Curare - a curative poison: a scientometric analysis
Jan David Alexander Groneberg
- Introduction: Curare is one of the best-examined neurotoxins of the world, which has empirically been used for centuries by American Indigenes. Research on curare has been performed much later, a global scientometric analysis on curare research or its derivates does not yet exist. This bibliometric analysis is part of the global NewQis-project and should illuminate both toxic and historic issues of research on curare.
Methods: The ISI Web of Science was searched for data covering 1900 to 2013 using a term which included as many original articles on curare as possible. 3,867 articles were found and analyzed for common bibliometric items such as the number of citations, language of the articles or the (modified) Hirsch-Index (h-index). Results are illustrated utilizing modern density equalizing map projections (DEMP) or beam diagrams.
Results: Most publications were located in North America and Europe. The USA has the highest number of publications as well as the highest h-index. The number of publications overall rose until the late 1990s and later decreased. Furthermore, sudden increases of research activity are ascribable to historic events, like the first use of curare as muscle relaxant during surgery.
Discussion: This scientometric analysis of curare research reflects several tendencies as previously seen in other bibliometric investigations, i.e. the scientific quality standard of North America and Europe. Research on curare decreased however, due to the declining attention towards this muscle relaxant. This work exemplifies also how scientometric methods can be used to illuminate historic circumstances immediately stimulating scientific research.
Esthetic outcome of implant-based reconstructions in augmented bone: comparison of autologous and allogeneic bone block grafting with the pink esthetic score (PES)
- From 2003 to 2009, 67 patients underwent alveolar ridge augmentation and were enrolled in the study, 41 meet the inclusion criteria and 31 agreed to take part in the study. Patients were 18-69 years old (mean: 49.3 ± 13.8 years), and predominantly female. Patients received bone block grafts either autologous (n = 48) (AUBB) or allografts (ABB) (n = 19). Implants were inserted 4-7 months (autografts) or 5-6 months (allografts) after bone grafting. The Pink Esthetic Score (PES) as well as radiographic and subjective assessments were employed for the outcome analysis. The PES was assessed twice within one month based on digital photographic images that were randomly rearranged between evaluations by three independent, experienced investigators.
First-line treatment of EGFR-mutated nonsmall cell lung cancer: critical review on study methodology
- Recent advances in understanding the mechanisms of nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has led to the development of targeted treatments, including the reversible epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors gefitinib and erlotinib, and the irreversible ErbB family blocker afatinib. Several important activating EGFR mutations have now been identified, which correlate strongly with response to treatment with these agents. Multiple randomised controlled trials have confirmed the association between the presence of activating EGFR mutations and objective response to gefitinib, erlotinib and afatinib, thus demonstrating their superiority over platinum-based chemotherapy as first-line treatment for NSCLC patients with EGFR mutation-positive tumours, and resulting in approval of these agents for use in this setting. It can be tempting to compare outcome data across multiple clinical trials and agents; however, substantial differences in methodology between studies, including investigator versus independent assessment and differences in patient eligibility, makes such comparisons fraught with difficulty. This critical review provides an overview of the evolution of the methodology used in eight phase III trials investigating first-line targeted treatment of NSCLC, identifies key differences in methodology and reporting, and critically assesses how these differences should be taken into account when interpreting the findings from such trials.
Targeted ultra-deep sequencing reveals recurrent and mutually exclusive mutations of cancer genes in blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm
Jochen K. Lennerz
- Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN) is a rare haematopoietic malignancy characterized by dismal prognosis and overall poor therapeutic response. Since the biology of BPDCN is barely understood, our study aims to shed light on the genetic make-up of these highly malignant tumors. Using targeted high-coverage massive parallel sequencing, we investigated 50 common cancer genes in 33 BPDCN samples. We detected point mutations in NRAS (27.3% of cases), ATM (21.2%), MET, KRAS, IDH2, KIT (9.1% each), APC and RB1 (6.1% each), as well as in VHL, BRAF, MLH1, TP53 and RET (3% each). Moreover, NRAS, KRAS and ATM mutations were found to be mutually exclusive and we observed recurrent mutations in NRAS, IDH2, APC and ATM. CDKN2A deletions were detected in 27.3% of the cases followed by deletions of RB1 (9.1%), PTEN and TP53 (3% each). The mutual exclusive distribution of some mutations may point to different subgroups of BPDCN whose biological significance remains to be explored.
