, but they dont last that long. We hope to see longer remissions. An example I give, in comparison to large-cell lymphoma, we had 50% of the people who plateaued out, now coming up to about three years. In myeloma, we havent obviously made it to three years since the CAR T-cell therapy have started, but we do worry that there is a tail end of the curve that people are already relapsing to it. Obviously, that goes to the product itself or the construct itself, which needs to be developed in multiple different ways. I think of them as two major challenges ahead of us.

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ONLINE: The UW Now – Isthmus

press release: Stream at the WAA YouTube channel.

Dec. 1: As multiple pharmaceutical companies announce initial positive results from vaccine clinical trials, people all over the world are beginning to ask what comes next. Have the vaccines been tested enough? With limited quantities available, who gets first priority? What factors may complicate distribution? Once we have been vaccinated, how long will we be protected?

Join fellow UW-Madison alumni and friends online for a livestream and Q & A with three UW-Madison experts about the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The talks will be moderated by Mike Knetter, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association.

R. Alta Charo is the Warren P. Knowles Professor of Law and Bioethics at the University of WisconsinMadison. She is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Medicine, where she serves on its board on health sciences policy and its executive council. Charo served as a member of the Obama-Biden Transition Project, where she was a member of the health and human services review team. She has served as a senior policy adviser in the Office of the Commissioner at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as well as on several expert advisory boards of organizations with an interest in stem cell research. She is also the cochair of the National Academy of Medicine Forum on Regenerative Medicine and the Committee on Human Gene Editing. She has been a key figure in drafting regulations and guidelines concerning adult, embryonic, and induced pluripotent stem cell research.

James Conway is a pediatric infectious disease specialist and professor of pediatrics. He is the associate director of the UWs Global Health Institute, the medical director of the UW Health Immunization Program, and director of the Office of Global Health at the School of Medicine and Public Health. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), serving in the sections on infectious diseases and international child health, and received an AAP Special Achievement Award in 2009 for his immunization projects. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Wisconsin AAP chapter (WIAPP), where he serves as chair of the Committee on Immunizations and Infectious Diseases and represents WIAAP on the Wisconsin Council on Immunization Practice.

Jonathan Temte MD87, PhD93 is the associate dean for public health and community egagement at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. As a family medicine physician and a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Temte has served as a clinician, teacher, and researcher for 25 years. His research includes investigation of the relationships between communities, primary care, and respiratory viruses. An expert in vaccines and immunization policy, Temte has served on the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, also acting as chair of its Evidence-Based Recommendation Work Group. Temte is chair of the Wisconsin Council on Immunization Practices and serves as medical director for Public Health Madison & Dane County. On the national level, Temte is serving an appointment to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Board of Scientific Counselors.

More info: https://www.allwaysforward.org/uwnow/. A recording of this livestream will be available on uwalumni.com after the event.

WFAA plans to host The UW Now Livestream weekly, featuring UWMadison faculty and staff with unique expertise.

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Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities of Harvesting CTCs – Technology Networks

This cluster of circulating tumor cells (CTCs, shown in red) originated from the blood of a breast cancer patient. Credit: Min Yu (Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC), National Cancer Institute/USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center

Liquid biopsies involve sampling and analyzing bodily fluids, such as blood, urine or saliva, to look for signs of cancer or other diseases. A range of disease biomarkers can be detected, including circulating tumor cells (CTCs), circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), exosomes and proteins. The information gleaned from liquid biopsies could help clinicians diagnose, monitor and treatcancer more efficiently, providing insights not possible with traditional surgical biopsies.

