MedGenome Labs Ltd. – Publications | MedGenome | MedGenome - Part 7
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Publications

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: May 29, 2018

Tobacco usage is a known risk factor associated with development of oral cancer. It is mainly consumed in two different forms (smoking and chewing) that vary in their composition and methods of intake. Despite being the leading cause of oral cancer, molecular alterations induced by tobacco are poorly understood. We therefore sought to investigate the adverse effects of cigarette smoke/chewing tobacco exposure in oral keratinocytes (OKF6/TERT1). OKF6/TERT1 cells acquired oncogenic phenotype after treating with cigarette smoke/chewing tobacco for a period of 8 months. We employed whole exome sequencing (WES) and quantitative proteomics to investigate the molecular alterations in oral keratinocytes chronically exposed to smoke/ chewing tobacco. Exome sequencing revealed distinct mutational spectrum and copy number alterations in smoke/ chewing tobacco treated cells. We also observed differences in proteomic alterations. Proteins downstream of MAPK1 and EGFR were dysregulated in smoke and chewing tobacco exposed cells, respectively. This study can serve as a reference for fundamental damages on oral cells as a consequence of exposure to different forms of tobacco.

Date: April 30, 2018

Methylglyoxal (MG) is a predominant precursor for advanced glycation end products (AGEs) due to its protein glycation reactions, which are the major causes of diabetic complications. MG is explored as a significant biomarker towards the prediction of diabetic complications. With this background, a non-enzymatic electrochemical biosensor has been developed to detect MG in human blood plasma samples. Microwave synthesized V2O5 nanoplates were used as interface material in the fabrication of modified gold (Au) working electrode for electrochemical MG biosensor. Orthorhombic crystal structured V2O5 with an oxidation state of +5 exhibited specific MG sensing performance. Cyclic voltammetry and amperometry studies confirmed the electrocatalytic nature of V2O5 nanoplates modified Au electrode in the detection of MG. Non-enzymatic V2O5 modified Au electrode showed a sensitivity of 4.519µAµM-1 with a linear range of 3-30µM, limit of detection (LOD) of 0.24µM, limit of quantification (LOQ) of 0.80µM and a response time less than 8s towards MG. The lifetime and percentage recovery of the sensor was found to be 25 days (90%) and 102.5-108.7% respectively.

Currently approved checkpoint inhibitors are antibodies that block the function of three key proteins expressed on the surface of T cells: CTLA-4, PD-1 and PD-L1. Under normal conditions, these proteins function as brakes to prevent immune-related toxicity from arising because of persistent T cell activity. Cancer hijacks this essential function of immune homeostasis to protect itself from immune- mediated elimination [1, 2]. By expressing high levels of PD- L1, tumor cells engage PD-1 receptors on T cells, suppressing their anti-tumor activity and escaping T cell-mediated killing. By blocking PD-1 and PD-L1 signaling, the checkpoint inhibitors remove the brakes on T cells imposed by the tumor and enhance their anti-tumor activity

Date: February 21, 2018

Currently approved checkpoint inhibitors are antibodies that block the function of three key proteins expressed on the surface of T cells: CTLA-4, PD-1 and PD-L1. Under normal conditions, these proteins function as brakes to prevent immune-related toxicity from arising because of persistent T cell activity. Cancer hijacks this essential function of immune homeostasis to protect itself from immune-mediated elimination [1, 2]. By expressing high levels of PD-L1, tumor cells engage PD-1 receptors on T cells, suppressing their anti-tumor activity and escaping T cell-mediated killing. By blocking PD-1 and PD-L1 signaling, the checkpoint inhibitors remove the brakes on T cells imposed by the tumor and enhance their anti-tumor activity [3].

Date: February 16, 2018

Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II deficiency is a rare autosomal recessive form of primary immunodeficiency disorder (PID) characterized by the deficiency of MHC class II molecules. This deficiency affects the cellular and humoral immune response by impairing the development of CD4+ T helper (Th) cells and Th cell-dependent antibody production by B cells. Affected children typically present with severe respiratory and gastrointestinal tract infections. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is the only curative therapy available for treating these patients. This is the first report from India wherein we describe the clinical, immunological, and molecular findings in five patients with MHC class II deficiency. Our patients presented with recurrent lower respiratory tract infection as the most common clinical presentation within their first year of life and had a complete absence of human leukocyte antigen-antigen D-related (HLA-DR) expression on B cells and monocytes. Molecular characterization revealed novel mutations in RFAXP, RFX5, and CIITA genes. Despite genetic heterogeneity, these patients were clinically indistinguishable. Two patients underwent HSCT but had a poor survival outcome. Detectable level of T cell receptor excision circles (TRECs) were measured in our patients, highlighting that this form of PID may be missed by TREC-based newborn screening program for severe combined immunodeficiency.