Identification of DR5 as a critical, NF-κB-regulated mediator of Smac-induced apoptosis
- Smac mimetic promotes apoptosis by neutralizing inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) proteins and is considered as a promising cancer therapeutic. Although an autocrine/paracrine tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) loop has been implicated in Smac mimetic-induced cell death, little is yet known about additional factors that determine sensitivity to Smac mimetic. Using genome-wide gene expression analysis, we identify death receptor 5 (DR5) as a novel key mediator of Smac mimetic-induced apoptosis. Although several cell lines that are sensitive to the Smac mimetic BV6 die in a TNFα-dependent manner, A172 glioblastoma cells undergo BV6-induced apoptosis largely independently of TNFα/TNFR1, as the TNFα-blocking antibody Enbrel or TNFR1 knockdown provide little protection. Yet, BV6-stimulated nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) activation is critically required for apoptosis, as inhibition of NF-κB by overexpression of dominant-negative IκBα superrepressor (IκBα-SR) blocks BV6-induced apoptosis. Unbiased genome-wide gene expression studies in IκBα-SR-overexpressing cells versus vector control cells reveal that BV6 increases DR5 expression in a NF-κB-dependent manner. Importantly, this BV6-stimulated upregulation of DR5 is critically required for apoptosis, as transient or stable knockdown of DR5 significantly inhibits BV6-triggered apoptosis. In addition, DR5 silencing attenuates formation of a RIP1/FADD/caspase-8 cytosolic cell death complex and activation of caspase-8, -3 and -9. By identifying DR5 as a critical mediator of Smac mimetic-induced apoptosis, our findings provide novel insights into the determinants that control susceptibility of cancer cells to Smac mimetic.
The MLL recombinome of acute leukemias in 2013
M Pombo de Oliveira
E De Braekeleer
M De Braekeleer
VH van der Velden
JJ van Dongen
G Te Kronnie
U zur Stadt
L Lo Nigro
MM van den Heuvel-Eibrink
Michael N. Dworzak
- Chromosomal rearrangements of the human MLL (mixed lineage leukemia) gene are associated with high-risk infant, pediatric, adult and therapy-induced acute leukemias. We used long-distance inverse-polymerase chain reaction to characterize the chromosomal rearrangement of individual acute leukemia patients. We present data of the molecular characterization of 1590 MLL-rearranged biopsy samples obtained from acute leukemia patients. The precise localization of genomic breakpoints within the MLL gene and the involved translocation partner genes (TPGs) were determined and novel TPGs identified. All patients were classified according to their gender (852 females and 745 males), age at diagnosis (558 infant, 416 pediatric and 616 adult leukemia patients) and other clinical criteria. Combined data of our study and recently published data revealed a total of 121 different MLL rearrangements, of which 79 TPGs are now characterized at the molecular level. However, only seven rearrangements seem to be predominantly associated with illegitimate recombinations of the MLL gene (≈ 90%): AFF1/AF4, MLLT3/AF9, MLLT1/ENL, MLLT10/AF10, ELL, partial tandem duplications (MLL PTDs) and MLLT4/AF6, respectively. The MLL breakpoint distributions for all clinical relevant subtypes (gender, disease type, age at diagnosis, reciprocal, complex and therapy-induced translocations) are presented. Finally, we present the extending network of reciprocal MLL fusions deriving from complex rearrangements.
Bortezomib antagonizes microtubule-interfering drug-induced apoptosis by inhibiting G2/M transition and MCL-1 degradation
- Inhibition of the proteasome is considered as a promising strategy to sensitize cancer cells to apoptosis. Recently, we demonstrated that the proteasome inhibitor Bortezomib primes neuroblastoma cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. In the present study, we investigated whether Bortezomib increases chemosensitivity of neuroblastoma cells. Unexpectedly, we discover an antagonistic interaction of Bortezomib and microtubule-interfering drugs. Bortezomib significantly attenuates the loss of cell viability and induction of apoptosis on treatment with Taxol and different vinca alkaloids but not with other chemotherapeutics, that is, Doxorubicin and Cisplatinum. Importantly, Bortezomib inhibits G2/M transition by inhibiting proteasomal degradation of cell cycle regulatory proteins such as p21, thereby preventing cells to enter mitosis, the cell cycle phase in which they are most vulnerable to antitubulin chemotherapeutics. Consequently, Bortezomib counteracts Taxol-induced mitotic arrest and polyploidy, as shown by reduced expression of PLK1 and phosphorylated histone H3. In addition, Bortezomib antagonizes Taxol-mediated degradation of MCL-1 during mitotic arrest by preventing cells to enter mitosis and by inhibiting the proteasome. Downregulation of MCL-1 is critically required for Taxol-induced apoptosis, as overexpression of a phosphomutant MCL-1 variant, which is resistant to degradation, significantly diminishes Taxol-triggered apoptosis. Vice versa, attenuation of Bortezomib-mediated accumulation of MCL-1 by knockdown of MCL-1 significantly enhances Taxol/Bortezomib-induced apoptosis. Thus, Bortezomib rescues Taxol-induced apoptosis by inhibiting G2/M transition and mitigating MCL-1 degradation. The identification of this antagonistic interaction of Bortezomib and microtubule-targeted drugs has important implications for the design of Bortezomib-based combination therapies.
Enlarging the toolbox for allergen epitope definition with an allergen-type model protein
Christian Seutter von Loetzen
- Background: Birch pollen-allergic subjects produce polyclonal cross-reactive IgE antibodies that mediate pollen-associated food allergies. The major allergen Bet v 1 and its homologs in plant foods bind IgE in their native protein conformation. Information on location, number and clinical relevance of IgE epitopes is limited. We addressed the use of an allergen-related protein model to identify amino acids critical for IgE binding of PR-10 allergens.