As part of its efforts in the liquid biopsy space, ANGLE has developed the Parsortix system. The technology captures CTCs from a blood sample and enables a variety of downstream analyses to be completed. In a recent study from the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, Parsortix was used to successfully harvest CTCs to investigate the causes of brain metastasis in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.We spoke to Andrew Newland, CEO, ANGLE, to learn more about the study, the challenges of harvesting CTCs and how the Parsortix system overcomes some of these challenges.Andrew also discussed the value of characterizing CTCs in clinical trials for new drugs.Anna MacDonald (AM): What advantages do liquid biopsies offer over traditional surgical biopsies?Andrew Newland (AN): Liquid biopsies are based on a blood test. This has multiple advantages but in particular: firstly they are non-invasive requiring only a simple blood draw and do not require an invasive surgical procedure, with the associated costs and potential complications. Secondly they can be repeated often to check on current status of the disease, and response to treatment, whereas the tissue biopsy can only be done once for a given cancer site. This enables personalized medicine with treatment tailored to the patients current condition.AM: Can you explain what circulating tumor cells are, how they can be used to detect and monitor cancers, and why they are so challenging to isolate?AN: CTCs are cancer cells that have left the primary site (or the secondary sites) and are circulating in the blood stream as seeds to spread the cancer in the metastasis process. If they can be captured and harvested for analysis, they can be investigated to determine the current status of the cancer. This provides the information needed for personalized treatment tailored to the patients current condition the right drug at the right time. The CTCs are challenging to isolate because they are very few in number, generally around one CTC for one billion blood cells.AM: Can you give an overview of how the Parsortix system works to capture and harvest CTCs? How does this approach compare to other methods?AN: The Parsortix system captures CTCs using a patented microfluidic structure which separates the CTCs based on their larger size and lack of deformability. Key advantages of the Parsortix system compared to alternative CTC approaches are that it is epitope-independent (does not rely on antibodies to capture CTCs) and captures all types of CTCs including those that are mesenchymal. It also allows easy harvest of the CTCs (recovery from the system) for analysis unlike filtration systems, which have the added problems of clogging up and lack of purity in addition to problems of harvesting the cells for analysis.AM: What benefits does it offer over biological affinity-based methods of CTC isolation?AN: The affinity-based systems are based on binding antibody-coated magnetic beads to the CTCs. These systems fail to capture the clinically significant EMTing and mesenchymal CTCs as they do not express the cell surface markers targeted by the antibodies. In addition, the antibody capture process kills the cells negating the ability to culture the CTCs and potentially changing the RNA and protein expression of the cells.AM: Parsortix was used in a recent study that investigated the causes of brain metastasis in NSCLC patients. Can you tell us more about the study and the significance of the findings?AN: Brain metastasis is where the primary cancer has spread to the brain. Treatment is difficult because it is not known how the cancer is developing in the brain and a surgical tissue biopsy to investigate this is too dangerous. It had been thought not to be possible to harvest CTCs from brain metastasis due to the blood-brain barrier. However University of Hamburg-Eppendorf demonstrated that this was possible using the Parsortix system.AM: ANGLE has recently applied for FDA clearance for Parsortix, for use in metastatic breast cancer. If approved, what difference could this make to patients and clinicians?AN: This would be the first ever FDA cleared platform for harvesting CTCs from patient blood for subsequent analysis. It would open up a whole range of possible diagnostic uses to tailor treatment for metastatic breast cancer patients, that can be validated with additional clinical studies. Despite being recommended in the US National Cancer Guidelines, 50% of MBC patients are too sick, the tumor too inaccessible or insufficient tissue is available for a successful tissue biopsy of the metastatic site. For these patients there is no current information on the cancer to guide treatment. A liquid biopsy would open up alternatives for these patients based on a simple blood test.All MBC patients would benefit from the potential to have repeat biopsies using the Parsortix system to tailor their treatment more effectively. The liquid biopsies can be used to determine whether a drug is being effective, to select which drugs would be effective and to monitor patients in remission to determine, in advance, whether there are signs indicating a risk of relapse. Such early detection may allow treatment to reduce relapse.AM: What value can the characterization of CTCs bring to clinical trials?AN: Analysis of CTCs in clinical trials for new drugs, may allow the identification of likely patient responders so that drugs can be targeted. CTCs enable DNA, RNA and protein analysis providing a more complete picture of the cancer than DNA analysis alone. CTCs may also reduce the time and costs of drug trials by providing early information on drug effectiveness as well as enabling faster enrolment. Liquid biopsies allow serial monitoring of patients over different time periods, which is not possible with tissue biopsies as these cannot be repeated. This longitudinal monitoring may provide more accurate and more timely information of the performance of the drug facilitating clinical trials.AM: In what areas do you envisage liquid biopsies are likely to make the most impact? Will there still be a place for surgical biopsies?AN: The Parsortix liquid biopsy is intended to be additive to surgical tissue biopsies. Tissue biopsies are the current gold standard and will likely continue where the tissue is accessible and the procedure not overly invasive. There is no expectation that liquid biopsy will replace tissue biopsy. Liquid biopsies will be used for repeat biopsies, which is not possible with a tissue biopsy (you cannot cut out the same tissue twice), to provide up-to-date information and where the tissue is inaccessible and/or the biopsy is overly invasive (such as brain metastasis).Andrew Newland was speaking to Anna MacDonald, Science Writer, Technology Networks.

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Mustang Bio to Host Key Opinion Leader Call on MB-106 for the Treatment of Relapsed or Refractory B-Cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma – GlobeNewswire

WORCESTER, Mass., Dec. 01, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Mustang Bio, Inc. (Mustang) (NASDAQ: MBIO), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on translating todays medical breakthroughs in cell and gene therapies into potential cures for hematologic cancers, solid tumors and rare genetic diseases, today announced that it will host a key opinion leader (KOL) call on MB-106 for the treatment of relapsed or refractory B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma on Wednesday, December 9, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. EST.