Date: February 13, 2018

“””Background Maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) is an early-onset, autosomal dominant form of non-insulin dependent diabetes. Genetic diagnosis of MODY can transform patient management. Earlier data on the genetic predisposition to MODY have come primarily from familial studies in populations of European origin. Methods In this study, we carried out a comprehensive genomic analysis of 289 individuals from India that included 152 clinically diagnosed MODY cases to identify variants in known MODY genes. Further, we have analyzed exome data to identify putative MODY relevant variants in genes previously not implicated in MODY. Functional validation of MODY relevant variants was also performed. Results We found MODY 3 (HNF1A; 7.2%) to be most frequently mutated followed by MODY 12 (ABCC8; 3.3%). They together account for ~ 11% of the cases. In addition to known MODY genes, we report the identification of variants in RFX6, WFS1, AKT2, NKX6–1 that may contribute to development of MODY. Functional assessment of the NKX6–1 variants showed that they are functionally impaired. Conclusions Our findings showed HNF1A and ABCC8 to be the most frequently mutated MODY genes in south India. Further we provide evidence for additional MODY relevant genes, such as NKX6–1, and these require further validation.”””

Date: January 25, 2018

“Introduction: Noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT) has revolutionized prenatal screening for chromosomal aneuploidies in some countries. Its implementation has been sporadic in developing countries. Given the genetic variation of the people in different countries, we evaluated the performance of the SNP-based NIPT in India . Materials and methods: The Panorama™ NIPT was performed in 516 pregnancies, which had tested intermediate-to-high risk on conventional first and second trimester screening. Results were confirmed either by invasive diagnostic testing or by clinical evaluation after birth. Results: Of 511 samples analyzed, results were obtained in 499 (97.7%). Of these, 480 (98.2%) were low risk and 19 were high risk. A sensitivity of 100% was obtained for detection of trisomies 21, 18, 13 and sex chromosomal abnormalities. The specificity ranged from 99.3 to 100% for abnormalities tested. Taken together, the positive predictive value for trisomies 21, 18, 13 and monosomy X was 85.7%. The average fetal fraction was 8.2%, which is lower than the average observed elsewhere. Conclusion: This is the first report of detailed experience with NIPT in India and demonstrates comparable performance in all aspects of testing to the results elsewhere.”

Date: January 16, 2018

Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the Northern most State of India, has been under-represented or altogether absent in most of the phylogenetic studies carried out in literature, despite its strategic location in the Himalayan region. Nonetheless, this region may have acted as a corridor to various migrations to and from mainland India, Eurasia or northeast Asia. The belief goes that most of the migrations post-late Pleistocene were mainly male dominated, primarily associated with population invasions, where female migration may thus have been limited. To evaluate female-centered migration patterns in the region, we sequenced 83 complete mitochondrial genomes of unrelated individuals belonging to different ethnic groups from the state. We observed a high diversity in the studied maternal lineages, identifying 19 new maternal sub-haplogroups (HGs). High maternal diversity and our phylogenetic analyses suggest that the migrations post-Pleistocene were not strictly paternal, as described in the literature. These preliminary observations highlight the need to carry out an extensive study of the endogamous populations of the region to unravel many facts and find links in the peopling of India.

Date: January 3, 2018

Plasma cell-free tumor DNA, or circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), from liquid biopsy is a potential source of tumor genetic material, in the absence of tissue biopsy, for EGFR testing. Our validation study reiterates the clinical utility of ctDNA next generation sequencing (NGS) for EGFR mutation testing in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). A total of 163 NSCLC cases were included in the validation, of which 132 patients had paired tissue biopsy and ctDNA. We chose to validate ctDNA using deep sequencing with custom designed bioinformatics methods that could detect somatic mutations at allele frequencies as low as 0.01%. Benchmarking allele specific real time PCR as one of the standard methods for tissue-based EGFR mutation testing, the ctDNA NGS test was validated on all the plasma derived cell-free DNA samples. We observed a high concordance (96.96%) between tissue biopsy and ctDNA for oncogenic driver mutations in Exon 19 and Exon 21 of the EGFR gene. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and diagnostic accuracy of the assay were 91.1%, 100% 100%, 95.6%, and 97%, respectively. A false negative rate of 3% was observed. A subset of mutations was also verified on droplet digital PCR. Sixteen percent EGFR mutation positivity was observed in patients where only liquid biopsy was available, thus creating options for targeted therapy. This is the first and largest study from India, demonstrating successful validation of circulating cell-free DNA as a clinically useful material for molecular testing in NSCLC.

Date: December 22, 2017

“””Background Several genes have been implicated in a highly variable presentation of developmental delay with psychomotor retardation. Mutations in EMC1 gene have recently been reported. Herein, we describe a proband born of a consanguineous marriage, who presented with early infantile onset epilepsy, scaphocephaly, developmental delay, central hypotonia, muscle wasting, and severe cerebellar and brainstem atrophy. Methods Genetic testing in the proband was performed using custom clinical exome and targeted next‐generation sequencing. This was followed by segregation analysis of the variant in the parents by Sanger sequencing and evaluation of the splice variant by RNA sequencing. Results Clinical exome sequencing identified a novel homozygous intronic splice variant in the EMC1 gene (chr1:19564510C>T, c.1212 + 1G>A, NM_015047.2). Neither population databases (ExAC and 1000 genomes) nor our internal database (n = 1,500) had reported this rare variant, predicted to affect the splicing. RNA sequencing data from the proband confirmed aberrant splicing with intron 11 retention, thereby introducing a stop codon in the resultant mRNA. This nonsense mutation is predicted to result in the premature termination of protein synthesis leading to loss of function of the EMC1 protein. Conclusion We report, for the first time the role of aberrant EMC1RNA splicing as a potential cause of disease pathogenesis. The severe epilepsy observed in our study expands the disease‐associated phenotype and also emphasizes the need for comprehensive screening of intronic splice mutations.”””

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