MedGenome Labs Ltd. – Publications | MedGenome - Part 11


At MedGenome, we are deeply focused on continuous innovation, and publishing our findings for the larger benefit of the genetic testing community. Read through our publications for details of our latest work.

Date: March 25, 2019

The neurofibromatoses, which include neurofibromatosis type I (NF1), neurofibromatosis type II (NF2), and schwannomatosis, are a group of syndromes characterized by tumor growth in the nervous system. The RASopathies are a group of syndromes caused by germline mutations in genes that encode components of the RAS/mitogen‐activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. The RASopathies include NF1, Noonan syndrome, Noonan syndrome with multiple lentigines, Costello syndrome, cardio‐facio‐cutaneous syndrome, Legius syndrome, capillary malformation arterio‐venous malformation syndrome, and SYNGAP1 autism. Due to their common underlying pathogenetic etiology, all these syndromes have significant phenotypic overlap of which one common feature include a predisposition to tumors, which may be benign or malignant. Together as a group, they represent one of the most common multiple congenital anomaly syndromes estimating to affect approximately one in 1000 individuals worldwide. The subcontinent of India represents one of the largest populations in the world, yet remains underserved from an aspect of clinical genetics services. In an effort to bridge this gap, the First International Conference on RASopathies and Neurofibromatoses in Asia: Identification and Advances of New Therapeutics was held in Kochi, Kerala, India. These proceedings chronicle this timely and topical international symposium directed at discussing the best practices and therapies for individuals with neurofibromatoses and RASopathies.

Date: February 5, 2019

A 21year-old man presented with involuntary jerky movements of his hands and head since age 13. Initially mild, they had progressed to moderate severity over the last few years. The movements could come in ‘spells’ intermittently in the early years. His whole body could tremble when he was anxious, concentrating on an activity or riding his scooter. While he could still do all activities unhindered, and symptoms were mostly an inconvenience, they were increasingly causing embarrassment. Family history was negative. He had never used alcohol. On examination, myoclonic jerking of the neck and both hands was present at rest This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. and action. (Video 1, Segment 1) There was no involvement of face, trunk or lower limbs. Brain MRI, metabolic testing, EEG and SSEP were normal. A clinical diagnosis of Myoclonus-Dystonia (M-D) syndrome was made.

Date: February 1, 2019

T-cell recognition of cancer neoantigens is important for effective immune-checkpoint blockade therapy, and an increasing interest exists in developing personalized tumor neoantigen vaccines. Previous studies utilizing RNA and long-peptide neoantigen vaccines in preclinical and early-phase clinical studies have shown immune responses predominantly driven by MHC class II CD4+ T cells. Here, we report on a preclinical study utilizing a DNA vaccine platform to target tumor neoantigens. We showed that optimized strings of tumor neoantigens, when delivered by potent electroporation-mediated DNA delivery, were immunogenic and generated predominantly MHC class I-restricted, CD8+ T-cell responses. High MHC class I affinity was associated specifically with immunogenic CD8+ T-cell epitopes. These DNA neoantigen vaccines induced a therapeutic antitumor response in vivo, and neoantigen-specific T cells expanded from immunized mice directly killed tumor cells ex vivo These data illustrate a unique advantage of this DNA platform to drive CD8+ T-cell immunity for neoantigen immunotherapy.

Date: January 14, 2019

Mutations in GNAL have been associated with cranio-cervical dystonia (DYT-GNAL) [ 1 ]. The dystonia most often progresses to involve other regions, particularly the face and laryngeal muscles and less commonly the trunk, arm and lower limbs. The clinical phenotype in GNAL-related dystonia appears to be similar to that caused by mutations in THAP1

Date: January 11, 2019

Epigenetic mechanisms regulate gene expression and may influence the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes through the loss of insulin sensitivity. The aims of this study were to measure variation in DNA methylation at the type 2 diabetes locus KCNQ1 and assess its relationship with metabolic measures and with genotype.

Date: December 21, 2018

A large number of tumor intrinsic and extrinsic factors determine long-term survival in human cancers. In this study, we stratified 9120 tumors from 33 cancers with respect to their immune cell content and identified immunogenomic features associated with long-term survival. Our analysis demonstrates that tumors infiltrated by CD8+ T cells expressing higher levels of activation marker (PD1hi) along with TCR signaling genes and cytolytic T cell markers (IL2hi/TNF-αhi/IFN-γhi/GZMA-Bhi) extend survival, whereas survival benefit was absent for tumors infiltrated by anergic and hyperexhausted CD8+ T cells characterized by high expression of CTLA-4, TIM3, LAG3, and genes linked to PI3K signaling pathway. The computational approach of using robust and highly specific gene expression signatures to deconvolute the tumor microenvironment has important clinical applications, such as selecting patients who will benefit from checkpoint inhibitor treatment.