Method: Norcoclaurine synthase (NCS) from meadow rue is structurally homologous to Bet v 1 but does not bind Bet v 1-reactive IgE. NCS was used as the template for epitope grafting. NCS variants were tested with sera from 70 birch pollen allergic subjects and with monoclonal antibody BV16 reported to compete with IgE binding to Bet v 1.
Results: We generated an NCS variant (Δ29NCSN57/I58E/D60N/V63P/D68K) harboring an IgE epitope of Bet v 1. Bet v 1-type protein folding of the NCS variant was evaluated by 1H-15N-HSQC NMR spectroscopy. BV16 bound the NCS variant and 71% (50/70 sera) of our study population showed significant IgE binding. We observed IgE and BV16 cross-reactivity to the epitope presented by the NCS variant in a subgroup of Bet v 1-related allergens. Moreover BV16 blocked IgE binding to the NCS variant. Antibody cross-reactivity depended on a defined orientation of amino acids within the Bet v 1-type conformation.
Conclusion: Our system allows the evaluation of patient-specific epitope profiles and will facilitate both the identification of clinically relevant epitopes as biomarkers and the monitoring of therapeutic outcomes to improve diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy of allergies caused by PR-10 proteins.
Isolation Facilities for Highly Infectious Diseases in Europe – A Cross-Sectional Analysis in 16 Countries
Francesco Maria Fusco
Giuseppina De Iaco
Helena C. Maltezou
Highly Infectious Diseases (HIDs) are (i) easily transmissible form person to person; (ii) cause a life-threatening illness with no or few treatment options; and (iii) pose a threat for both personnel and the public. Hence, even suspected HID cases should be managed in specialised facilities minimizing infection risks but allowing state-of-the-art critical care. Consensus statements on the operational management of isolation facilities have been published recently. The study presented was set up to compare the operational management, resources, and technical equipment among European isolation facilities. Due to differences in geography, population density, and national response plans it was hypothesized that adherence to recommendations will vary.
Methods and Findings
Until mid of 2010 the European Network for Highly Infectious Diseases conducted a cross-sectional analysis of isolation facilities in Europe, recruiting 48 isolation facilities in 16 countries. Three checklists were disseminated, assessing 44 items and 148 specific questions. The median feedback rate for specific questions was 97.9% (n = 47/48) (range: n = 7/48 (14.6%) to n = 48/48 (100%). Although all facilities enrolled were nominated specialised facilities' serving countries or regions, their design, equipment and personnel management varied. Eighteen facilities fulfilled the definition of a High Level Isolation Unit'. In contrast, 24 facilities could not operate independently from their co-located hospital, and five could not ensure access to equipment essential for infection control. Data presented are not representative for the EU in general, as only 16/27 (59.3%) of all Member States agreed to participate. Another limitation of this study is the time elapsed between data collection and publication; e.g. in Germany one additional facility opened in the meantime.
There are disparities both within and between European countries regarding the design and equipment of isolation facilities. With regard to the International Health Regulations, terminology, capacities and equipment should be standardised.
Performance of Two HCV RNA Assays during Protease Inhibitor-Based Triple Therapy in Patients with Advanced Liver Fibrosis and Cirrhosis
Michael P. Manns
On-treatment HCV RNA measurements are crucial for the prediction of a sustained virological response (SVR) and to determine treatment futility during protease inhibitor-based triple therapies. In patients with advanced liver disease an accurate risk/benefit calculation based on reliable HCV RNA results can reduce the number of adverse events. However, the different available HCV RNA assays vary in their diagnostic performance.
To investigate the clinical relevance of concordant and discordant results of two HCV RNA assays during triple therapy with boceprevir and telaprevir in patients with advanced liver fibrosis/cirrhosis.
We collected on-treatment samples of 191 patients with advanced liver fibrosis/cirrhosis treated at four European centers for testing with the Abbott RealTime (ART) and COBAS AmpliPrep/COBAS TaqMan HCV v2.0 (CTM) assays.
Discordant test results for HCV RNA detectability were observed in 23% at week 4, 17% at week 8/12 and 9% at week 24 on-treatment. The ART detected HCV RNA in 41% of week 4 samples tested negative by the CTM. However, the positive predictive value of an undetectable week 4 result for SVR was similar for both assays (80% and 82%). Discordance was also found for application of stopping rules. In 27% of patients who met stopping rules by CTM the ART measured levels below the respective cut-offs of 100 and 1000 IU/ml, respectively, which would have resulted in treatment continuation. In contrast, in nine patients with negative HCV RNA by CTM at week 24 treatment would have been discontinued due to detectable residual HCV RNA by the ART assay. Importantly, only 4 of these patients failed to achieve SVR.
Application of stopping rules determined in approval studies by one assay to other HCV RNA assays in clinical practice may lead to over and undertreatment in a significant number of patients undergoing protease inhibitor-based triple therapy.