The call will feature presentations by KOLs Mazyar Shadman, M.D., M.P.H., Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Fred Hutch), and Brian Till, M.D., Fred Hutch, who will discuss the interim Phase 1/2 data on MB-106, a CD20-targeted, autologous CAR T cell therapy for patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma that the company is developing in collaboration with Fred Hutch. Data from this study have been selected for a poster presentation at the 62nd American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting.

During the call, Drs. Shadman and Till will also discuss the modified cell manufacturing process that was co-developed by Fred Hutch and Mustang Bio, as well as the correlative science observed in the study to date. The Mustang team will then give a corporate update on its pipeline and future plans. Following the formal presentations, the Mustang team, along with Drs. Till and Shadman, will be available for questions.

To register for the call, please click here.

About Dr. ShadmanMazyar Shadman, M.D., M.P.H., is an associate professor at the University of Washington (UW) and Fred Hutch. He is a hematologic malignancies expert who specializes in treating patients with lymphoma / chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). He is involved in clinical trials using novel therapeutic agents, immunotherapy (CAR T cell), and stem cell transplant for treatment of lymphoid malignancies with a focus on CLL. He also studies the clinical outcomes of patients using institutional and collaborative retrospective cohort studies. Dr. Shadman received his M.D. from Tehran University in Iran. He finished internal medicine internship and residency training at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. He completed his training in hematology and medical oncology fellowships at UW and Fred Hutch. Dr. Shadman also earned an M.P.H. degree from UW and was a fellow for National Cancer Institutes cancer research training program at Fred Hutch, where he studies cancer epidemiology.

About Dr. TillBrian Till, M.D., is an Associate Professor in the Clinical Research Division of Fred Hutch and Department of Medicine at UW. His laboratory focuses on developing chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-based immunotherapies for non-Hodgkin lymphoma and understanding why CAR T cell therapies work for some patients but not for others. He led the first published clinical trial testing CAR T cells as a treatment for lymphoma patients. Dr. Till also has a clinical practice treating patients with lymphoma and attends on the stem cell transplantation and immunotherapy services at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

About Mustang BioMustang Bio, Inc. is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on translating todays medical breakthroughs in cell and gene therapies into potential cures for hematologic cancers, solid tumors and rare genetic diseases. Mustang aims to acquire rights to these technologies by licensing or otherwise acquiring an ownership interest, to fund research and development, and to outlicense or bring the technologies to market. Mustang has partnered with top medical institutions to advance the development of CAR T therapies across multiple cancers, as well as a lentiviral gene therapy for X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (XSCID), also known as bubble boy disease. Mustang is registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and files periodic reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Mustang was founded by Fortress Biotech, Inc. (NASDAQ: FBIO). For more information, visit http://www.mustangbio.com.

ForwardLooking StatementsThis press release may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, each as amended. Such statements include, but are not limited to, any statements relating to our growth strategy and product development programs and any other statements that are not historical facts. Forward-looking statements are based on managements current expectations and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could negatively affect our business, operating results, financial condition and stock value. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those currently anticipated include: risks relating to our growth strategy; our ability to obtain, perform under, and maintain financing and strategic agreements and relationships; risks relating to the results of research and development activities; risks relating to the timing of starting and completing clinical trials; uncertainties relating to preclinical and clinical testing; our dependence on third-party suppliers; our ability to attract, integrate and retain key personnel; the early stage of products under development; our need for substantial additional funds; government regulation; patent and intellectual property matters; competition; as well as other risks described in our SEC filings. We expressly disclaim any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in our expectations or any changes in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based, except as required by law, and we claim the protection of the safe harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

Company Contacts:Jaclyn Jaffe and William BegienMustang Bio, Inc.(781) 652-4500ir@mustangbio.com

Investor Relations Contact:Daniel FerryLifeSci Advisors, LLC(617) 430-7576daniel@lifesciadvisors.com

Media Relations Contact:Tony Plohoros6 Degrees(908) 591-2839tplohoros@6degreespr.com

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Celularity Announces Positive DMC Safety Review and Continuation of its Phase I/II CYNK-001-COVID-19 (CYNKCOVID) Study – PRNewswire

FLORHAM PARK, N.J., Dec. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Celularity announced today that the independent Data Monitoring Committee (DMC) completed the first assessment of the ongoing Phase I/II CYNK-001-COVID-19(CYNKCOVID) study (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04365101) with CYNK-001 off-the-shelf, allogeneic, natural killer (NK) cell therapy in adults with COVID-19. The DMC confirmed the absence of dose-limiting toxicities and recommended to move forward with the trial. Additionally, there was no evidence of worsening of inflammatory biomarkers observed. The observed clinical findings justify the continuation of the trial. Enrollment is ongoing in this multi-center clinical study with active sites in Arizona, Arkansas, California, New Jersey, and Washington.

