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Concept: Cure


Gene therapy strategies for the treatment of inherited retinal diseases have made major advances in recent years. This review focuses on adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector approaches to treat retinal degeneration and, thus, prevent or delay the onset of blindness. Data from human clinical trials of gene therapy for retinal disease show encouraging signs of safety and efficacy from AAV vectors. Recent progress in enhancing cell-specific targeting and transduction efficiency of the various retinal layers plus the use of AAV-delivered growth factors to augment the therapeutic effect and limit cell death suggest even greater success in future human trials is possible.

Concepts: Medicine, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Disease, Death, Cure, Effectiveness, Clinical research


The selective delivery of drugs in a cell- or tissue-specific manner represents the main challenge for medical research; in order to reduce the occurrence of unwanted off-target effects. In this regard, nucleic acid aptamers have emerged as an attractive class of carrier molecules due to their ability to bind with high affinity to specific ligands; their high chemical flexibility; as well as tissue penetration capability. To date, different aptamer-drug systems and aptamer-nanoparticles systems, in which nanoparticles function together with aptamers for the targeted delivery, have been successfully developed for a wide range of therapeutics, including toxins; peptides; chemotherapeutics and oligonucleotides. Therefore, aptamer-mediated drug delivery represents a powerful tool for the safe and effective treatment of different human pathologies, including cancer; neurological diseases; immunological diseases and so on. In this review, we will summarize recent progress in the field of aptamer-mediated drug delivery and we will discuss the advantages, the achieved objectives and the challenges to be still addressed in the near future, in order to improve the effectiveness of therapies.

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, Effect, Cure, Effectiveness, Immunology, Neurology, Aptamer


Advanced follicular lymphoma (FL) and mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) are incurable diseases with conventional treatment. The high dose treatment (HDT) with autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT), however, offers a certain proportion of these patients the prospect of a prolonged disease-free and overall survival. The aim of this study was to investigate the event free survival (EFS) and overall survival (OS) in patients with FL and MCL treated with ASCT.

Concepts: Cancer, Disease, Cure, Chemotherapy, Types of cancer, Lymphoma, Follicular lymphoma, Mantle cell lymphoma


Liposomes are nanocarriers that deliver the payloads at the target site, leading to therapeutic drug concentrations at the diseased site and reduced toxic effects in healthy tissues. Several approaches have been used to enhance the ability of the nanocarrier to target the specific tissues, including ligand-targeted liposomes and stimuli-responsive liposomes. Ligand-targeted liposomes exhibit higher uptake by the target tissue due to the targeting ligand attached to the surface, while, the stimuli-responsive liposomes do not release their cargo unless they expose to an endogenous or exogenous stimulant at the target site. In this review, we mainly focus on the liposomes that are responsive to pathologically increased levels of enzymes at the target site. Enzyme-responsive liposomes release their cargo upon contact with the enzyme through several destabilization mechanisms: a) structural perturbation in the lipid bilayer, b) removal of a shielding polymer from the surface and increased cellular uptake, c) cleavage of a lipopeptide or lipopolymer incorporated in the bilayer, and d) activation of a prodrug in the liposomes.

Concepts: Protein, Medicine, Cancer, Enzyme, Cure, Poison, Doxorubicin, Recreational drug use


Relapses in acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) are a result of quiescent leukemic stem cells (LSCs) in marrow stromal niches, where they resist chemotherapy. LSCs employ CXCL12/CXCR4 to home toward protective marrow niches. Heparin disrupts CXCL12-mediated sequestration of cells in the marrow. CX-01 is a low-anticoagulant heparin derivative. In this pilot study, we combined CX-01 with chemotherapy for the treatment of AML. Induction consisted of cytarabine and idarubicin (7 + 3) with CX-01. Twelve patients were enrolled (median age, 56 years; 3 women). Three, 5, and 4 patients had good-, intermediate-, and poor-risk disease, respectively. Day 14 bone marrows were available on 11 patients and were aplastic in all without detectable leukemia. Eleven patients (92%) had morphologic complete remission after 1 induction (CR1). Eight patients were alive at a median follow-up of 24 months (4 patients in CR1). Three patients received an allogeneic stem cell transplant in CR1. Median disease-free survival was 14.8 months. Median overall survival was not attained at the maximum follow-up time of 29.4 months. No CX-01-associated serious adverse events occurred. Median day to an untransfused platelet count of at least 20 × 109/L was 21. CX-01 is well tolerated when combined with intensive therapy for AML and appears associated with enhanced count recovery and treatment efficacy.

Concepts: Bone marrow, Cure, Chemotherapy, Leukemia, Organ transplant, Acute myeloid leukemia, Blood disorders, Myeloid sarcoma


We update recommendations on 12 topics that were in the 9th edition of these guidelines, and address 3 new topics.