Date: November 11, 2018

Retinoblastoma (RB) is a childhood eye cancer. Currently, chemotherapy, local therapy, and enucleation are the main ways in which these tumors are managed. The present work is the first study that uses constraint‐based reconstruction and analysis approaches to identify and explain RB‐specific survival strategies, which are RB tumor specific. Importantly, our model‐specific secretion profile is also found in RB1‐depleted human retinal cells in vitro and suggests that novel biomarkers involved in lipid metabolism may be important. Finally, RB‐specific synthetic lethals have been predicted as lipid and nucleoside transport proteins that can aid in novel drug target development.

Date: October 25, 2018

Deregulated HER2 is a target of many approved cancer drugs. We analyzed 111,176 patient tumors and identified recurrent mutations in HER2 transmembrane domain (TMD) and juxtamembrane domain (JMD) that include G660D, R678Q, E693K, and Q709L. Using a saturation mutagenesis screen and testing of patient-derived mutations we found several activating TMD and JMD mutations. Structural modeling and analysis showed that the TMD/JMD mutations function by improving the active dimer interface or stabilizing an activating conformation. Further, we found that HER2 G660D employed asymmetric kinase dimerization for activation and signaling. Importantly, anti-HER2 antibodies and small-molecule kinase inhibitors blocked the activity of TMD/JMD mutants. Consistent with this, a G660D germline mutant lung cancer patient showed remarkable clinical response to HER2 blockade.

Date: October 22, 2018

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are still the prevailing cause of death not only in industrialized countries, but even worldwide. Type 2 diabetes mellitus (type 2 DM) and hyperlipidemia, a metabolic disorder that is often associated with diabetes, are major risk factors for developing CVD. Recently, clinical trials proved the safety of gliptins in treating patients with type 2 DM. Gliptins are dipeptidyl-peptidase 4 (DPP4/CD26) inhibitors, which stabilize glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), thereby increasing the bioavailability of insulin. Moreover, blocking DPP4 results in increased levels of stromal cell derived factor 1 (SDF-1). SDF-1 has been shown in pre-clinical animal studies to improve heart function and survival after myocardial infarction, and to promote arteriogenesis, the growth of natural bypasses, compensating for the function of an occluded artery. Clinical trials, however, failed to demonstrate a superiority of gliptins compared to placebo treated type 2 DM patients in terms of cardiovascular (CV) outcomes. This review highlights the function of DPP4 inhibitors in type 2 DM, and in treating cardiovascular diseases, with special emphasis on arteriogenesis. It critically addresses the potency of currently available gliptins and gives rise to hope by pointing out the most relevant questions that need to be resolved.

Date: September 26, 2018

Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is an inherited condition arising from genetic defects in the Adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) gene. Carriers with mutations in the APC gene develop polyps in the colon and rectum which if not managed, transition into colon cancer. In this study, we identified a novel germline mutation in the APC gene in members of an FAP-affected (Familial adenomatous polyposis) family. This unique heterozygous variant (c.735_736insT; p.Ser246PhefsTer6) was identified in ten out of twenty six family members, ranging in age from 6 to 60 years. Polyps were detected in six of the ten individuals (35–60 years) carrying this mutation. The remaining four members (6–23 years) remain polyp free. A significant fraction of FAP affected individuals eventually develop colon cancer and therapeutic interventions to prevent cancer progression remain elusive. To address this issue, we sought to determine if peptides derived from the novel APC mutation could induce a cytotoxic T cell response, thereby qualifying them as vaccine candidates. Peptides harboring the variant amino acids were first interrogated in silico for their immunogenicity using a proprietary neoepitope prioritization pipeline, OncoPeptVAC. A single 9-mer peptide was predicted to be immunogenic. Remarkably, CD8+ T cells isolated from either an FAP+/ APCmut individual, or from a FAP-/ APCmut individual, failed to respond to the peptide, whereas those from either an unaffected family member (FAP-/ APCwt) or from healthy unrelated donors, showed a robust response, suggesting that CD8+ T cells from individuals carrying this germline APC mutation have been tolerized to the mutation. Furthermore, experimental testing of six additional reported APC gene mutation-derived peptides revealed one of the six to be immunogenic. While not all APC mutant peptides are inmmunogenic, a few qualify as vaccine candidates offering novel treatment opportunities to patients with somatic APC gene mutations to delay/treat colorectal cancer.

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