"We are encouraged that an esteemed group of independent experts in COVID-19 and cellular therapy determined that CYNK-001 was safe in the first participants receiving the treatment on the multi-site national study. Our goal now is to rapidly complete enrollment of the study so we can determine the efficacy of this promising treatment for COVID-19 with the epidemic resurging in the United States and few good treatment options for many patients,"said the national PI for the CYNKCOVID clinical trial, Corey Casper, M.D., M.P.H.

"The administration of NK cells may have the potential to both control viral infection while also coordinating a more effective immune response that could lead to strong and lasting protection against viruses. With the increasing incidence of COVID-19 nationwide, Celularity reaffirms our commitment to the development of CYNK-001 as a potential therapeutic treatment for patients with limited treatment options. Through our collaboration with investigators, we anticipate rapid enrollment culminating in the next DMC review of safety and efficacy data," said Robert J. Hariri, M.D., Ph.D., Celularity's Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

The Phase I/II CYNK-001-COVID-19 (CYNKCOVID) clinical trial investigating CYNK-001 is continuing to enroll to the next evaluation milestone where the external, independent DMC will review the phase I data for both safety and efficacy. Celularity continues to accumulate safety data on CYNK-001 across a broad platform of programs including COVID-19, as well as hematologic and solid tumor malignancies.

About NK CellsNK cells are innate immune cells with an important role in early host response against various pathogens. Multiple NK cell receptors are involved in the recognition of infected cells. Studies in humans and mice have established that there is robust activation of NK cells during viral infection, regardless of the virus class, and that the depletion of NK cells aggravates viral pathogenesis.

About CYNK-001CYNK-001 is an investigational cryopreserved allogeneic, off-the-shelf NK cell therapy developed from placental hematopoietic stem cells. CYNK-001 is being investigated as a potential treatment option in adults with COVID-19, as well as for various hematologic cancers and solid tumors. NK cells are a unique class of immune cells, innately capable of targeting cancer cells and interacting with adaptive immunity. CYNK-001 cells derived from the placenta are currently being investigated as a treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), multiple myeloma (MM), and glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

About Celularity Celularity, headquartered in Florham Park, N.J., is a next-generation Biotechnology company leading the next evolution in cellular medicine by developing off-the-shelf allogeneic cellular therapies. Celularity's innovative approach to cell therapy harnesses the unique therapeutic potential locked within the cells of the post-partum placenta. Through nature's immunotherapy engine the placenta Celularity is leading the next evolution of cellular medicine with placental-derived T cells, NK cells, and pluripotent stem cells to target unmet and underserved clinical needs in cancer, infectious and degenerative diseases. To learn more visit celularity.com

Media ContactFactory PR Email: [emailprotected]

SOURCE Celularity, Inc.

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COVID-19 patients on some cancer therapies may be contagious for months: study – Reuters

A 3D-printed coronavirus model is seen in front of the words coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on display in this illustration taken March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

(Reuters) - COVID-19 patients who received cancer treatments that suppress their immune system may remain contagious and able to spread the coronavirus for two months or more, according to a study published on Tuesday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends that when patients have compromised immune systems, healthcare workers follow extra precautions such as wearing respirators instead of face masks and isolate patients for up to 20 days after symptoms appear.

In the new study, researchers analyzed sputum and swab samples from 20 immunosuppressed cancer patients infected with the new coronavirus. They found that three were contagious for more than three weeks after their symptoms began, including one who remained contagious for 61 days.

The three patients had received either a stem-cell transplant or therapy with genetically engineered immune cells called CAR T-cells within the previous six months. Two of the three had developed severe COVID-19. None of them had antibodies to the virus.

Current public health recommendations for COVID-19 patients with weak immune systems are based on limited data and may need to be revised, the researchers said in a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

We know from several studies that if youre ... healthy, you are no longer infectious after the first week of illness. But there is very little we know about immunocompromised patients, said Mini Kamboj, one of the studys authors from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Is that 20 days enough or do we need to exercise precautions for longer than that?

While only a small proportion of cancer patients with COVID-19 are likely to remain contagious for prolonged periods, its a residual risk that we need to address, Kamboj said. We need to keep an open mind about how (much) longer immunocompromised patients could pose an infection risk to others.

Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Nancy Lapid and Bill Berkrot

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