Concepts: Medicine, Cure


Cramer et al. (Reports, 23 March 2012, p. 1503; published online 9 February 2012) demonstrates short-term bexarotene treatment clearing preexisting β-amyloid deposits from the brains of APP/PS1ΔE9 mice with low amyloid burden, providing a rationale for repurposing this anticancer agent as an Alzheimer’s disease (AD) therapeutic. Using a nearly identical treatment regimen, we were unable to detect any evidence of drug efficacy despite demonstration of target engagement.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Medicine, Cure, Aluminium, Beta amyloid, Mice


Targeted therapies and the consequent adoption of “personalized” oncology have achieved notable successes in some cancers; however, significant problems remain with this approach. Many targeted therapies are highly toxic, costs are extremely high, and most patients experience relapse after a few disease-free months. Relapses arise from genetic heterogeneity in tumors, which harbor therapy-resistant immortalized cells that have adopted alternate and compensatory pathways (i.e., pathways that are not reliant upon the same mechanisms as those which have been targeted). To address these limitations, an international task force of 180 scientists was assembled to explore the concept of a low-toxicity “broad-spectrum” therapeutic approach that could simultaneously target many key pathways and mechanisms. Using cancer hallmark phenotypes and the tumor microenvironment to account for the various aspects of relevant cancer biology, interdisciplinary teams reviewed each hallmark area and nominated a wide range of high-priority targets (74 in total) that could be modified to improve patient outcomes. For these targets, corresponding low-toxicity therapeutic approaches were then suggested, many of which were phytochemicals. Proposed actions on each target and all of the approaches were further reviewed for known effects on other hallmark areas and the tumor microenvironment. Potential contrary or procarcinogenic effects were found for 3.9% of the relationships between targets and hallmarks, and mixed evidence of complementary and contrary relationships was found for 7.1%. Approximately 67% of the relationships revealed potentially complementary effects, and the remainder had no known relationship. Among the approaches, 1.1% had contrary, 2.8% had mixed and 62.1% had complementary relationships. These results suggest that a broad-spectrum approach should be feasible from a safety standpoint. This novel approach has potential to be relatively inexpensive, it should help us address stages and types of cancer that lack conventional treatment, and it may reduce relapse risks. A proposed agenda for future research is offered.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Cure, Chemotherapy, Brain tumor, Therapy, Tumor, Neoplasm


Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is a critically important therapy for hematological malignancies, inborn errors of metabolism, and immunodeficiency disorders, yet complications such as graft-vs.-host disease (GvHD) limit survival. Development of anti-GvHD therapies that do not adversely affect susceptibility to infection or graft-vs.-tumor immunity are hampered by the lack of a physiologically relevant, preclinical model of allogeneic HSCT. Here we show a spectrum of diverse clinical HSCT outcomes including primary and secondary graft failure, lethal GvHD, and stable, disease-free full donor engraftment using reduced intensity conditioning and mobilized peripheral blood HSCT in unrelated, fully MHC-matched Mauritian-origin cynomolgus macaques. Anti-GvHD prophylaxis of tacrolimus, post-transplant cyclophosphamide, and CD28 blockade induces multi-lineage, full donor chimerism and recipient-specific tolerance while maintaining pathogen-specific immunity. These results establish a new preclinical allogeneic HSCT model for evaluation of GvHD prophylaxis and next-generation HSCT-mediated therapies for solid organ tolerance, cure of non-malignant hematological disease, and HIV reservoir clearance.

Concepts: Immune system, Disease, Cure, Chemotherapy, Graft-versus-host disease, Hematology, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Inborn error of metabolism


Although antiretroviral therapy can suppress HIV-1 infection to undetectable levels of plasma viremia, integrated latent HIV-1 genomes that encode replication-competent virus persist in resting CD4(+) T cells. This latent HIV-1 reservoir represents a major barrier to a cure. Currently, there are substantial efforts to identify therapeutic approaches that will eliminate or reduce the size of this latent HIV-1 reservoir. In this regard, a sensitive assay that can accurately and rapidly quantify inducible, replication-competent latent HIV-1 from resting CD4(+) T cells is essential for HIV-1 eradication studies. Here we describe a reporter cell-based assay to quantify inducible, replication-competent latent HIV-1. This assay has several advantages over existing technology in that it (i) is sensitive; (ii) requires only a small blood volume; (iii) is faster, less labor intensive, and less expensive; and (iv) can be readily adapted into a high-throughput format. Using this assay, we show that the size of the inducible latent HIV-1 reservoir in aviremic participants on therapy is approximately 70-fold larger than previous estimates.

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, HIV, AIDS, Gene, Blood, Virus, Cure, Therapy